B2B Marketers: Do Not Ignore Bottom-Of-Funnel Content
Here are three concrete ways that B2B marketers can better align with sales to help improve the content that closes deals.
Late last month, Forbes CMO Practice released the results of a survey of more than 380 marketing executives, finding that while 96% agree that effective marketing content is essential to achieving growth goals, 40% are unsure if their marketing content is actually yielding positive ROI.
One would think that this would mean an intense focus on content that directly supports sales efforts, such as case studies, competitive battle cards, and other “bottom-of-funnel” content. Why then are clicks, shares, and impressions all the rage among content marketers and not objectives more closely associated with closing a deal and those directly yielding return on their content investment?
The answer may be due to the fact that many content marketers lack full visibility into how sales teams use content or are alerted only when sales reps have “gone rogue,” i.e., having created their own content that may be off-brand, or worse, factually inaccurate. As a content marketer, it may be tempting to ignore the problem of sales content measurement, particularly when it’s so easy to measure content you fully control at the top of the funnel. Plus, those impressions and clicks numbers are big and impressive; they look great in quarterly update presentations to the CMO.
However, Forrester has found that 78% of executive buyers claim that salespeople do not have relevant material during interactions. Good marketing executives will recognize this as a branding issue; if your salespeople are delivering irrelevant or outdated content, it reflects poorly upon your company as a whole. Plus, being able to directly tie great content to the closing of a sale is an impressive thing to brag to the CMO about as well.
With this in mind, here are three concrete ways that B2B marketers can better align with sales to help improve the content that closes deals.
1. Connect sales technology directly to the marketing tech stack: When sales and marketing technology, such as CRM and marketing automation, are integrated, it’s easier to share data between the two teams. Any new marketing automation you’re looking at should have CRM integration capabilities and vice versa.
Marketers should take advantage of top-of-funnel data from marketing automation and use CRM data to see what content is used in certain selling situations in middle-funnel interactions, in order to determine the best types of bottom-of-funnel content to send buyers. For example, you know through your marketing tech stack that a lead came through a new infographic you posted on your blog. Make sure that this information is reflected in your CRM so that your sales rep doesn’t also send the same infographic to the lead in his first touch, thus wasting both sales’ and the buyer’s time.
2. Use the information that only sales reps have: Marketing teams are the experts when it comes to building brand guidelines, crafting consistent messaging, and creating buyer personas. But those with the most accurate insights into buyer preferences, needs, and activities are the sales reps interacting with the buyer every day. Provide sales reps with the ability to easily customize sales content based on their more personal relationship, but make sure parameters are clearly set by marketing. This not only ensures a hyper-personal content experience for the buyer, but also frees up marketing from creating one-off sales materials each time a sales rep requests them.
3. Analyze all bottom-of-funnel content data to the greatest degree possible: Bottom-funnel metrics are the last frontier when it comes to B2B content marketing data. You should be developing specific, quantifiable ways to measure the effectiveness of your sales content to analyze progress, just as you are already doing at the top of the funnel. For example, make sure you are measuring how often your sales reps are using content and at what stage of the buying cycle, which pieces of content are actually being engaged with by the buyers, and which pieces of content are consistently being left in the repository and need to be either revised or discarded altogether. (If you don’t have the ability to measure these metrics, setting up regular content effectiveness meetings with sales reps to get anecdotal information is a good place to start.)
Chances are, as a B2B marketing head, you’ve already recognized the content problem between your marketing and sales teams. In fact, Publish or Perish goes on to find that over 90% of marketing executives are actively building the ability to manage content operations at scale across the enterprise, meaning right now that your competitors are working on this issue as well. By investing in the right technologies, trusting your sales people while also setting the proper parameters, and looking at bottom-funnel metrics, you can quickly and easily stay ahead of the competition by closing more deals with content.
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