The age-old debate of “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” will go on forever, as there will never be a clear answer that satisfies all parties. That is not the case with content marketing and distribution. With 88% of B2B marketers and brands using content marketing, establishing large, targeted and organic distribution channels are requirements for making content marketing most effective. Content marketing distribution is all about reach and traffic. In order to improve your traffic you have to get your content in front of your target audience, in other words distribution.

Imagine that you have created the best product since sliced bread and you begin to manufacture the product in quantity in anticipation of all the orders you will get for the product. However, through the entire design, development and preparation process, you neglected to establish contacts, connections and relationships that would distribute your new product to stores where it can be found and purchased. This example is how many brands approach content marketing.

Marketers often embark on a content marketing plan without defining and building distribution channels to support the content marketing effort. Multi-channel distribution strategies are required in order to be effective with content marketing and consist of several platforms that work together. Without a complete content marketing strategy, coupled with specific content channel planning and strategies to support it, your content will likely be ineffective or worse, rarely seen. The failure to develop and build distribution channels before and during your content marketing efforts will result in being required to rely on expensive paid and unreliable organic search to get traffic. Although these options should be part of an overall content marketing strategy, relying on them for your success will be expensive and unreliable.

Example Content Marketing Distribution Channels

Multi-channel content marketing distribution requires proper strategy and execution to be effective. There are numerous channels that brands could use to build reliable content distribution with their audience, but we will focus on the top few that should be incorporated into most integrated content marketing distribution plans.

Social Media – When it comes to U.S. bloggers, over 93% of them are using social media to drive traffic to their content. Though the results of social media content distribution will vary from brand to brand, social media is clearly the number one distribution channel for content marketers.

Therefore, brands embarking on social media should be spending a substantial amount of resources to build their followings within the proper social channels. Beyond growing their social followings, brands should make efforts to optimize the relationships within the channel. This means that having large followings doesn’t necessarily relate to content marketing traffic. Building trust and relationships with your audience by responding to their mentions and even sharing THEIR content that is relevant to your industry will result in getting your content read and shared far more often.

Email – List building, especially for email marketing can make a considerable difference in traffic to your content. In fact, over 42% of bloggers are using email marketing to distribute their content.

Building targeted email lists enables brands to directly notify their audience of new content that has been created. This one-to-one distribution can drive a significant amount of traffic to relevant content that is focused on your audiences needs and interests, however brands need to be careful to not over promote their brand and products, which can result in higher opt out rates and significantly lower click-through rates.

Search – SEO is the second highest content marketing distribution channel used by bloggers and over half of content marketers are using it. Search represents one of the top channels for content traffic, but it also comes with significant challenges. Search engine optimization for content is highly competitive and requires significant research, targeting and expertise to achieve substantial results. Brands should definitely up their game on content marketing SEO, however it should be considered supplemental to the previous two channels as it is equally less consistent and reliable.

Paid MediaDriving traffic to content through paid ads on search and social is currently one of the least used tactics by content creators. There are certainly benefits to driving traffic to content using paid media channels, however there are also downsides to it as well. Just as with SEO, paid media for driving content traffic should be considered supplemental to the organic channels that can be far less expensive, more reliable and sustainable.

Content Creation Frequency Matters

Key to establishing an effective content marketing program is consistency and frequency. There is so much content being generated today and the noise is increasing at alarming rates, so brands need to ensure that the consistency of their content creation and the frequency of that content marketing will achieve results.

How frequently should you be creating content? Almost half of bloggers are creating new content at least weekly and over half of them are publishing 2-6 times per week.

Nobody ever said that content marketing is easy, in fact the data shows that it is anything but. However when you have the right mix of strategy, multiple distribution channels, topics and frequency, you will see a direct correlation to traffic and results. Startups, enterprise brands, SaaS and B2B brands should take a serious look at their current content marketing efforts and align their tactics with what is actually occurring online today.

Finally, don’t confuse quantity and quality within your content marketing distribution channels. Often you will hear industry experts and “guru’s” preaching that it is quality, not quantity that matters with social media, email marketing and traffic. Let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. It is not a debate between quality OR quantity, it’s both. The most effective content marketers understand that you need both quality AND quantity. The bigger AND more targeted your following and lists are, the better your content marketing results will be.