3 Keys to Successful Content Syndication

Ken Burke, MarketLive

Author Bio

Ken Burke is the Chairman, Founder, & CEO of MarketLive, Inc. Ken founded the company as Multimedia Live in 1995 with only $500 in start-up money, and under his guidance it has grown into a leading Total Commerce solution provider. Inspired by strategies and business methods from the cataloging and direct marketing world, Burke masterminded the creation of the MarketLive® Intelligent Selling® System, MarketLive's enterprise-class e-commerce application designed to optimize all selling opportunities, build solid relationships with customers, and give merchants complete control over their online merchandising.

A recognized e-commerce industry pioneer and visionary, Ken hosts frequent thought leadership events and is often quoted in Internet Retailer and other industry publications. A dynamic and popular speaker, he is a regular contributor at retail and direct marketing events. Ken is also the author of the book Intelligent Selling®: The Art & Science of Selling Online. He studied multimedia and the Internet at the University of Southern California, where he completed a BA in Marketing and earned honors as an MBA graduate in Venture Management and Entrepreneurship.

A content renaissance is under way in the world of ecommerce. Merchants of all stripes are investing more every year in the creation of rich visuals and compelling copy in an attempt to engage shoppers. Nearly 70% of B2C content marketers report producing more content now than last year, and 59% projected that content spending would increase or significantly increase in the coming year.

But while information-hungry shoppers and proliferating social networks seem to demand rich content creation, demonstrating that content’s effect has proven tricky for merchants. Just 37% of content marketers said their content was effective, while only 23% said they were successful at tracking and demonstrating content’s return on investment.

So as merchants gear up for the winter holidays, it should come as welcome news that there’s a straightforward way to boost the potential effectiveness of every content element they generate: syndication. By finding multiple outlets for content, merchants not only make the most of the content they’ve created; they also boost consistency of brand messaging, which is key in an era when consumers expect unified shopping experiences across touchpoints.

To syndicate successfully, merchants must do more than cut and paste. Doing so raises the risks associated with promoting duplicate content, including penalties by Google’s search algorithm when verbatim copies are detected within or across domains. And furthermore, plastering the same content everywhere dooms the effort to failure, as savvy consumers expect brands to conform to the style, tone, and audience of individual touchpoints.

Instead, to syndicate content for maximum effectiveness, merchants should follow some key best practices:

Use content ingredients to create bites, snacks and meals.

Merchants should express key brand or product concepts in content elements that suit the medium in which they’re presented. It’s not just about length; just as an hors d’oeuvre is more than just a smaller portion of an entree, shorter content snippets are more than just truncated versions of the original. Each content element should also be tweaked to fit with the style and tone of its intended target, increasing the chances that it will engage shoppers.

MarketLive merchant H2O Plus, a manufacturer of skincare products, offers extensive information in a tabbed format on its product detail page, including a “tips” section for application instructions and other guidance. The “tip” for its Face Oasis product was expanded with an original photo and additional copy on Facebook, where the message about refrigerating prior to application was extremely timely and relevant on a late summer day.

H20 Plus 1

H20 Plus 2Make the most of video on social media.

There are many reasons to invest in ecommerce video. For starters, shoppers who watch product videos are 1.6 times as likely to purchase than those who don’t. And video can be especially effective for engaging mobile audiences, as 50% of smartphone owners have used them to create video content. Merchants can capitalize on the engagement potential of videos by using core footage to generate multiple clips for social media, following the best practices for length and content for each network’s native format.

Such opportunities are proliferating well beyond the traditional YouTube channel. For example, using Facebook’s video player to stream content can help brand visibility in News Feeds on the site, and Twitter has expanded beyond the micro-video app Vine to offer longer video uploads and live video streaming thanks to the acquisition of the Periscope app.

Don’t forget customer service content.

Perennially overlooked and undervalued, and often relegated to the global footer, customer service content has a significant potential impact on sales. According to Forrester’s Contact Centers Must Go Digital or Die, self-service content on brand websites is now the top customer service source of choice, used by 76% of consumers, topping even phone service from call center reps. Merchants should not only take pains to ensure they’re developing plenty of user-friendly content to describe holiday shipping cutoff dates and return and exchange policies, but they should promote this information across touchpoints.

On mobile devices, where screen real estate is at a premium, customer service content is especially crucial to convince mobile browsers to make purchases on their devices. Merchants must put their content through a crucible to ensure it will deliver crucial information in the most concise format possible, using at-a-glance icons and variations in text color and font weight to attract attention without forcing shoppers to scroll through scads of text.

With the right content syndication strategy in place and the crucial technology to support it, merchants can easily create the seamless experience that customers are expecting.