Content Marketing Throughout the Sales Cycle: Think Beyond Lead Gen

Dana Youngren
Dana Youngren
3 mins
visualization of content marketing throughout the sales cycle

Chances are, when it comes to using content marketing to generate new leads, you already know the drill: create a high-value piece of content, promote them, see who responds – your basic inbound marketing strategy. It’s become standard operating practice because it works. But why not use content marketing to do even more?

You can use content marketing throughout the sales cycle to keep prospects engaged until they’re ready to make a purchase. This is especially valuable if your product has a long sales cycle: you don’t want your prospects to lose interest before they even talk to a sales rep.

Begin thinking about how you can create content that addresses your prospects needs at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Here are a few strategies to help you get started with content marketing throughout the sales cycle:

Pinpoint What Prospects Really Need To Hear

One of the challenges of creating content for marketing purposes is that you don’t know what you don’t know. But you can use knowledge management software to find out what prospects are concerned about. Then you can use that information to shape your content marketing strategy to target them.

Here’s an example from a software customer of ours. The marketing team learned, based on questions their sales team asked in their knowledge base, that a lot of prospects they spoke with were confused about how their product was different from another product on the market.

The other product was in some ways similar but was not competitive in the later stages of the marketing funnel – so they had not considered the need for competitive collateral.  However, since sales had a platform through which to share with marketing what they were learning in their interactions with prospects, the marketing team was able to address the need.

As soon as they got this critical piece of information, marketing was able to rethink their content marketing strategy to support sales with collateral designed to clear up product confusion. So instead of losing some good prospects to a lack of understanding about their product’s capabilities, they were able to meet their need for information.

Answer Questions Throughout the Sales Cycle

Information in your knowledge base can provide insights that will help you create content to address issues down the sales funnel – issues that might otherwise derail your efforts to nurture leads.

For example, if sales reps are getting the same question over and over again from people who have seen an initial demo of a product, that’s critical information for marketing. As more reps search for information and ask questions in your knowledge base, marketing will know to address the issue with content.

Only when you can clearly identify what people need can you address that need. And if you can identify a pattern of need in the data that sales adds to your knowledge base, you can create content that addresses it – a blog post, a paper, whatever will serve the purpose – and add it to the marketing content mix.

Keep Prospects Engaged Before They Even Get To Sales

You’ve likely heard the often-cited statistic that 70% of the buying journey is complete before someone even reaches out to sales. How can you keep from losing prospects before they interact with sales?

Again, a good knowledge management solution may be what saves the sale. With a customer-facing knowledge base that prospects can access to ask questions about products, for example, you’ll be able to collect data on their concerns while they’re still in the early stages of evaluating what you have to offer. That data can tell you a lot about the information they need to keep them from losing interest early in the sales journey, before they even interact with the sales team. You can then turn those insights into powerful content that drives prospects to the next step of the sales funnel.

March 8, 2017

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