7 tips for content syndication success

I just finished a webinar last week entitled; At Last, the Secret to Generating Leads with Content Syndication Revealed. You can watch it here if you missed.

In the spirit of Ardath Albee’s (@ardath 421) “Rule of 5,” which states that you should be able to create at least 5 pieces of content for every idea, here is my blog post on the topic of generating leads via content syndication.

First, let’s make sure we are clear what I’m talking about:

→ Step 1: It starts with your digital content (i.e., white papers, webinars, etc) that someone would “pay” for with a registration
→ Step 2: You syndicate, or distribute that content across the Web on third party, relevant sites to maximize circulation
→ Step 3: The publishers of the sites send you the leads generated from your content. Typically, for a pay-for-performance basis.

There are two buzzwords on the marketing blogosphere circuit that I want to make sure I position with regards to content syndication:

  1. Content Marketing – The way content marketing is discussed today relates to your overall content strategy.  In other words, creating content for the different personas you are trying to sell to and their different stages in the buying process. When we talk about content with regards to content syndication and generating leads, we are really focused on content to get the person to raise their hand versus content focused on nurturing a prospect through the buying cycle.
  2. Inbound Marketing – Everyone right now is talking about inbound marketing, this wonderful drug that every marketer should strive for. Here is an important thing to consider:  content syndication IS inbound marketing. Most people think of inbound marketing as solely the domain of driving people to your landing pages, with content syndication you are expanding your reach to a much greater audience. Furthermore, the publisher takes the risk of marketing your content. The publisher optimizes their landing pages, drives campaigns to your content, and only gets paid when they deliver a lead. This allows marketers to forecast their CPL costs fairly precisely.

There are three camps in the content syndication world:

  1. The lead hound – These are people who have figured out how to convert content syndication and are pretty close to buying every lead they can on the market.
  2. The “I have tried and can’t make it work” marketer – Content syndication can be difficult for folks.  Honestly, most people that can’t make it work don’t have the right back-end processes, such as lead nurturing or lead qualification, to convert these leads. Or put another way, they probably passed content syndication leads directly to the sales team.  Also, unrealistic expectations can doom you as well.
  3. The neophyte – Haven’t tried it yet.

Now, that I’ve thoroughly set the table, here are my 7 tips for content syndication success:

  1. Will it play in Peoria? —  You need to create content that converts — remember, buyers today are busy, distracted with lots of choices on what they choose to consume.  Your approach to content syndication should be that of a movie studio trying to get a big, wide opening weekend.  Understand what the buyers want when they are downloading content: research that helps them do their job. You can’t just put your data sheet out there on the internet.  (There is more, but that would be another blog post).
  2. If you’re not testing, you’re not trying – Content syndication pros always set aside budget to test new channels and publishers.  It’s one of those things,-you can “analyze” their media kit all you want.  You won’t know until you try.
  3. Diversify your portfolio – Create relationships with a number of online media partners and create redundancy. The buyers are everywhere on the internet, you need to be too.
  4. Treat others you want to be treated, and then everyone wins – Make online media companies your partners versus just vendors.  If you share data and feedback and create a true supplier-manufacturer relationship, you can create optimized, enduring programs.  The opposite of this is a contentious relationship where both sides are defensive and no one gets better.
  5. Content Syndication is the first conversation not the last – This is the expectation factor.  Some will have near-term projects, but a large majority will become buyers over time.  If you haven’t heard of lead nurturing, you aren’t reading marketing blogs (its literally all some of us talk about).  But seriously, feeding content syndication into lead nurturing is really effective.  If you are setting expectations within the organization that you are going to get all these near-term projects from content syndication, you will probably fail(sorry, it’s the truth).
  6. The ultimate lead gen FAIL: Passing content syndication leads directly to sales – Well, don’t do it.  This is a major failure point.  Content syndication is NOT to be consumed by bag-carrying field reps. Instead, they should be sifted through a lead management process to determine who is ready to talk to sales.  Remember, the “I have tried and can’t make it work” marketer above, this is the most common symptom.
  7. Forget campaigns, build a factory – The real content syndication lead machines are buying leads all year.  They have built the processes to convert them and they are just feeding the beast.  Coming in-and-out for small, specific campaigns means you will not be consistently feeding the top of the funnel.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • Craig-

    Great post. I love tip #3: “diversify your portfolio.” Can’t stress that one enough.

    Once I had a small portfolio of vendors and the vendor with the highest CPL acquired the vendor with the lowest CPL (and the best performing leads, amazingly enough). The acquiring vendor promptly tripled (!) the price of the acquired vendor’s leads, thus forcing me to scramble to find and ramp up new vendors to maintain my lead volume AND cost-of-acquisition performance vs. goal. So yes, for this and other reasons, spreading the budget love around is highly advisable.


  • I agree with you and…
    It must feel great to think that everyone must have failed to realize that needs exist in other areas of life and the concept is reinforced by traditional business to business transactions between raw materials suppliers and manufacturers.
    The semantics do a lot of difference to the origins of the word. keep sharing.

  • Craig, I couldn’t agree with you more on the importance/potential of content syndication. I create content for syndication every day on thousands of websites and I can vouch that it is very effective in generate leads. The trick is creating an automated way of nurturing and qualifying those leads when you collect them in such a great quantity.

    One of my company’s clients wrote a 3 part post about content syndication. Here is the last. http://varbeisen.blogspot.com/2010/03/how-do-you-fix-bad-var-websites-part-3.html