How to Develop a Content Distribution Strategy with Hubspot’s SEO Strategist

Want to give your brand our business the best chance at success? Hubspot's SEO Strategist explains how to develop a content distribution strategy to reach your target audience.

How to Develop a Content Distribution Strategy with Hubspot's SEO Strategist
Portrait for Tony DoBy Tony Do  |  Updated August 29, 2023

If you’re in the content business, you likely understand distribution’s considerable role in your team’s success. As important as it is to create content for the buyer’s journey, it’s just as essential to determine how that content will reach your audience.

As SEO Strategist for HubSpot, I’ve put together this guide to outline how to develop a content distribution strategy, and how understanding your audience is the key to an effective distribution strategy. But first, let’s touch on the basics.

What Is a Content Distribution Strategy?

Content distribution occurs when you publish, share, and promote content through various marketing channels, like email or social media. 

In that sense, a content distribution strategy results from all the planning and preparation to ensure your content distribution activities are successful. That includes establishing your content distribution goals and how you plan to achieve them using the available distribution channels. 

What are the Benefits of a Content Distribution Strategy?

A content distribution strategy is advantageous to content teams because:

  • It establishes the objectives and metrics you can use to measure the performance of your content distribution activities. The goals will help your team focus, and the metrics will enable you to see how well your content marketing goes beyond just publishing content on various channels.
  • It boosts the impact of your content by ensuring that it appears in front of the right people. 

How to Develop an Effective Content Distribution Strategy

With the basics out of the way, let’s dive into the steps you must take to develop an effective content distribution strategy.

Set a Content Distribution Goal

Content distribution isn’t about getting your content in front of the most people — it’s about getting it in front of the right people. That’s why you need to set a goal in your content distribution strategy.

The key to a great content distribution goal is making it SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. In addition to this, you also need to have metrics that you can use to measure progress toward achieving your distribution goals.

For instance, if one of your goals is to increase traffic to your website, you could use the number of unique page views you get from each marketing channel as a metric to measure that goal. 

Identify Your Audience’s Preferred Channels

Not all channels will reach your target audience. That’s why it’s essential to understand where your audience consumes content and conducts research. Identifying your audience’s preferred channels is critical when building an effective content distribution strategy.

Here are five tips to meet your audience where they are:

1. Buyer Personas

First, use buyer personas. Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on market research and real data. They’re one of the core elements of building an effective inbound marketing strategy since they inform your content and messaging. Buyer personas often include demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, challenges, and goals. They can even outline where your potential customers consume content or conduct research.

Here’s an example of a buyer persona that HUCACE, a global provider of pre-employment recruitment solutions, created: HR Tina Manager.

buyer persona example

You’ll find information about Tina’s most used channels in this example. 

By understanding how she engages with them, HUCACE can create an action plan across multiple content distribution channels that caters to Tina throughout the sales funnel. For instance, since Tina researches information online and chats with her colleagues to discover best practices, HUCACE could create high-quality blog content that matches her interests to get her to engage with their brand. 

Similarly, Tina prefers reputable brands when she’s close to buying. That means she could be influenced by social proof at the later stages of the funnel, so HUCACE should think about how they could use testimonials, social media, and referral programs to get Tina to convert.

Relying on your buyer personas is a great place to start when seeking information about your target audience’s online behaviors. Learn how to create a buyer persona by checking out this page.

2. Online Research

You should also conduct online research. You can find much free information online about your buyer’s content habits, especially from marketing and tech companies. Each year, HubSpot partners with Litmus and Wistia to publish a “State of Marketing” report that helps marketers prioritize their strategies and outperform their goals.

Hubspot's state of marketing report

This report gathers data from over 1,200 global marketers and includes insights and predictions from industry thought leaders.

Another company you can rely on to find comprehensive marketing insights is the Content Marketing Institute. You’ll find reports like this annual B2B Content Marketing Report that shares data and insights about content creation and distribution. 

3. Audience Feedback

Collecting feedback from your current audience is another helpful option. You can collect feedback in several ways, like sending online surveys, conducting one-on-one interviews, launching social media polls, or running focus groups.

Online surveys and social media polls allow you to gather quick insights about specific topics. They also enable you to reach wider audiences without substantial time and effort. Fair warning: Surveys can sometimes skew answers based on how a question is asked or the answer options provided.

Conducting one-on-one interviews is more time-consuming than surveys or polls, but they allow you to gather more in-depth details. For example, you can ask clarifying questions or ask your interviewee to elaborate on their answers. One-on-one interviews are great for gathering qualitative insights that provide deeper perspectives.

Focus groups are similar to one-on-one interviews, but they include more people. They allow you to collect qualitative feedback through a group discussion. However, focus groups can cause “groupthink” – when everyone rallies behind an idea to move on or avoid conflict. Collecting accurate feedback is all about asking open-ended questions to minimize this.

4. Social Listening

audience insight tools

If you’re like most marketers, you might not have time to conduct thorough research about your target audience’s preferred channels. That’s why tapping into audience insight tools can help. Consider looking into SparkToro, a tool that crawls millions of social and web profiles to find what your target audience reads, listens to, watches, follows, and talks about online. For example, if you were looking to run podcast ads that reach college professors, this tool can list all the podcasts your target audience listens to.

You should also consider social listening tools that allow you to monitor what your customers and prospects say about your business, products, content, and more. 

5. Analytics

Finally, you should review your analytics. While this might be less relevant for newer businesses, analytics is a goldmine for marketers who have already been distributing content. You can discover where most of your leads and customers are coming from and incorporate that information into your content distribution strategy. Most content distribution platforms will already have built-in reporting and analytics, but consider using HubSpot’s Reporting Software or Google Analytics to get an overview of all the channels your audience uses.

Google Analytics provides a traffic feature that identifies the channels your website visitors and target audience are coming from. Reviewing your analytics will help you discover the channels driving the most success, so you can feel confident using those channels again.

Now that you have a few new ideas for identifying your target audience’s preferred channels, it’s time to research. It doesn’t matter how you go about your research, but it does matter how accurate and reliable your data is. Consider these options to ensure your content reaches your target audience every time you hit publish.

How to Test New Marketing Channels

An effective content distribution strategy requires consistent content optimization. Identifying a goal and understanding your target audience will help you choose the right channels, but running tests will refine your strategy and maximize your distribution efforts.

In the context of developing a content distribution strategy, testing involves running experiments that help you determine the most effective distribution channels. This is helpful for those interested in exploring a new channel because it allows you to discover new channel opportunities with minimal risk. Rather than testing new channels during important campaigns and hoping for the best, you can feel confident running carefully crafted tests that ensure long-term success.

But make sure you use only a few variables or forget to test for statistical significance. In marketing, statistical significance is when the results of your research show that the tested variables influence each other and aren’t random.

Let’s say you test promoting content through LinkedIn and see 50 more conversions than your other social media channels bring. Just because LinkedIn converted more contacts doesn’t mean it’ll produce higher conversions next time. Running statistically significant tests will ensure you can recreate these results for future promotions.

So, how can you effectively run tests that provide reliable results? There are five steps:

1. Identify a Test Channel

Identifying a channel to test is first. Choosing a channel depends on your goals, target audience, and whether you have the resources to create promotional assets for that channel. Let’s use an example to help illustrate what this could look like.

test channel

SnoozeCity, a fictitious mattress retailer, created a new mattress quiz to help struggling sleepers assess the right mattress for them. They wanted this content to drive new leads for the company and set a goal to generate 1,000 leads by the end of the year. Knowing they had a hefty goal to achieve, they considered promoting the content through Instagram — a channel that worked for them previously. Still, they also wanted to test another channel that could drive better results. 

They planned to target their primary buyer persona, Side-sleeper Solange and learned this audience used social media. They evaluated the different social media channels and considered the resources needed to create promotional assets for each channel. SnoozeCity decided to test promoting their content through TikTok and compared the results to Instagram – a great example of considering your goals, audience, and resources to choose the right channel.

2. Develop a Hypothesis

Once you’ve chosen your channel, it’s time to develop your hypothesis. A hypothesis is a research-based statement that aims to explain an observed trend and create a solution to improve the result. Like a science experiment, creating a hypothesis will give you direction for what you’re testing and serve as a benchmark for whether the experiment met your expectations. Let’s revisit SnoozeCity.


SnoozeCity wanted to test whether TikTok was a worthy new channel to invest in by comparing its performance to Instagram, which they knew worked. A hypothesis for their test was: Promoting the mattress quiz through TikTok will drive 10% more conversions than promoting it through Instagram.

This hypothesis is strong because it’s specific and doesn’t tackle multiple variables simultaneously. When developing your hypothesis, make sure it has a clear metric, isn’t subjective, and you can prove or disprove it.

3. Build Your Test

Now it’s time to build your test. This is where you take your hypothesis and figure out how to create and launch your experiment. Important details should include your promotional assets, the test timeline, KPIs (key performance indicators), and DRIs (directly responsible individuals) for the major activities.

Here’s what SnoozeCity’s test looked like.


They planned to run their test for one month, starting May 1st and ending May 31st. It was important to gather a large sample size, so they planned to promote the content three times on each channel. They needed to create three video assets to share on both channels and the quiz’s landing page. Their KPI was quiz conversions. Finally, they assigned DRIs to major activities, such as “Keyana to create the video assets,” “Calvin to run the Instagram promotions,” and “Flora to monitor the TikTok promotions.”

Your test should provide just as many details or more. Ensure you’re running your test long enough to gather enough data and minimize any variables outside of your hypothesis. Test durations vary and depend on when you’ll reach statistical significance, but experts recommend running your test for at least one or two weeks.

4. Run an Experiment

After you’ve built your test, it’s time to run the experiment. You can continually monitor the test to ensure all promotions have gone out as planned but don’t get too wrapped up in the results. Making assumptions during the experiment can be tempting, but allowing your test to run its course will ensure accuracy. Once the system has reached completion, it’s time to analyze the results.

One of the most critical aspects of this step is to test for statistical significance. Consider using HubSpot’s free Significance Calculator. The other important aspect is to determine whether your hypothesis is correct. 

Let’s see how these things turned out for SnoozeCity.

5. Analyze Your Results

testing results

After running the experiment for one month, SnoozeCity found the quiz landing page received 2,000 views during the test period. Instagram converted 150 people, an 8% conversion, and TikTok converted 390, a 20% conversion. The team used HubSpot’s Significance Calculator and determined the test was statistically significant. The hypothesis was correct since TikTok drove 12% more conversions than Instagram. This test informed the team that TikTok was a reliable channel they could use for future promotions.

Similarly, your analysis should include metrics and what those metrics mean for your distribution strategy. It’s okay if your hypothesis proved incorrect since this information is still valuable in understanding which channels aren’t worth your time and money.

Testing new channels using this five-step framework will ensure you’re creating repeatable experiments that are statistically significant. You’ll be able to trust your results and feel confident deciding what this means for your distribution strategy. The more you test, the more you’ll learn. And the more you know about how your content performs on each channel, the easier it’ll be to reach your target audience online.

Develop an Effective Content Distribution Strategy Today

The benefits of having a strategy for your content distribution efforts are clear. As long as you set a smart goal and ensure that you’re targeting the proper channels for your audience, you should be able to get your content in front of the right people. Good luck!

Meet the Author: Tony Do

Tony is a Marketing Manager, Digital Marketer, and SEO Strategist for HubSpot and a University of California San Diego graduate. Outside of marketing, Tony enjoys exploring the forests of Portland, Oregon, and producing content for his marketing firm.

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