Content has been a major topic of discussion in 2016. Buyers are expecting high quality, helpful content at every stage of the decision-making process, and salespeople are starting to understand the importance of sharing the right content with buyers at the right time. In effect, enterprise organizations are recognizing that content is either empowering or inhibiting their sales forces, foreshadowing an even higher emphasis on content going into 2017. This means that marketing executives are starting to feel the pressure to modernize inefficient and ineffective content management and distribution processes, and to determine whether the content marketing creates is even working for the sales force.
Seismic has partnered with Gatepoint Research to find out just how high of a priority content is for the B2B marketing industry, and what this means for marketing budget and strategy planning in 2017. Taking a look at some of the findings from our pool of marketing executives (CMOs, VPs of Marketing, and Marketing Directors), it’s clear that there are some good, some bad, and some quite ugly trends occurring. Let’s take a look at three of the major ones:
Content management effectiveness
- The good: 64 percent of marketing executives currently have a content management solution in place.
- The bad: 18 percent of respondents indicate that they are completely happy with their current content management methods.
- The ugly: Nearly half of those surveyed (47 percent) cite that their content management methods need improvement, and 36 percent report that they don’t even have a content management solution in place. While content management can likely be improved by all companies, implementing a content management solution is the first step towards progress.
Distributing content to salespeople
- The good: 72 percent of respondents ask salespeople to download content from a company portal. This is a step in the right direction, and it’s good to see that the majority of respondents are adopting this process. But they could go even further by serving content where salespeople are spending their days, such as email and/or CRM.
- The bad: A whopping 74 percent use email links or attachments to deliver content to reps. Reps, especially those in the field, can easily bury these emails, leave them unopened, and forget they ever received any collateral.
- The ugly: 18 percent of respondents still use printed media or CDs to deliver content to salespeople. In today’s fast moving, buyer-led sales process, by the time content reaches the buyer it’s likely already outdated, and there’s no way to track how and with whom that content is being shared.
Updating and rebranding content
- The good: 9 percent of respondents can update and replace old content with new in a month or less.
- The bad: The majority of respondents (57 percent) report rebranding content takes 1-6 months. This means that salespeople spend up to half of their year selling with outdated, off-brand materials. This hurts credibility, displays disorganization and unprofessionalism, and could result in lost deals.
- The ugly: Some 34 percent of respondents report that rebranding existing content takes more than six months. Branding changes are of course important, but if it’s taking more than half the year to complete, it may be hurting your sales force more than helping.
Other major challenges cited by marketing executives include:
- Salespeople asking for one-off content update requests (56%)
- Content going unused because the sales team doesn’t know where to find it (52%)
- Having no way of knowing what content works and what doesn’t (38%)
It is clear through Gatepoint’s research that organizations’ content marketing and management strategies need some refining. Marketing executives believe that the top 3 initiatives necessary for better enabling sales are:
- Being able to serve hyper-relevant content to the sales team in specific conversations (54%)
- Reducing the time it takes reps to find content (53%) and
- Being sure that the assets sales reps are sharing are up-to-date and on-brand (49%)
Luckily, today’s marketing executives are not alone in their uphill battle against outdated content marketing and management practices. By addressing the challenges above and implementing the right strategy and technology, it’s possible to align sales and marketing throughout the entire content lifecycle to win more deals and generate more revenue.