Aligning Content Marketing and Sales Strategies for Greater Success
At far too many businesses, there is an invisible barrier between the sales team and the marketing team. Although sales and marketing can be distinct departments, their goals are often in alignment. Marketing is about getting more people to recognize, appreciate and gravitate toward a brand. Sales can only close deals if there are leads available.
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In the world of digital marketing and online sales, it is more important than ever to align content marketing and sales strategies. Sales teams need to embrace content marketing as a way to boost traffic, leads and, eventually, conversions. Find out how to begin aligning these traditionally distinct strategies and come up with a comprehensive way to boost sales and brand awareness at the same time.
Both Sales and Content Marketing Want to Add Value
At the end of the day, content marketing and sales have remarkably similar overarching goals. Both groups want to add value to the lives of their customers and their audience. How that value is defined, however, will vary.
For your sales team, adding value means matching customers with their ideal products. It means ensuring that a potential client addresses their pain points, solves their problems and walks away happy with their new product, service or subscription. This is an admirable goal, and it also happens to be something that is financially beneficial for your business at the same time.
Content marketing professionals have a similar goal. Their goal is to increase the audience size by putting out content that is valuable. This content should enhance the lives of users and readers. It might be educational, demonstrating how to complete a task or use a new kind of product. Or, it might be entertaining, putting a smile on readers’ faces and helping them associate your brand with positive feelings. Ultimately, content marketing campaigns won’t be successful unless they add value.
When both sales and marketing teams realize how similar their goals are, it may be easier to work together. If content can add value, turn a user into a lead and into a sale, then it has added value every step of the way along the sales funnel.
Recruiting Sales to Help With Buyer Personas
One of the strategies used in content marketing is the creation of buyer personas. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of a typical customer for the company. These profiles are also sometimes called marketing personas or emotional profiles, but they are all a way to create content that truly resonates with your ideal audience member or customer.
For example, a company that sells affordable fashion for women might specifically be targeting young professional women. By creating buyer personas, they know who they are creating content for. Then, their blog posts and Instagram photos can align with the goals, desires and style of their ideal audience.
Often, marketing teams create their own buyer personas based on who they think their ideal audience might be. However, this is where sales can come in and make a tremendous difference. Instead of making guesses about a typical consumer, get the facts from sales. The sales team can produce specifics about who is buying their clothing. You might learn that the average customer is 27, single and has a bachelor’s degree. That information can help you create content that is more meaningful to that type of buyer. As a result, the content will be more relevant and likely lead to more sales in the long run.
Tracking Content Effectiveness Through Sales Numbers
It is critical to look at content marketing as a tool for sales. It is not a standalone process, and there is no benefit to creating content for content’s sake. The goal of content marketing needs to be leads, conversions and, ultimately, sales. Therefore, content can’t be judged solely on how popular it is. If a great blog post goes viral but results in no sales, it may not be the success story you were hoping for.
Fortunately, there is a way to determine whether or not content marketing is truly valuable to a company. In this case, it is all about the data analysis. If a blog post receives 100,000 views, great! But, it’s important to look deeper. Find out how many of those 100,000 views clicked through to learn more about your brand or your products. Then, dive into those click-throughs. How many resulted in sales? How many became valuable leads that your sales team can follow up on?
With this approach, it becomes easier to see the value of content marketing. For instance, spending $100 on a new blog post that results in 40 sales and $4,000 in sales for company is an overwhelming success. Before the sales team jumps onto the content marketing bandwagon, they need to see the data that shows how valuable content can be. Don’t expect your sales team to support your content marketing goals without showing them how it can boost their sales and their profits.
Sharing Customer Concerns to Address Pain Points in Content
When content marketing teams create new content, one strategy is to address common pain points among readers. If you run a company that offers fishing charters in a popular tourism destination, for example, you might guess that customers have a few common problems they want to address. The marketing team may do a little research and discover that the following are all pain points that need to be resolved through content:
These may well be valid pain points, but they should first be run by the sales team. After all, the sales team is who speaks to customers day in and day out and knows what they want better than anyone else. It might turn out that most customers who call simply want to know what kind of fishing equipment is available, since they can’t travel with their own. This piece of insight is invaluable, and it can spark a long list of potential articles, blogs and social media posts around the topic.
Whenever possible, get sales to weigh in on potential content ideas and topics. Sales team members might be able to suggest common pain points that your content marketing team has never heard of. This can help marketing teams make a bigger impact and bring in an audience more likely to make a purchase.
Creating a System of Feedback and Sharing
Content marketing can and should support sales. Even when that fact is established, however, it can be difficult to tell whether the sales team feels supported. When in doubt, communicate!
It is perfectly acceptable to ask the sales team outright what is working and what can be improved. Your sales team might love that a new campaign is bringing in new leads. However, they may be less than thrilled that leads aren’t exactly the right fit for the product. By sharing this with marketing, the company can develop better, more accurate buyer personas for the future.
Similarly, it may be helpful to show sales how content marketing is making a difference. Creating visual representation is a great idea. A simple chart can reveal how leads have increased or sales numbers have risen since the start of a recent campaign. Or, they can reveal how the call to action of a single blog post is responsible for 20 percent of subscribers to the email list.
Provide evidence to show the collaboration between both departments. At the same time, keep the lines of communication open. Establish communication channels outside of formal notices, and make it easier for team members to bring up issues right away.
Using Content to Make Future Sales Easier
By now, you’ll know that content marketing can increase the number of sales possible simply by increasing the audience size and the number of potential leads. However, that is not the only way that content can support sales. In fact, the right kind of content marketing can actually start the sales process, softening up clients and making it easier to close the deal in the future.
One great example is to create content out of a case study. Imagine that a successful small business just began using your products. They are having great results, so they are eager to be profiled by your marketing team. You can create a blog post out of that case study as a way to show your audience a firsthand account of what your products can do. Reading this case study might cause readers to seriously consider the value of what you can offer.
Similarly, your content could include an infographic. If users are more geared toward visuals, then an infographic can display information clearly and succinctly. A colorful infographic can also go viral, and it is more eye-catching than a wall of text.
You might also be able to create content that shows readers how to use one of your popular products. This is ostensibly a how-to guide, but it is a kind of commercial that shows off everything your product can do as well. This strategy, and many others, push leads down the sales funnel and make the job of the sales team a little bit easier.
Content marketing and sales don’t need to be in competition with one another. Instead, use content marketing to support the goals of the sales team. When used appropriately, content marketing can create more leads, offer value to more users and result in more sales.
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