Content marketing is at the top of every marketer’s mind. How to plan it, how to execute it, and—most importantly—how to dive in and pull with the most value from it. The problem is, since content marketing is becoming such a blanket term that encompasses social media, email, video, and everything else, it can be difficult to dial in to the combination of tactics that generates maximum ROI.
A big issue we’re seeing in the space isn’t around content development processes, best practices, or even how to go about measuring content marketing’s effectiveness. For a lot of businesses, the problem lies in getting the right message in front of the right people. We know that operating different areas of the content marketing machine in isolation is a recipe for disaster, so we’ll have to tackle this hurdle at the source—building awareness around the content being produced.
Paid content distribution (sometimes called “content syndication”) is the practice of paying to distribute content to users via a third-party site. If you’ve ever read a blog post and seen a “Sponsored from around the web” section near the bottom of the page, that’s one way that content syndication works. As with anything digital, platforms vary in both price and functionality. Let’s start by covering why you may want to consider incorporating paid placements into your content strategy.
Benefits of Paid Content Syndication
Gain Exposure – Generally, the value of paid content syndication comes from the quality of the message itself; not how much you spend or how enticing your ad copy is. This value is perceived as more genuine and, thus, more likely to drive business results.
Streamlined Process – In order to get started syndicating content, you often don’t need anything more than a budget and a URL. If you already blog as part of your content mix, it’s just a matter of selecting a choice few to get started.
Customization – In order to make sure the right people see your content, solutions are available that allow you to control targeting settings, whether by location, age, or interests. This ensures you’re not wasting your budget on uninterested users.
Easy Measurement – Nearly every content syndication solution has built-in analytics that are no-nonsense and allow for simple CSV exports. For the more advanced marketer, custom URL tagging is supported as well.
Now for the Drawbacks
You’re probably thinking that you’re completely sold on paid content marketing. We’d advise taking a quick cautionary step before you head down that path, though. Some drawbacks of taking your content marketing to this level include:
It’s not a silver bullet – Paying for this kind of visibility isn’t the end-all be-all content marketing tactic. That means it may work in conjunction with more proactive outreach, or it may not work at all. In other words, your mileage may vary.
Potentially high costs – Our research shows that this type of approach warrants a more substantial monetary investment (Between $300 and $500/month at the low end). For small or medium-sized businesses, this may be problematic when it comes time to divvy up the annual marketing budget.
The time investment – Put simply, if your content doesn’t provide value in some way, it won’t be worthwhile to pay for its distribution. As your budget dwindles, it won’t take long to determine whether the content you’re pouring money into is sub-par.
So is paid content syndication right for your business? Unfortunately, it depends. As noncommittal of a response as that is, the decision to invest in this type of marketing should not be made without answering some fundamental questions:
- How much do you currently invest in your content marketing program?
- Has your content been well-received by your audience in the past?
- Are you looking to build a wider audience or interact with existing ones?
- Do you have well-defined policies and procedures around your brand’s messaging?
- How have you measured the value of content marketing up until now?
Whether you’d like to get your brand name out there, showcase your expertise, or generate more buzz around your message, paid content syndication can be a great way to start building those relationships. So long as you’ve got something meaningful to say and a way to measure success, it’ll be well within your reach.