I posted recently on LinkedIn that, in the current climate, leads from content syndication and other CPL programs may be an ideal replacement for lost trade shows and other events, and indeed can be an effective way to stay engaged in the marketplace at a time when many buyers are laying low.
However, as much as it has a reputation as a way to generate “guaranteed” leads, content syndication is not a cure-all, and indeed, more than most demand generation channels, is likely to generate sales leads that gravitate towards the early stages of the buying cycle.
Indeed, much of the success that companies see with content syndication has more to do with what happens with leads AFTER they’re generated – i.e. how those leads are responded to, nurtured, and ultimately converted. Here are some best practices that are often common factors when companies get the best return from their content syndication program:
Set proper expectations.
If your average sales cycle is 6 months, don’t expect content syndication leads to magically convert to opportunities in a matter of days. Content syndication CAN generate qualified leads – much of it has to do with the type of content (see below) – but it’s more likely that the majority of leads will need more education and nurture before they’re ready to engage with sales.
Quality content = quality leads.
The quality of your content makes a big difference in the ultimate success of your CPL program. A well-written abstract can make any content asset sound good, but whether the person who downloads that asset ultimately engages with sales has more to do with how much the content delivers genuine information of value, information that positions your brand as a trusted resource.
Minimize risk by posting multiple assets with a mix of topics and form-factors (ebooks, Webinars, third party reports). You can always swap out content if needed. Remember, thought leadership content will typically drive more leads, but leads that convert more slowly. MOFU and BOFU content like case studies and analyst reports will result in fewer downloads and a slower pace of leads, but typically from prospects that are further along the buying cycle.
A Nurture Strategy for Content Syndication Leads
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Place leads immediately into nurture.
Put plainly, a content syndication lead is not sales-ready without clear signs of intent or engagement beyond the initial download. The most successful CPL programs that we run for clients funnel net new leads into a structured, purpose-built lead nurturing program that 1) ensures all leads get responded to promptly and systematically, and 2) serves to identify those leads (by virtue of additional action or data) that merit sales follow-up.
Note: it is not sufficient to simply dump these leads into your regular nurture stream, even one that’s persona- or product-specific. Depending on how the lead was generated by an individual publisher, the prospect may have no recollection of your brand or even remember that he/she downloaded your content. Simply sending a string of generic marketing messages without any context will generate little engagement and will likely do more harm than good.
Nurture programs vary, but a typical content syndication nurture might look like this:
* A simple “welcome” email, sent immediately upon the lead being received, that references the fact that the individual downloaded content (and which asset, if possible) and sets the stage for further communication from your brand
* 2-3 additional emails sent in quick succession (say, over a period of 3-14 days) that, again, acknowledge the context for the email (i.e. the original download) and offer additional content of relevance, including (but not exclusively) CTAS such as demos, case studies or analyst reports that might demonstrate intent
Set appropriate thresholds for sales follow-up.
It goes without saying that leads from a content syndication program are expressing interest in a topic (the topic of the content asset they downloaded), not your product. As such, that one action to date is rarely if ever sufficient to warrant sales follow-up, even from a team of BDRs. To avoid disappointment, set appropriate, minimum thresholds for when that follow-up should take place, utilizing factors such as lead score, additional engagement, third party intent, or some combination of all the above.
Again, companies who convert more content syndication leads over time engage with those leads in a very intentional, purpose-built manner. As a marketer, consider developing a specific, follow-up email cadence in a sales enablement platform like SalesLoft, a program that reps can trigger on demand when alerted to do so. The follow-up will have more context and be more effective for it.
For more advice on how to get the most from content syndication, including tips on the type of content that works best, and how to choose a publisher/vendor, download our free white paper: “8 Tips for Content Syndication Success.”