5 Ways Content Marketing Can (and Should) Support Your Sales Efforts
The sales and marketing rift… rumors have it that the gap is closing, and one can only hope that’s true. But does that include a better relationship between sales and content marketing? For the sales rep working hard to make connections and close deals with real life people, the ephemeral aspect of using “content” for marketing might seem like it has little value to their efforts. But it plays an important role—or at least it should.
The Content Isn’t New, but How It Supports Sales Is
Content isn’t new. We’ve always used content to promote products and services, and content “marketing” was a thing before it turned into a buzzword back around 2010. But with the buzzword came an effort to quantify the use of content in support of sales, to use content strategically to achieve sales and marketing goals. That shift in approach made content a valuable marketing tool—and therefore a sales one.
If you’re still not sure how a magazine or webinar is helping you or your organization with your sales efforts, consider these 5 ways content can be used:
- Content helps get people into the sales funnel in the first place. Content is doing a lot of the heavy lifting these days as people research solutions on their own before they are willing to engage with a sales person. When they come across your content while researching—and that content is engaging and targeted—that can lead to the first step: becoming a prospect.
- Content can be used to segment prospects and move them through the funnel. With different types of content offered, you can determine a prospect’s interests based on the content they engage with. This enables you to deliver more content on that same subject and even move the prospect farther down the sales pipeline and know when to engage with them. In this way, content can also be used to identify the best leads and those most likely to buy, by using past experience to predict future behavior. Content can also be used to nurture leads automatically, as with an email drip campaign in follow-up to a download or webinar.
- Content can keep your company top of mind when prospects aren’t yet ready to buy. Content such as newsletters that is pushed out to prospects provides useful information they appreciate without selling—while keeping your brand’s name in front of them until it is time to sell.
- Content can be developed in all types of formats, so prospects can interact with and consume it the way they want to. It might be video, an ebook, an infographic, a chart, an article on LinkedIn, a webinar, a tweet, a live video on Facebook, a print magazine, a mobile app…the possibilities are many, but the end result is the same: The user has some control over how and when they interact with that content, making them more likely to do so.
- Content can make use of testimonials and case studies in a way that you can’t. Prospects don’t want to hear what you say about your company. They want to hear what others say about your company. Content in the form of testimonials, case studies, use cases, success stories and more all tell your brand’s story for you.
Of course, this puts the onus on your marketing team to create the high-quality, segmented and engaging content you need. But through feedback loops that tell your marketing team what is or isn’t working, or when you find gaps in the content flow, you can support them in their efforts to create the most effective content while they supporting you in your sales efforts.