Connecting Content Marketing to Sales

By: IDG
06/29/2016
CMO: Numbers that Count

We have all heard the Forrester stat that tells us the buyer is 60-90% through their purchase process before they connect with a vendor – whether that be them reaching out to engage, or when they accept the outreach of the vendor sales team.

The bottom line is that IT decision-makers (ITDMs) don’t want to be sold to. Let’s be honest, no one does. During the IDG Enterprise Engage events, there was uniform agreement among the ITDM panelists on this fact. They do, however, want to be able stay on top of emerging technologies, research solutions, and find the answers to their questions on how to use technology to move their business forward.

The IDG Enterprise Customer Engagement study looks specifically at how best to use content marketing to engage tech decision-makers and takes it a few steps further to better understand how content marketing efforts are intertwined with, or impacted by sales follow-up. Creating the right content is important so that you are able to supply valuable information in an increasingly granular or funnel approach. The right content also drives engagement and an environment with your target customer where sales follow-up is welcomed during their purchase process. BUT it is equally essential that once you have engaged a prospect, that there is marketing and sales alignment to create a seamless process for your customers.

While 79% of tech decision-makers have registered for tech-related content in the past 6 months, there is some hesitation to do so because they know they are opening themselves up for sales follow-up. The fact that they downloaded a piece of content does not mean they are ready to be sold to.  In fact, on average ITDMs download six informational assets during the purchase process. Their research could be done at any number of stages in the process, which is what makes lead nurturing so important.

After someone registers for a piece of content, what does the optimal sales follow-up or company communication look like? For many, the most useful response is additional information on the specific topic they are interested in (62%), followed by a demonstrated awareness of their business or industry (45%), and more general information about the company’s products (42%). At the bottom of the preferred follow-up, only 16% said they wanted a sales pitch after they register for a piece of content. While that number actually seems high, the nuance here is that they said a sales pitch related to the specific content/topic they registered for.

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To underscore the importance of marketing and sales alignment at this stage, 86% say that knowledgeable vendor follow-up impacts the likelihood of sale. This has remained the #1 most important vendor action over the four years we have conducted this study. Combining valuable content to educate and engage your customers with sales education on the content and product will allow your sales team to speak knowledgeably – and effectively – when they are the face of your company.

To learn more about the role content plays with IT decision-makers as they research new technologies along with insights on their preferences with regard to tech vendor contact, download the “Content Customization Comes to the Fore” white paper highlighting the 2016 Customer Engagement research.

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Source: 2016 IDG Enterprise Customer Engagement Research

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