Content is no longer just for steering prospects into your sales funnel. Today, your marketing content is the fuel that drives customer engagement at all stages of the buying cycle. The right content first positions your leadership team as industry thought leaders, then increases your brand loyalty, sales, market share, and revenue. But with so many content platforms, creating the right content development strategy can seem overwhelming.
If you’re not sure what to create first – blogs, social media posts, videos, webinars, whitepapers, or sales presentation slides – you’re not alone. 95% of B2B marketers are using content marketing and 48% plan to increase content spending this year. Yet only 42% consider themselves effective at it, according to MarketingProfs B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends - North America.
To ensure maximum content ROI, we recommend dividing the buying process into three distinct stages of communication. As you develop content, you can leverage pieces for different purposes at each stage including lead generation, SEO traffic, multi-touch nurture campaigns, and customer retention. But conceptualize your strategy with these stages in mind:
Stage 1: Discovering Challenges
At this stage, informative blog posts, SEO content, and whitepapers can drive prospects from an initial query about a particular business challenge, to an understanding of the larger picture. These platforms allow you to pull high quality search leads, educate them, and present your company as an authentic thought leader in the industry. With sales enablement software, your representatives can see detailed information on who accessed information and when, and they can make timely introductions when customers are ready to talk.
Stage 2: Exploring Solutions
Targeted case studies, research reports, live webinars, ebooks, and videos can be used effectively once the prospect has a base-level understanding and is engaged with sales. Using each of these formats, content can be developed to answer specific questions, address certain pain points, and steer customer segments toward appropriate solutions. These formats can be mixed into a multi-touch nurture campaign to take the place of sales calls and visits. Sales enablement software now tells the representative when a webinar has been viewed or a video watched, and the representative can respond to drive the sale to a closing.
As part of the multi-touch nurture campaign, both sales and marketing collaborate to encourage viral delivery of these materials to key influencers and decision-makers within the organization.
Stage 3: Committing to Purchase
Approaching closing, content creation should be hyper-personalized for each client’s unique needs. Marketing develops templates for emails and sales presentation slides personalized for the sales representative and the client company. Customized ROI calculators, performance projections and other materials each advance the sale to the final, personalized sales proposal. Because of sales enablement technology, even that final proposal is now automated by marketing.
Creating content for these stages ensures both buyers and sellers gain more control over the buying process. Buyers are informed with empowering information they can use to gain company buy-in, and sellers know precisely when to start insightful dialogues building trust and expediting closings.