Building Your Content Syndication Strategy
If you’ve thought through your ICP, created something worth sharing, and planned what types of channels you might want to approach, you’re well on your way to a solid content syndication strategy. At a basic level, you can take a free approach, or work with a paid vendor for content syndication. Beyond that, you can layer in intent data, and integrate syndication into your content marketing strategy in a few interesting ways. First, let’s set the stage with free vs. paid content syndication.
Free Content Syndication
Think of free content syndication as the “do it yourself” approach, one that gives you complete control, and complete responsibility. That means the onus is on you to decide which publications, platforms, and networks will be the most ideal for your content syndication needs, and it’s up to you to post, or complete the steps to nurture your own publishing partnerships.
There are four main ways to leverage free content syndication, and each has its own unique benefit.
Republish to big platforms
The first technique is to republish top-performing content to well-reputed sites with large audience numbers outside your typical market share. With this route, you’re able to cast a much wider net with your content and increase brand awareness en masse. So, if your main goal in using content syndication is to boost brand awareness, this might be the way to go. One of the easiest ways to get started with free content syndication is to republish your highest performing content on the big social media platforms. In fact, this is the way most companies start with syndication–sharing as part of a normal content marketing strategy. There are a ton of free platforms and publishers to choose from, including:
Some platforms require you to pitch your content, others allow you to share content instantly. Either way, your focus should always be on those channels where target customers spend the most time. That way, you won’t have to waste any extra resources syndicating content to sites your buyer persona doesn’t visit.
Share content on niche sites
The second technique is to share content to smaller, more niche sites that attract similar audiences as your own. But make sure these sites have legitimate authority—you don’t want to ruin your brand reputation by syndicating to less-than-desirable outlets. By taking this approach, you ultimately benefit from the brand exposure among prospective buyers, which lends favorably to lead generation outcomes. So, if your content syndication goal is to zero-in on these targeted audiences, this might be your go-to technique.
The third option is to create a guest post for a large, top-authority publication, and then syndicate that post afterward to your own channels. Not only does this allow you to expand brand visibility among large audiences, but it also positions your company as an industry thought leader. Think about it: if you get the chance to create content for a well-respected publisher like Forbes, you essentially receive a stamp of approval in the eyes of their readership. If emphasizing thought leadership is your ultimate goal, this technique might work for you.
Pitch your content
The fourth tactic is to pitch your content to other publications that offer opportunities for content syndication. To narrow down your list of potential channels, search for sites within your industry that share a similar target audience as your own. Then check to see if these sites allow for content syndication. All it takes is a simple online search. Pull up your search engine of choice and enter “this article originally appeared” in the search field. Within seconds, you’ll receive a handful of sites that feature syndicated content, which lets you know there’s an opportunity to share yours.
Potential pitfalls of free content syndication
Now, before you go and launch full throttle into your first campaign, make sure you consider the potential pitfalls of free content syndication.
Lack of filtering options
With free content syndication, you do have the control to choose which publishers, platforms, or networks you want to leverage for free content syndication, you don’t have the control to choose who consumes it. That’s because free DIY syndication doesn’t allow you to filter your audience based on job titles, industries, geographical locations, demographics, and technographic data.
No editing control
Let’s say you’ve syndicated a blog to another site, but since then, you’ve updated the original post with more timely information and current data. Unfortunately, those edits don’t reflect across your syndication channels. This puts your brand and company at risk of appearing outdated on these third-party sites.
Potential penalty for duplicate content
If the site on which you syndicate content has a higher authority than your own, you could get penalized for duplicate content, which could also lower your search engine rankings. Search engines always favor higher authority sites, and when they spot content without any clear indication of it being a syndicated piece, those higher authority sites end up outranking your own website, even though it hosts the original post. However, you can avoid these search engine penalties by using canonical tags that attribute the original piece to you, as opposed to third-party sites.
Paid content syndication
When you’re ready to invest in content syndication as an additional demand generation channel, it helps to start with your lead goals and budget, then formulate your ideal cost-per-lead (CPL) as relates to your potential lifetime customer value (LTV). From there, you’ll want to find the best partner for your specific needs. Let’s start with the financial side. After all, that’s one main difference between free and paid syndication, and there is a DIY aspect to paid syndication, but to really make a difference for demand generation, you can move into working with a more fully-fledged partner.
On sites like Taboola and Outbrain, you can pay to have your content placed as a native advertisement. Outbrain, for example, offers two bi strategies for CPC, which are conversion bid strategy (CBS) and engagement bid strategy (EBS). Your role as an advertiser and content creator is to make sure you understand your content and what goal it naturally relates to.
When you’re ready to move into more of a partnership for content syndication, you will be likely working with vendors on a cost-per-lead basis. This refers to the average amount of money you typically spend to acquire a new lead.
If you already know your average cost-per-lead, then you have a head start in determining how much you’re willing to budget for a paid content syndication vendor. You’ll want to make sure you factor in the cost of producing the content as well as your team’s inputs when it comes to building and releasing content for syndication.
How paid syndication works
Working with a paid content syndication vendor can relieve a lot of pressure from your content marketing team, because your partner will be in charge of a lot of the leg work. The basic steps of working with a content syndication vendor are:
- You determine your ideal customer segment
- Your partner matches your criteria and sets up your audience
- You provide your best content for that segment (remember the value!)
- Your vendor sets up the structure needed to serve your content (this can be a landing page, newsletter section, or special link)
- Your vendor promotes your content and gathers your leads
- You receive your list of contacts and nurture them – more on that later in this guide
Finding a content syndication vendor
Once you’ve got an idea of how much you want to spend, your next step is to pinpoint potential vendors with specific knowledge of your industry. You want to make sure they’re capable of targeting audiences that fall in line with your ideal buyer personas. A great content syndication vendor should have:
- High-quality data
- Buyer analytics
- Audience engagement
- Buyer segmentation
- Proven success
It’s important to take your time and ask questions about all of the important points of comparison. Your chosen vendor should have reporting and examples readily available and be happy to share. If the vendor is hesitant, or does not have information for you, consider that a red flag.
Why invest marketing budget in content syndication
If you’re working with a smart strategy, great content and the right partner, investing in the paid route for content syndication is well worth it. You get the benefit of purchase-intent leads primed for continued nurture and, eventually, conversion. Using a content syndication vendor should make your demand generation job easier, and when you work with the right vendor, your ideal leads should be flowing in with a predictable CPL.
At the end of the day, this marketing methodology should be helping your content drive revenue. About 44% of marketers recently said their biggest challenge was proving ROI of their content. That’s why it’s so important to look for a content syndication vendor that offers high quality data, robust buyer analytics, real audience engagement, granular levels of buyer segmentation, the ability to continually evaluate and improve content performance, and experience activating and engaging in-market buyers to produce sales-ready leads.
Aligning your content syndication methodology with organizational goals
Thinking more deeply about your content syndication goals, audience and basic methodology will provide the starting point for taking your strategic approach deeper. Whether you are choosing a DIY method, or working with a vendor, you should ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve with content syndication?”
If your aim is to expand brand awareness, you may focus your syndication efforts on top-authority publishers with a wide audience reach and complement that with retargeting or account-based display advertising as part of your marketing strategy. In this type of campaign, you could syndicate a top-of-funnel asset in your main topic area, then focus your ads on brand-level messaging.
Or, if you want to use content syndication to generate more sales-qualified leads, you might want to work with a content syndication provider with a strong track record in your industry or niche. Then, be ready with email nurture and retargeting campaigns to then guide those content syndication leads into their pathway toward the close.
Your organizational goals will determine your approach to content syndication, and its role in your overall marketing strategy.
Your organizational goals will determine your approach to content syndication, and its role in your overall marketing strategy.
Define your target audience
Your ideal customer profile (ICP) functions as your north star, guiding you through each and every decision of your content syndication strategy. If you’re doing marketing at all, you already have at least an idea of who you are marketing to–and a codified ICP is not a far step. If you already have ICP figured out, clearly defined in a deck and shared with your team, you might want to skip to our chapter on Implementing Content Syndication. If you haven’t officially created a buyer persona (or a series of them), try recording in detail what your ideal characteristics are in a top of funnel lead, and thinking about how that reflects in your approach to content syndication.
The more information you understand about your intended buyers, the easier it will be to create the content they find most relevant and deliver it in the way they’ll best receive it. Having a specific understanding of your ICP is your starting point for advanced audience segmentation, which can give you a major advantage when it comes to increasing engagement and generating high-quality leads.
An ICP is:
- Built collaboratively with both sales and marketing
- The specific description your most valuable customers
- A method of prioritizing the most important contacts.
- A tool to help optimize account list building and segmentation
An ICP is NOT:
- Your total addressable or total available market
- Interchangeable with “target customer;” an ICP is a far more detailed blueprint of a specific kind of buyer
How to build your ICP for syndication
Start by gathering the pertinent information on your existing customers, especially high-value ones, and those of competing companies. Think of things like:
- Company size
- Engagement signals
- Tech stack
To go deeper, explore your existing data. You can consult your customer relationship management (CRM) platform or enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool to find common characteristics of your most high-value customers. Filter your searches by contract value, customer lifetime value, purchase volume, and purchase frequency, then gather all contact intelligence data on these high-priority accounts.
Quantitative and qualitative first-party data
You can also dig through data from previous campaigns, social media, and all other first-party sources, like your website and blog. You’ll want to focus on metrics like website traffic, click-through-rates, and engagement. This will help you uncover ideas about what types of content are working with most of your visitors.
Additionally, you can source qualitative data to find out what kind of topics resonate most with qualified prospects, or where they found your content. These different aspects of your own data will serve as helpful clues to determine the most optimal content and distribution channels to use for content syndication.
Second and third-party data
Enhance your understanding with information from second-party data sources. These include product review sites like G2 and TrustRadius. You can gather competitive intel and critical insights into what buyers have to say about your company and its products. As your content marketing program continues to grow, you can choose to work with a reputable third-party data vendor to gain access to customer information outside your company’s digital ecosystem.
These third-party data providers collect user information, engagement data, and other digital behaviors across third-party sites, which gives you even more information on the tastes and behaviors of target customers as they move around the web.
Your own sales team
Finally, leverage your own in-house experts: your sales team. Tap into their knowledge of both existing and prospective customers to round out the details of your ICP. All it takes is asking a few questions, like:
- What do our most successful customers look like?
- What challenges do our customers face the most right now?
- What are some common objections to our product?
- What are the typical questions customers ask about our products?
After completing these ICP steps, you’ll have the foundation you need to develop a solid audience segmentation model for your own database, or to guide your paid syndication partner as they help you select channels and build lists.
Leverage intent data to scale content syndication success
Typically, content syndication programs work best when aligned with top-funnel goals, like increasing brand awareness, expanding audience reach, or generating new leads. But to really level up your content syndication results, you can also incorporate a layer of intent data, which allows you to cherry pick the more sales-ready buyers from your larger pool of generated leads. Once you’re able to narrow down that focus, you can then customize your syndication initiatives and future campaigns to connect more effectively with these potential customers.
Now, intent data comes in a variety of forms, and you can apply any number of them to your content syndication strategy to suss out in-market buyers from your total lead capture. But we recommend tracking these four intent signals:
Anytime someone types a keyword or keyword phrase into a search engine—boom—that’s search data, plain and simple. Your content syndication partner can use this information to discover target buyers’ preferences, interests, and any questions they might have on a particular business challenge. With these insights, you can then craft relevant content that speaks directly to ideal buyers.
Engagement data tracks any action a prospect takes with an individual piece of content. Visiting a blog, commenting on a social media post, or completing a form fill to access a gated asset—these are all examples of engagement data, signaling a prospect has a concerted interest in your content or its offerings. You can leverage these insights to initiate an effective lead nurturing campaign to push leads further down the sales funnel.
Firmographic data refers to company level details like industry, size, geographic location, and revenue. And you can capture all this info from your CRM, public business directories, and website form fills. Using your designated ICP as a frame of reference, you can then leverage firmographic data to zero in on those accounts that meet your business goals.
This one’s a must-have for any tech-focused sales organization. Technographic data provides information on target prospects’ existing tech stacks, including the kinds of software programs, hardware, networks, and tools they use to do their job. This knowledge gives you a better understanding of prospects’ technical capabilities, needs, and potential challenges, which then helps you refine your targeting and content messaging for syndication moving forward.
Combine content syndication and ABM for strategic impacts along the customer journey
If your aim is to not only increase lead volume, but better-quality leads as well, then applying an account-based marketing (ABM) approach to your content syndication strategy is a sure-fire way to achieve both goals at once. Content syndication and ABM work hand-in-hand to build deeper connections and boost engagement among your most targeted accounts. To start, leverage audience insights to find common topics of interest and other relevant content. Then put on your ABM hat and create personalized communications for each individual account, using hyper-focused content to develop the customer relationship even further.
Content syndication feeds nurture programs
Remember, your syndication campaign doesn’t end once you’ve finished sharing content. One of the most important pieces of your content syndication strategy is what happens after you get that opt-in lead. Your next step is to develop a lead nurturing program to further qualify your leads and create the best possible experience for their customer journey via channels like email. The reason for this is simple: content syndication typically generates leads in the initial stages of the sales journey. So, to encourage these leads forward, a little nurturing goes a long way.
Instead of sending content syndication leads directly over to sales, continue to offer additional content to increase the value of their customer experience. This is exactly where your mid- and bottom-funnel content has a chance to shine. B2B leads, on average, engage with over 40 touchpoints before making a final decision, so the more value-driven content you can use in the nurturing process, the more likely you’ll come away with purchase-intent, sales qualified leads.
Your content syndication strategy starts now
Choosing a paid content syndication partner is the best strategy if your content marketing goal is to generate opt-in leads. Explore our other guides to continue your content syndication journey, including more advice on how to get started.