Content marketing and sales are two of the most important strategies for success — but too many entrepreneurs think of them as inherently distinct categories. Content marketing is all about publishing content to attract more traffic, while sales is about landing more deals.
You might see the tangential connection here (i.e., the visitors you bring in via content marketing can lead to increased sales), but if you want to see better results on both fronts, it’s in your best interest to interweave those strategies together.
Why the Relationship Matters
Let me explain why the relationship between content and sales is so important.
· Tying value to your content. Content marketing, in a vacuum, can’t do much to help your brand. It might feel good to see that your blog has 10,000 monthly visitors, but if you aren’t monetizing those visitors, there’s no bottom-line value. Some content producers use advertising and affiliate links to generate revenue, but for those who don’t, making a sale is the only way to turn a reader into a valuable asset for your business.
· Better understanding your audience. You can also use both disciplines to better understand your audience. During the sales process, a salesperson has the opportunity to learn new things about customer wants, needs, preferences, and characteristics; if you harness that information, you can use it to tailor your content marketing direction and write more appropriate topics.
· Feedback and improvement loops. If properly constructed, your sales and content teams can provide each other with a constant, steady stream of information; content teams can watch for reader comments and interactions, while salespeople can review the behavior of leads. Both teams can use each other’s information to improve and customize their own approach.
Getting More Conversions
Your first step is optimizing your content to get more conversions. Ideally, you’ve already been doing this to some degree. On each of your on-site blog posts, you should designate a small section to a kind of “pre-sales” lead-in; announce who your company is and what you do, and give your readers a good reason why they should work with you.
Within that pitch, you can introduce a call-to-action, which should lead users to a contact form or some other lead generation mechanism. Assuming your content is interesting and valuable, and your pitch is compelling, this can instantly provide your sales team with more leads.
Getting Better Conversions
More conversions aren’t always better, however, as most salespeople can attest. It’s often the case that one or two highly valuable leads are better than a few dozen cold or uninterested ones. But what does this have to do with content?
Your content can serve as a kind of funnel for qualifying leads; if you choose content topics that only interested leads would want to read (such as content that targets late stages of your buying cycle), you’ll automatically filter out at least some of the tire-kickers and leads outside your target demographics. By getting feedback from the sales team, your content team can come up with better-targeted topics, and more relevant pitches at the end of each post.
Learning About Customer Wants and Needs
You can also leverage your sales experience to write better, more valuable blog posts. Your salespeople, through their discussions with leads and customers, can learn about what problems your customers are facing and what their chief concerns are.
Your content team, once they have that information, can create more specifically relevant and compelling blog posts, in turn driving more interest to your content campaign.
Overarching Tips for Success
If you want this relationship to work, there are a few tips you’ll need to incorporate throughout the process:
· Commit to best practices in each area. Though we’re working on marrying content and sales, they’ll still need a bit of independence. It’s in your best interest to learn and commit to best practices in both fields. You can’t have a successful sales-content dynamic if neither your sales nor your content strategy are succeeding on their own.
· Open a dialogue between your teams. Foster an environment where your content staff and sales staff feel comfortable engaging with one another. The more opportunities there are for interaction here, the better.
· Segment everything you can. If possible, segment your audiences as much as possible. You might be able to group leads based on the type of content that converted them, or have each salesperson target one specific sub-type of leads. Segmentation is useful for understanding the idiosyncrasies of your target demographics.
· Think in terms of bottom-line results. Objective numbers are the best way to gain meaningful insight into your performance. Try to think about everything in terms of the bottom-line result for your business. For example, does this tactic result in more sales? Prove it.
· Measure, analyze, and take action. Take measurements of everything along the way, including secondary indicators of success like social shares and reader comments. More to the point, use those data to take action, experimenting with different tactics until you find one that makes a measurable difference.
Are you convinced that sales and content marketing are two sides of the same coin? Ideally, you’ll still have specialists working in each department; after all, your best writers and best salespeople are likely very different people with very different backgrounds.
But even with the division of labor in place, the closer you can connect your content and sales strategies, the faster your business will be able to grow.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!