Content is a huge part of marketing strategies in today's age, and for good reason.
Every piece of content you create has the potential to drive a sale. Be it reaching someone in the awareness stage, or providing the final push a potential customer needs in the decision stage.
But what content do you need to create? What type of content helps support sales teams the best?
We spoke to 7 content marketers to find out what type of content they have found helps their sales teams the best, and what content they would want to produce more of going forward.
So we’re going to break down a simple content marketing strategy, define what types of content fits into what stage, and sprinkle in some advice from our experts. All of which should hopefully help you in your content planning activities!
A Simple Content Marketing Strategy
If you’re actively producing content you should be creating different types to hit the different stages of the buyer's journey. There are many iterations of this in today’s world but the basic principle remains the same.
You’ll want to be generating brand awareness, getting in front of new potential customers who meet your target criteria.
You’ll want to be creating content that hits people who are in the consideration stage and are thinking about using your services as a potential option.
And finally, you’ll want to be creating content that can help provide that final push to those who think you are the right choice and just need convincing.
If you’re in marketing you have probably seen this funnel before, but have you thought about what types of content are related to each stage? These content types can be quite fluid and move between each section, but generally, this is where each type is likely to be of most use.
Your goals or KPIs will likely need to reflect this as well. For example, would you expect a blog post to generate 100 demos? Or would a better target be to expect 10 eBook downloads whose email addresses you can now nurture?
What Does the Research Say Works?
There has been plenty of research in the world of content marketing which highlights its importance in the buyer's journey. Below are some of the best ones that can help guide your strategy, and give us some indication on what type of content helps support sales.
- 74% of B2B buyers spend over half of their research time online.
- The process of buying lasts up to 4 months for nearly 75% of buyers.
- 70% of business buyers find content directly on the vendor's website.
- Product specification and functionality rank as the most useful type of content for over two-thirds of B2B buyers.
- 47% of B2B buyers will typically consumer 3-5 pieces of content when making a purchase decision
- 53% of B2B buyers said that video was the most useful form of content.
So in summary, we can clearly see the research shows that potential customers are consuming a lot of content, different types of content and that they find it useful in their purchasing journey.
Furthermore, in DemandGens 2020 Content Preference study they uncovered some interesting findings.
During the mid-funnel, where buyers are looking to get a deeper understanding of a topic, they showed a preference towards more immersive formats such as webinars, interactive content and assessments.
MOST POPULAR FORMATS FOR MID-STAGE RESEARCH
- Assessments 58%
- Webinars 50%
- Case Studies 40%
- Interactive Content 40%
And when buyers are in the evaluation and validation stage towards the end of the journey, they are relying more on peers and industry influencers.
MOST POPULAR FORMATS FOR LATE-STAGE RESEARCH
- Case Studies 39%
- User Reviews 38%
- Analyst Reports 36%
- ROI Calculators 28%
So with that in mind, does the research match what our experts suggest?
What Our Experts Say
Daniel Pank, Operations Director, PACE Digital Sales
From a Learning & Development perspective, webinars and videos have been the most useful for our team particularly in the onboarding stage where terminology around the inside sales industry is picked up and learnt.
From a results perspective, case studies relevant to the industry or type of organisation being targeted have provided an uptick in results. The feedback we have been getting is that this builds trust early on with the prospect and makes a sales team's job easier by shortening the sales cycle.
Kenny Kingshott, Sales Enablement Manager, Zeotap
At Zeotap we are trying to focus on creating more sales content and showcasing the value we bring to customers. This is the best type of content that can support sales teams as it quickly makes their lives easier.
Within our case studies, we are trying to showcase numbers/figures of value from our current customers, and how the impact we have had on their bottom line or improving business KPIs.
Case studies can help every aspect of your acquisition strategy, not just your sales teams. Traffic from any source should convert better when you have the social proof case studies provided.
If you are producing content for your sales team, make sure they know about it. The easier it is to access and read, the more they will digest and use it. Try setting up a dropbox or a Google drive that they can quickly access if they are speaking to prospects, or need to reference a stat quickly.
Michael Sena, Company Director at Senacea
It’s the content that reduces the customer's knowledge gap and makes them ready to engage in more detailed and meaningful conversations.
For instance, after addressing the basic features of a service or product on the product pages, it pays off to discuss more specific aspects and use cases. Doing that helps reassure the potential buyers they found what they were looking for and progresses them to the next stage of the customer journey.
This way, salespeople's time is put to best use as they no longer have to address queries that could be best answered with text, case studies or short videos. It also increases the conversion rate as customers' concerns are addressed faster and on a self-service basis.
James Garnier, Content Marketing Manager, Yieldify
We've recently started producing a lot more success stories (aka case stories) for our global sales teams. The sales teams tell us success stories are important collateral in outreach, sales calls and nurture - they turn claims into facts.
That said, they're also emotive accounts of Yieldify helping a client overcome a challenge. Prospects can start to see themselves in them and trust that Yieldify can offer them similar support.
Alexander Heinle, Marketing Lead, Zavvy
We work closely together with the sales team to identify and create the most helpful content. For example, they saw that webinar participants are more involved than e.g. people who downloaded a whitepaper. They call people who showed up and ask for feedback.
Apart from that, suggestions from our sales team are one of the 3 main sources for topic ideas - next to keyword research and our general product direction. Content really helps the sales team engage prospects over time, demonstrate expertise, and move them through the funnel.
Adam Hempenstall, Founder, Better Proposals
Case studies because they help potential customers immediately see the value in the product without having to sit and read through lengthy blog posts, ebooks and whitepapers.
Angelina Popovic, Content Manager, Really Simple Systems
The case studies can show potential buyers some of the pain points of our previous clients, and show them how it was solved with our product.
We try to make them in the form of an interview with decision-makers, and we love to see what they think about our software.
They sometimes even mention something that is important to them, that we usually don't market. So those are quite inspirational for our content team as well.
Summing it up
It seems we have a clear winner from our content experts: case studies.
So if you want to create content that can help support your sales teams, think about creating new case studies and refreshing old ones if you have more results you can show.
Case studies also don’t have to be purely written pieces of content, you can add value to yours by adding video testimonials or other interactive elements. Can you show your product in action? Don’t feel you have to stick to the traditional format of case studies.
Although they may be hard to get, with input and sign off from clients sometimes proving a blocker according to our content marketing experts they are one to push through and get live!