Sometimes we as marketers need a little help getting our content into the right hands. Emailing our databases, pushing on social, and manually sending out content to partner sites (with no guarantee that it’ll get shared) can only go so far.
Enter: content syndication. To help reach your lead goals, syndicating your content can help you reach potential customers who you may not have ever had access to.
So what is content syndication?
Content syndication is essentially when you give your content away to someone else to use and promote while you retain the full copyrights for the sole purpose of driving traffic or conversions to your site. A popular content syndication technique is cross-posting blog posts to sites like Medium, Quora, or LinkedIn with a tagline at the bottom such as, “This post first appeared on ___.”
Conversely, publishers like Fortune & Huffington Post will grab content from Quora to use in their articles & essays.
On a more tactical level, if you are scratching your head about demand generation campaigns, paid content syndication networks are worth a closer look.
Content syndication networks operate by hosting your content like eBooks, white papers, or other assets on their own site and libraries and leveraging their existing network and reach to drive people to those assets. The content is gated so visitors have to fill out a form in order to gain access.
At Uberflip, we work extensively with content syndication networks to generate inbound leads. Some of our vendors include Demand Works Media, Netline, Integrate, True Influence & Madison Logic. We also work with a Webinar Syndication network, BrightTalk, to exclusively distribute and generate leads from our webinars – which we do a lot of.
Targeting your content syndication for success
Content syndication isn’t automatically flowers and rainbows. It's extremely important to have very tight targeting for content syndication networks (like any other marketing campaigns) otherwise, you run the risk of inflating your CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) while not really scaling your LTV (Lifetime Value).
You can set up your targeting to be generalized or explicit. To some degree, you can make an assumption that a certain type of content will be geared towards a certain type of lead you want to acquire.
Examples of generalized targeting:
eBook about Email Marketing will attract someone who is in a marketing role but variable company size.
eBook about Sales Operations will lean towards mid-large sized companies since they’re probably at the stage where they have that type of role.
eBook on Marketing Automation would be of interest to B2B companies as opposed to B2C.
Case Study on a specific industry would narrow down your audience to that industry.
But you should explicitly define your target audience with your vendor otherwise, you will end up sending non-qualified inbound leads to your sales team and see the effects trickle down the funnel from SQLs to Opps to close.
Examples of explicit targeting:
Company size of 100–5000 companies. Company size is also a great proxy for revenue if you don’t ask that question in the form.
Define the job titles or departments according to your buyer personas. This will help you map and segment the leads into the various buckets in your database and set up campaigns accordingly. The caveat here being that you also need to keep in mind the site/publisher you are using to syndicating the content. If you're placing your content on niche site/publisher like MarketingProfs then highly likely that the audience will be marketing related interested in the content marketing. In those cases, it might be a better idea to filter against other criteria like specific challenges they have or tools they use.
Check your historical data, does the industry correlate to the close rate? Find out which ones. You can always keep it open but ask them to prioritize those from the leads that come in.
Targeting can get as defined or as broad as it can go. However, it’s important to note that most publishers will charge extra for ‘custom questions’. These custom questions add to the CPL (cost per lead) for the campaign since the publisher will be scrubbing the unqualified ones on your behalf, so it’s best to use them very sparingly.
Working with content syndication networks & publishers
In most cases the publishers will host and gate the content on their side, which means you will not have control over the branding of the context your content resides in. It’s very important to ensure you get proofs from the publisher to make sure your logo is visible and the abstract looks good. Otherwise, it’ll both effect the conversion and the follow-up nurture/sales programs as they go through your funnel.
In some cases, the publisher can host the image/abstract of the content on their side and link back to your Content Hub or landing page for the qualification and conversion. It’s worth noting that not all publishers offer this so it’s important to discuss the flow before hand.
Once everything is set up, the publishers will drive demand and traffic by distributing the content to their subscribers and properties. This can involve email, paid, partner sites, and communities via LinkedIn. As the visitors come and convert on your content, the publishers will collect and scrub the leads and send you a lead file in the form of a spreadsheet.
Lead file delivery is typically weekly but in some cases, you can also set up an integration with the publisher's back-end system to directly sync any scrubbed leads into your Marketing Automation or CRM.
In terms of pricing, it boils down to a run on a cost-per-lead basis. Most content syndication publishers will have a range between $20–$80 CPL, which means that every time someone fills out a form to view/download your content and they meet the targeting parameters you’ve set with the publishers, you will be charged.
It’s worth noting that most publishers do have a minimum spend or term requirement, so you’ll need to either commit to spending a minimum amount or signing up for a 3–6-month campaign duration. However, you can control your spend by capping the lead volumes on a monthly basis. Most, if not all, publishers also accept returns if the lead does not meet your targeting parameters at no extra cost within 30 days of delivery.
Some things to keep in mind during for using content syndication for demand generation campaigns:
They are CPL campaigns. Keep this in mind as the lead from each channel progresses through the funnel at each stage and how they convert. If they are not converting well to MQL, SQL or Opps, you may have the wrong targeting parameters in place.
Before you upload the lists, double check the data is correct and mapped correctly to your contact fields.
Create separate custom fields for the publisher name/asset name and dates so there’s a record of all the leads that were generated from the channels
Optimize! Check how these new leads progress through the funnel and always keep an eye out for any leads that don’t meet your filters. They always creep through by mistake!
As with all marketing, you keep testing, measuring, and iterating. But if you are in B2B marketing, content syndication is definitely something to test out and see how it works for your business.