Demand Generation Performance: Comparing Content Syndication Vendors

By Stephanie Gilbert - January 28, 2021

Content is a valuable tool in your marketing toolkit — and not just for driving top-of-the funnel metrics like site traffic and SEO. The right content can help you generate leads and turn visitors into customers.

Surveys show that 75% of the content B2B companies produce is gated, meaning it requires registration to download or otherwise access. The most popular demand generation content assets include white papers, webinars, eBooks, research reports and buyers’ guides.

But even with the best content, if you’re not actively promoting it outside your own network, you may be missing out. There’s no way to convert a potential customer if they can’t find your content!

If this is where you find your business, it may be time to explore content syndication. And once you do, you’ll need a strategy to compare potential publishers, measure your content syndication performance, and assess and act on the resulting leads.

What Is Content Syndication?

Content syndication involves placing your content on third-party sites specifically chosen to appeal to your target audience. This allows you to reach a larger audience with your content than you would through organic marketing efforts (like SEO) or marketing to your existing audience through email and social media, expanding your reach in a short amount of time and with minimal effort.

In some cases, these sites might syndicate an entire piece of content. Other times, they may publish only an excerpt. In this case, users would click through to your website in order to view the full text. For either approach, this gated content will require readers to fill out a lead-generation form before viewing or downloading the content, giving you the opportunity to remarket to them in the future and move them into the sales pipeline. Imagine instantly turning users on other websites into targeted prospects!

According to the Content Marketing Institutes’s B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends: Insights for 2021 report, only 24% of B2B marketers currently use content syndication, giving those who do a distinct competitive edge.

Understanding Publisher and Data Provider Rates and Expectations

With so many content syndication publishers, it can be daunting trying to choose the right partners for your content. Luckily, most of today’s content syndication publishers offer several pricing models. Unluckily, these pricing models and lead requirements are rarely the same from vendor to vendor, making it different to compare performance. Most publishers use one of the following pricing structures:

Pay for Audience Access: These agreements have no lead volume guarantee. Instead the publisher will promote your content on their site and you are charged based on a flat rate, the number of impressions (CPM) or number of clicks (CPC). These sites can have a very qualified audience, but it can be hard to predict lead volume or calculate your final cost per lead (CPL).

A Traditional Cost Per Lead (CPL) Model: With a CPL model, the publisher charges a specific rate per lead and you can designate a specific number of leads based on that rate and your budget. You can be confident in the lead volume you will receive, but you have less control on how many will fall into your targeted buyer personas.

A Targeted or Qualified Cost Per Lead (CPL) Model: Many content syndication providers now offer more tailored solutions for advertisers looking for more qualified leads. Like the traditional CPL model, the vendor will charge a specific rate per lead, but will demand a higher rate in exchange for their commitment to only delivering leads meeting a minimum threshold. This is more often the case with account-based marketing (ABM) and budget, authority, need and timeline (BANT) lead campaigns. While these campaigns usually demand a higher rate, you know your budget will return a specific number of contactable leads that match your CRM and buyer persona requirements.

Standardizing and Comparing Content Syndication Performance

Let’s consider three hypothetical content syndication vendors, each designated a $5,000 budget:

 

Publisher A

Publisher B

Publisher C

Budget

$5,000

$5,000

$5,000

Rate Type

Impression based  CPM

$25 CPL for 200 leads

$50 CPL for 100 ABM leads

Leads Provided

230

200

100

Initial CPL

$21.75

$25

$50


If you look strictly at total lead volume and CPL, Publisher A appears to be your strongest vendor, with a $21.75 cost per lead (CPL).

However, overall lead volume isn’t the only important metric. For example, the lead list might include duplicates, invalid contact information, or people outside of your target persona.

To compare these vendors based on lead quality instead of volume, you’ll need to do some lead validation to remove bad records  and leave only unique, contactable leads.  This means you will remove any duplicate submissions or leads with an invalid phone number or email address.  When you take these basic lead-quality factors into consideration, Publisher B emerges as a better lead provider with a higher volume of valid leads and lower CPL.

 

Publisher A

Publisher B

Publisher C

Leads Provided

230

200

100

Bad Leads
(E.g. duplicates, bad emails or phone numbers)

81

40

5

Valid Leads

150

160

95

Adjusted CPL

$33

$31

$50


At this point, Publisher C still appears to be the lowest-performing vendor until you compare lead requirements. This type of publisher has agreed that in addition to being valid/contactable, the leads they deliver must also meet additional requirements, such as a specific industry, job title, company size, or even company name.

For example:

  • Leads on an ABM campaign may only be accepted if they’re on your target company list and work in a specific department, like IT.
  • Leads on a BANT campaign may need to be a manager and be in the market to buy within six months.

Leads that meet these requirements are generally higher-value and can go straight to sales, whereas leads that do not meet these requirements might go into lead-nurturing.

So, if your goal is to deliver qualified leads fit for the sales pipeline, publisher C performs best. And because the publisher has committed to your additional lead qualifiers, they will either replace the 15 non-qualified leads or only bill for the 85 leads that meet your requirements.

 

Publisher A

Publisher B

Publisher C

Leads Provided

230

200

100

Bad Leads

81

40

5

Missing ABM requirements

130

125

10

Buyer Persona Leads

20

35

85

Adjusted CPL

$250

$143

$50


Note: Depending on your contract, you may be able to recoup budget or receive replacement leads from Publisher B as well. For instance, if the 40 invalid leads were invalid due to a bad email address or phone number, some publishers will replace or refund those leads. If this is the case, it will also impact your final, qualified CPL beyond the calculations shown above.

Measuring Content Syndication Performance Based on Your Goals

Of course, it’s not always as simple as choosing the vendor that delivers the least expensive qualified leads. You have to assess your content syndication vendor performance based on your campaign goals.

In the example above, Publisher A and B may both be great vendors for generating awareness and top-of-funnel leads that can enter your nurture programs. Both may deliver a few high-value leads fit for sales or a more targeted ABM track, but that is likely not the goal with these vendors.

On the other hand, if you need to generate a certain number of leads for sales or an ABM program, a vendor like Publisher C may be your best bet. With this type of content syndication publisher, you’re guaranteed to receive leads that meet your buyer persona and requirements for sales acceptance.

Most content syndication strategies engage a variety of publishers to fill their demand engine. But the important thing to keep in mind when comparing vendors is to evaluate performance based on the same criteria.

3 Tips to Impact Revenue with Content Syndication

Here are a few tips to drive more value and revenue from your content syndication efforts:

  1. Qualify leads fast: It’s important to progress qualified leads to sales as quickly as possible. Any delay in a follow-up call may mean they purchase somewhere else or lose interest. Studies show that 35–50% of all sales go to the sales rep who makes first contact. Convertr can turn your content syndication leads into sales-ready prospects with real-time phone and email verification, data formatting, and delivery to make sure qualified leads are engaged as quickly as possible.
  2. Create scalable processes: Managing one content syndication publisher campaign manually is doable, but if you plan to run several campaigns with multiple vendors, it can be difficult to scale, since you may be sending different content to publishers with different requirements. Plus, the more vendors you utilize, the more incoming leads you’ll need to manage. Converter’s Campaign Management solution helps you simplify vendor communications, manage contract requirements and rates, track fulfillment, and standardize your process for capturing, validating and delivering leads. You’ll also gain real-time visibility in campaign progress and publisher performance.
  3. Assess content value: When it comes to content syndication, you can’t just measure the success of each publisher. You also have to measure the success of the content itself. Convertr’s Reporting & Insights technology makes it easy to understand which content resonates the most with your target audience (and which assets deliver the most leads) to help guide your content strategy.

Want to learn more about how Convertr can improve your content syndication performance? Request a demo to learn more about Convertr campaign management, lead validation and reporting.

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