A Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing: Choosing the Right Channels (#4 of 5)

To be successful in content marketing, you need to be doing more than producing and publishing new content. You need to be actively distributing it across multiple channels. If you’re not driving visibility to it, no one will see your content. But these days it seems like there’s a new digital platform introduced every other month and if you’re trying to figure out which ones will work best for getting people to notice and engage with your content, it can feel a bit overwhelming. The truth is, not every channel will make sense for you nor should you even try to master every one. Your primary goal is to figure out which ones will grow your audience and laser focus on just those—your so-called “priority set”. In the following section, we’ll take you through a few ways to think about tackling that goal.

Come Up with An Initial Consideration Set
Your first step will be to decide on a short list of channels to start with and from there, conduct structured tests to sharpen your focus overtime. To that end, we recommend at a minimum starting with the following five:

  • 1. Your Website: This one is obvious and of course isn’t a channel you will ever want to “focus” away from. Your website is probably the most important digital marketing channel. It is where customers and prospects will come when they’re interested in learning more about you so it must present a good first impression that adequately represents both your business and products.
  • 2. Social Media: More and more, social media use is influencing both consumer perceptions of brands and buying decisions. Posting consistently is vital yet can be resource intensive if you try to be a master of every channel so before you start, narrow your attention to focus only on those with the best chance of impacting your business with these three simple rules of thumb:
    • Rule 1 – Factor in Your Audience: Research the demographics and psychographics of each channel and choose those that best match your target audience. Most social media platforms will give you a breakdown of their audience. You can also check out many of the widely available industry reports.
    • Rule 2 – Take into Account What Your Competition is Doing: Review what your competitors are doing and where they are most active.
    • Rule 3 – Look at Your Resources: The resources you have at your disposal—staff, finances, your time—all have to play into your choice of platforms. Remember, it’s far better to be on only one or two social channels, that you can realistically manage to keep up to date, than to try to be on three or four and struggle to stay current.
  • 3. Email Marketing: Email marketing hands down is the best method of direct response marketing. Recipients have opted-in to hear from you and thus will be more willing to open your emails and click through.
  • 4. SEO: Remember your content offers huge SEO benefits if you’re strategic. Be sure to implement a structured program that includes:
    • Specific goals and objectives
    • Keyword and audience research to shape topic choices and CTAs
    • Adherence to mobile friendliness and page speed best practices
    • Leveraging the power of link building to drive domain authority.
  • 5. PPC: Google and Facebook are the two most dominant forces in PPC (and digital advertising for that matter). Google search ads help you connect with people searching for your type content, whereas, Google display ads and Facebook ads can help drive awareness for it.

Test > Learn > Apply
Now you want to test your set of channels one-by-one, using a split test approach, measuring the results and based on them, decide whether to scale up on a given channel or reduce your investment there. Testing and applying the learning is the best way to zero in on which channels should constitute your “priority set”.

We recommend starting with small tests and being methodical. Running several tests at once will only confuse your audience and give you unreliable data. When you see a channel working you should look to optimize, scale your investment and move on to the next channel, but, as we mentioned in Rule 3 (under Social Media), be sure to only scale up at the pace of your resources. If you can’t produce enough content to keep pace, a channel gets stale which does nothing for your business and will probably hurt you.

The Bullseye Framework

Ultimately, you’ll test each channel and methodically narrow it down to the ones that are most effective at building engagement with your content. One approach to doing that is the so called: Bullseye Framework. This is a three-step framework for efficiently finding the distribution channel that makes the most sense for your business and gets you traction. The primary questions every content marketer needs to try to answer are:

  • 1. Which channel’s driving the most traffic?—that is, on an absolute traffic volume basis
  • 2. Which channel’s driving the most valuable traffic?—i.e. which one is converting customers the best.
  • 3. Which channel is the most efficient?—i.e. which one is delivering the lowest cost per acquired audience member.

Generally speaking these questions take time and effort to answer, but the Bullseye framework is designed to get you there faster and more efficiently. This framework is built on the premise that there is one optimal channel but to find it you need to do structured testing. Like the MVP approach to product strategy, the Bullseye framework offers a way to efficiently find your audience acquisition channel sweet spot. Here’s a great post that covers this framework in greater detail.