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5 tips for using syndicated content

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If you've segmented your list, you may be sending out three or more e-mail newsletters per month--or even per week. One way to fill the space between the subject line and the opt-out notice is syndicated content. After all, with syndicated content you should theoretically be able to offer up articles and features with little work on your end. Still, as with any type of marketing offering, there are things to be aware of before you sign on the dotted line.

Al DiGuido, CEO of Zeta Interactive, and Kara Trivunovic, senior director of strategic services at StrongMail Systems, provide these tips to help you deliver the right content to your readers.

  1. Don't go the one-size-fits-all route. It makes sense: You're spending money, so you may want to try to get the most out of your dollar and use the same articles in your customer newsletter as you do in the e-mail blast that goes out to prospects. But sending the same article to more than one segment may not be the right move. “As with anything you send out, the more targeted you can be, the more the reader will feel like you are providing them with something of value,” DiGuido said.
  2. Look internally. You don't always have to purchase content from content syndication networks. There may be divisions within your own company that have articles, case studies and product information that you can use in your newsletter, Trivunovic said.
  3. Add your own secret sauce. Even if you do use external content, you'd be making a huge mistake, said both experts, if you don't add a little original commentary to the top of your newsletter. One option is to include an article that explains how the content directly affects your readers. Another tip: “You always want to position your content as the lead content,” DiGuido said. “Always reinforce [that] the value of your newsletter and your subscription is not that you are aggregating a bunch of third-party content but that you have the insight to provide value.”
    You don't always have to write a feature story or news article, either, Trivunovic said. “It could be a ‘Hey, did you know this is happening at our company?' or a product update or fun or interesting facts that you've pulled out of your industry's news,” she said.
  4. Consider amateurs. While analyst firms, trade publications and trade organizations are good places to start if you're looking for syndicated content, bloggers are a fourth option, said Trivunovic, and one that may come with a very low--or even free--price tag. “Bloggers want exposure, so you can do more negotiation,” she said.
  5. Try to capture the impression. Most syndicators will want to keep any clicks that start in your e-mail, but it's worth asking if you could host the stories on your own site so you keep your branding intact. In some cases, content providers will allow this as long as you use their headline and provide a clear source at the bottom of the article, Trivunovic said. If you can't negotiate this type of arrangement, ask the provider if you can place ads within or around the copy you're linking to. Adds DiGuido: “You don't want to rely on content networks so much that the customer ends up unsubscribing from your newsletter because they can get the information elsewhere,” he said.
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