The first thing vendors must do to have a successful content syndication program is to create a strategic roadmap of where they stand today versus where they would like to be in the near future. Too often, vendors jump in to a content syndication program without a proper situation analysis.
The four phases of a good content syndication program are:
- Control Brand Messaging and Integrity
- Organize Content and Distribute Promotions
- Create Demand and Generate Leads
- Improve Partner Enablement
For example, before starting a content syndication program, one of SharedVue’s clients hired a research agency to measure the effectiveness of content on partner websites. They found partners were not representing the vendor message or portfolio in line with the corporate website. Thus, the vendor needed to start with Phase I: controlling brand messaging and integrity. We then helped roadmap a strategy that quickly took them from an overall lack of branding on partners’ websites to completely controlling a cohesive set of content that enabled partners with promotional opportunities, generated demand, and captured leads. They are now in Phase IV and are working on implementing a partner enablement program that gives their partners controlled email campaign templates complete with landing pages inside the syndicated content.
While vendors don’t necessarily need to do that same type of research to implement a good syndication program, there are a few questions to ask before getting started.
How often do I want to update content on my partner websites?
How often you create new product or marketing content will largely determine how often you want to update your syndicated content. If your product development teams try to come out with new marketing content every quarter and you want that content to go live on partner websites at the same time (or even before) it’s live on the vendor corporate site, it might be a good idea to set up your syndication program with slightly more frequent updates than that — perhaps monthly. This will give you plenty of time to know what content is coming down the pipeline so that you can prepare your syndication provider for updates. The key is not to overload your syndicating partners with tons of new pages every time you update. Instead, try changing content that already exists, retiring old content or moving it to a less prominent place in the content roadmap.
Sometimes, though, it can be difficult to be aware of what content updates are coming untill they are already in the last stages of creation. That leads to the next question;
Who will be responsible for content updates and quality control?
You need a content point-person. This is someone dedicated to keeping track of what different teams within your vendor organization are doing. This will allow that person to know what content is being created months in advance of the live date. Ideally, this is not the same person managing your syndication program. This is a separate person that focuses solely on content and has an intimate knowledge of your offerings, understands the ways in which content is consumer via the web, and can rewrite content to keep the partner joint-value proposition in the forefront. This person should work closely with all the content creators within your vendor organization and only be responsible for rewriting that content for syndication.
Keeping your syndication program manager and channel content specialist in separate roles will decrease the time it takes to update content because you will have someone intricately involved throughout the whole content creation process.
What metrics can I capture to help show ROI for the program?
All marketing initiatiaves should have a way to measure ROI, but a syndication program in and of itself is not necessarily set up to measure this kind of information. There is no way to capture historical data previous to the implementation of your program. What you can do, though, is choose to measure metrics that enable you to measure ROI. If you are using your content syndication program to generate more leads for partners, compare your past sales data to what you have post-launch for your syndication program. Or, if your program is meant to reduce the time and efforts spent on updating and controlling your message on partner sites, finding the difference between your previous investments versus what you are investing in your syndication program will give you a firm grasp on your net gain.
There are also other ways to show ROI for your content syndication program. Look at the adoption rates of the marketing materials you produce for partners. Since content syndication automates the process of pushing these live for partners, you can safely assume that your marketing dollars are going to better use.
Overall, you want to achieve both your and your partners’ goals. A successful content syndication program takes proper planning to streamline content updates, internal collaboration through a sole content specialist and an plan to evaluate success with relevant metrics.