Content marketing is a critical part of the B2B promotional mix; 81% of businesses report that their blog is important or essential to lead generation. However, a focus on top of the funnel content often means sales teams lack the resources to get the deal over the line. To improve sales enablement, the creation and implementation of a content marketing strategy is a critical success factor.
Why A Content Marketing Strategy Helps
Creating content that converts takes time, and for many businesses adding planning into the mix can be a step too far. Only 46% of enterprise-level organisations report they have a documented content marketing strategy.
And here-in lies the problem. Without a strategy or plan, content gets created without direction or purpose. Marketing focuses on top of the funnel content that helps to hit lead gen targets. Meanwhile, sales struggle to convert leads, overcome objections and maintain the customer relationship because they don’t have the right content available.
A content marketing strategy sets out the audience for the content (customer personas) and where the content fits into the buying journey. Mapping content to the sales funnel gives you visibility of where the content gaps are and where attention should be focused. Creating content using this process stops customers from falling through the gaps and helps with customer retention.
Typically ideas for new content are generated using a combination of customer, competitor and keyword research. Regularly reviewing content is also good practice as the needs of buyers, and the activity of your competitors is continually changing.
Aligning Sales and Marketing To Improve Sales Enablement
Although many organisations are focused on delivering a seamless customer experience, only 21% of marketers say content marketing and sales are extremely/very aligned in their organisation. Putting a content marketing strategy in place that addresses the whole sales process will overcome this divide and gives both functions a stake in content creation.
The role of sales in the content creation process should not be underestimated. Sales team reports are crucial to generating new content for every funnel stage based on the direct feedback they’re getting from the market. Because of this sales should have a seat at the table during brainstorming sessions and content reviews.
Another way to bridge the sales-marketing gap is by implementing cross-functional metrics. Rather than using stand-alone metrics like ‘leads generated’ metrics like lead to close rate will help both teams to identify where customers are dropping off and therefore, where more/better content is needed.
Using Data To Improve Sales Enablement
Improving sales enablement isn’t just about having the right content at the bottom of the funnel. Content at the top of the funnel is equally relevant. With the right technology, sales teams can gather vast amounts of useful information about a prospect before they make contact and use this to identify pain points and potential barriers to sale quickly.
Analytics tools and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software are heavily relied on by sales and marketing teams to gather and review this information. A CMI report found that 89% of marketers rely on analytics tools and 69% on CRM to assist with content marketing activities.
Sales teams should not only have access to, but should actively be using these solutions to review their top leads and identify which blog posts they viewed, which content they downloaded and which videos they watched. Doing so gives sales teams a head start and enables them to make contact with the right message at the right time based on where the lead is in their journey.
Content can play a significant role in improving sales enablement, but the chances of success are much higher with a content marketing strategy in place. Having visibility on where the gaps are in your content will help to stop customers dropping off mid-way through the journey. Technology like CRM and analytics tools can also help sales teams to build better relationships based on real data and customer actions.
This post was written by Barnes & Shirley as a guest article and was originally published on Business 2 Community.