Unveiling the Power of Content Syndication: A Fresh Perspective
We’ve all been told, over and again, how everything has changed. But as accurate as that statement is, it’s already overused to justify everything, from implementing new processes to spending. Yes, everything went digital. Buyers worked out they could do it themselves. And the pandemic bookends both.
Content syndication (CS), some marketers may say, was past its use-by-date before work-from-home. Others, perhaps, tried it, and the only thing it delivered was more work, so they also concluded it was obsolete.
But, maybe, just maybe, it just hasn't been used correctly.
While the economic climate means now is not the time to be wasteful, it's also essential that all tactics are re-evaluated to ensure they weren’t hastily ruled out before results could be properly measured through optimal execution. Business buyers still rely on it: According to the CMO council, 88% say online content has played a major or moderate role in their vendor selections. And so do marketers: The 2022 State of Demand Generation Report showed an increased investment in content syndication more than any other tactic out of a list of 14.
At any given moment, only 5% of B2B buyers are in-market - according to research by LinkedIn and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science — so connections need to be made well before they’re ready to become customers. Capturing their attention by serving solutions as they seek them — wherever that fact-finding is done — is key to advancing the buyers’ journey.
With buyers increasingly on websites marketers don’t control, like third-party websites, the only way to reach them with the right information is through CS. Content syndication, when executed with precision, allows marketers to flip the switch for buyers, from awareness to consideration, and, ultimately conversion.
Buyers are charting their own course. They take their time and often operate anonymously which makes them hard to reach and influence. And they’ve got B2C expectations. They’re a step ahead, prefer a rep-free experience, and are high maintenance. So, marketers must be flawless in their execution of tactics.
Guide them… but gently. Then nurture.
CS takes care of a lot of that because it reaches buyers with what they need, where you can’t. Sate them as they search, gently, as if by orchestrated osmosis, and it will help support other efforts throughout the marketing lifecycle. Most importantly, it is what buyers still need: 40% say online content helps them identify potential suppliers, partners and solution providers (source CMO council).
Content syndication - the basics
CS is republishing content beyond your company’s website or blog to influence audiences you wouldn’t ordinarily reach. Most businesses dedicate 25% or more of their marketing budgets to developing content — syndicating it ensures maximum return. CS provides a predictable pipeline of leads, matching your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), at target accounts, at a pre-set cost, to align with goals and increase visibility.
68% of buyers start gathering info via search and portals, so spreading content around makes it more likely to be seen. And having it featured on well-respected sites increases company profile and credibility.
CS can target specific named accounts or be applied to a broader audience criterion, but in either case, delivers a reliable stream of ICP leads, which complements the (sometimes inconsistent) performance of inbound and paid advertising tactics, adding predictability to your pipeline.
Ok, so why didn’t CS click as a key tactic for my company?
While a strong Content Syndication strategy is a key link in the pipeline, there are pitfalls that can make it seem like a not fit-for-purpose tactic, such as: poor segmentation, misaligned goals, poor data quality, duplicative leads and lack of nurturing.
Each of these can cause cracks. See leads being lost; too slow to be acted on. Or a build-up of bad data that requires too much leg work. According to TCRS “Content is the number one source of leads for 74% of B2B organisations, but only 24% are happy with the quality of these leads.”
Keep the pipeline flowing and the data delivering - the content syndication checklist
One of the most common reasons marketers find CS doesn’t deliver is imprecise targeting. Good segmentation should follow these three rules:
- Market: At the highest level, identify clusters of companies by region, industry and size. Accounts should be practical and relevant to sales, marketing and product.
- Company: Companies within a segment may differ in many areas but should be similar in terms of their offering needs. Segment internally based on which part of the business you support, what offerings you are bringing to market, and any specific use cases you will want to message about.
- Buyer: Accounts should be identifiable; classified on accessible criteria and available data and exclusive. Identify exact personas, purchasing roles, and buying groups that make or influence the decision to buy. Align these to focus on the decision-makers at ICP accounts and offer relevant content for each segment.
Clear Content Syndication Goals
You need more than just targeting though. To succeed, first we need to know what success looks like and be able to measure it. If you can’t measure success, you can’t claim it. With CS, this means: start and end dates. Target costs per lead (CPLs), and lead volume goals. They should also be aligned with broader marketing or business goals.
But, where many programs fall short, is through a lack of alignment with broader marketing or business goals. Rather than thinking of CS as a generic tactic, marketers should consider how to use it to support greater strategic business outcomes.
Leads that lead nowhere
You might have your strategy in place, but if the leads are low quality, conversion rates will plummet, nurture efforts will be compromised, and relationships with sales will sour. The most common data quality issues with CS leads are: Non-ICP leads, incomplete leads and invalid or unstandardised data.
Through segmentation, you should be able to determine if leads match your ICP. Marketers should then ensure it is compliant, complete, standardised and valid before it is uploaded into company systems where it can poison the pipeline. Bad leads must be rejected and replaced by the provider.
Duplicate leads can happen if you’re being supplied by multiple providers — so marketers need to ensure they’re not paying twice. Money can be wasted by targeting the wrong accounts and not all CS providers use target account lists. Using providers that enable account-based targeting is the best way to ensure you get ICP leads. Exclusion lists can be utilised to safeguard campaigns, and marketers can also reduce duplicate leads by splitting targeting across providers.
Now we’ve ensured the leads are clean and our systems are safe, let’s move on to how to get the most out of them.
Nurture the leads and they’ll lead to ROI
Now that buyers are re-defining their own journey, a thoughtful and precise lead nurture strategy is more important than ever, otherwise, potential customers may find a solution before sales even have a shot.
An effective, productive, and profitable CS nurture strategy includes five data-driven components:
- Progressive, personalised email nurtures
- Multi-channel nurturing: combining email and digital display ad nurtures
- Individual lead scoring and buyer group scoring
- Effective lead routing
- Comprehensive measurement
But those leads never convert!
Marketers' chief complaint about CS leads is they don’t convert. But herein lies the problem. Often, as soon as marketing teams get them, they toss them like a hot potato to sales or tele-qualification teams to book a demo or meeting.
They’re not ready.
CS leads are not marketing-qualified leads. They’re omitting early buying signals. They don’t represent a late-stage opportunity and must be nurtured before being handed over. Buyers who’ve expressed an interest in your content need to be engaged further to increase their lead score before they become a marketing qualified lead (MQL).
Iron Mountain increased content syndication sourced inquiry to MQL conversion rates from 6% to 22% and influenced nearly $22 million in pipeline through optimisation of their content syndication programs.
B2B buyers aren’t there for a quick sale, so consider using email nurtures, digital display advertising, and personalised content to further engage buyers. According to Forrester, the average buyer’s journey consisted of 17 buying interactions in 2019. That jumped to 27 by 2021. CS is one stop on a multi-stage trip. When buyers get to sales, they’re already up to speed and are seeking clarity. The opportunity is shrinking by the second, so the nurturing phase is paramount for conversion success.
Marketers need to inform buyers about their changing market. Listen to their pain points, understand their problems, sympathise, and lastly, reassure them. Our product meets your needs, and how.
Nurturing is simple: First, we listen. Then we educate. Finally, we guide them towards our solution.
Its precision executed through patience.
Content synditation is, and always has been, a great way to measure early buyer behaviour. But all of those gains can be lost if marketers don’t follow through with care and attention to create a predictable pipeline. It’s about getting back to basics and doing it right. Controlling the variables and avoiding the pitfalls. So, rip up your old CS playbook. Give the tactic another crack and reap the rewards.
Download our Why you still need content syndication in your marketing mix eBook to get started, then move on to: