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How to Create a Sales-Driven Content Strategy

Posted by Rebecca Bakken on Aug 22, 2017 12:27:52 PM

sales driven content strategy.jpg

Content marketers need to wear many hats as they strive to meet business goals while producing blogs, articles, and resources that are engaging, informative, and well-written. It’s not always easy, but you can get by with a little help from your sales team.

After all, content marketing is essentially an extension of sales and account management, since its goal is ultimately to drive qualified leads and increase retention and referrals.

In addition to forging a good working relationship with people on these teams, you should have a content strategy that incorporates their knowledge and addresses their needs in assisting leads throughout the sales stages.

Below, we’ll discuss the questions you should be asking your colleagues, and how to turn their insights into actionable content marketing goals. Additionally, we’ll talk specifically about how to get the most out of a sales and marketing platform, such as HubSpot, that can track leads along the customer journey and tell you the value of each post you create.

Gathering the Information

Before entering any endeavor, you should think about what success looks like. Usually, content marketing is a way to generate leads, but it can also provide resources for your existing clientele. Because of this, it’s key to get input from your sales and customer success departments when defining your content marketing goals.

Your sales people are keenly aware of any barriers to conversion, while your account managers know the pain points your existing clients experience. This is valuable knowledge for you, and your content should speak directly to the issues being experienced by your clients and prospects. 

Before diving into a conversation, consider that sales and marketing may be speaking different languages. If you want to communicate clearly and ensure that sales goals are being addressed, learn what's important to your sales team and use terminology that conveys a sense of understanding and collaboration, rather than trying to get them to buy into content. Here's a post with some tips. 

Here are some questions you may want to ask your sales team:

  1.     What are our buyer personas?*
  2.     What are the most common pain points for those personas?
  3.     What are our most important value props in alleviating those points?
  4.     What are our prospects’ most common reasons for not converting?
  5.     What information do you want leads to know by the time you contact them?
  6.     What type of content would be useful for you to distribute to cold leads? Warm leads?

*If you don’t have buyer personas, you may want to create some because they allow you to write content targeted toward a specific user with specific needs – a must in today’s content-flooded environment. Segmenting your leads into personas can also assist when creating campaigns – more on that later.

When creating content for existing customers, you might ask your account managers:

  1.     What do people like most about our product/service?
  2.     What do people not like about our product/service? What can we do about it?
  3.     What are some common questions our customers have? What errors do they commonly make?
  4.     What content materials do you wish you could hand to our customers to help them better understand our value?
  5.     What is our average customer lifespan, and how do you think content can help lengthen it?
  6.     What inspires our customers to make referrals?

Asking these questions will likely lead to an informative conversation between team members, and you should walk away from it with several ideas for new content. You should also have a better idea of your content marketing goals.

Setting Specific, Attributable Goals

Goals such as “increasing traffic” or “gain a bigger social following” are vague, hard to attribute, and may not actually lead to better sales. When you think of content marketing as an extension of sales, you start to see more specific goals and ways that you can add value with content.

Here are some measurable, actionable goals that you might derive from talk to your sales and customer success teams:

  •    Create content campaigns for each buyer persona
  •    Increase number of qualified leads coming into sales
  •    Produce content sales can use to inform leads throughout the customer journey
  •    Improve client retention with guides and resources that maximize value

You’ll want to come up with goals that are specific to your business’s needs, but all the goals above are specific, actionable, and measurable.

They’re also attributable, which is a key characteristic of an ideal goal, because attribution allows you to put a dollar value on the content you create. Value isn’t just an easy measure of what’s working and what isn’t, it also proves ROI on your efforts. If you use HubSpot, you can easily see each piece of content – including blogs, landing pages, and emails – individual leads have engaged with or opened. (If you don’t use HubSpot, you can still track your leads with Google Analytics, but it’s a lot more work and requires CRM integration.)

Of course, your leads may take many steps before converting to a sale, so you’ll need to take that into consideration when assigning ROI. It’s common to assign the most value to content that attracts leads (via organic traffic or email), and to give more weight to content that’s viewed directly before conversion. Here’s a great post from Content Marketing Institute on attribution models if you want to take a deeper dive.

Additionally, you should consider whether your goals are testable. This means limiting the variables from one stage to the next so you can pinpoint the copy, images, messaging, channel, etc. that's responsible for any increase or decrease in performance. For example, when creating multiple campaigns for each buyer persona, keep them as similar as possible while staying relevant to each audience. This should give you reliable insight into which persona is most likely to convert. 

Once you know your goals and how you’ll be tracking your content, it’s time to come up with a plan to build out your content library.

Creating the Right Content 

Your goals will largely dictate your content creation plan, but always stay cognizant of topic optimization. Google’s Hummingbird algorithm picks up on sites that have the deepest content on any given topic, and rank them accordingly. This means that you are sure to out-rank sites with equal age and authority as yours if you cover your focus topics more comprehensively than the competition.

Using MarketMuse gives you an edge when optimizing your content for topic authority, because the software can tell you exactly which topics you’re missing, as well as those that you have covered, but not deeply enough. You can also use the solution when creating or updating your content to produce data-driven blueprints for topically comprehensive content.

As an example, let’s say you’re creating a plan to meet your first goal: to create campaigns for each user persona. Here, we’ll define a campaign as a series of blog posts on a single topic. Your first persona is Agency Annie, and your focus topic for the campaign is “content marketing solutions.”

Go into the Content Analyzer and enter your inputs:

marketmuse content analzyer.png

The Analyzer will then generate targets for you, as well as a list of topics that pages already ranking for your focus have mentioned:

content analyzer 2.png

The blue boxes to the right contain term variants to use that will help ensure you’re covering every aspect of that topic.

When you sign up for MarketMuse, our team can give you personal instruction and resources for creating blueprints and using the software to its fullest potential. For now, this teaser hopefully gives you an idea of how our solution works and the many things you can do with it.

With input and support from your sales team and data-driven insights from MarketMuse, you’re fully equipped to meet all of your content marketing goals. Platforms like HubSpot make collaboration even easier, and give both teams the tools they need to track leads, performance, and overall growth.

Meeting your marketing goals means making decisions based on data and creating the most comprehensive content out there. MarketMuse can help you get there, so get in touch to talk details with our sales team. 

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Topics: Content Marketing, Planning, Content Creation, Strategy, Sales

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