Although you may have heard of content syndication and maybe even used it, many of my B2B marketing peers have asked me questions about how to find the best vendors and manage the leads provided. This blog details my many lessons learned in content syndication over ten years.
First, here’s a textbook synopsis of what it is: Content syndication is web-based content that’s re-published by a third-party, including blog posts, articles, infographics, videos and other forms of digital content. It helps you reach new audiences and gain new leads.
Okay, fine, but what is it … really? Really most B2B marketers are using the terms content syndication to talk about providers who have a network of companies they partner with to deploy your content. Then, anyone who responds to that content gets pushed over to you as a lead.
For example, LeadMD has been asked to be a part of some content syndication providers’ networks. We have declined. Why do content syndicators want us? We have engaged marketers in our database that other companies would like to talk to. We have a newsletter. If we had decided to participate, here’s how it would work:
- You’d go talk to a content syndication company, we’ll call them CS Company.
- CS Company would quote you on a cost per lead that fits your criteria (we get into this process below)
- You’d sign a contract with them and give them your content
- CS Company would contact us
- I’d put your content in my newsletter
- Anyone who clicked on it would be a “lead” that I’d pass to CS Company and CS Company would deliver to you
As you can imagine, there are varying degrees of opt-in and transparency between vendors throughout this process. For example, you will probably never get our name or know our newsletter was the source of the lead. If you did, you and I could just work directly. And then the CS Company middle man would be without their cut. Why pay them? Well, they do tend to double-check the validity of the lead (to varying degrees of diligence as you’ll see below). They also do the work of finding the vendors who meet your specific needs. So, depending on how niche your audience, this can be helpful as well.
All this to say, these leads can be awesome, but it certainly requires the right level of diligence and understanding on your part. Here’s my advice on how to get started and proceed.
Review Content Syndication Vendors
We created a nifty little spreadsheet that breaks down the key differences between syndication providers. This is not an exhaustive list. Take a look to quickly learn about their prices, industries, specialties and contract details, along with the results we’ve had with them. Then head over to their websites. Ask your peers for feedback about working with them. Gather this data to form a complete picture, but you likely won’t find startling differences. So, don’t spend too much time here.
Select Three to Test
Choose three of the vendors who seem to focus on your target market and get quotes from them. Then pick your first test from there.
Why three? Speed to market is typically key. If it’s January and you’re in a position of scoping content syndication for Q3, it must be nice to be you. That’s not my reality. I have an idea for something and need to get it in market ASAP. So essentially, you’re picking three because it will take time to get up and running. See how quickly you can get responses and get the ball rolling. That speed during the sales process will likely indicate how quickly your campaign will go live and you’ll start receiving leads.
Often I talk to marketers, overwhelmed and wanting a short cut. For those folks, I pretty much always advise to start with Integrate and pick two other vendors. Start with a small budget – $5,000-ish – at $30-$70 per lead, you’ll get 100 or so. If you get quotes from all three, start with the lowest per lead cost. If those leads turn out to be great, you can decide if that vendor will continue to get your business or at least set your benchmark. If they’re terrible, go to the next vendor. You may have to kiss a bunch of frogs before landing on the right vendor for you, and that’s ok. As with most things in marketing, tests exist to help you figure that out.
Prepare Your Nurture Sequences
If you don’t have your nurture tracks created, don’t even talk to syndication vendors yet. Once you get leads from them, you’ll need to put them into your nurture sequences immediately. So if those aren’t ready to go, you’re wasting these leads by failing to provide timely communication when they’re potentially at their most interested.
We usually recommend putting together a six to eight-week nurture track. Folks who take a meeting or take another desirable action during that time move into sales’ purview. But you’ll need to decide what to do with the rest who are still chugging along in the nurture track by the end of the eight weeks.
We usually put them in a call campaign. Our SDRs will get hands-on at that point, and create something more customized to them. They’ll see what’s trending on 6sense and then place these people into a specific SalesLoft cadence that aligns to the identified topics.
Top Quick Tips for Managing Content Syndication
Prep Your Inputs: Field Values and Assets
One of the first things vendors will ask for to quote you a price per lead is your qualifications. You’ll need the fields and values for both companies and people within them. This should generally already be what you’re using for targeting and straight-forward. For example: Companies with annual revenue over $1 billion AND industry = Finance. People in functional area = marketing at role = VP or higher.
Account-Based Marketing Tip: Most content syndication vendors have jumped on the ABM train at this point. You can give them the specific companies you want leads from instead of broad criteria. These leads do tend to be slightly pricier.
You’ll also need to provide the assets that they’ll use. They’ll ask for an ungated link to your content for the delivery of the asset. And then likely also any supporting material you have for how you market that content. That may just be your landing page, but can also include any email copy you’ve draft to get folks to download.
Investigate and Analyze Results
When the campaign is done, you’ll get your list of leads. Put them immediately into your nurture track and monitor early metrics. Watch out for bounces. There can be a bit of shadiness in the world of content syndication, and oftentimes bot traffic will result in leads. So, you need to do your own investigative work and make sure you’re not paying for bot leads.
If someone allegedly filled out a form to download your content, there’s no reason your follow-up nurture email to them should bounce. This is a big red flag you’ve been botted. If that happens, go back to the syndication provider and ask for a replacement. You can also ask for the audit trail that shows how this person was qualified and came to be in your list of leads.
Also, even though open rates and clicks are largely considered vanity metrics that don’t move the needle, they’re important to watch in this context. Keep an eye on these so you can tell whether or not a lead provider has given you leads who seem to be engaging with you. This will tell you if the campaign is working, and give you a clear view into if it’s worth repeating.
Be on Guard
If I leave you with nothing else, there are two takeaways I want you to remember:
- Content syndication can be a valuable way to generate leads and reach new audiences
- You’ve got to watch for signs that the leads you’re getting are legitimate and likely to engage with you
When you participate in content syndication, you should get what you’re paying for in terms of quality, legitimate leads; otherwise, you may need to switch providers. But the good news is there are plenty of providers out there, so you do have a lot of options. If you approach content syndication with this level of understanding in how it works and how to measure success, you’ll be in a position to gain more awareness, potential customers and, down the road, revenue.
If you’re looking for other smart ways to generate more leads, check out this piece.
Meet Andrea Lechner-Becker
Andrea Lechner-Becker’s bio reads like someone who filled out a what-should-I-be-when-I-grow-up quiz and decided to try every option. Fueled by endless curiosity, Andrea has never met a problem she didn’t want to solve. This led her to managing sales and marketing at an art gallery, then loyalty and email marketing strategy for an NBA team and arena, then the delivery team at LeadMD, followed by a stint as a novelist and culminating with her current role as CMO of LeadMD. With a decade of experience in dynamic marketing roles, Andrea has had the opportunity to work with the most brilliant marketing minds at the best companies in the world. #hugemarketingdork