I've written before about white-paper syndication options for B2B marketers. Here Patrick van Boom – Director of Worldwide Sales and Marketing with TIE KINETIX – and I discuss a syndication option that enables B2B marketers to easily distribute content to their partners.
1. What prompted you to develop a syndication platform geared for the B2B supply chain?
Ten years ago, TIE KINETIX was a general marketing firm working with manufacturers and distributors including Siemens and Ingram Micro in the Netherlands. We saw that these companies had all the right product information on their sites, but their channel partners didn't. Prospects couldn't simply call Siemens HQ for more information – Siemens would point people to their partners. So there was a big disconnect between information on the vendor's site and on the site of the partners who were actually selling the products. In response, we developed the first version of our solution, which enabled companies to distribute their content to partner sites in real time and embed into emails for direct marketing.
2. What is the impetus for companies to build content syndication technology into their global partner strategies?
The main reasons are to ensure:
- Your partners are using your content as intended and at the right time.
- All of your partners present consistent content, to avoid confusing your prospects and customers.
- Your information hits the marketplace in real time.
3. What challenges do companies face when managing campaigns and content delivery through the channel?
Consider a typical marketing campaign. For a new product launch, marketing managers will set a launch date and create lots of materials such as videos, product descriptions, and promotional copy. Next they have to contact each partner individually and get them to buy into the process, for example, logging into a portal to download all the information and materials. In many cases, resellers are not willing – or don't have the time – to download all the information and post it to their sites. Think of it from the reseller's point of view – if you sell for 50 companies, you have to log into 50 portals to download information.
4. How does your content syndication platform work?
Once a company signs up to use our on-demand (i.e., SaaS) solution, we start collecting their content. We do so by integrating with their in-house systems to automatically transfer information, even as new content becomes available. We also have a global partnership with CNET, which hosts content – such as reviews and white papers – for and about many companies so we pull relevant content from the CNET network. Our customers can also input content manually. Or we can do it for them.
We then combine all the information – including PDFs, video, banner ads, news, and downloads – and normalize it in our system based on what content elements the customer wants to share. For instance, we can slice it up by publication date, title, or topic, to name a few. This step gives us the utmost flexibility for syndication. As an example, we can syndicate content that maps to different partner categories, such as silver, gold, and bronze.
Next we make the information available to the vendor's partners. While the vendor handles the outreach, for example by sending an email to its partners, the rest of the process is hands-off for them. When partners click on the link in the email, they're taken to a subscription page that let's them to set up their dynamic content profiles and choose their syndication preferences, assuming the vendor allows it. One option is to have syndicated content show up via a "light box" on your site; in other words, a box that pops open above the page. Another option is to integrate the content directly into your site pages.
Partners then hit a button to generate code that they paste into the relevant pages on their site; for most partners, that's a single page dedicated to the vendor. However, if a partner is representing multiple vendors who use our platform, our platform can generate code that provides consolidated content so the partner doesn’t have to manage multiple feeds.
Once partners add the initial code to their sites, all content is displayed dynamically. And it's tailored to the visitor's behavior on the site. For example, if visitors choose a notebook that allows them to buy an OEM version of software, they'll be shown the OEM versions of the software and can add this directly to their shopping cart along with the notebook.
If a partner starts selling additional products for the vendor, it simply updates its profile and the appropriate content is automatically directed to its site – without the need to add new code or revisit the portal. This is an important point – unless the facilitation process is automated, not all resellers will update their site with the latest content. And that, of course, reduces the effectiveness of the program for both the vendor and the channel.
5. How is your syndication platform different from – and similar to – other content syndication used by B2B marketers?
Today, many B2B marketers are familiar with RSS, white paper syndication, and maybe even application syndication. These technologies and services are only similar to the TIE Kinetix Content Syndication Platform in that they’re all forms of syndication. However, our system is more sophisticated in that it can syndicate all content types over various channels, such as Web sites, online stores, narrowcasting, email, and mobile phones, to name a few. Content pushed to Web sites can also be a combination of dynamically co-branded white papers, videos, customer reviews, and banner ads, to name a few. If it’s digital, we can most likely syndicate it.
6. How is your solution used to support outbound marketing to prospects?
We provide ready-to-use e-mailings created for the vendor. Once partners install the software we provide to support this, they can use these e-mailings without handing their prospect list over to the vendor. When a campaign is ready to go, our system sends it – along with all relevant supporting material – to each partner in the local language. The partner pushes the send button in the software we provide and the tailored mailing goes out to prospects. When prospects click on the link in the mailing, they're taken directly to the partner's site. Because our system syndicates all information related to the campaign, the prospect will be shown the right promotional content – and partners don't have to do anything beyond pasting the initial code into their sites when they first registered to be part of the syndication program.
7. What type of analytics can your customers access?
We partnered with WebTrends to provide Web stats. We also provide statistics related to overall email campaigns and specific email click behavior. Vendors want to know how many resellers they've reached, and how many subscribe to the syndication program and integrate content into their sites; we can tell them all that. We can also give them the names and numbers of partners that subscribed to the program and generated the integration code, but didn't yet integrate so they can follow up with them.
Moreover, we can track a campaign from end to end. For example, say a vendor delivers a mailing that the reseller sends out with a URL to the reseller's site, and the recipient clicks the link in the mailing and ends up purchasing a product on the reseller's Web site – we can track that process from beginning to end. We can also tell vendors how many times an up-sell banner is displayed and clicked on a partner's site, how many times people hit the buy button, and how many checked out within the reseller's online store. We can also do simpler things such as track which white papers are downloaded.
8. On your site, you offer an AMR Research case study on Siemens. Can you share another success story?
Consider Microsoft's initiative to launch Windows 7.0. Microsoft in the UK works with 300 partners and wanted all of them to use approved materials for the launch. It sent out a mailing with the link, and the next day, 250 partners had content integrated into their site. As far as Microsoft was concerned, this was an overnight success. In fact, it was the first time in Microsoft history that all launch-related content was available across their partner sites the morning of a launch. That just wouldn't have been possible without content syndication.
Before working with us, Microsoft in the UK had to assign partner managers who were responsible for trying to get partners to use the available content and post it on their Web sites. Beyond that though, it couldn't see what its partners were doing to promote and sell its products. Now the content automatically populates partners' sites, which saves Microsoft and its partners lots of time. In addition, Microsoft has more insight into partner sales. For example, if the partner agrees to tie the syndication system into its shopping cart, Microsoft sees every time a product is added to a shopping cart and purchased. This enables Microsoft to proactively engage with its partners. If Microsoft sees that a reseller's revenues are on the decline, it can get in touch with the reseller to devise a plan.
9. Why haven’t B2B Marketers heard of TIE KINETIX?
B2B marketers may have not heard of TIE because we launched our Content Syndication Platform to the US market only a few years ago. However, we've been a technology company in the US for over 20 years, and our content syndication solution has been in use for many years in Europe. You can learn more on our site.
About the author: Stephanie Tilton is a content-marketing consultant who helps B2B companies craft content that nurtures leads and advances the buying cycle. You can follow her on Twitter or read more of her posts on Savvy B2B.