According to CEB, 57% of the purchasing decision is complete before a supplier is contacted  which means the average consumer has identified a need, researched options, and narrowed the supplier pool before they connect with you. It also means they’ve passed through the awareness phase and possibly even the consideration phase of your sales funnel before you’ve met. The answer to reaching these ‘unknown’ prospects lies in inbound sales and marketing strategy; a complex process for ensuring prospects find your website and self-serve the information they need.

Content is at the heart of inbound sales and marketing but not all content serves the same purpose, is relevant, or consumed. In fact, up to 70% of B2B content isn’t working to drive sales – because it’s not read at all. However, we know content is critical for demand and lead generation so, the question is: where should channel partners focus their time and energy in order to create content that coverts?

Marketing vs. sales content – what’s the difference?

Marketing and sales content are different. Marketing content is geared at top of the funnel awareness building and middle of the funnel consideration. It’s more about story telling, developing trust and establishing your brand and it’s most often consumed before you’ve met the prospect. Sales content drives conversions from prospect to customer. It’s meant to convince and act as a tipping point so buying decisions land in your favor.

In order to create content that resonates with your audience, it’s important to know the desired outcome and then map the content to your goals. My recent article, Building Content for the Sales Funnel, covers this process in detail.

Sales and marketing work together

The relationship between sales and marketing is notoriously love-hate, but at the end of the day we have the same goals – drive leads and close deals. Typically content development tasks fall on marketing, but sales has vital insight to add. However, many sales people aren’t thinking about content in the course of their day and often the treasure trove of topic ideas they have are never conveyed to marketing. Don’t miss the opportunity to debrief with your sales teams to find out what customers are saying, which print and copy features they want most, what solutions are selling and why, and other intelligence they’re gathering while speaking with prospects and current customers. All of that information can be turned into content.

For topic ideas visit: How Channel Partners Can Use Blog Topics to Drive Search Rankings.

What drives content consumption?

Buyers begin their online research by entering keywords and phrases looking for topics relevant to their need. Search engines then periodically index websites and gather information on your business and content topics that allow them to display results for what they consider to be the most relevant content. This is the foundation of SEO and it becomes complicated quickly but for the sake of having your content found and consumed, two of the most important factors are:

  • How often your piece of content is shared with others
  • How many other pieces of content links back to yours

Both factors are tied to user behavior and underscores why the topics have to be relevant to your buyers, solve their pains, and answer their questions. It also underscores why it’s important to have well written content and use social media platforms to drive engagement (shares).

Moz, a company with high authority in the SEO space and Buzzsumo, a company with high authority in the content development teamed up to conduct detailed research into factors that impact sharing and linking. The full finding can be found here. Let’s look at some of the over arching findings on what type of content gains more shares and links:

  • Longer content (over 1000 words)
  • Videos, quizzes, and list articles
  • New insights based on deep research

The research shows that most often people share content because it’s entertaining, useful, inspiring, amazing, or includes discounts or offers. On the other hand, more links point to content that is comprehensive, doesn’t change with age, is authoritative, and highlights a partnership or reciprocity. As an example, maybe you partner with a company whose products pair well with yours. Write an article highlighting how your combined solutions solve a business challenge then socialize and promote the content across both company’s audiences for a larger reach.

Maximizing content development

Writing and developing content takes time, there’s no way around it but there are ways to stretch one piece across the funnel by starting with longer, research-based “evergreen” content which statistically gains more shares. It might take time to gather the information needed to write a long and researched article but once done, it can be turned into other highly shareable and linkable content such as:

  • Infographics
  • E-book, case study or whitepaper
  • A long form post published on LinkedIn
  • Bite-sized quotes for social media
  • A downloadable checklist
  • Display advertising
  • Email campaigns
  • Newsletter topics
  • A list article or two

Content development is essential to capturing leads and driving demand online and it’s necessary in order to start conversations with buyers before they connect with you. Of course it takes time to develop content that will be well received by your audience but doing so is well worth the effort.

For more information on content strategy and development for Xerox channel partners, visit these blogs:

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