Research conducted by SiriusDecisions has confirmed what some marketers and sales representatives have believed for quite some time: Most of the buying journey is now done digitally.
With 67% of the researching and consideration process now done online, most buyers are first turning to search engines. So how can vendors and their partners get found on a single page that’s crammed with information and resources? The answer is simple: Content. Well to some, the answer isn’t so simple.
Many brands, manufacturers and vendors are refining their marketing budgets to focus on content creation. Three quarters of B2B marketers, in fact, plan to ramp up their content spending in 2014, according to a study from Advertising Age.
In an effort to maximize their resources, vendors are turning to content curation and syndication, which help extend the life of individual pieces — and across the entire channel. Through a survey of more than 500 marketers, Curata confirmed that although original content acquired most of businesses’ marketing mix (65%), companies were paying more attention to curated content (35%) and syndicated content (10%).
While the importance of creating unique brand content should not be diminished, content curation and syndication can present vendors and their partners with tremendous value. Potential benefits include: financial and process efficiency, improved search engine optimization and the ability to be viewed as industry thought leaders, .
“A lot of companies are creating content, but more from the vendor perspective,” said Pawan Deshpande, CEO of Curata, in an interview with Channel Marketer Report. But if a buyer is seeking peer content or third-party expert analyst content, they are quickly thrown off course, and have to leave the company web site to find valuable information. Content curation enables businesses to bring all forms of content into one location, so they “can guide the buyer through the process.”
Content curation also helps vendors and resellers add their own context, unique voices and experiences to high-level trends, studies and more.
“It’s easier to curate content than create everything from scratch,” Deshpande noted. But it also helps position organizations as thought leaders “because you’re talking about the industry as a whole, rather than just your perspective.” This also helps businesses build trust, which is “a big opportunity.”
Extending Content To Partners With Syndication
Many research studies and analyst reports have alluded to channel partners and resellers not having the marketing manpower, time or savvy to generate their own content.
The curation process, however, can be quick and seamless since it is “very lightweight” compared to content creation, according to Deshpande. “It could even be something VARs do themselves without having to hire an entire content staff. You also have to understand the topic, but you don’t necessarily have to create something from scratch. There’s also technology to make the process of finding, organization, annotating and publishing content much easier versus doing it manually.”
Content syndication solutions also enable vendors to upload assets, make them accessible to partners in real time, so they can upload, customize and share pieces across channels, especially the partner web site.
“Today, vendors can syndicate their collection of content directly to their partner web sites,” noted Patrick, van Boom, CMO of TIE Kinetix. “The value grows as channel marketers now have digital shelf space that they can control and track what their partners are promoting to end-users. That’s very helpful when talking about enabling partners, keeping your channel up-to-date and gaining important visibility with content performance on the partner level.”
Content curation and syndication help suppliers keep partner messaging and offers consistent, which is a notable challenge for channel players.
Vendors also can “maintain brand consistency across partner communities and alleviate the pressure of delivering targeted, relevant content on a consistent basis,” added Ken Romley, CEO of Zift Solutions. Content curation and syndication also make it easier for partners “to deliver and automatically adjust web site content based on visitors’ needs, interests, online behavior and personal characteristics, which boosts conversion rates and helps partners generate new qualified leads.”
Offering instant access to relevant thought leadership content also can help partners maximize the results of their demand generation programs.
“Because channel marketers can choose what content is available on the partner web site with syndication, they can now drive email, social and pay-per-click campaigns through partners for lead generation to accelerate indirect sales,” van Boom explained. To ensure success, vendors should syndicate content that aligns channel marketing goals. “For example, if you want to drive lead generation for partners, then curating topics and specific content types — white papers, E-books, etc. — that match up with your indirect sales and marketing funnel is important.”
Content Curation And Syndication Best Practices
As more vendors strive to get the most out of their content marketing investments, it is imperative that they follow a series of best practices. Tips provided by industry experts include:
1. Pick a relevant topic: “There’s really an art to this,” Deshpande said. First, the topic needs to align with audience interests. Then, it has to be something the company can own and delve deep into using thought leadership and personal experiences. Finally, pick a topic that’s already brewing in the media. “It may be from disparate sources, so the whole story may not be together,” Deshpande noted, “but that’s an opportunity for the company.”
2. Be selective: “It’s not just about piping content in and content out,” Deshpande advised. Curation is “a good example of where less is more.”
3. Always add value: Companies should integrate their own narrative on why a specific topic is important, or bring up points that may be missing from an article being curated. Deshpande added: “That’s something many novice content curators overlook.”
4. Include a call to action: Once buyers read an article from a site or blog, they can take three actions, according to Deshpande: 1. Leave the site and continue to search the topic online; 2. Find the original source of the content being curated; or 3. Click on a call to action to learn more about the company and go deeper into the vendor’s perspective.
5. Be ethical: Although there are a variety of regulations businesses should follow, Deshpande offered one key rule of thumb: “Don’t ever republish someone’s content in entirety and always give more than you take. So if you take two paragraphs of text, add at least two paragraphs of commentary.”
6. Become a cross-channel champion: Buyers are using multiple touch points to acquire information, research solutions and learn about the latest trends and technologies to improve their business. So it’s only logical that vendors and their partners gravitate — and share content — to the channels prospects and customers use on a daily basis.
“If your partner marketing strategy involves driving demand via multiples channels, then consider a content syndication platform that natively supports all of these channels,” van Boom said. “For example, if a channel marketer wants to drive demand through partners with social media and email marketing, then be sure it’s easy to connect with the already syndicated content on your partner web sites.”
Romley specifically honed in on the value of social media, as it is “an essential element of today’s channel marketing mix,” he said. “However, creating the necessary content can often be a challenge for channel partners. Social media syndication can make it easy for channel partners to push fresh content to multiple social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to extend their influence and connect with potential buyers.”
Alicia Fiorletta is Senior Editor for Channel Marketer Report. Working closely with industry analysts and experts, Alicia reports on the latest news, technologies, case studies and trends coming to forefront in the channel marketing world. With a focus on emerging marketing strategies, including social, mobile and content for demand, Alicia hones in on new ways for organizations to market to and through their partner networks. Through her work with G3 Communications, Alicia also acts as Associate Editor for Retail TouchPoints, a digital publishing network focused on the customer-facing area of the retail industry.