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Marketing Strategy
min read
February 13, 2024

How to Set Up a Content Distribution Strategy

Keelyn Hart
Content Writer at Letterdrop


  • Content distribution is crucial for getting your content in front of the right audience.
  • There are four types of content distribution channels: owned, paid, rented, and earned.
  • To build a content distribution strategy, identify your target audience and their preferred channels, analyze content attribution, choose distribution channels, track KPIs, use a content calendar, create or repurpose content, utilize distribution tools, and measure results.

What's that old saying? "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

We're not trying to get all philosophical here, but the same principle applies to all the content you and your team have put hours and hours of work (and budget) into. It's a waste if your audience doesn't see it.

This guide offers a step-by-step guide to setting up a killer distribution plan and what tools can help you streamline your approach.

If you don't have a solid distribution strategy in place, you risk leaving all your best content to rot on your site — and do absolutely nothing for your business.

What Is Content Distribution?

Content distribution refers to promoting content across various channels and in various media formats to get as much reach as possible.

You can distribute all kinds of content, including:

  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • White papers
  • eBooks
  • Checklists
  • Articles
  • Podcasts, and more.

Here's an example. Suppose you recorded a webinar — how do you promote it? You could:

  • Put a link on your website or in a blog post
  • Include a video clip in your email newsletter
  • Create short snippets of video for LinkedIn and Instagram

It goes without saying how much of a role social channels have in content distribution today, and it's not hard to understand why. Over one hundred million people log in to LinkedIn each day, and over 456,000 Tweets are sent out every minute. It's a no-brainer that companies have jumped at the opportunity to reach so many prospects.

Why Is Content Distribution Important?

Content distribution is half the battle won and arguably even more important than your content itself. You could have the most incredible white papers or blog posts around, but they can't move the needle by just sitting out there on your site looking pretty.

You need to put in the work to get your content in front of the right people, at the right time, with the right channel.

But how do you know which channel is the right one?

You need to know:

  • who you're targeting
  • where they hang out — digitally and depending on industry, even physically
  • what content format is best suited for each channel

The 4 Types of Content Distribution Channels

1. Owned Content Distribution Channels

Owned distribution channels are, well, channels that your company owns. This means you have full control over what goes up and when so that you can make sure you're nurturing leads down the funnel.

Here are some examples of owned channels:

  • Your website
  • Your blog
  • Email
  • Newsletters

Here's an example of a company-owned blog:

Shopify's company-owned blog

2. Paid Channels

Paid channels refer to marketing and advertising platforms where businesses invest money to promote their products or services.

They're excellent for quick and measurable results that impact the top line. They're also considered a lot of work since it takes a lot of forecasting and continuous investment.

Examples include:

  • PPC (Pay-Per-Click), where advertisers pay a fee each time a user clicks on their ad, often associated with search engine ads
  • Paid social ads are paid promotional messages displayed on social media platforms to reach specific target audiences based on demographics, interests, and behaviors

An example of a paid social media ad by Letterdrop
An example of a paid social media ad by Letterdrop

3. Rented Content Distribution Channels

There's sometimes a misconception that social media falls within "owned" channels, but since platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn can ban you anytime, this is simply not true.

Instead, they're known as rented channels. Social media lets you leverage user data and networks to reach a huge amount of prospects and works great as a push channel.

You just need to make sure you're following the platform's user guidelines to avoid getting banned.

We all leverage LinkedIn as a push channel for Letterdrop
We all leverage LinkedIn as a push channel for Letterdrop

4. Earned Content Distribution Channels

Earned Content Distribution Channels are platforms where third parties like influencers, industry leaders, or media publishers share your content with an already established audience.

While this offers exposure, you have less control since the platform isn't owned by you. Tracking, reviewing, and lead conversion can be challenging, and the content's owner might remove it.

Examples of "shared" channels include:

  • Social shares
  • Social mentions
  • Guest articles
  • Product reviews
  • Forums like Reddit and Quora

Here's a HubSpot guest post in Apollo.io's newsletter.

A guest post in Apollo.io
A guest post in Apollo.io's newsletter

These four types of channels also tend to overlap. This gives you an opportunity to boost your efforts in one channel by using another. For example, you could run paid ads against content to boost organic promotion.

Here's a diagram showing the overlap in these channels and what you can do to boost engagement.

How to boost promotion with overlapping distribution channels
How to boost promotion with overlapping distribution channels

‎How to Build a Content Distribution Strategy

1. Find Out Where Your Target ICP Hangs Out Online

You're not trying to get your content in front of just any audience — they have to be a qualified audience.

You need to first identify who you're targeting and where they prefer to consume content. Here are two ways to find out where your ICP hangs out and what they like to see:

  • Analyze the demographics of website visitors, newsletter subscribers, and social media followers using Google Analytics.
  • Sit in on Sales Calls. Sales calls are an incredible source of information for marketers since this information comes directly from customers themselves. You can find out exactly where they spend their time online, what they're looking to consume, and what they care about.

📢 Tip Letterdrop integrates with Gong.io to extract marketing insights and content ideas for you.

Once you have all this information, you'll be able to form a complete picture of what content you should be creating to help your ICP solve their problems, and where they want to see that content.

2. Analyze Content Attribution To See Which Channels Are Driving Traffic

If you want to be 100% sure you're picking the right distribution channels, you should assess the historical performance of existing content using Google Analytics or Semrush.

  • In Google Analytics, go to Acquisition → Traffic Acquisition
  • In Semrush, go to Traffic Analytics and enter your domain

These reports offer two benefits:

  1. You can identify current best-performing pieces and start thinking about where you can redistribute them
  2. You'll be able to see how various content has performed on different channels, which can help you decide on where it's best to distribute future content

You can use a tool like Semrush to track the historical performance of different channels
You can use a tool like Semrush to track the historical performance of different channels

3. Choose Your Distribution Channels

Now that you know your audience and their behavioral patterns better, you'll be in a better position to choose which distribution channel(s) to use.

And remember, you don't have to use just one at a time.

Some other things to remember:

  • Paid channels offer quick results but aren't really sustainable in the long-term. They require constant investment if you really want to see a return. Former VP of HelpScout, Adam Goyette, says there's been a significant shift in marketing away from short-term solutions like ad spend in recent years.

  • Owned channels take longer but yield long-term results, meaning that in the long run you get far more bang for your buck.

Whichever method you choose, ensure they align with the customer insights you got from your research — and keep your owned channels optimized for SEO.

4. Decide Which KPIs To Track

A strategy like this is nothing without measurable KPIs and metrics to go with it.

The KPIs you choose will depend on which distribution channels you've selected. Here are some examples:

  • For an owned channel like your blog, two of your KPIs would be conversions and user engagement. You can track both of these metrics using Google Analytics.
  • For a paid channel such as a social media ad campaign, your KPIs would be conversions and lead gen. For this you would need to use GA4 to track impressions, conversion rates, and target landing page bounce rate.
  • For an earned channel, such as featuring on another blog with a guest post, your KPIs would probably be brand awareness, lead gen, conversions, and engagement. Among the metrics to track would be referral traffic, conversions, and shares.

5. Use a Content Calendar for Tracking Content and Distribution

A content calendar is an essential piece of the puzzle in your content workflow.

They help you coordinate your channels, apps, and contributors so you're not dealing with a flooded Slack group and a million open tabs.

Lots of companies use spreadsheets, Airtable, and Notion to track what's going out, to which channel, and when to keep everyone on the same page.

Unfortunately, since none of these are synced to content, you'll have to make sure every app you're using accurately reflects what's going on in the pipeline.

Letterdrop's content calendar gives a real-time, high-level overview of everything that's scheduled to go out. As your content moves, your calendar updates — and vice versa.

The Letterdrop content calendar
The Letterdrop content calendar

6. Create (or Repurpose) Content

Finally, you can return your attention to content.

  • If you're looking to create new content, we have a blow-by-blow strategy on getting blog posts out that actually drive revenue.
  • You have lots of pre-existing content out there, so it's time to get repurposing. Turn webinars into blog posts, turn a blog post into a carousel for LinkedIn... the options are endless.

But when it comes to repurposing, it's easy to run out of time to craft well-written social posts for all your social media channels. In Letterdrop, you can simply paste a video or blog post link into the given field on the publishing page and the AI will generate a social post for you.

You can also turn videos into transcripts and feed the AI instructions on how you want to transcript to look.

Here's how to turn a webinar into a blog post and a social post:

7. Use a Distribution Tool to Help You

Distribution can become quite a tedious task, especially as you grow and scale. Luckily, there are plenty of tools out there that can help you publish to all sorts of platforms. HubSpot, Letterdrop, and Medium come to mind.

Ideally, you want your distribution tool to automate as much as possible to leave you free to take care of strategy. That's why we've incorporated AI and automation into distribution on Letterdrop.

Schedule socials and generate drafts for social posts with Letterdrop
You can draft tone-specific, AI-written first drafts for socials with Letterdrop

📢 Tip: Letterdrop can also completely automate employee advocacy. It automates likes and comments from anyone in your team to reach the prospects in their network.

Automate engagement from your team to amplify posts
Automate engagement from your team to amplify posts

8. Measure Your Results with Performance Measurement Tools

There's no way to know what's working and what's not without tracking your results — that's where your KPIs and metrics from earlier come in.

You can rely on Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and native social media platform analytics to help you make informed decisions about:

  • What content to repurpose
  • What channels have the best engagement
  • Which channels to switch to

Go back to your analytics consistently to establish a baseline for what to expect and how you can improve.

Best Practices for Effective Distribution

Now that you know how to build a solid distribution strategy, here are some parting tips:

  • Don't be afraid to experiment. Try out channels you haven't used before — social media is pretty low-risk when it comes to this. Besides, how else will you know what works if you don't test it out?
  • Make sure you're using the right format for every channel. Don't fall into the trap of just spamming all your channels with the same message or format. Keep it short on sites like Twitter and don't be afraid to go into detail (and use media!) on a platform like LinkedIn.
  • Prioritize owned channels since your input can make them go so much further in nurturing leads down the funnel compared to short-term ad campaigns. (It also helps that 70% of people rather get information from blogs than adverts.)
  • Make sure you're optimizing all your content, following best SEO practices, and putting your user's search intent first no matter what format or channel you're using.
  • Use automation where you can to take tedious manual tasks off your hands and get content out to your ICP much faster.

Get Your Content In Front of Prospects

The only way to get your content in front of customers is to put it out there — and the only way to do that is to tailor a distribution strategy that suits your ICP and your KPIs.

Don't let all that effort go to waste. Do your research, use automation to distribute properly and effectively, and your prospects will become paying customers.

At Letterdrop, we're always thinking about how we can make our customers' lives easier with smart, people-first automation. Feel free to reach out to us if you want to streamline your content ops.

Ready to put distribution on autopilot?

Marketing is changing with AI, and we're here to help you follow best practices while taking the mundane tasks off your hands.

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