The Content Marketing Trifecta: 3 Vital Distribution Channels


At some point in your life, you’ve probably been asked the question, “If you were stranded on an island and could only take 3 things with you, what would you bring?”

You answer might be food, water, or a tent.

Personally, I’d go with Michael Phelps, an inner tube with a harness, and a stick with a gold medal attached to the end of it.

But what if you weren’t stranded on a regular island?

What if you were on a content marketing island and you could only bring 3 things to help you connect with someone from the outside world so they would come rescue you?

In that case, I’d want to make sure I could utilize the 3 distribution channels:

  • Owned media
  • Paid media
  • Earned media

I’d also want to understand how to use these channels to my advantage to get in touch with as many people as I possibly could.

As a business owner, you’re probably aware of all 3 of these distribution channels. The million-dollar question is: Are you using them to your full advantage?

In order to use the 3 distribution channels to their full advantage, you need to think about:

  • How you’re utilizing each channel
  • How you’re implementing each medium within a channel
  • How all your distribution channels work together as a whole

Take a minute to think about this, and then continue reading to discover how you can use all 3 distribution channels to reach as many people in the outside world as possible.

Owned Media Distribution Channel

Owned media distribution channels are anything you personally own, such as your website, blog, or social media pages.

Pretty simple, yes, but simply owning a website or blog isn’t enough to attract the attention of prospects.

There are many elements that help make your website or blog a quality distribution channel. Here are a few of these elements:

SEO Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of getting traffic from the free, organic, editorial, or natural search results on search engines. This includes strategically implementing the following things on your website:

  • Optimized keywords
  • Local search strategies
  • Alt tags and images
  • Title and meta descriptions
  • Link building
  • HTML code
  • SEO-friendly site architecture

And that’s just the beginning when it comes to SEO. It’s a lot to learn and implement, but it’s necessary if you want the search engines to rank your website and other content so people can find it.

Mobile Optimized Website

90% of internet users own a smartphone to search for content online instead of a computer.

If your website isn’t optimized for mobile search, you’re missing out on a lot of potential site traffic and business.

No need to worry though. It’s becoming easier to convert your current website to one that works on mobile devices.

In fact, most current website platforms are designed to cater to both computer and mobile access, so you don’t even have to think about it.

Social Media

All of your social media channels are extensions of your website or blog and should be included in your content marketing strategy.

The more social channels you use, the more opportunities prospects have to reach your content.

This doesn’t mean that you should sign up for a ton of social media accounts, and then just let them sit there. It’s important that you put some time and energy into every account you create.

Be sure to share content that lives on your owned distribution channel (website, blog, etc.).

And while you should have some fun on social media (personally we love sharing silly pet pictures), make sure that you’re also sharing valuable information on your channels.

This type of content is what helps draw in people to your business.

Here’s an example of how we utilized a few different posts over time:



Earned Media Distribution Channel

In simple terms, earned distribution channels come from online word of mouth. This can take place in any of the following forms:

  • Online mentions
  • Content shares
  • Content reposts
  • Recommendations
  • Content picked up by 3rd-party sites

Earned content distribution is wonderful, but it’s easier said than done.

The reason: you need to rely on someone else to find your information valuable enough to share.

How is it done? Well, there are two major ways to get your content noticed and shared by others.


Yup…here’s that pesky SEO thing again.

Before someone can share your content, or leave wonderful reviews, or recommend you online, they have to be able to find you while searching the web.

The better your content is optimized for SEO, the better it will rank on search engines.

This leads to more views, and if your content is valuable, it has the potential to be shared via earned distribution.

Craft Eye-Catching Content

If your content lacks value and is as interesting as paint drying on a wall, you’re in trouble when it comes to earned distribution.

The majority of earned content distribution occurs with marketing content that is out of the box, fun, engaging, controversial, or provides value to the person interacting with it.

You might remember this gem of a content marketing campaign for Dove beauty products called “Real Women, Real Rewards.”

During this campaign, Dove challenged the idea of beauty and how women see themselves.

The content was engaging, fun, heartwarming, and made women feel good about themselves.

Checkout one of the campaign TV ads, and you’ll quickly understand what inspired people to share Dove’s message with the world.


Reviews are probably one of easiest sources of earned distribution you can get.

The reason, however, many businesses don’t receive reviews is because they have nowhere for customers to place them.

This problem can be fixed by setting up local profiles like Google Plus or Yelp. Once you set up your profile, all you need to do is encourage people to leave you reviews for your business online.

As long as you have a quality product or service, you’d be surprised how many people will be willing to leave you feedback and refer others to your business.

Check out this review for a local restaurant:


Tip: You typically can get more reviews when you offer an incentive, such as a small gift or discount, for those who review you online.

Paid Media Distribution Channel

Last but not least is the paid distribution channel.

Including paid media distribution in your content marketing strategy can significantly increase business—when done correctly.

But what and who exactly are you paying and how does it work? Let’s break it down and go through it together.

Pay Per Click

Pay per click ads are exactly what they say they are.

You set up an ad and a budget for the ad, and then you pay every time someone clicks on the ad you created.

There are many mediums in which you can set up these ads. Most commonly people use…

Google Ads

Facebook Ads

Twitter Ads

LinkedIn Ads

Each platform contains a dashboard in which you can design your ad with text and images, set your budget, and monitor the performance of your ad.

Typically, people create their ads to promote a specific piece of content they want to share, information about their website, or a special event that’s going on.

You have the freedom to decide what you promote.


Consider retargeting the boomerang of the online ad world.

Here’s how it works:

1) You place a piece of code on your website, landing page, blogs, etc.

2) A prospect visits your page and checks out a product or lead magnet offering. For the sake of this example, let’s say it’s a Prada purse.

3) Prospect leaves your website without purchasing the Prada purse.

4) As your prospect continues to search the web, the code drops a browser cookie (virtual, not a real cookie. Bummer right?).

5) Later, when your prospect is back online, the cookie will trigger your retargeting provider and let them know when to serve an ad. That ad will contain the Prada purse the prospect looked at earlier.

The goal is to remind a prospect about products they looked at but didn’t purchase in hopes that they will go back to the product and actually buy it.

There are many companies that provide retargeting services.

When you decide to add retargeting into your strategy, do an online search and research a handful of companies to figure out what one will work best for your needs.

Paid Influencers

Paid influencers are a source of paid distribution that aren’t always talked about, but can be very effective in spreading your content.

This source of distribution works by leveraging the influence of a popular person (athlete, celebrity, fashion icon). This person is paid to talk about and promote your product or service.

Here’s a great example of a partnership with a paid influencer:

Kate Arends is a Pinterest Pro and has over 2.6 million followers on her Pinterest page.

She’s incredibly popular and is known for her knack of finding stylish and trendy products.

Companies often pay Kate to promote their products on her Pinterest page so they can get their product in front of her 2.6 million followers.

They pay Kate, Kate adds the product to her page, and that’s it.

Easy as pie.

Another example of paid influencer distribution on a much larger scale is Ellen DeGeneres who promotes CoverGirl’s makeup line.

Not only is she a paid a spokeswoman for the brand, but she often promotes the products on her Instagram page that hosts over 33.8 million followers.

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