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Bootstrap Marketing Online
A Dated Introduction to Online Marketing*
*Note: This is the original version of a whitepaper that was authored in 2001 by iCondotta's founder and principal consultant, Stephan Aarstol. It's a useful primer, but dated - pre-Wikipedia (2001), pre-Google AdWords PPC (2002), way pre-YouTube (2005), you get the picture...
Syndication on the web is when one web site (or source of information) provides content to another website in exchange for some form of reciprocal benefit. Sometimes this reciprocal benefit is merely a hyperlink back to the originating content site. Sometimes a logo or marketing message is tacked onto the syndicated content and it’s exchanged for the residual brand marketing effect. Other times the exchange involves some form of syndication fees.
The syndication of content on the web makes sense for both content rich sites and content deficient sites primarily because, above all other purposes, customers use the web as a source of information. If a purely commercial site doesn’t posses at least some form of truly useful information to their target market, then it’s a constant uphill battle to attract the attention of customers. Due to the fact that creating valuable content is not cheap, many sites choose to avoid the time and money commitment involved in creating the content and just syndicate content from others. It’s a straight forward build it or buy it choice. The other side of the equation is that the sites with the content want to fully realize the value of their content. For these players, syndication enables them to leverage the value of their content for branding, traffic generation or monetary purposes.
The primary marketing objective that syndication addresses is to drive traffic to a website. To achieve this, there are two means by which syndication can be used. You can either syndicate your own content in an attempt to drive traffic back to your site, or you can enhance your website and increase your site’s stickiness by obtaining relevant syndicated content from other sites. Any company with a website can utilize at least one side, and perhaps both sides, of the syndication coin as an effective marketing strategy.
Syndication Strategies for Content Rich Sites
Creating content is only half the battle. Syndication provides a means to leverage that content.
Hosting content on an Internet merely makes it possible to reach. The goal should really be to make it probable that your target audience will reach it, and the only way (other than typing the known URL into a browser) for a web surfer to access your content is through a link from another source. Building these links from other sites becomes a whole lot easier if you can incorporate a compelling benefit to entice other sites to link to yours. Offering valuable syndicated content “teasers” free of charge is an effective method of building links. Some traditional forms of content syndication “teasers” are:
The important consideration when looking at syndicating content in this manner is whom your content presents value to and if there is enough of those types of sites to justify your efforts. This is especially true for a syndication strategy that requires creating fresh content on a recurring basis, which can be an expensive proposition. Syndicating search boxes that query databases is a lot less labor-intensive initiative.
An alternative syndication strategy for content rich websites is one where content is exchanged for monetary compensation. This really address a financial objective rather than the marketing objective of driving traffic to a website. In this model, the entire content, not just a “teaser”, is usually provided to paying sites and no link back is required.
Syndication Strategies for Content Deficient Sites
The primary motivation for utilizing syndicated content from another site is to empower users to utilize your site as a comprehensive one-stop resource for all the relevant information they desire. Many businesses shy away from this type of linking to other websites because they feel it undermines the whole point of putting up a web site – to attract people. The thinking is, “If I link out to another site, I’ve lost the user I spent so much time and effort attracting”. Surprisingly, this narrowminded, short-term thinking view of the web is an extremely prevalent line of thinking. The reality is that if a website is worth visiting at all, it’s worth visiting more than once. You may lose the user for the moment, but they will be back. After all, the whole point of search engines, the most popular Internet application after email, is to enable someone to intelligently click-thru to another site that they would rather be at than the search engine.
There are many forms of very useful content available
to websites free of charge. If you want daily updated news feeds on specific
topics, take a quick look at Moreover.com.
In about two minutes (no joke), you can
Other forms of free content such as weather, stock quote look-up boxes, search boxes that query some form of database, and entertainment features are also available. If any of these would be of interest to your site’s users, take a look around and see what’s available. Sometimes these services will require a nominal set-up fee. Other times, they might even pay you to add their content to your site. These payments typically come in the form of a few cents per click-thru that originates from your site.
If you are interested in sourcing content in its entirety so that your users can get all the information they need without ever leaving your site, then you’re probably going to have to pay a syndication or licensing fee. There are a few syndication intermediaries that operate as market makers between sites that have content and sites that want content, and this is probably a good place to start if you’re looking for a very specific form of content. You should also directly contact the leading web content providers in your industry about full content syndication. If they don’t already have a standard syndication offering on the content you’re looking for, they will probably do a specialized deal for the right price.
Authored in 2001
by Stephan Aarstol