Content Marketing: Product Information Distribution Platforms
This question keeps marketers awake at night. It’s that nagging feeling that their content marketing distribution strategy may have missed something.
Global content distribution platforms
To provide guidance in establishing your content distribution platform list, let’s examine Global Web Index’s 4Q2013 research results.
GWI asked respondents from 32 markets, representing roughly 90% of the global Internet audience: “Which of the following online sources are you primarily using when you are actively looking to find out more information about brands, products, or services?”
The top 3 product information sources are:
- 54% of respondents cited search engines as their go-to source for product information.
- 47% of respondents cited consumer review sites
- 36% of respondents cited product/brand websites sites
Search engine use for product information detail (research)
Search engine usage varies by age group.
- 63% of respondents aged 55-64 cited search engines.
- 48% of respondents aged 16-24 cited search engines.
Here’s how search engine usage breaks out across age groups and geographic regions. Note that there are differences between regions and the age groups across regions.
Similarly, various age groups use other product information sources differently.
Question & Answer site (like Quora) usage varies by age group. While not the top resources, they do hold more sway with younger buyers.
- 26% of respondents aged 16-24 cited Question & Answer sites
- 16% of respondents aged 55-64 cited Question & Answer sites
20 Content distribution platforms customers use for product information
The key to maximum content distribution is choosing the same content marketing platforms your target audience uses. Here are the 20 content distribution platforms ranked in Global Web Index’s 4Q2013 data.
- Search engines. Led by Google and YouTube, search engines have topped the distribution list for years. Don’t overlook tailored search listings in your vertical and on mobile. Here are content SEO insights from the experts.
- Customer review sites. Customers trust other customers in aggregate, not marketers. Among the biggies in this category include Amazon, TripAdviser and Yelp. If you don’t offer reviews, they’ll seek them elsewhere including from your competitors.
- Product/brand sites. As part of the research phase, customers seek deep product information. The more you provide without the promotion, the better it will perform.
- Blogs on products/brands. These sites are similar to product sites. Use of blogging software and structure helps your search rankings.
- Price comparison sites. Depending on your offering, price matters. In today’s mobile connected world, your competitor is a click away. Potential buyers will still research and check the price before they purchase.
- Message boards/forums. Usage varies based on your product and target audiences. This is where prospective shoppers go to evaluate different products, customer experience, and other factors that marketers may not provide. Consider having a member of your firm actively participate and become known as a reliable resource.
- Emails/newsletters from brands. Provide more than just promotional push communications or your information will be relegated to a junk mail folder that’s only checked before purchase for the best price.
- Question and answer sites. Quora is the best known of these sites but, depending on your vertical or category, there are other options. This is an information option that is more readily used by younger audiences.
- Social media network group. This is active involvement on a social media platform such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+. (Here’s research on social media and buying behavior.)
- Micro-blog site. While GWI mentioned Twitter, the term micro-blogging site can also apply to Tumblr. On Twitter, prospects are seeking mainly customer support and deals. By contrast, Tumblr can be used to provide visual support, especially for teens and twenty-somethings.
- Social media feeds/updates. These are communications received via an app or email.
- Instant messenger. This can be a great way to provide quick answers to prospects’ questions.
- Discount voucher/coupon sites. Understand that you’re reaching a cost-conscious customer here. It’s often a form of affiliate marketing. From a marketing perspective, it helps broaden your reach.
- Mobile app/services. This category encompasses a broad range of options. Your prospects and customers may have your tailored app or they may be using a third party version. Given the number of mobile-first and mobile-only users worldwide, you must make sure that your information appears here.
- Specialist topic sites. Think targeted interest sites. They can be blogs or third party media. This can be an opportunity for building a reputation in your field.
- Group buying sites. This refers to sales sites like Groupon that have lost their luster for many marketers and customers.
- Video/content sites. Prospects use a variety of different forms of information to research product purchase. Bear in mind that they want to see the products in their native environment. “How will this look in my apartment” or “Does this fit in with my existing wardrobe?”
- Online pinboards (Pinterest). While Pinterest drives sales, it’s still mainly a US-based social media option.
- Mapping services. Ignore these services at your peril, especially if you’re a small local retailer or food or entertainment establishment. On-the-go prospects check their mobile devices to find the closest place for whatever they need at the time. Take into consideration that this is being extended to cars as well. Don’t forget to include your phone number.
- Social bookmarking sites. This applies to a wide range of sites such as Reddit. Use them to get your content to rank rather than specifically pushing sales.
Content distribution platform consideration: While GWI’s research provides insights and direction for selecting the optimal content distribution, it’s an average across diverse age groups and global regions. Your audience’s activity and preferences may differ significantly.
Therefore, you need to take the time to get to know your target audience including the buyer, the end users, their influencers and the public, and you need to know where they seek product information.
Once you establish your content distribution platform checklist, continually test it to make modifications and changes based on the evolving needs of your audience.
What other content distribution platforms would you recommend and why?
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