In the same way that each person has a unique fingerprint, every brand seems to have their own complex publishing workflow.
Your mix of ideation, editorial creation, and distribution sets you apart from any other—and your audience notices. For all the work involved in bringing even a simple blog post to a page, marketers want to know that their content will actually be seen.
Are your readers early risers, or lunchtime browsers? Do they find your stories through email newsletters or social media updates? In either case, how do you keep yourself from getting drowned out by the noise, without dumping all your marketing budget into paid promotion?
A good understanding of timeliness and cadence is essential to your marketing strategy. There is no one perfect pace for brands or a magical hour where all content is best received. Establishing and maintaining a schedule for your content strategy communicates something of your brand attitude to your audience and shapes expectations for your brand, both from users and search engines.
Keep three goals in mind when trying to understand the “when” and “how often” of your brand’s publishing strategy.
A distribution strategy that balances these three goals should make it possible for your brand to maintain a content pipeline without burning out creatives, have room to react to trends or events that might affect audiences, and have measurement in place that inform decision-making and demonstrate worth.
Image attribution: Amine Rock Hoovr
Here’s how to amplify your content on some of the most popular distribution channels.
While it may be a distribution method as old as the web itself, email remains a high-performing channel for marketers looking to nurture an audience. Despite billions of emails being sent each day, email continues to be a high-interaction space that has stayed relevant with the times. How could timing impact the way your brand sends email?
One of the leading causes of email unsubscribes is overly frequent mail, typically preceded by declining open rates. A regular emailing cadence can ensure your content-oriented messages are spaced out from each other and from more sales-oriented material. A cadence of four to eight messages a month, depending on your mix of messages and your audience receptiveness, seems to work best.
When it comes to testing email, the primary factors that tend to impact open performance are day of send, time of send, and headline. The tricky part is knowing which of these factors lead to the outcomes you’re seeing. For determining timeliness, a strong approach is to choose a consistent time of day for sends. Then, A/B test two headlines with each send. After about a month of one send a week, you should have roughly standardized data that might indicate a soft spot in your weekly sends or a clear top-performing weekday to stick to.
There are three key metrics to think about when considering email publication. Open rate is the most obvious, as this indicates whether your email is being seen at all. Mailchimp found that about a 20 percent open rate is average across industries, so this can serve as a healthy starting benchmark. The second metric to consider is whether or not people are actually staying to read your content. A high open rate is good, but if it results in five-second sessions on your blog posts, you’re likely not getting the most out of your email.
Benchmark your site time on page averages against your email audiences (and keep in mind that many visitors might only visit one page of content) to determine how engaged your email audiences are. Lastly, you’ll want to keep an eye on your unsubscribes for each send and make sure this number stays under one percent.
Image attribution: Kaleidico
Few parts of the Internet move faster than social media, which can make it a difficult channel to work into your content marketing strategy. Along with innate differences in platform, marketers have to balance differences in audience demographics and behaviors across these massive community gathering grounds. So what does it look like when a brand gets timeliness right on social media?
I have found over the years that while many brands aspire to healthy social media marketing, most of them end up with some form of “sprint and stop” formula, where they leak out small streams of content for a time, then dump a huge number of posts for a campaign before dropping off again. Looking up best practices can be difficult as well—while most research suggests one post a day is best for Facebook, researchers also found anywhere between one and fifty-one posts to Twitter can work. Treat best practices as guidelines, not rules. You don’t need a maximum number per day; you need to be able to maintain a set volume of posting regularly. Consistency will always win over quantity.
Responsiveness in social media comes down to two elements: are you posting about what matters to your audience, and are you keeping up with conversation? Many brands lose out here by either only chasing conversations they find on social media, or by spreading themselves thinly across too many platforms. Your social media team needs to have the hours and human power necessary to find interesting content to share, and they need to be concentrated enough to be able to maintain fully engaged conversation on the platforms you choose. Start small and scale to new platforms if you need to, but cut away the chaff if you find some of your accounts aren’t getting support.
Social media might be one of the easiest channels for finding out ideal day and time of posting, because it’s often built right into the platform analytics. However, in addition to posting consistently during periods of high user volume, you also want to ensure that your content is doing work for you. Combining share and comment counts with visits and time on page can give you a granular, powerful look into when and how your social posting is doing the most work for your content hub.
At the end of the day, a timely distribution strategy is built on understanding how we as people interact with information. Consistency is comforting and makes it easy for us to seek content out. Quality and accuracy of information is always more important than having a high volume of spam shoveled into our inboxes. And lastly, consistency doesn’t mean stale content. When our needs or interests change, we want brands to notice and change with us.
Commit to consistency. Leave bandwidth for responsiveness. Follow the data when it tells you something has changed. Your audience will take care of the rest.
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Featured image attribution: Henri Pham