Great content marketing requires more than just great content; you need to also consider your audience and your distribution methods. If you aren’t crafting content with those two factors in mind, even the most fantastic article ever written won’t likely drive the results you’re seeking.

More than half of all content marketers recognize the importance of content distribution, but just 26 percent of them actually invest in it. If you’re on the wrong side of that stat, you’re potentially creating a whole host of problems that range from using the wrong tone to talking about the wrong topics.

In order to truly run a successful campaign, you must see things through your target audience’s eyes. What channels, apps, and sites are they looking at? Are they expecting something tech-heavy, or are they looking for quick-hitting, light articles? Do they want embedded infographics and videos?

Content resonates in different ways with different people. We all have different backgrounds, and we all prefer different platforms. Your distribution strategy needs to embrace this reality.

The Five Essential Questions

The style, format, and tone of your content should all be dictated by your distribution strategy. These five simple questions should help send you down the right path:

1. Who Is Your Target Audience? The first requirement of great content marketing is that you know your audience. You need to understand the demographics, habits, likes, and dislikes of the people you’re looking to attract.

An easy way to do this is to keep a pulse on your peers. If people in your industry are seeing big results from content marketing, be sure to read their articles, browse their blogs, and scan their comment sections to see how people react to different types of material. The more you know about your audience, the more likely you are to deliver value to consumers.

2. Where Is the Best Place to Post This Content? Today’s world offers limitless platforms to choose from. Does content belong on your corporate blog? What about a third-party publication as a guest post? Or Vimeo? Perhaps even Pinterest or Facebook?

The answer depends on how you want your content displayed and how you want readers to interact with it. If your content tends to be more visual, then cater it toward a social platform like Instagram, where users expect compelling imagery. If your content is wordier and you hope to engage in more long-form conversations with viewers, a blogging platform full of back-and-forth discussion like Medium, or even Facebook, would be a better fit.

3. What Reaction Will Your Content Get in That Location? Different platforms offer different forms of interaction. Some feature long, heated debates in comment sections, while others are limited to likes and social shares.

Define your goals, and cater your content toward the best possible outcome for your business objectives. If you’re hoping for written responses, your content needs to stir up a conversation on a website full of outspoken readers. If you’re looking for thousands of retweets, consider focusing your energy on writing kitschy articles with viral-ready headlines. While equally valid, these two goals require distinct strategies.

4. How Can You Maximize Placement? Once your content is fine-tuned for your target audience and channel, you then need to scale your efforts. Think about how you can attain more reach. Other than pouring more ad dollars into your campaign, can you find a way to creatively expand your viewership and engagement?

Sometimes, trial and error is the best option. Experiment with new methods, styles, and strategies to see what gains traction. Keep testing until you’ve found the perfect solution, and then put that solution into practice going forward with each new campaign.

5. How Do You Measure Success? If you haven’t established a means for measuring your campaign’s success, how can you know if it’s successful? Set goals, then benchmark against other content you’ve created and distributed in the past. Also, be sure to weigh your results against your competition and other industry peers.

As creation begins, refer back to your metrics and ensure you’re building toward them every step along the way. Those metrics are your road map to success and define the future of your content marketing endeavors.

Don’t waste great content by failing with your distribution strategy. If you start with a clear idea of your audience, your medium, and how your success will be measured, you’ll get the most from your campaigns. Anything else is a waste of your time and your money.

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