Paid vs. Free Content Syndication — Which Works Best for B2B Tech Companies?

Have you written the world’s best content only to discover it’s barely been read? There are few worse feelings for a B2B technology company that is trying to gain ground in its industry, generate leads, and build a strong brand name. 

Yet, this is often the experience of many of today’s B2B technology marketers when it comes to creating content such as blog posts, white papers, videos, and more.

One of the hardest aspects of creating high-quality content is getting it in front of the right people who will gain value from it (and potentially become your customers of course). That’s why B2B marketers rely on a proven solution to reach a wider audience of readers — content syndication

But first, what is B2B content syndication?

B2B content syndication is the art and science of exposing your high-value content to prospects who may never find your brand organically. Syndicated content involves republishing collateral on other sites to expose it to a broader audience. The process amplifies your messaging outside of your own database by leveraging other organizations’ databases. 

Done right, content syndication marketing not only gets your content in front of viable new audiences and generates new traffic for your website, but also delivers several additional benefits, including demand generation, gaining new subscribers, building your brand exposure, and boosting SEO through backlinks. 

Benefits of B2B content syndication

  • Demand generation: Reaching a new audience of prospective buyers can help generate more leads for you and help them turn into new customers.  
  • Add blog subscribers: Attracting a new targeted audience can help increase the number of followers to your blog. 
  • Build your brand exposure: Every new person who consumes your content for the first time represents another opportunity to expand your brand exposure in the marketplace. 
  • Build SEO through backlinks: When your content gains greater exposure, you also increase your chances of generating backlinks to your website, which enhances your domain authority and SEO potential. 

Get 4x more pipeline than other content syndication providers

See why security operations platform Siemplify invested in 15 content syndication vendors, and only ViB exceeded their expectations.

 

Paid vs. free content syndication — what’s the difference?   

Back to our main topic, B2B content syndication is available in two options: paid vs. free.

There isn’t a right answer for which would work better for your unique B2B technology company, so we’ve summed up the definitions, strategies and tools you can try.

Table of Contents

 What is paid content syndication?

Paid content syndication involves paying a professional distribution company or lead generation agency to syndicate your content, either on its own platform or to various content publishers. Examples of paid B2B content syndication platforms are PR Newswire, ViB, Outbrain, and Taboola. Typically paid content syndication services display your content at the bottom of editorial content pages and cite it as recommended or related content. 

One of the leading benefits of paid content syndication is that it’s easy to get your content featured in major publications with little effort. Free content syndication can be more challenging. 

What is free content syndication?

Free content syndication requires pitching your content to relevant publications and websites and hoping they mention it or extract content from it with a backlink to your website. It’s like public relations in that you make newsworthy content available to a list of relevant media outlets. 

This requires a lot of effort, because it takes time to come up with newsworthy content, collate a list of relevant sites, and reach out to each media outlet individually. To work, you must source the right outlets, build connections with them, and pitch your content to them in a compelling way.

How to choose the best paid vs. free content syndication strategy  

To choose between a paid and free content syndication strategy comes down to several key factors, including your budget, amount of effort you want to expend, the quality of the results you’re hoping to achieve, and your content syndication objectives. 

When it comes to B2B technology companies, you likely place quality results as a top priority. In this case, the targeting potential of paid content syndication is a major consideration. 

The right content syndication service will provide a large, proven list of market-ready prospects who will be interested in your solutions. As a result, you can generate leads and build your brand without a major time-consuming effort. 

Here is a brief overview of the leading strategies for paid vs. free content syndication:

Paid content syndication strategies

  • Pay to advertise content on major websites
  • Pay for content to be distributed to a targeted database of contacts

Free content syndication strategies

  • Self-service syndication and republishing of existing content 
  • Leaving breadcrumbs on social media 
  • Being a source for sites that accept or exchange guest blogging opportunities
  • Pitching topics, soundbites, quotes, guest blogs, or custom blogs to major publishers 

How paid content syndication strategies work  

As we mentioned, paid content syndication strategies deliver more predictable results than free pitching. However, there is a caveat, namely the quality of the content syndication service you choose. Different vendors have different approaches and the quality of their results can vary widely. 

When you are considering paid content syndication, you have two options: advertising and distribution. Here are the leading pros and cons of each one.

 

1. Advertise your content on major websites

Many kinds of advertising, like native ads and sponsored content, fall broadly under paid content syndication. The strategy involves having your content placed on major publishers, perhaps listed as a recommendation widget or with a “sponsored” label, at the bottom or side of webpages. 

It usually isn’t easy to spot these, since the stories are subtly placed without disrupting the user experience. But note that this affects performance too, with native ads yielding around a 0.2% CTR on average.

Most large publishers like CNN, Forbes, and even The Weather Channel host syndicated content. Other speciality providers like Taboola, Outbrain, and TechTarget also provide the tools to easily place content.

Sponsored content for content syndication
Sponsored content using Forbes' BrandVoice service

Pros:

  • You get to choose where exactly your content is published. 

Cons: 

  • Audiences are not necessarily actively interested in or seeking your content on these sites. 
  • The sites offer limited targeting opportunities. 
  • In a cluttered marketplace, content discovery is hard to predict. For example, Taboola’s content syndication service generates 150 billion monthly recommendations despite reaching far fewer readers — 400 million visitors a month.

2. Pay a service provider to distribute your content to a collated database

On the other hand, content syndication agencies such as ViB take a different tack to provide this service. 

ViB distributes ready-made content, such as white papers, videos, and webinar recordings, to a highly targeted database of potential leads.

More specifically, ViB’s content syndication service builds a web page and form for your content and hosts it, then distributes information about your content to its community, carefully collated to match the targeting criteria you share with us. 

Your content is actively promoted to new leads who can visit the webpage and request the content — meaning that the generated leads self-opt in. This is unlike sponsored content, which relies on accidental or organic discovery. 

Pros:

  • Content is highly targeted by geography, company size (employee count or revenue), industries (include or exclude), job levels, and job titles. 
  • Provides a targeted way of sharing your unique, high-quality content to an industry database of leads who are qualified as “market ready.”
  • Contacts are opted in and expecting content opportunities to appear in their mailboxes. 
  • Typically, it’s a pay per lead system that ensures you only pay for quality leads, which guarantees results. 

Cons: 

  • You’ll need to find the right provider who has a network of contacts that fit your target audience well. For example, ViB’s community consists of professionals in high-tech industries only.

How free content syndication strategies work  

Now, what about syndicating content without eating into your marketing spend? Free content syndication strategies include the following four options, along with their pros and cons.

1. Self-service syndication and republishing existing content 

This approach involves publishing content on external websites such as LinkedIn and Medium. If these platforms boast a wider audience than your current blogging website, sharing your content there can help drive new traffic and even social engagement.  

However, if duplicating entirely, be careful to use canonicals to help tell Google how to index the different versions of your content. Also consider that backlinks will likely be flagged as nofollow.

What these all mean is that self-service syndication might not improve your SEO at all. Much like the paid strategies, this strategy is highly traffic dominant, but without the assurance of a high-quality audience.

Pros:

  • There is no charge for the opportunity to distribute your content. 

Cons: 

  • Backlinks are usually nofollow.
  • Take not to avoid deceptive content duplication to protect SEO ranking.
  • Additional effort is required to build new social channels or edit content to avoid duplication.

 

2. Leaving breadcrumbs on social media 

Another less common approach to free content syndication involves leaving comments on social media sites and forums to try and interest readers in your content. With conversations scattered all over the free-for-all social world, there’s a pretty low barrier to entry to jump in and share your insight.

While it’s not ture content syndication, these bite-sized snippets can catch audiences’ attention when they’re truly interested in finding an answer to a question they have. Think about the lengthy conversations people have on Quora and Reddit, for example. Now imagine inserting yourself in those busy conversations and interesting people in your content.

What’s more, it can be a challenge to find the right topic to grab people’s attention, especially in the B2B technology industry. You must diligently monitor social media listening to stay relevant. Also, overly promotional comments aren’t well received on social media. All totaled, this is a highly unpredictable strategy that should likely be left as a small part of your overall content syndication strategy.

Content syndication on Quora

Pros:

  • Seamless approach to introduce new ideas to organic conversations. 

Cons: 

  • Content usually needs to be non-promotional.
  • Requires a lot of time and effort to listen and respond.
  • It’s difficult or impossible to measure your results. 
  • It’s a more difficult approach for B2B-related topics.

3. Being a source for sites that accept or exchange guest blogging opportunities

Have you heard of guest blogging? That’s when you pitch content ideas and write content specifically for existing websites, typically as an exchange.

If you have an existing partner network, or know any non-competing companies that share a similar target audience with you, exchanging original content is a great way to tap into each others’ network, and even bring in legitimate “dofollow” backlinks. 

The process is simple. Find their contact details, write a friendly introductory email, and propose an exchange. You’ll likely have to find partners similar to your business — in terms of SEO ranking, company size, and database size — to secure a successful exchange. Larger companies won’t gain a benefit from posting to your blog if your domain or database is weaker.  

Pros:

  • Mutually beneficial strategy makes it easier to get buy-in.

Cons: 

  • Websites that easily accept guest content generally don’t have much new or targeted traffic to offer B2B technology companies.
  • Slow process that involves building relationships and negotiating guest blogging opportunities one-by-one.

 

4. Pitching topics, soundbites, quotes, or custom blogs to major publishers 

Finally, the method that most marketers know about — seeking major publishers. This works similar to public relations, in that you regularly pitch ideas to the media platforms on which you would like to be published or mentioned, such as CNN or Forbes, for example. 

It’s every marketer’s dream to make the headlines on these credible media outlets. And that’s exactly where the challenge is. Everyone is vying for content placement. That’s why these outlets tend to have highly specific requirements for accepting content. Oftentimes, you’ll find yourself writing custom pitches to each outlet, only to be left without a reply.

For example, look at Guardian’s lengthy requirements to submit an opinion piece.

List of requirements to submit a pitch to Guardian
List of requirements to submit a pitch to Guardian

Pros:

  • The exposure opportunities are great if you get chosen by a top-ranked media outlet. 

Cons: 

  • You must stay on top of news trends through media listening to craft a relevant, timely, and compelling pitch.
  • Standing out from the competition likely requires building relationships with the media outlets first.
  • You’ll need to heavily customize your pitches to each outlet according to their specific requirements — all of which requires intense effort. 
  • Typically, the content must be non-promotional.
  • Media outlets reserve the discretion to edit and change any part of your work.

How to choose the right content syndication strategy?

Content syndication is a powerful way to get your original content in front of a wider audience — and generate demand, build your brand name and become a thought leader in your industry. However, it can be difficult to choose which path to take — paid vs. free. 

To simplify your decision, ask yourself if you want fast results with less effort that are virtually guaranteed — or do you want to expend a lot of energy to gain results slowly, but with no predictability? Most B2B technology companies are going to choose paid content syndication, because they are working in a fast-paced environment and need dependable results today

ViB has been meeting the content syndication of many of today’s leading B2B technology companies, like Siemplify, for years — and successfully helping each one exceed their content syndication goals. 

Are you ready to see what a highly targeted and proven content syndication strategy can do for your company? Contact us today to discuss how to get started. 

Ready to get started with B2B lead generation?

View Past Webinars