Not seeing the results you expected from your content marketing distribution plan?
Then maybe it’s time you start investing in paid content distribution. Even brands that produce great content and have loyal followings need paid content distribution in order to cut through the noise and reach their intended audience.
According to research from Clutch, 71% of marketers use some form of paid content promotion as part of their marketing strategy—and 85% say paid tactics are more effective than organic (unpaid) tactics.
And before you say you don’t have the money to invest in paid content distribution, consider that you’re already investing an arguably more valuable asset into your content marketing distribution efforts—your time.
With paid content distribution, you can amplify the impact of your content without spending hours building backlinks, writing guest posts, or reworking old content.
In this guide, we’ll show you exactly how to get started with paid content distribution. But first, let’s learn a bit more about what paid content distribution is.
What is Paid Content Distribution
At the risk of sounding obvious, paid content distribution is any content distribution/promotion that you have to pay for out of pocket. Examples of paid content distribution include:
- Native ads
- Search engine marketing
- Recommended content
- Paid social media marketing
- Influencer marketing
- SMS marketing
We’re going to go in-depth on how all of these paid content distribution channels work in a moment. First, it’s important to explain why paid content distribution is a worthwhile investment. Here are some of the benefits of paid content distribution:
- Targets a highly specific audience: Most advertising platforms allow you to determine when, where, and how your content is served to users.
- Reaches new audiences easier: When you publish new content, it only circulates amongst your current audience. With paid content distribution, you can pick new audiences to share your content with.
- Increases organic search engine rankings: Paid content distribution should be done in conjunction with your organic marketing efforts. Fortunately, paid promotion has a positive impact on organic promotion. As more people find your content through paid, you’ll generate backlinks, which will increase your organic ranking.
- Serves as a litmus test for content: If you have content that already converts, putting paid promotion behind it can amplify its impact, and drive more users towards high-value actions.
Also keep in mind that most, if not all, of your competitors are already investing in paid content distribution. By not putting some money behind your content, you’re putting yourself at an extreme disadvantage before you even hit “publish.”
Now that you understand the benefits of paid content distribution, let’s learn about the paid content distribution channels available to you.
Types of Paid Content Distribution
We’ve already mentioned all of the different paid content distribution formats. Here’s the lowdown on each one, and why you should consider using it.
Native advertising—also sometimes referred to as “sponsored content” or “advertorials”—is content paid for by a brand that appears in a third-party publication or on social media. The content is designed to fit in alongside the publication’s editorial content, meaning it’s informational and representative of the content readers would typically find within that publication.
Oftentimes you’ll see a native ad labeled as “promoted” or “sponsored.” Most native ads come with a PPC (pay-per-click) or CPM (cost-per-impression) fee structure. This means the publication determines how often your native ad will be served to your audience based on your budget.
You can choose to promote one specific piece of content on a channel or publication where you know your audience will find it, or pick several different channels to promote your content on—it all depends on your strategy and target audience.
Native ads can help you foster brand affinity because they are helpful, rather than sales-y or transactional.
Paid search—also known as search engine marketing—is when you pay to have your ad appear at the top of search engine results pages for a targeted set of keywords related to your business.
In order to get your ads to appear at the top, you need to bid on specific keywords. Google’s algorithm then evaluates your ad against competitors looking to target the same keyword as well as your budget, and determines when and how it will display your ad. You’re then charged on a PPC (pay-per-click) basis.
The reason paid search is so desirable is because everyone uses search engines—namely Google—to find information. But most searchers don’t scroll past the first few results before clicking out to a link. By having your ad appear at the top of search results, you increase the likelihood that yours is the link that will be clicked on.
Of course, you can also try to get your link to appear at the top of search engine results pages organically, but this takes months if not years of link building. By using paid search, you maximize exposure, which in turn can expedite the amount of time it takes for your content to rank organically.
A cheaper alternative to native ads is recommended content. This is an article served to a reader at the bottom of a piece of content they just read, that is selected based on the reader’s preferences. By serving up your content here, you can ensure that you’re targeting people that already have an interest in your product or service.
Recommended content is usually charged on a PPC or pay-per-impression basis. It can appear as a full article, snippet, or link.
The most popular paid content distribution tactic is paid social. With paid social, you pay a fee (either PPC or pay-per-impression) to increase your content’s chances of being served to your target audience on the social media network of your choosing. Like native ads, paid social posts usually come with a “sponsored” or “promoted” tag.
However, paid social offers more promotional methods and platforms than paid ads. You can choose to promote one piece of content on one platform, or create a campaign that targets specific segments of your audience across the social media platforms they use most often. With paid social, you can cut through the noise and ensure your content gets seen by the right people.
Here are some of the most popular paid social content formats:
- Facebook: 84% of B2B marketers use Facebook to drive traffic to their content. Through this paid social platform, you can share sponsored posts to users’ news feeds, boost visibility of posts you share on your own page, pin posts to the top of your page, A/B test ad copy, and target based on demographics, interests, connections, and behaviors.
- LinkedIn: With over 500 million users, LinkedIn is the most popular B2B paid social platform after Facebook. Through LinkedIn you can share native ads, text and image ads (sidebar images placed on targeted pages, similar to recommended content), and sponsored InMail messages. You can target users by demographic, company, job title, industry, company size, university, and more. Pricing is on a PPC or cost-per-impression basis.
- Twitter: With Twitter, brands can pay to boost the visibility of their content to make it more likely to appear in people’s feeds. Of course, those posts will be hit with a “promoted” tag, but it’s still your best option to ensure you reach your targeted audience on a platform oversaturated with content. You can target users based on the people they follow, their interests, the keywords in their tweets, and their user behavior.
- Instagram: With Instagram, you can promote content on your own profile or arrange to have targeted ads appear in users’ feeds. You can also have your ads appear within users’ Instagram stories. In order to get started, you must create a business account and link it to your Facebook profile. You can then manage your Instagram ads from your Facebook Ads Manager account.
- YouTube: Given that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world (and owned by Google), advertising on the video network is similar to paid search. Through your Google Business account, you can arrange to have your video content promoted on third-party channels across the Google Display network. You can also insert a simple targeted ad before a video based on viewer preferences, behavior, channels they follow, and more.
Our next paid content distribution channel is influencer marketing. With influencer marketing, you pay influencers within your industry to promote content to their followers on behalf of your brand. This promotion can happen in a variety of formats, including a tweet, guest blog post, Instagram post, or guest spot on your podcast. It’s an effective paid marketing tactic because it uses people your audience already knows and trusts to promote your products and services in a way that doesn’t come across as overtly sales-y.
Using influencers can lend credibility to your brand and expose you to new audiences. Just make sure you do your homework and find influencers you know your audience cares about.
Our last paid content distribution channel is SMS marketing—also known as text message marketing. With text message marketing, your brand sends texts directly to your users promoting new content, special deals, or important business updates.
It’s an effective paid content channel because text messages feel more urgent to users than most other modes of communication. 95% of users will read a text message within the first five minutes of receiving it.
Most brands work with an SMS marketing company to send text messages to their subscribers. These businesses charge a monthly fee based on how many text messages you want to send.
Get The Most Out of Your Paid Content Distribution Strategy
We hope now you can see that paid content distribution should be part of your marketing strategy. But in order to get the most bang for your buck, you need to be smart about how and where you deploy your marketing dollars. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you develop your paid content distribution plan:
- Know your audience: If you don’t know who you’re targeting with your paid content distribution, you’re going to waste money advertising on channels where your customers aren’t. Therefore it’s imperative to develop your buyer personas before you pick your paid content distribution channels.
- Leverage your best content: You may think it’s counterintuitive to use your marketing budget to promote content that’s already performing well for you. But look at it the other way: Why spend money promoting content that hasn’t proven to be popular with your audience? You want to double down on what’s already working, as that is what will guarantee positive returns.
- Pick your keywords carefully: If you’re targeting keywords that will trigger your ads, make sure you know which ones your customers care about. This goes back to having a solid understanding of who your audience is.
- Craft powerful copy: Your word count is limited with paid ads, so you need to be creative with what you say to entice your reader to click through.
- Use imagery: Most promoted posts allow you to include a thumbnail. Make sure it’s eye-catching and compliments your copy nicely.
- Optimize landing pages: If you do get your reader to click-through, make sure your landing page is somewhere they want to be. This means it delivers on the promise provided in the ad, and provides clear and relevant information.
- Don’t overextend yourself: Paid content distribution should be part of your broader strategy—not the entire strategy. That means you shouldn’t blow your entire budget trying to promote your content. Only spend as much as you feel comfortable losing. Otherwise other parts of your marketing strategy may suffer.
Knotch Can Help With Paid Content Distribution
Knotch is the Content Intelligence Platform for brands looking to maximize the impact of their content marketing strategy. Our Content Planning Platform, Knotch Blueprint, offers brands unprecedented insight into the paid content distribution strategies of their top competitors.
Using Blueprint, brands can see exactly which publications their competitors are creating native ads for, as well as the topics and keywords they’re focusing on in their paid content. Users can select brands and publishers to follow, be alerted every time competitors publish new paid content, and generate comprehensive competitor reports.
Knotch clients use Blueprint to identify new content opportunities, publisher partnerships, and creative ideas.
Try Knotch Blueprint Today
If you’re ready to optimize your paid content distribution strategy, check out Knotch Blueprint for more details, and request a demo to see it in action.