Many seasoned marketers might find themselves wary of content syndication. Perhaps the concept dredges up memories of failed campaigns, mismanaged expectations, and broken promises. Still others will think of the huge volume of cost-effective leads possibly going into their CRM, great but for the associated internal challenges like tracking actual ROI. And then there’s the scant few who will nod sagely since they know the secret: when used correctly, content syndication can be a very powerful tool for effective B2B lead generation.
What is Content Syndication & Why Should You Care?
In case content syndication is a whole new concept for you, I’ll give a brief overview. An advertiser gives their content, be it their company’s whitepapers, ebooks, seasonal reports, and other pieces of content to a publisher. That publisher then sends that content out to contacts in their database, segmented to match your very specific target audience.
Now, that content is gated. So, if prospects want to read the content on offer, they need to give their contact data and consent to being contacted by the advertiser at a later date. This data is passed to the advertiser as a lead.
There are two main advantages to having content syndication as part of your B2B lead generation strategy. First, you generate much higher volumes of leads than is possible with your own database. Secondly, you are creating an initial engagement with a potential prospect right off the bat. This is the important part, just about anyone can buy data, but getting relevant engagement with your brand, that part can be tricky.
It is also usually based on a performance model, meaning you only pay for the leads you get, creating a relatively risk-free marketing program.
Avoiding the Pitfalls of Content Syndication
There’s no denying that there are pitfalls though to content syndication. Truly understanding them, and knowing how to avoid them, can turn this channel from a source of endless frustration, to a powerful tool that will feed your pipeline with quality leads in a cost-effective and accurately targeted way.
The biggest pitfall really is understanding what these leads are and managing your sales team’s expectations. These leads are at the very top of the marketing funnel, so regardless of how much qualification you add through questions, intent, or BANT, they are not sales-ready leads. Anyone claiming otherwise is simply filling you with sales nonsense.
Because they are not sales-ready, the best practice upon getting these leads is to nurture them to get the most value out of them. This can mean many things: more content sent, careful tracking of their web traffic, and even gentle sales calls to better understand their needs does wonders.
The most common complaints from advertisers are “the prospects weren’t interested” or “they don’t remember downloading our content”. Well, this is quite simply because no lead nurturing of any kind has been done. Instead, a salesperson has called with something like “I saw you downloaded our whitepaper and may interested in buying our product or solution.”
Ever Thought of Getting a Shiny, New BMW?
This, of course, doesn’t really work. Picture yourself seeing a flashy brochure for the latest BMW in your inbox. You may download it out of curiosity. Why not? It’s a BMW. You have a car, so this isn’t a critical purchase, but it’s nice to have a look, and then two days later you get a call from a BMW sales rep saying “I saw you downloaded a brochure, and understand you want to buy a BMW”. Unless they have been very, very lucky and happened to find you actually deep into the buying process, your answer is likely either going to be a surprised “What, no! I didn’t download anything” or, more simply, a “Sorry no, not interested”.
Imagine an alternate scenario. Over the course of a few months, you keep receiving little teasers about the great features of this BMW, you then start noticing the advantages this BMW has over your 10-year-old Ford. What’s more, you’re offered a free test drive for the weekend, and then you’re shown how affordable it is. After all this, you receive a call saying “Have you considered upgrading your car recently?” Odds are much better that you are going to say yes, because it’s the truth and you know it. You may still not be ready to purchase this shiny new car, but you’re seriously thinking about it, you’re deeper into the funnel, and it’s all the easier to get you to buy.
The Nature of Nurturing
The exact same process should be applied to B2B content syndicated leads. These prospects have downloaded a report on your shiny new tech or service. Yes, it can improve their business, but they need some teasing, a little more information, to get them to a point of trusting your brand, and to be ready to part with their money.
These are the basics of nurturing, and you don’t necessarily need flashy marketing automation software to get a great nurturing program in place. Your sales teams can even do this themselves, simply by treating these leads as cool, not referencing the content at all, and simply asking nice, broad, open-ended questions. They can then start building a working relationship, understanding the needs of these leads, and sending them interesting articles that will help them, before jumping in with a full pitch.
So, Again, Content Syndication: Friend or Foe?
I obviously have to say “friend”. I sell the stuff so it would be pretty career-limiting for me to say otherwise! But happily, in this case, it also happens to be the truth. Content syndication is a very cost-effective way of generating high volumes of relevant leads. When the expectations are managed and the follow-up process is in place, content syndication drives engaged leads to you that will feed your pipeline and keep your sales teams busy and happy. That’s especially true if you partner with a dependable lead generation company.
If you’re seriously considering giving content syndication a go, there’s no better time to jump in than now. We’ve been doing this for quite some time at Internal Results, and for pretty big clients too. If these big companies can trust us to give them great leads, what’s stopping you? Reach out to us today. Let’s work out the best lead generation solutions specific to your B2B needs.