New Research: Content Marketing Can Bridge the Divide Between Sales and Marketing

Content Marketing Institute and LinkedIn Release Report on how Content Fosters Sales and Marketing Alignment

March 21, 2018

Content Marketing Institute Report

The feud between sales and marketing is a cliché, but that makes it no less real. The age-old complaints between the two departments persist. Marketing says sales doesn’t follow up on the leads. Sales responds, “The leads are weak.”

Previous global research conducted by LinkedIn showed that 60% of sales and marketing professionals believe that misalignment between sales and marketing is can negatively impact financial performance. Clearly, businesses want to bring the two departments closer together.

The question is how?

New research produced by the Content Marketing Institute and LinkedIn reveals that content marketing may be the bridge that brings the sales and marketing departments together. In the new white paper, “Content Marketing: Unlocking Sales and Marketing Performance,” Robert Rose, CMI’s Chief Strategy Advisor, writes, “Moving forward, content marketing and sales alignment might just be what enables true marketing success and revenue growth.”

In surveying 1,246 marketers around the globe and in a range of industries, CMI and LinkedIn found that just 46% of marketers described sales and marketing as “highly aligned” at their company. The remainder described their sales and marketing departments as having “low alignment.” The research showed that the highly aligned marketers were much more sophisticated in their content marketing than their low alignment counterparts.

Here are six ways highly aligned companies differed from low aligned companies when it came to content:

  1. Marketers in highly aligned companies were significantly more likely to work closely with their sales teams in using content: 81% of highly aligned companies collaborate with sales on how to use content, while just 25% of low aligned companies do.
  2. More evidence of content collaboration leading to greater alignment: 79% of highly aligned companies collaborate with sales on when to use content versus just 19% of low aligned companies.
  3. The power of a documented content strategy: 75% of highly aligned organizations have a documented content strategy. Just 41% of the low aligned do.
  4. Practicing ABM is a sign of alignment: 57% of highly aligned companies use account-based marketing, which is closely tied to using sophisticated content marketing targeted to specific accounts, compared with 28% of low aligned companies deploying ABM.
  5. Sales has access to a central content repository: Companies with high alignment were more likely to have a centralized content repository: 79% vs. 55% of low aligned organizations.
  6. Alignment can lead to bigger budgets: 61% of highly aligned companies expected their budgets to grow in 2018; just 35% of low aligned companies expected budget increases.

In the report, Rose pointed to four practical ways that marketing and sales teams can achieve increased alignment:

  • Meet regularly. Almost three-quarters (73%) of the highly aligned meet daily or weekly (vs. 25% of the low aligned), and 31% of the low aligned meet only when necessary. “Schedule frequent, standing meetings for marketing and sales, during which the content marketers and salespeople can actively collaborate,” Rose writes.
  • Sync on metrics. “Agree on shared metrics to measure performance – ideally revenue, pipeline, or similar yardsticks,” he advises.
  • Have a single view of the customer. Use the right technologies to “develop a single view of the customer that enables teams to act quickly and decisively to deliver more value,” he writes.
  • Experiment. “Iterate often and create enthusiasm for controlled experiments that can inform process changes and investment decisions,” he adds.

To learn more about how content can bridge the gap between sales and marketing, download the full report, “Content Marketing: Unlocking Sales and Marketing Performance,” today.