Content Marketing

How Content Marketing is Beneficial for Your Company

Content Marekting showcasing is essentially a type of advertising in which the client can be effortlessly changed over by the creation, production and dissemination of the content. A site will be pointless if it’s would not be up to the mark or superfluous. In Marketing either Traditional or Digital, content truly does make a difference. A good is the one which contains legitimate data with respect to the product or services, it ought to be appealing, not exceptionally extensive .

content-marketing-popularizersAs indicated by the review in 2017 , content marketing is one of the renowned modules of Digital Marketing. As marketing helps in pulling in and producing clients in business. The principle center of content  showcasing is fundamentally to draw in clients by giving them a significant snippet of data in a captivating way. Anyone would invest in something before having complete knowledge about his desirable product.

It develops your image and fosters relationship, including the profundity and visibility, you should be fruitful in the present market place. With such a large number of choices to make assorted content and a customized strategy, content is a perfect fit for virtually every business in every industry.

A strong strategy needs to map to what the audience is looking for no matter where they are in the sales funnel They’re investing more energy in inquiry before they contact purchase, and brands can give the appropriate answers ,they require through. Informative content like blogs and infographics do wonders for early-stage brand awareness

Why You Can’t Afford Not to Invest in Inbound Marketing

The sales process is slowly slipping away. Instead of finding out about your business from trade shows, direct mail and expensive catalogs, prospects now conduct their buying research online. They are spending more time on their own learning about your services and products rather than being escorted through the process by a salesperson. In fact, according to a white paper authored by Google and CEB:

“B2B customers reported to being nearly 60% through the sales process before engaging a sales rep, regardless of price point. More accurately, 57% of the sales process just disappeared.”The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing

Here are even more scary stats for sales people to swallow:

  • 57% of salespeople believe buyers are less dependent on salespeople during the buying process. (HubSpot, 2016)
  • 40% of sales people say getting a response from prospects is getting harder. (HubSpot, 2016)
  • 34% of salespeople say closing deals is getting harder. (HubSpot, 2016)

By the time a prospect is ready for a hard sell, they’ve likely already made up their mind. So, you need to get involved in the process earlier. An inbound marketing strategy can help guide the customer’s decision along the way, showing why your business is the best one to fit their needs. If your company hasn’t yet embraced inbound marketing, that simple reason is why you can no longer afford to wait.

Sales & Marketing: Joining Forces

The idea of sales and marketing teams having to work together is nothing new, but this alignment is absolutely essential now. Here at SPROUT Content, sales enablement is now one of our most valuable consultative services. We help enable the efficiency of sales teams by training them in the methods of inbound marketing. Just one way that we help sales teams is by conducting an inventory and audit of all sales collateral to identify any gaps. This includes email sequences and sales workflows, which if done properly, use the right emails and the right actions to the right prospect at the right time.

Content marketing is a big part of sales. While the salesperson may not be penning your latest whitepaper, they are likely generating the majority of your content. According to Ducurated’s 2016 State of Sales Enablement report, marketing typically produces about 30% of company content, while sales is responsible for about 40%.

Your sales reps produce many email templates each year, some of which are really good and improve the speed of prospecting, but others are not so effective, which can destroy credibility. Conducting an audit of these email templates and identifying trends in the highest performing content can improve a sales team’s performance.

Competition Overload

Competition comes from all corners today. No longer do you just have to worry about the business down the street that sells the same types of product you do. Today, you must compete for the customer’s attention while they are constantly bombarded with ads. Due to information overload, that customer is getting pretty good at ignoring sales pitches. In fact, 91% of people say ads are more intrusive today than they were two years ago (HubSpot, 2016).

In order to reach those potential customers, you’re going to have to work a whole lot harder and spend a lot more money to be heard using traditional marketing tactics like advertising and direct mail. Inbound marketing allows you to keep your customers engaged without hefty advertising bills. That’s not to say it’s any easier than traditional tactics, but it’s certainly a strategy that cannot be ignored.

Inbound Marketing is an Investment, Not an Expense

One of the biggest obstacles to developing an inbound marketing strategy is budget. It’s true that your marketing has to be categorized as an expense on your financials, but it’s time to start thinking about your content as an asset that drives business rather than an expense that you can cut in order to save money. If you’re worried about costs, you are more likely to try to rush to get results from inbound marketing, which won’t be effective. You’ll be less likely to test and experiment with different formats of content, which could ultimately be a step backward for your business.

Luckily, today’s marketers have access to more data than they sometimes know what to do with. You can easily justify an inbound marketing campaign when your analytics show an improvement in:

  •       Visitors and sources
  •       Webpage activity
  •       Keyword rankings
  •       Form submissions
  •       Conversion of leads to sales

In order to consider content as an investment, it must be aligned with your business goals. You need a clearly mapped out strategy for your content so that you don’t rely on pure hope for the right people to find it.

Now that you know you can no longer afford to go without an inbound marketing strategy, the next step is to determine whether to develop that in-house or outsource it to an agency.

Sales Enablement

Inbound marketing helps businesses rank higher in search engines and connect with the right people, at the right time, with the right information to get more leads. You’re getting lots of qualified leads. So, then what?

The challenge about getting more inbound leads is that what if no action, or the wrong action, is taken once the leads come in? Today, sales teams need to be trained in inbound sales, if their leads are acquired through inbound marketing. All leads are not created equal. Traditional leads obtained through traditional methods can not be treated and nurtured the same as inbound leads.

Buyers are more empowered than ever to do their own research on their own time, and are the ones driving the sales process. Sales teams are now expected to nurture buyers, educate consumers, show thought leadership, gain trust and build valuable relationship as part of the sales process.

How Marketers Can Improve Their Relationship with Sales

According to an Aberdeen study of sales enablement best practices, “best-in-class” companies are 92% more likely to provide sales a voice in content development than “laggard” companies. Similar gaps were found in other best practice areas. If your company is relying on inbound marketing as part of its overall business strategy, improving your relationship with sales should be one of your top priorities. In fact, making sales your new BFF will make your job as marketer more effective.

Interview Your Top Salespeople

As an inbound marketing agency, one of the first things we do for our clients is to develop buyer personas. The way we do that is by interviewing two sources: a client’s client and a client’s salespeople. The reasoning is pretty simple for the latter.

Your salespeople, particularly the top performers, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about your customers and potential customers:

  • Challenges/pains and how your solution solves or doesn’t solve those challenges
  • Goals and how your solution helps them achieve those goals or not
  • Likes/dislikes—what is it about your solution that turns on or turns off your prospects
  • Objections to your solution—is it too expensive? Too limiting? Too complex? Too 2005?
  • What are your solutions’ “Wow!” points—those that set the hook with a prospect

You’ll get valuable insight that may influence some of your messaging and content focus, especially if it’s been a while since you created personas. And sales will appreciate that you’re coming to them for knowledge.

Meet Early and Meet Often

If you’re planning next year’s marketing strategy, invite sales along for the ride. The more you let sales know about your plans, the more they can plan their strategy—and most importantly, the more you can learn what their strategy is. You’ll also get feedback on your plan and suggestions on how to make it more attractive to potential customers.

The Aberdeen study found that best-in-class sales and marketing leaders met 5x a year. This is a good start, but I would suggest meeting once a month. Here’s why.

As a marketer, you’re implementing tactics on a daily or weekly basis. Why wait 2, 3, or 4 months to learn that the messaging in your latest email campaign is misleading prospects about your newest product feature? Find out from sales sooner than later, readjust and move forward.

Create & Share Your Marketing Library

Your marketing team has all of their content assets at the click of a mouse, but can your sales team access those assets? If not, create a shared file that every salesperson can access and let them know when new assets are added.

Also, ask them for feedback about what you’re creating. For example, prospects love case studies and sales people like to share case studies. But if your sales team is fishing for blue marlins and your case studies spotlight sardines, you need blue marlins. And because sales has the relationship, they can make the right introductions between the client and marketing to get the case study conversation started.

Provide Access to Your Marketing Platform

Show your sales team how your content creation and nurturing is making their lives easier by giving them access to your marketing platform (e.g. Marketo, HubSpot, Act-On). They probably don’t know all the work that goes into a campaign so here’s your chance to demonstrate.

Not only will they get an appreciation for the work involved, they’ll see how all of the pieces fit together to go from anonymous web user to qualified lead that lands neatly in their CRM.

Use Sales for Content Creation

This may be more of a “sell” on your part, but try to find volunteers from sales to write blog posts. Here are a few selling points:

  • Blogging will help drive organic visitors and leads.
  • Their blog posts are “from the trenches” and will have the most authentic feel.
  • Well-written articles can be used over and over in the sales process.
  • It will give them a chance to further hone their educational (i.e. helpful not salesy) communication skills.
  • Articles posted on LinkedIn will help build their personal brand as sales professionals.
  • Blogging will increase their connections on social media.

Once sales starts to see how their content pushes qualified leads into their CRM, they will become even more interested in creating an alignment with marketing. When that happens, both sides not only benefit, they become as inseparable as the greatest duos.

5 Tips to Explain Inbound Marketing to Upper Management

If you’re reading this blog post, chances are good that you are already somewhat aware of inbound marketing, if not already utilizing it for your business. In fact, as a consumer, I bet inbound marketing plays a role in your day-to-day life as you browse the web. You may even be able to thank SPROUT Content’s own inbounding marketing strategy for getting you to this article. (Shameless plug intended.)

You may be thinking, “Yes, exactly! Inbound marketing works! I’m dying to implement it within my own marketing team, but upper management isn’t sold on it.” If you’re nodding your head, we see you and we hear you. In fact, we hear this all the time. That is why we’ve compiled the following tips for pitching inbound marketing to upper management.

Tip #1: Think like upper management.

It’s safe to assume that the members of your upper management team are there for good reason. They’re probably business-savvy individuals who have played a critical role in implementing the very strategies that grew the company to where it is now. I’m willing to bet they’ve also experienced success with a lot of traditional marketing methods in the past and have an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude. The issue is that “it” is broken. Consumers engage with content and with brands differently than they did in the past, which mean their journey as a buyer is much different than in the past. They expect certain things of brands, including value and consideration. Disruptive behaviors no longer cut it.

With all of this in mind, meet your upper management where they are, and understand that clear communication is critical. Start from the very beginning, explaining inbound marketing as if they’ve never heard of it. It’s quite possible that they haven’t, and that they won’t ask for a more in-depth explanation. When you’re used to calling the shots, you’re not always comfortable admitting you require a “101” explanation. Similarly, be sure to avoid criticizing or attacking their old or current marketing methods.

Tip #2: Then, act like a consumer.

One of the biggest differences between traditional marketing and inbound, or content marketing, is that inbound marketing is buyer-centric. It puts the buyer’s experience front and center, meeting the buyer where they are, with the information they desire. It even presents the most appropriate (read: non-salesy) content for each stage of a buyer’s journey. Compare this to the disruptive nature of banner ads, pop-up ads, and the like.

Sometimes it is hard to see the bigger picture when we are so close to our own subject matter. Eliminate your manager’s emotional association with your own company’s efforts by talking in terms of a consumer industry or specific brand that he or she can relate to. Ask them to think, for example, about what research they might conduct before purchasing a new golf club. Or what research would they do to find a new brand of dog food or medicine? What would they type into Google? What factors would influence which articles they click on? What types of experts or outlets would they trust? What makes them trust a certain piece of information, website or expert?

Look at that! Not only are you and your manager now discussing inbound marketing, but you’ve created a personal and positive association for your manager to relate to.

Tip #3: Explain—but don’t over-explain—logistics.

Remember, the members of upper management most likely will not actually be implementing the strategy themselves, so it is unnecessary at this time to distract them with the details of your content optimization system (COS) or your analytics dashboard. Instead, use this time to explain the high-level details: we identify buyer personas, create and distribute content specifically for these personas, take them through the buyer’s journey from attraction to sale, analyze the results, and repeat.

This marketing concept may be foreign to your upper management, especially if they are more comfortable with data and spreadsheets than they are with storytelling. In fact, at this point they may be thinking, “So what, we’re publishers now?” or more importantly, “What about our bottom line?” You’ve come so far, don’t lose them now! Help them see that inbound marketing helps marketers and salespeople streamline their efforts, working more efficiently than ever to hit the bottom line. Inbound allows the sales team to learn more about their leads beforehand than ever before, leading to more personalized and persuasive sales pitches.

Tip #4: Use visuals.

Don’t just tell upper management about how content fits into the buyer’s journey. Pack a punch with visuals. A map of the sales funnel with examples of content for each stage will help paint the picture for them. Remember when you had your upper management put on their consumer shoes in Tip #2? Return to the example they relate to, and together travel through the different stages of the buyer’s journey, exploring the content they may have experienced at each stage.

Tip #5: Let the numbers do the talking.

Present SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based) goals for your proposed inbound marketing strategy, and commit to specific measurable in each section. Explain why inbound marketing is a proper solution for your company’s goals, and address the details of who, what, when, where and how. Do your goals all relate back to the bottom line and the goals of the sales team? If not, consider reworking your goals before presenting to the team.

How Agile Inbound Marketing Will Deliver the Fastest, Most Impactful Results for your Company

The beauty of inbound marketing is how quickly it changes and updates. New platforms are constantly rolling out and social media has a new ad set every week. To take full advantage of this dynamic landscape, it is important that your marketing team has the ability to modify your marketing plan quickly to capitalize on new opportunities.

Practicing Inbound Marketing enables your team to frequently evaluate how to best budget time and financial resources. Instead of being stuck with a rigid monthly or yearly editorial calendar, agile marketers have the ability to make their marketing strategy fluid on a weekly or daily basis when changes need to be made.

The ability to be “agile” is a game-changer for your marketing team and your company. Here are the reasons why.

Organization

“The only difference between a mob and a trained army is organization.” – Calvin Coolidge

At SPROUT Content every client benefits from the support of our entire inbound marketing agency. That means we have a lot of hands on deck with each deliverable, from strategy to content development and optimization to publishing and lead conversion. With any marketing team, there are a lot of moving parts and multi-tasking for each account, including deadlines, correspondence, and actionable items. But the structure of an agile marketing team eliminates the stress of having to document and keep track of each team member’s tasks. Tasks never ‘slip through the cracks’ because they are tracked and organized daily and weekly. For your company that means staying on strategy and meeting deadlines seamlessly.

Speed

“Time is money.” – Benjamin Franklin

Agile inbound marketing equips your company with the ability to chart and analyze, week over week, how quickly and efficiently your marketing team is able to get work done. Breaking down each task and being able to see how it progresses through the agile process (Planning->Ready-> In Progress-> Internal Review-> Acceptance-> Done) provides a quick, but comprehensive overview for the marketing team to see where a task is and how far it is from being done. The overview and breakdown allows team members to see exactly what is being worked on and how quickly. If a recurring task continually holds up a team it can be analyzed and changed to yield better, and faster, results. That means your company spends less time and energy trying to fix poor processes and being slowed by delays, and more time creating marketing campaigns that provide valuable results for your company.

How Agile Inbound Marketing Will Deliver the Fastest, Most Impactful Results for your Company

Transparency

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” Dalai Lama

Agile lays the foundation for your company’s marketing and sales teams to foster a strong, efficient relationship resulting in more qualified leads. Traditional marketing can leave your strategy stagnant and inflexible, leaving you stuck with a plan and budget developed a year ago. The agile marketing method allows your marketing team to be transparent with the time and resources they need on daily or weekly basis. With this information it is easy for your marketing team to analyze and communicate which campaigns are working and how to better align their efforts with sales, resulting in more qualified leads. The transparency of agile marketing ensures that sales and marketing are always working towards the same goals, in real-time, based on customer data.