Content marketing has always played a role in the sales process. Now more than ever, with the pandemic changing how B2B buyers interact with sellers content has become a more integral to the sales funnel.
As people haven’t been able to meet in-person, or attend expos, trade shows and conferences, the sales process has been switched to video calls and virtual demos and pitches. Chance encounters aren’t possible when countries are under lockdown, and shelter at home orders.
For a lot of companies, aspects of the sales process have been forced to change. Field teams are no longer in the field. Parts of the sales pipeline that rely on in-person meetings, or encountering new prospects at trade shows, have gone online. Prospecting is more challenging this way, which is where content marketing can play a positive role.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a tactic many marketers use to generate more sales leads. Content is used to attract inbound leads, while also supporting outbound activities and nurturing sales leads. Customers trust content marketing. 70% of B2B customers trust it more than advertising.
Quality and quantity are equally important when it comes to implementing a content marketing strategy. HubSpot found that companies that publish 16 or more blog posts per month report 3.5x more organic traffic than those that only publish four.
Content isn’t just articles, although for SEO purposes, these should always form the backbone of every content strategy. Content can be anything from videos to podcasts, infographics to eBooks, alongside case studies and other sales and marketing assets. Everything you produce and publish needs to serve a purpose, within the marketing and sales funnel.
Where Content Sits In The Sales Funnel?
Firstly, let’s review what a sales funnel is. The most widely accepted definition is the following stages:
Stage 1 – Awareness. How can prospects come to you if they aren’t aware of your company? Over time, most businesses attract new customers though word of mouth. Having a good reputation. Doing good work. But if you want to speed that up, there’s always inbound and outbound marketing and sales efforts.
For the purposes of this article, we are looking at inbound efforts. New customers come to you. Content marketing is an integral part of generating awareness and helping customers find your website.
Stage 2 – Consideration. At the consideration stage, a prospect wants to learn more. Your website plays a key role here, so make sure web pages and other digital assets promote you effectively. Use content, including newsletters if they’ve subscribed through a lead magnet, to keep explaining how you add value.
Stage 3 – Decision. Few prospects come to a company knowing they definitely want to go-ahead. And those that do have probably interacted with them already. At this stage in the sales funnel, the only content which is useful is sales enablement material, such as proposal and pitch documents and case studies.
How To Integrate Content In The Marketing And Sales Funnel?
As mentioned above, content marketing is one of the ways potential customers find new suppliers.
Search results are one of the ways new clients enter the sales funnel. Make sure the content you are publishing is aligned with what your prospects are searching for (using SEO tactics).
Alongside search engines, social networks are another valuable inbound channel. Every article published on a website can be published on LinkedIn too. That way, prospects can see how you add value, your team’s expertise, case studies and other useful insights that will drive inbound queries.
Content usually sits at the top of the sales funnel. Alongside articles, it’s helpful to have a lead magnet, something in the middle of the sales funnel. Such as an eBook, or other free downloadable asset. This needs to be sufficiently appealing that prospects want to give you their work email in exchange for it.
With a downloadable asset, you can put their email in a database and keep them engaged through newsletters. Most prospects aren’t ready to buy straight away. Whether newsletters or automated email campaigns, this is the most effective way to keep prospects engaged.
Whenever possible, aim to interact with an inbound contact as soon as you can. If they’ve come to you, whether they’ve sent an email, filled in a form, or downloaded an eBook, they want to know more. Now is the time when you should jump on a call/video demo as soon as possible. With CrankWheel, you can have an instant demo or video sales call with a prospect straight away, on any device, without any fuss; they don’t need to download anything.
Content can be incredibly useful. Both as an inbound and outbound tactic, content marketing can help you win more customers, over time. If you are new to this, don’t expect instant results. Track everything, and keep working out ways you can do this better, to generate a higher ROI in the months and years ahead.
Guest article by Jói Sigurdsson, Founder & CEO of CrankWheel, a zero-hassle screen sharing and remote control solution, designed to help salespeople increase conversion rates and engagement with prospects.
CrankWheel: Cut your sales cycle in half with instant screen-sharing. Go from two or more sales calls to one: Become a one call close sales team.