How to perfect your owned media distribution strategy

Solomon Radley01/04/2019

Without the right owned media ecosystem in place, you’re essentially wasting up to 98 per cent of the prospects your awareness campaigns bring in. So, here’s how to build an owned media strategy that works.

All your marketing activities are connected.

The same content can often be promoted in your owned channels, amplified through paid promotion, shared widely by your followers and referenced in pieces of earned media coverage.

These different channels may once have been separate. But today, the lines are blurred. As owned media grows ever more intertwined with paid and earned, it’s increasingly important for B2B brands to deliver consistent messages across their whole media mix.

That’s especially true when you consider how complex and time consuming the B2B buying process has become.

Getting someone to engage with a top‐of‐funnel campaign is just the beginning. It takes multiple touches across many different touchpoints to generate a qualified lead. And you’ll usually need to repeat that process with several different stakeholders to close a deal.

Sure, a small percentage of the people who visit your website will already know exactly what they want and be ready to buy it from you. But the proportion of your audience that’s actively looking to purchase something at any given time could be as low as 2 – 5 per cent.

That means, without a strong owned media ecosystem in place you’re essentially wasting up to 98 per cent of the prospects your awareness campaigns bring in.

Meanwhile, brands that invest in their owned media infrastructure are far better equipped to control their message and stay ‘top of mind’ as prospects research their needs. What’s more, they can gather useful insights about their audiences in a way that’s impossible with paid media.

So today, we’ll show you how to get your owned media mix in order. Even if you already have the basics in place, this post will help you identify any weak points in your strategy and provide actionable advice about how to optimise your approach.

In the process, you’ll discover how to master three channels the 4,100 marketing leaders that took part in Salesforce’s fifth State of Marketing survey say deliver exceptional ROI throughout the customer journey: email, social media and websites.

Why you need a centralised content hub

Where you publish your brand’s content is important.

In days gone by, B2B marketers would post the odd article onto blogs hidden away on their company’s website. They might promote a new post once via email or social media. Then, they’d leave it to gather dust.

At the time, that might have been good enough. But the amount of content being created has shot up in recent years.

With so much content freely available, information overload can be crippling for B2B buyers. The most common challenges they face at the start of the buying process are identifying relevant information, interpreting conflicting information and knowing how much information is enough.

The silver lining is that companies that make it easy to overcome these challenges establish themselves as credible and authoritative information sources in the minds of potential customers.

It’s the marketers who think like publishers that manage to cut through the noise in today’s competitive content landscape. That’s why so many brands now produce regular content and house it all on bespoke content hubs.

Having a centralised home for your brand’s content extends the lifespan of your assets by making it easier for users to find relevant articles. It also helps search engines to find and rank your content and forms a solid core you can build the rest of your owned media strategy around.

Just nine months after its launch, IT specialist Lenovo’s content hub, Tech Revolution, had generated $30 million in attributable sales. This dedicated section of the company’s corporate site is now an established destination for IT thought leadership and has attracted 170,000 unique users to date.

Communications software provider Cision took a different approach with its content hub, Earned Media Rising. Launching this independent microsite in partnership with PR Week has helped to ensure the company’s target audience of PR professionals trusts the content it posts there.

So, there are a few different models that can be effective here. The key thing is to make sure the system you design feeds into your broader marketing strategy and complements your corporate website.

Your content hub will attract customers looking to discover more about pressing business challenges and how your brand can help with them. Over time, it will help you build up a loyal following of ideal prospects and keep your brand ‘front of mind’ as they research their business needs.

Meanwhile, your main corporate site will contain information for existing clients and prospects who are further along the buying process.

Updating these two halves of your content operation regularly will help you engage prospects who are independently researching their needs at all stages of the buying process. As Sirius Decisions reports, up to 67 per cent of the B2B buyer journey now involves self‐directed research online.

You can then repurpose and promote this content throughout your whole media mix to engage your audience across all your key touchpoints.

Owning your digital media presence

Once you’ve built your content hub, you still need a strategy for drawing qualified traffic to it – and owned media has a role to play here, too.

Search engines and social media will usually be the greatest organic referrers of traffic to your website at the start of the customer journey. More than 70 per cent of buyers begin their research with a search online, while 75 per cent of B2B buyers use social media to inform their decisions.

That means you’ll need to know which social media platforms your target audience uses and maintain a strong presence on each of them. The same goes for content sharing platforms like YouTube and Tumblr.

Posting regularly on your chosen platforms is key. And your content hub will pay dividends here by ensuring you always have something valuable to say.

Establish clear guidelines to ensure your posts are optimised for each platform, in line with your content messaging framework, eye‐catching and consistent with your brand’s look‐and‐feel.

Then, look for ways to boost your organic engagement through testing different post types and targeting any specific times or days when your audience is most active online.

Remember that some of the prospects you reach with paid social campaigns will respond to them by visiting your brand’s social pages and feeds. So, it’s important to make sure what they find when they do so is up to date and in keeping with your latest brand guidelines.

Social sharing can also generate significant spikes in web traffic when a piece of content resonates strongly with your audience. Meanwhile, posting in special interest groups on sites like LinkedIn is still an effective tactic for getting your content in front of the right target audience.

Social media groups generate a steady stream of traffic for Business of Marketing, and we’ve seen the number of views certain posts are receiving shoot up tenfold when our audience shares them widely online.

Optimising your email marketing channels

Two thirds of marketers say email delivers ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ ROI. And the further down the customer journey you go, the more important your email channels will become.

Marketing emails and newsletters are unique in that your audience has opted into receiving them. So, they’ll typically receive better engagement than your other media channels.

The key thing here is to ensure email doesn’t become a neglected part of your marketing strategy. You should always be innovating and thinking up new ways to boost the performance of your marketing emails.

Consider whether your current regime is the best way to achieve your goals. Then, look for opportunities to improve your content distribution through better email list segmentation and performing regular split tests to identify the best ways to reach and engage your followers.

Test different subject lines, email templates, email frequencies and send times to discover what your audience responds to best

In our experience, different segments of your audience will respond to different messages. Bold or provocative subject lines may be great for nurturing emails. But it’s generally better to be clear and to‐the‐point with operational content like ‘thank you’ emails.

It can also be worth designing campaigns to reengage lapsed audience members who have stopped using your services or engaging with your content. Extending a special offer or asking for feedback about your content can both be effective tactics, here.

Don’t be afraid of unsubscribes when running lapsed user campaigns. Removing old names from your mailing lists will ensure you’re only contacting relevant and engaged prospects, improving the deliverability and engagement your email campaigns receive in general.

With a solid strategy for all three of these key owned media channels in place, you’ll be in a far better position to guide prospects efficiently through the customer journey.

When your design, tone and messaging is consistent between all three, your organic social media will feed seamlessly into your content hub – which will funnel prospects naturally into your email nurturing programme.

When you can do that, every penny you spend on paid or earned media campaigns will go a whole lot further.

Key takeaways

  • Build your owned media strategy around a content hub. This will help your content rank in search engines and make it easier for prospects to find the information they’re looking for.
  • Organic social media still matters. Establish defined social content guidelines and maintain a strong presence on the platforms your target audience uses the most.
  • Email is vital for lead nurturing and post‐purchase engagement. You should always be innovating and thinking up new ways to boost the performance of your marketing emails.