If you’re a marketer, you know how important it is to get your message in front of new audiences. But only 14% of marketers surveyed by marketing platform Semrush said they were trying out new channels.
It’s not hard to imagine why; you have enough on your plate already. But with a little bit of effort in the short term, you can make your content work much harder for you and your brand.
Sow the seed once, reap the rewards many times over. Let’s talk about content syndication.
What is content syndication?
Content syndication is working with digital publishers, industry influencers, distribution partners, or syndication networks to republish your content to different audiences.
These partners might syndicate the entirety of your content. They might tailor the content to their audience as they see fit or work with you to achieve the best results.
What are the benefits of content syndication?
In any field – entertainment, software, or retail social media marketing – it’s easy for overwhelmed teams to end up revisiting the same online audience over and over. They might think they’ve got everything covered with their omnichannel strategy: blogs, social media, advertising, even inbound calling. Where else can they go to get the message out there without giving themselves more work?
Content syndication kills two proverbial birds with one stone: it gets your work in front of audiences who are new, relevant, qualified – and most importantly – engaged.
As a bonus, your content gets a second or third (or 20th!) shot at getting your message out there, without you having to do all the work of creating a new piece of content.
This lets you spend time on any given project, making it the best it can be. With content syndication, you know that any piece of content will work longer and harder for you while you work on the next piece.
Another positive side-effect of content syndication is building authentic relationships with outlets and platforms relevant to your target audiences.
This is positive for your brand’s visibility, especially if you’re able to get your work onto top sites in your field. But don’t underestimate the power of having someone who’s happy to do you a favor once in a while.
Besides brand awareness, syndication plays into your wider SEO and backlinks strategy. And we’ll talk about other ways syndication can create some valuable content team collaboration with other areas of your business.
How can I get started?
Initially, content syndication takes some time investment. The good news is you can leverage the work you’re already doing and the assets you already have on hand.
If you’ve got your content strategy in place, as over 75% of marketing teams have, you’ve already taken care of the hard part.
The next step is to find a few digital outlets who your target audience is paying attention to. We use the term “outlets” because these could be news sites, personal blogs, even email newsletters which are increasingly popular. Keep an open mind about where the most engaged audiences might be.
Finding your audience
Once you have a few good candidates, you can approach them about content syndication.
You’ll want to find out if this outlet is open to content syndication, even part of a network. One quick shortcut for that is Googling “site:[the site’s domain] originally appeared on”.
Pitching and guest posts
If your target site is open to syndication, great. Your next step is critical, you’re about to enter the perilous waters of pitching.
You might have to do some digging to find the best person at your outlet to email. You have to imagine that they receive hundreds of pitches a day just like yours. How can you stand out?
Writer and speaker, James Clear has written about a solid strategy for pitching which will also help you build some content muscles. Before syndicating, you might need to prove yourself with a few guest posts.
Repeat the process above for finding sites you can guest post on. Run your relevant sites through “site:[your relevant site’s domain]” followed by “write for us”, or “guest post by”.
Maybe you have some content you can republish for these posts, maybe you’ll have to write something bespoke. If you can make a success of these by reaching new audiences and driving traffic to your site, bonus points.
Either way, the goal is to create a small but relevant portfolio of posts you can use to pitch to the gatekeepers of bigger platforms.
Reach out to them with a short, highly-tailored email with an attention-grabbing subject line and opening. Link to your guest posts and explain why you think your content would be valuable to this site’s audience.
Don’t be afraid to send a follow-up email once or twice if you’ve not heard back after a week, you’re trying to get through some of the most packed inboxes out there.
If you get a positive response, this could be the start of your first syndication relationship. You won’t have to repeat this process for every single outlet. If you know you’re talking to an outlet that is part of a syndication network, don’t be shy about making a casual inquiry.
Syndication networks can get you in front of a lot of audiences, while you only have to do the work of getting your foot in the door but once. For instance, if you had your content shared on USA Today you might find that syndicated across as many as 20 of their owner’s other domains.
Creating valuable content
If your content marketing is already up and running you’ll know what your audience likes. This could be blog posts such as how-to guides or listicles. It could be shareable infographics, particularly if you’re a B2B company posting to LinkedIn. An interesting case study could go a long way.
The important thing is that your content is valuable to your audience and that it’s unique. There aren’t any shortcuts for this, but one surefire way to not run out of good content ideas is talking about data only you have.
If you’re a software company your team should be able to get detailed analytics on how people are using your product. If you’re not a software company, you should be adding this to your enterprise transformation roadmap.
This is key information for your business, but as far as the marketing team is concerned this might also be interesting for your audience. Consider Twitter’s published research from 2019 on how their users are different from the general population. This garnered a lot of attention at the time, and it’s revisited years later by active users still reveling in its sheer oddity.
How can you make a success of content syndication?
As mentioned above, website traffic and ecommerce data analytics are all key. You should clearly define your goals from the outset and how you’re going to measure them.
If your goal is to drive traffic back to your site, use tracking links so you can get specific data about user journeys. Use this to tailor your site to specific audiences.
Should your page display the phone number for your virtual number or your non fixed VoIP number? That’s something you can customize for every site you’re syndicating to. Reducing small points of friction can make a big difference to your conversion rate.
What pitfalls should you avoid?
Ultimately, you want your syndicated content to drive traffic to your site. There, you’re in a better position to capture leads, track conversions and use that data to improve your marketing efforts.
This is one reason marketers can get nervous about content syndication. And that data gap is something you should work with your distribution partners to address where you can.
But another reason is the fear of content duplication, which is a big SEO concern you should watch out for.
Imagine you publish some great, “binge-worthy” content on your site. It’s getting a lot of traffic and shares, and it looks set to win the search results for your target keywords. A lot of hard work has paid off here, this is a big win for you and the marketing team.
Then a week later your distribution partner syndicates your content to their site. It’s the first of many, and you’re looking forward to even more success.
You find that within a few days, one of your partner sites has taken the top search results for your target keywords.
This evergreen content that was going to drive traffic to your site for months, maybe years to come, has been overshadowed by the success of your short-term syndication effort.
Google looked at your content, saw the duplication, and picked the biggest platform as the winner.
How can you avoid this?
Your syndication partners can easily insert a “rel=canonical” HTML tag into the page where your content is hosted on their site. This points to the original post hosted on your domain and tells Google to index your site over anyone else’s.
This way, you can make the most of a big syndication push now safe in the knowledge that you’re not undercutting your long-term SEO efforts for your own site.
Getting the most out of content syndication
As you can see, content syndication takes a little bit of work to get started with. Although, in the long term, it can be a huge benefit to your overall content strategy.
It’s all about getting the best return on investment for your work. Content syndication builds your brand visibility, your network, and your SEO strategy all at once. Talk about bang for your buck.
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