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How To Choose the Best Distribution Channels for Your Content



Updated May 19, 2022

If you don’t distribute your content smartly, you’ll never achieve your brand’s content marketing goals.

But how do you know what the best channels are? This succinct guide outlines which distribution options work best, based on your goals and audience.

First, though, you must know two things: who the content is for and what it’s intended to help them achieve. Knowing your audience members’ intent allows you to craft content that will resonate most strongly with them.

Knowing your goals for the content helps you identify the purpose it serves (aka, the call-to-action) for your company and your audience. Both are essential to selecting an appropriate distribution method.

If you need some help determining your audience and setting goals, check out these resources:

Then, go through the list below to see which popular distribution options match up with what you want your brand’s content to achieve.

Influencer distribution

The Influencer industry has grown rapidly. According to an Influencer MarketingHub study, Influencer Marketing will be a $16.4 billion industry by the end of 2022.The reason? People are influenced by personal recommendations more than by any other sales or marketing strategy.

#InfluencerMarketing will be a $16.4 billion industry in 2022 according to @influencerMH #research via @IamAaronAgius via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Consider when pursuing these goals:

The audience connection

If you’re partnering with influencers who are already well-known and well-liked by your target audience, their content efforts can help shine a positive light on your business by strengthening brand perception and helping you build more trusted consumer relationships. It can also extend your brand’s reach by introducing you to consumers you aren’t already connected with.

Tip: Don’t forget to share the influencer’s content and brand promotions on other channels you use to distribute content. Even if your audience members aren’t already following those influencers, they may be impressed and influenced by seeing others endorse your business.

Relevant content

Yes, you can ask influencers to post about your blog articles in which they are mentioned or may be of interest to their audience, but you can also get more creative. Live stories on Instagram, Facebook, and even Snapchat are becoming go-to content for influencers.

Support your influencers with content that works well in a livestream. Offer to discuss a topic related to your industry or discuss your business. Or draw attention to other content you created, like a blog post, an image, a video, or a podcast.

Support influencers with #content that works well in a livestream, advises @IamAaronAgius via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Tip: Influencers are more likely to share and talk about content when they’re directly associated with it. Incorporate their names and social profiles into your content, whether it’s a quote in a blog post, a demo video, or something else.

Additional resources to explore:

Email distribution

Email is the most widespread distribution method. According to data from Statista, an estimated 4.6 billion people – half the world’s population – will be using email by 2025. And HubSpot reports that $1 spent on email marketing returns an average of $42.

Consider when pursuing these goals:

  • Website traffic
  • Brand loyalty
  • Marketing ROI
  • Generating revenue (through up-sells and cross-sells)

Audiences reached

Two broad categories of audiences fit under the email umbrella:

  • Current subscribers (i.e., people who have opted to receive your content)
  • Cold/warm contacts (i.e., email addresses you’ve purchased or rented, or that came in through third-party distribution).

Focus on your subscriber list. They know your brand and will likely be more receptive to your content than a list of strangers.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should send the same email content to everybody in your marketing database. You’re more likely to achieve your goals by segmenting your lists and delivering more-targeted content to each segment.

Don’t send the same #email content to everybody in your list. Segment your lists. @IAmAaronAgius via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Relevant content

Sending weekly or monthly email newsletters is a classic tactic for sharing your content – text, images, and video – and content links to drive traffic to your website.

Since you have some known details about your subscribers, consider personalizing the emails you send them. Go beyond “Dear {FIRST NAME}” and distribute content that’s hyper-relevant based on the individual and their reason (and timing) for subscribing. Research indicates (and logic dictates) that people want to receive content that’s accurate and relevant to their stated preferences, location, engagement history, etc.

You can also use your email newsletters as a cross-promotional content exchange (a different form of influencer marketing): Share relevant content from other brands and ask those companies to include your content in their newsletters.

Use your e-newsletters to cross-promote another brand’s #content, says @IamAaronAgius via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Tip: Create an automated email campaign with evergreen content. For example, when someone subscribes, send them a welcome email that features content about your company’s values.

Additional resources to explore:

Organic social media distribution

The social landscape is continually evolving. With the rise in live storytelling and streaming media, it’s increasingly becoming a content channel that can deliver immediacy, intimacy, and interactivity.

Consider when pursuing these goals:

  • Brand awareness
  • Building/nurturing consumer relationships
  • Lead generation
  • Increasing website traffic

Audiences reached

Sharing your content on your social media channels will primarily reach the audience you have grown on those platforms. Each audience typically reflects the people naturally drawn to use those channels. Let’s look at this recent breakdown of user demographics (from Sprout Social):

  • Facebook (most used social platform)
    • 91 billion monthly active users (MAU)
    • Most-represented age group: 25-34 (31.5%)
    • 57% male, 43% female
  • Instagram (a highly visual-oriented platform)
    • 2 billion MAU
    • Most-represented age group: 25-34 (31.2%)
    • 8% male, 48.4% female
  • LinkedIn (primarily B2B-focused)
    • 810 million MAU
    • Most-represented age group: 25-34 (58.4%)
    • 52% male, 48% female
  • Twitter (chronologically focused)
    • 211 million MAU
    • Most-represented age group: 18-29 (42%)
    • 6% male, 38.4% female
  • Snapchat (a time-dependent chat app)
    • 319 million MAU
    • Most-represented age group 15-25 (48%)
    • A higher concentration of women: 54.4% female, 44.6% male
  • TikTok (short form video app)
    • 1 billion MAU
    • Most-represented age group: 10-19 (25%)
    • 9% female, 39% male

Relevant content

Because of the nature of consumer engagement on social media, visual content works best, particularly still or moving images (e.g., GIFs, memes, infographics, short videos), as they can be digested and shared quickly.

Because of the way consumers engage on #social media, visual content works best, says @IamAaronAgius via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Live streaming content is another popular tactic – one that your audience expects to see on these channels. That said, as you move toward B2B social channels like LinkedIn and (to an extent) Facebook, longer-form, text-focused content may also work well.

Tip: Social media platforms are rented land when it comes to content distribution – your brand doesn’t truly own the relationships you build there. Consider ways to convert your social followers to other content channels where you’ll have more control, such as email.

Additional resources to explore:

Paid distribution

Paid content distribution covers myriad channels. It can be split into three broad categories:

  • Native advertising: Content that matches the look and feel of the originating publishing platform
  • Social media and search ads: Content strategically published by platforms (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Google) in their users’ feeds or in search results.
  • Content syndication: Display ads and content distributed by a third party to relevant sites and digital programs

Consider when pursuing these goals:

  • Website traffic
  • Brand awareness
  • Lead generation
  • Audience growth

Audiences reached

You can attract new audiences or people who are tangentially connected to your brand online. Since you’re footing the bill, you can customize who will see it – from their demographics to geographic location, to specific interests, etc.

When you pay for distribution, you can pick the audience that sees your #content, says @IamAaronAgius via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Relevant content

Paid distribution relies heavily on capturing attention immediately and making a good impression. Therefore, the content you distribute there should be hyper-useful, entertaining, or meaningful at a glance. Engaging imagery or video content with a brief intro (or text atop an image) is more likely to draw your audience in.

Tip: Before you pay to distribute your content on social media, test it organically on those same platforms. Pay to promote the best performers.

Additional resources to explore:

Give it time and pivot when necessary

After going through the distribution channel opportunities, pick the one that best matches your audience and goals. Focus on making that method work by reviewing your performance metrics regularly and tweaking accordingly (just don’t expect to see overnight results – delivering relevant content consistently is the name of the content marketing game). Once you’ve mastered that channel (or realized it isn’t an effective channel), move on to the next.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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Comparing Credibility of Custom Chatbots & Live Chat



Building Customer Trust: Comparing Credibility of Custom Chatbots & Live Chat

Addressing customer issues quickly is not merely a strategy to distinguish your brand; it’s an imperative for survival in today’s fiercely competitive marketplace.

Customer frustration can lead to customer churn. That’s precisely why organizations employ various support methods to ensure clients receive timely and adequate assistance whenever they require it.

Nevertheless, selecting the most suitable support channel isn’t always straightforward. Support teams often grapple with the choice between live chat and chatbots.

The automation landscape has transformed how businesses engage with customers, elevating chatbots as a widely embraced support solution. As more companies embrace technology to enhance their customer service, the debate over the credibility of chatbots versus live chat support has gained prominence.

However, customizable chatbot continue to offer a broader scope for personalization and creating their own chatbots.

In this article, we will delve into the world of customer support, exploring the advantages and disadvantages of both chatbots and live chat and how they can influence customer trust. By the end, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of which option may be the best fit for your business.

The Rise of Chatbots

Chatbots have become increasingly prevalent in customer support due to their ability to provide instant responses and cost-effective solutions. These automated systems use artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to engage with customers in real-time, making them a valuable resource for businesses looking to streamline their customer service operations.

Advantages of Chatbots

24/7 Availability

One of the most significant advantages of custom chatbots is their round-the-clock availability. They can respond to customer inquiries at any time, ensuring that customers receive support even outside regular business hours.


Custom Chatbots provide consistent responses to frequently asked questions, eliminating the risk of human error or inconsistency in service quality.


Implementing chatbots can reduce operational costs by automating routine inquiries and allowing human agents to focus on more complex issues.


Chatbots can handle multiple customer interactions simultaneously, making them highly scalable as your business grows.

Disadvantages of Chatbots

Limited Understanding

Chatbots may struggle to understand complex or nuanced inquiries, leading to frustration for customers seeking detailed information or support.

Lack of Empathy

Chatbots lack the emotional intelligence and empathy that human agents can provide, making them less suitable for handling sensitive or emotionally charged issues.

Initial Setup Costs

Developing and implementing chatbot technology can be costly, especially for small businesses.

The Role of Live Chat Support

Live chat support, on the other hand, involves real human agents who engage with customers in real-time through text-based conversations. While it may not offer the same level of automation as custom chatbots, live chat support excels in areas where human interaction and empathy are crucial.

Advantages of Live Chat

Human Touch

Live chat support provides a personal touch that chatbots cannot replicate. Human agents can empathize with customers, building a stronger emotional connection.

Complex Issues

For inquiries that require a nuanced understanding or involve complex problem-solving, human agents are better equipped to provide in-depth assistance.

Trust Building

Customers often trust human agents more readily, especially when dealing with sensitive matters or making important decisions.


Human agents can adapt to various customer personalities and communication styles, ensuring a positive experience for diverse customers.

Disadvantages of Live Chat

Limited Availability

Live chat support operates within specified business hours, which may not align with all customer needs, potentially leading to frustration.

Response Time

The speed of response in live chat support can vary depending on agent availability and workload, leading to potential delays in customer assistance.


Maintaining a live chat support team with trained agents can be expensive, especially for smaller businesses strategically.

Building Customer Trust: The Credibility Factor

When it comes to building customer trust, credibility is paramount. Customers want to feel that they are dealing with a reliable and knowledgeable source. Both customziable chatbots and live chat support can contribute to credibility, but their effectiveness varies in different contexts.

Building Trust with Chatbots

Chatbots can build trust in various ways:


Chatbots provide consistent responses, ensuring that customers receive accurate information every time they interact with them.

Quick Responses

Chatbots offer instant responses, which can convey a sense of efficiency and attentiveness.

Data Security

Chatbots can assure customers of their data security through automated privacy policies and compliance statements.

However, custom chatbots may face credibility challenges when dealing with complex issues or highly emotional situations. In such cases, the lack of human empathy and understanding can hinder trust-building efforts.

Building Trust with Live Chat Support

Live chat support, with its human touch, excels at building trust in several ways:


Human agents can show empathy by actively listening to customers’ concerns and providing emotional support.

Tailored Solutions

Live chat agents can tailor solutions to individual customer needs, demonstrating a commitment to solving their problems.


Human agents can adapt to changing customer requirements, ensuring a personalized and satisfying experience.

However, live chat support’s limitations, such as availability and potential response times, can sometimes hinder trust-building efforts, especially when customers require immediate assistance.

Finding the Right Balance

The choice between custom chatbots and live chat support is not always binary. Many businesses find success by integrating both options strategically:

Initial Interaction

Use chatbots for initial inquiries, providing quick responses, and gathering essential information. This frees up human agents to handle more complex cases.

Escalation to Live Chat

Implement a seamless escalation process from custom chatbots to live chat support when customer inquiries require a higher level of expertise or personal interaction.

Continuous Improvement

Regularly analyze customer interactions and feedback to refine your custom chatbot’s responses and improve the overall support experience.


In the quest to build customer trust, both chatbots and live chat support have their roles to play. Customizable Chatbots offer efficiency, consistency, and round-the-clock availability, while live chat support provides the human touch, empathy, and adaptability. The key is to strike the right balance, leveraging the strengths of each to create a credible and trustworthy customer support experience. By understanding the unique advantages and disadvantages of both options, businesses can make informed decisions to enhance customer trust and satisfaction in the digital era.

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The Rise in Retail Media Networks



A shopping cart holding the Amazon logo to represent the rise in retail media network advertising.

As LL Cool J might say, “Don’t call it a comeback. It’s been here for years.”

Paid advertising is alive and growing faster in different forms than any other marketing method.

Magna, a media research firm, and GroupM, a media agency, wrapped the year with their ad industry predictions – expect big growth for digital advertising in 2024, especially with the pending US presidential political season.

But the bigger, more unexpected news comes from the rise in retail media networks – a relative newcomer in the industry.

Watch CMI’s chief strategy advisor Robert Rose explain how these trends could affect marketers or keep reading for his thoughts:

GroupM expects digital advertising revenue in 2023 to conclude with a 5.8% or $889 billion increase – excluding political advertising. Magna believes ad revenue will tick up 5.5% this year and jump 7.2% in 2024. GroupM and Zenith say 2024 will see a more modest 4.8% growth.

Robert says that the feeling of an ad slump and other predictions of advertising’s demise in the modern economy don’t seem to be coming to pass, as paid advertising not only survived 2023 but will thrive in 2024.

What’s a retail media network?

On to the bigger news – the rise of retail media networks. Retail media networks, the smallest segment in these agencies’ and research firms’ evaluation, will be one of the fastest-growing and truly important digital advertising formats in 2024.

GroupM suggests the $119 billion expected to be spent in the networks this year and should grow by a whopping 8.3% in the coming year.  Magna estimates $124 billion in ad revenue from retail media networks this year.

“Think about this for a moment. Retail media is now almost a quarter of the total spent on search advertising outside of China,” Robert points out.

You’re not alone if you aren’t familiar with retail media networks. A familiar vernacular in the B2C world, especially the consumer-packaged goods industry, retail media networks are an advertising segment you should now pay attention to.

Retail media networks are advertising platforms within the retailer’s network. It’s search advertising on retailers’ online stores. So, for example, if you spend money to advertise against product keywords on Amazon, Walmart, or Instacart, you use a retail media network.

But these ad-buying networks also exist on other digital media properties, from mini-sites to videos to content marketing hubs. They also exist on location through interactive kiosks and in-store screens. New formats are rising every day.

Retail media networks make sense. Retailers take advantage of their knowledge of customers, where and why they shop, and present offers and content relevant to their interests. The retailer uses their content as a media company would, knowing their customers trust them to provide valuable information.

Think about these 2 things in 2024

That brings Robert to two things he wants you to consider for 2024 and beyond. The first is a question: Why should you consider retail media networks for your products or services?   

Advertising works because it connects to the idea of a brand. Retail media networks work deep into the buyer’s journey. They use the consumer’s presence in a store (online or brick-and-mortar) to cross-sell merchandise or become the chosen provider.

For example, Robert might advertise his Content Marketing Strategy book on Amazon’s retail network because he knows his customers seek business books. When they search for “content marketing,” his book would appear first.

However, retail media networks also work well because they create a brand halo effect. Robert might buy an ad for his book in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal because he knows their readers view those media outlets as reputable sources of information. He gains some trust by connecting his book to their media properties.

Smart marketing teams will recognize the power of the halo effect and create brand-level experiences on retail media networks. They will do so not because they seek an immediate customer but because they can connect their brand content experience to a trusted media network like Amazon, Nordstrom, eBay, etc.

The second thing Robert wants you to think about relates to the B2B opportunity. More retail media network opportunities for B2B brands are coming.

You can already buy into content syndication networks such as Netline, Business2Community, and others. But given the astronomical growth, for example, of Amazon’s B2B marketplace ($35 billion in 2023), Robert expects a similar trend of retail media networks to emerge on these types of platforms.   

“If I were Adobe, Microsoft, Salesforce, HubSpot, or any brand with big content platforms, I’d look to monetize them by selling paid sponsorship of content (as advertising or sponsored content) on them,” Robert says.

As you think about creative ways to use your paid advertising spend, consider the retail media networks in 2024.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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AI driving an exponential increase in marketing technology solutions



AI driving an exponential increase in marketing technology solutions

The martech landscape is expanding and AI is the prime driving force. That’s the topline news from the “Martech 2024” report released today. And, while that will get the headline, the report contains much more.

Since the release of the most recent Martech Landscape in May 2023, 2,042 new marketing technology tools have surfaced, bringing the total to 13,080 — an 18.5% increase. Of those, 1,498 (73%) were AI-based. 

Screenshot 2023 12 05 110428 800x553

“But where did it land?” said Frans Riemersma of Martech Tribe during a joint video conference call with Scott Brinker of ChiefMartec and HubSpot. “And the usual suspect, of course, is content. But the truth is you can build an empire with all the genAI that has been surfacing — and by an empire, I mean, of course, a business.”

Content tools accounted for 34% of all the new AI tools, far ahead of video, the second-place category, which had only 4.85%. U.S. companies were responsible for 61% of these tools — not surprising given that most of the generative AI dynamos, like OpenAI, are based here. Next up was the U.K. at 5.7%, but third place was a big surprise: Iceland — with a population of 373,000 — launched 4.6% of all AI martech tools. That’s significantly ahead of fourth place India (3.5%), whose population is 1.4 billion and which has a significant tech industry. 

Dig deeper: 3 ways email marketers should actually use AI

The global development of these tools shows the desire for solutions that natively understand the place they are being used. 

“These regional products in their particular country…they’re fantastic,” said Brinker. “They’re loved, and part of it is because they understand the culture, they’ve got the right thing in the language, the support is in that language.”

Now that we’ve looked at the headline stuff, let’s take a deep dive into the fascinating body of the report.

The report: A deeper dive

Marketing technology “is a study in contradictions,” according to Brinker and Riemersma. 

In the new report they embrace these contradictions, telling readers that, while they support “discipline and fiscal responsibility” in martech management, failure to innovate might mean “missing out on opportunities for competitive advantage.” By all means, edit your stack meticulously to ensure it meets business value use cases — but sure, spend 5-10% of your time playing with “cool” new tools that don’t yet have a use case. That seems like a lot of time.

Similarly, while you mustn’t be “carried away” by new technology hype cycles, you mustn’t ignore them either. You need to make “deliberate choices” in the realm of technological change, but be agile about implementing them. Be excited by martech innovation, in other words, but be sensible about it.

The growing landscape

Consolidation for the martech space is not in sight, Brinker and Riemersma say. Despite many mergers and acquisitions, and a steadily increasing number of bankruptcies and dissolutions, the exponentially increasing launch of new start-ups powers continuing growth.

It should be observed, of course, that this is almost entirely a cloud-based, subscription-based commercial space. To launch a martech start-up doesn’t require manufacturing, storage and distribution capabilities, or necessarily a workforce; it just requires uploading an app to the cloud. That is surely one reason new start-ups appear at such a startling rate. 

Dig deeper: AI ad spending has skyrocketed this year

As the authors admit, “(i)f we measure by revenue and/or install base, the graph of all martech companies is a ‘long tail’ distribution.” What’s more, focus on the 200 or so leading companies in the space and consolidation can certainly be seen.

Long-tail tools are certainly not under-utilized, however. Based on a survey of over 1,000 real-world stacks, the report finds long-tail tools constitute about half of the solutions portfolios — a proportion that has remained fairly consistent since 2017. The authors see long-tail adoption where users perceive feature gaps — or subpar feature performance — in their core solutions.

Composability and aggregation

The other two trends covered in detail in the report are composability and aggregation. In brief, a composable view of a martech stack means seeing it as a collection of features and functions rather than a collection of software products. A composable “architecture” is one where apps, workflows, customer experiences, etc., are developed using features of multiple products to serve a specific use case.

Indeed, some martech vendors are now describing their own offerings as composable, meaning that their proprietary features are designed to be used in tandem with third-party solutions that integrate with them. This is an evolution of the core-suite-plus-app-marketplace framework.

That framework is what Brinker and Riemersma refer to as “vertical aggregation.” “Horizontal aggregation,” they write, is “a newer model” where aggregation of software is seen not around certain business functions (marketing, sales, etc.) but around a layer of the tech stack. An obvious example is the data layer, fed from numerous sources and consumed by a range of applications. They correctly observe that this has been an important trend over the past year.

Build it yourself

Finally, and consistent with Brinker’s long-time advocacy for the citizen developer, the report detects a nascent trend towards teams creating their own software — a trend that will doubtless be accelerated by support from AI.

So far, the apps that are being created internally may be no more than “simple workflows and automations.” But come the day that app development is so democratized that it will be available to a wide range of users, the software will be a “reflection of the way they want their company to operate and the experiences they want to deliver to customers. This will be a powerful dimension for competitive advantage.”

Constantine von Hoffman contributed to this report.

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