Using Content Marketing for Enterprise Sales

February 21, 2015

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Marketing and Sales departments work best when they work together. We all know this. Yet it can be a challenge to have a cohesive strategy when it comes to this alliance.

At OpiaTalk, we see Marketing as a way to drive inbound leads, which Sales then closes -- like passing a baton. Here’s how we do it:

Since we’re B2B, Melanie Curtin, our rock star content creator and Senior Director of Marketing & Communications, decided early on to focus all of our content efforts on LinkedIn. Rather than trying to maintain a quality presence on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, she decided to own that one platform. We therefore have a pretty simple, double-sided content strategy:

1) Publish viral content on LinkedIn

2) Publish eCommerce-specific articles on LinkedIn

To be frank, we sort of stumbled onto the first part of this approach. When Melanie first approached me about writing content that was not strictly eCommerce-related, she said she wanted to experiment. Since a lot of pieces that do very well on LinkedIn are job or workplace-related, she wanted to try going in that direction. One of the central tenets of our startup is “Be Fearless,” so I told her to go for it. There was literally nothing to lose.

The next day she posted "The Truth About What It’s Like Working For Uber," a somewhat unconventional piece outlining her experience at her previous job at Uber.

It went viral. We’d never seen anything like it. Hers became the most viewed profile in my list of connections! My own profile lit up like a Christmas tree, since she gave me a shout-out in the piece. But the most compelling thing was the outcome of all that attention:

Views: 170,000

Result: 25 inbound leads in 24 hours

Dave, our Director of Sales, said he felt like this first piece “put us on the map.” Not that we were stealthy before this point, but this article exposed people far and wide to OpiaTalk who never would have been otherwise in such a short amount of time.

In addition to the fact that this translated into real inbounds, we also had a major PR win: A writer for The Next Web found us and ended up writing a very nice piece on our European launch.

To date, Melanie’s pieces have garnered over one million views. Many have not been strongly related to our core value prop (several are totally unrelated). This goes against most traditional “content strategy,” but we’ve found it to be an effective part of ours.

Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to be ‘loud’ and unconventional in terms of content. It doesn’t have to be all you do, but it can be a very useful part of your strategy. It helps with both inbound lead generation as well as PR, which can then lead to even more inbound leads. Sometimes what you need is eyeballs. It’s OK to go after them.

The second way we use content is with ecommerce-specific articles. These are less sexy so they get significantly fewer views. However, they can be extremely effective at attracting high-quality leads. Our best-performing piece in this category is "The Best Conversion Hack You’ve Never Heard Of," which had the following outcome:

Views: 4,105

Result: 3-5 leads per week for 8 weeks

Of note is that at the beginning, while organic views were still low ( around 200), we noticed that the share rate was extraordinarily high. Over 30% of those reading the article were InSharing it, which told us the piece resonated strongly with our audience. We therefore invested in promoting it and saw an impressive ROI:

Advertising investment: $4,000

Result: Rosetta Stone (epic client win)

This is a good example of the team working together: Melanie’s content attracted the attention of an enterprise client, which the Sales team then closed. We’re a small startup and we’re all working together towards the same goal: More clients, more value, and more progress.

There are two more ways we ensure Marketing and Sales work together at OpiaTalk. First, Melanie regularly sits in on sales calls (on mute) to see what kinds of questions potential clients ask. This is invaluable, as she then works the answers into our current copy or future articles. For example, Melanie is writing the copy for our new website at the moment, and she doesn’t have to be told what to include; she knows because she has actually been there. Since the average B2B buyer is 57% through their purchasing decision before they even engage a sales rep, our goal is to proactively address concerns before people bring them up.

The second way we have Marketing and Sales work together is by working our “marketing” initiatives directly into sales. For example, when we came out with the following piece, Dave started linking to it in his sales outreach emails: Case Study: 26 days. 15% conversions. Over $75K in revenue. Because there’s a loop between marketing and sales, they feed off of each other, each strengthening the other.

Ultimately, quality content isn’t just about driving traffic itself; it’s about establishing OpiaTalk as a thought leader, and staying top-of-mind with prospective clients, investors, and future employees. Let’s say one of our prospects reads one of our “viral” articles and hears about us for the first time. Then they’re hit with an OpiaTalk-generation eCommerce article a few weeks later, and then receive an email from Dave. By the time he gets to them, they’ve already had several touch points. It’s like Melanie has passed the ball down the field to Dave, so he starts at an advantage.

Takeaways:

1) Don’t box yourself in when it comes to content

Keep your content fresh. Write to the platform, and try being a little edgy or personal. Times are changing; the kind of content that attracts attention might not always be focused on your area of expertise. You can have a multi-faceted approach to content; you don’t just have to do one thing.

2) Get marketing teammates involved in sales, and vice versa

It’s important to have those in charge of marketing involved in the sales process in an intimate and ongoing way. It makes them more effective marketers. It’s also important for Sales to track what potential clients say, and share insights with Marketing. This gives all your copy and messaging an advantage. Sounds obvious, but the gap between the two is often larger than you think.

3) Experiment

You might not know exactly how things will turn out -- we certainly didn’t. Keep trying new things, including different ways for Marketing and Sales to stay on top of what the other is doing. You may just find that the ways this can help are unexpected, and unexpectedly awesome.

Be fearless! Good luck.

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