Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Content Syndication: the forgotten route to lead generation 

By Simon Roberts, Strategic Account Director, Pipeline360 

Leads ignite the buying journey and are so crucial to marketing and sales that without them the process of conversion can’t start.  

In times gone by, that led to a blinkered view, and produced the boom of vanity metrics and tick-box targets with the rationalisation being that more leads, must surely, lead to more sales.

Goodhart’s Law says otherwise: “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.”  

The problem was – and still is – that all leads are not created equal. In fact, some leads aren’t leads at all, they’re just an email address, or a phone number. Marketing teams must know the difference, not be tricked by a click, or in a hurry to give sales something to work with because dead-end data just wastes time.  

With buying groups getting bigger and doing more research away from the influence of sales, marketing teams must do due diligence on any data they uncover to ensure the business opportunity is properly identified, and optimised. Bad data not only leads nowhere, it poisons pipelines and can sour internal relations to the point where teams stop talking. And when teams revert to silos, they close the door on new business.  

Marketers must give Sales what they need to convert 

To execute, sales need leads that are marketing qualified. That have sent out real buying signals and been nurtured so that each member of the purchasing group – usually up to seven people – has been identified and had their individual, and collective, needs met.  

Leads fresh off the funnel, with little awareness of your solution, no nurture, or time spent considering and collectively agreeing, aren’t leads at all. They’re details of individuals, who might not even be ready to begin a buying journey.    

Endless Options, But Many Lead No Where 

Marketers have a myriad of options when it comes to lead generation, but generally favour email campaigns, paid social and display advertising, but each has its limitations, with effort and outcome not always aligning.  

An underutilised tactic is content syndication (CS), which despite being around for decades, is still widely misunderstood, written off as being too expensive, and overlooked as a lead gen tool. In fact, CS is often criticised as being bad for lead gen with teams wrongly suggesting leads captured with the tactic don’t convert.  

A recent Pipeline360 survey – ‘The State of B2B Pipeline Growth’ – found that just 23% of respondents were using CS, more than a third (38%) didn’t know what it is, and 43% didn’t know how it works. However, of those using it, 61% said they were able to meet lead generation goals to a great or very great extent. 

Lead generation isn’t just about generating leads  

With budgets forever shrinking, B2B marketers can be forgiven for favouring the cheapest tactics, but never is the saying, ‘you get what you pay for’, more applicable, and when the entire sales process relies on getting leads right, it pays to invest in the best outcomes.   

First off, an email campaign isn’t really lead gen, because you’re not reaching anyone new and even if you do, that data, in itself, isn’t an indication of interest in your product. So, it’s not a lead.  

And buying is a team sport, so we need to get everyone off the bench to have a chance at winning new business.  

Display seems cost effective and with easy to report vanity metrics, but rather than driving leads, it’s more of an awareness tool, and paid social, like email, is limited to the platforms it appears on.  

CS is so much more than spreading content across the internet 

CS is more than just an asset delivery system, it throws the doors wide open, meeting buyers wherever they’re researching – boosting brand awareness and credibility along the way – and leads captured with the channel are accurate, compliant and legitimate. 

It also allows buying groups to maintain control, as they opt in only when they’re ready and only if they’re interested, making the channel not so much user-friendly, but user controlled. 

So, leads gathered are real leads, with real potential.  

CS also exposes more members of buying groups allowing marketers to build a clear picture of an account, rather than just an individual, so the nurture can be enhanced and personalised to meet all their collective needs, leaving sales perfectly positioned to close.  

Marketers can also optimise in real-time, saving budget and improving conversion chances, by turning off assets that don’t work, and better utilising ones that do, to create smoother pathways and shorter sales cycles. Buyers exposed to assets before sales get in touch, are also far more willing to engage.  

Where teams go wrong, and it’s not just with lead generation, is rushing buyers and the process, skipping stages, and not being aware of where opportunities and leads get lost. 

Capturing leads and converting in 2024 is a ‘Tortoise and Hare’ story 

There’s no silver bullet tactic, or easy wins. Marketing and sales must form a united front and assemble an arsenal of complimentary, cross-channel tactics to reach, engage and convert buyers on their timeline, not yours.  

Because they’re already headed for the self-checkout – having elected to do all the leg work themselves – and if you don’t reach them, at the right time, with the right content, in the right way, they’ll complete their journey without even engaging with you.  

So while CS is a great all-rounder – delivering content and generating leads and insights as it goes – for marketing and sales teams to succeed in this hostile economic environment, they will need not only the best option, but every option. Everything. Everywhere. All at once.   

Buying groups might seem out of reach, and traditional tactics might seem blunted in the face of trying economic conditions, but marketing and sales just need to work smarter, not harder. Marketing in 2024 is a real Tortoise and the Hare story. Buying groups might be racing ahead; seem out of reach and so sure of themselves they don’t even want to hear from sales. 

But, in reality, their journey isn’t a short one – it can take 23 weeks to move from consideration to conversion – so marketing and sales shouldn’t rush or be rash in their attempts to re-align themselves with purchasers. They need to follow the data. Be strategic – constantly opening the gate and closing the net.  

Converting has never been more challenging, but like the tortoise, sales and marketing must stick their heads out, try new things, and trust the process.