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Content strategies that drive your marketing and sales team results

Our Senior Marketing Project Manager Danny, recently sat down with David Vogelpohl on the PressThis Podcast to discuss content strategies that drive your marketing and sales team results.

You can listen to the episode here or read a transcript of the discussion below.

Briefly tell me your WordPress origin story? When did you first use WP?

It started when I took over the marketing for a private education organization, a while back now. They needed to update and develop their overall digital marketing strategy, and one thing that was a real focus was the website. It needed to be modernized as it hadn’t really been looked at much, since it was first built.

Now this had been built on WordPress and I project managed the overhaul of the site and got really interested in the process of putting a website together.

I then did what a lot of  people in the community do: I headed straight to YouTube, to blogs and forums and started to learn as much as I could about WordPress and the various plugins. That aquired knowledge enabled me to start designing a few sites for myself and eventually design client websites for them.

I joined AZoNetwork in 2020 and here the team are using WordPress to design the client websites so the WordPress journey very much continues.

Briefly tell us about AZoNetwork?

We have a number of industry specific websites within the science, engineering and healthcare space. Websites such as AZoMaterials, AZoLifesciences, AZoRobotics etc. where we regularly publish content.

At the last count we were looking at over 100 million unique visitors per year across the sites, so it’s a really big audience.

As well as having that audience, we also offer a full range of digital marketing services, including web design, webinars, video creation, email marketing, etc.

So we create the content, distribute it accross our vast network and analyse the results with our in-house analytical platform. We do this all within the science, engineering and healthcare spaces.

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What do brands get wrong when crafting content strategies to support sales teams?

Something that we see a lot of in this space is the mindset that we’ve always done it one way, so we’ll stick to that. And when it stops working, we’ll blame other reasons rather than looking internally at our strategy, and asking ourselves if we have adapted to changes in the buyer journey.

Over the last year, the global lockdowns have meant companies that haven’t pivoted previously have had to adapt their digital strategy. The ones who already had this in place have been in a better position than the ones who have been catching up.

With the creation side of things we often see companies either crafting content that is very product or sales focused, rather than what their customers are looking for. Some companies really want to push content that focuses solely on their products.

The ones who had already pivoted to include a digital strategy were in a far better position than those who hadn't...

We try to steer them towards more educational content that is going to help their potential customers become more informed so they become more confident with you as an organization and so that trust between the two parties can be built. This is with the end goal of building long term relationships that are going to become more profitable.

The final thing is that people write purely for SEO reasons. Of course, it's really important that you appear higher up in the search rankings but if you write based only on what an algorithm is thinking and not for a human being, then there’s going to be an annoyed potential customer that can't find the infomation that they are looking for.

What are your thoughts on including sales teams directly in the content strategy process?

I think it’s absolutely essential that you’ve got a really good relationship between your sales and marketing team and that you’re both singing off the same hymn sheet.

Our primary job as marketers is to make life as easy as possible for salespeople. We want prospects to be as informed as possible when they start having conversations with the sales team.

If they already know the value that we can bring to their organization then the sales team are pushing on open doors rather than banging their head against against closed ones.

For this to happen it is vital for marketers to get insights from sales. They’re speaking with clients on a daily basis, they are the face of many organizations and are on the front line. They get the questions, or the problems that your prospects or your current client base are experiencing. All these insights, provide you with everything you need to develop your content marketing strategy.

A client was reporting to our team that they were getting a lot of traffic but their time on page was very low. We took this insight and wrote a blog piece about website user experience.

Read more: Does your website provide a good user experience?

It looked at how getting users to the site is just the first part of the journey and the importance of considering your customer journey throughout your website so that they find what they’re looking for and take an action that’s going to help your business.

Do you encourage sales people to use the content in their selling or is content only for getting people through the door?

We like to be as efficient as possible so we also want our sales team to be a big part of the distribution process.

It’s a distribution channel often forgotten about, and it can be really, really effective.

We’re lucky as our team are especially good at using content to build relationships through educating their prospects, and the benefits of this is that it builds a long term relationship with that lead, which will hopefully lead to an increased lifetime value of that customer which is the ultimate endgame.

A couple of examples that spring to mind:

We have a webinar series that we’re running at the moment about digital marketing. A prospect who is unsure about our webinar services will be encouraged to attend the webinar about 'Webinar features and functions' instead of pushing the hard sell.

They can then go ahead and register for that, attend, ask any questions they have and hopefully they’ll be able to come back afterwards, feeling much more comfortable and confident about this project.

Then it comes back to us as marketers to then make sure that this prospect is well taken care of, they have all their problems resolved for them, and then hopefully at the end of the month, when this webinar has been, they’ll go back to the sales team, feeling much more comfortable about the project and -fingers crossed- the sale will be secure.

Another way we’re looking at distribution through the sales team is on LinkedIn. We’ve calculated that between the sales and marketing team, we’ve got a rough network of around 15,000 on LinkedIn. That’s from a team of about 10 people.

A large number of that audience is going to be really relevant to our overall business goals so we’re trying to create an internal comms process at the moment where the marketing team creates the content and have it in one place so the sales team can easily access it.

This will help us with our brand awareness and positions the sales team and the company as thought leaders. We’ve got to remember, sales teams are really busy, their primary goal is to bring in the business and they're under pressure to hit targets.

So if we can make the process of distributing content as easy as possible, then they’re gonna be far more willing to do it and you’ll get much better results.

How do you use data in your content strategy?

Primarily we use the data that we’ve got to help create our ideal customer profiles, and our buying personas.

Once we’ve got those in place, we will use data to formulate our communication plans. So, one example at the moment is: we are starting to promote our updated analytics software, and the data from across our network is showing us that only 3% of site visitors are identifiable sales qualified leads.

That little quote there is going to be our main talking point for this particular campaign. Our main talking point for when the sales team are talking to prospects, and it’s gonna be the heart of everything we do, content wise in the initial phase of this campaign.

Another thing that we do is we look to learn from anyone who engages with our content and marketers should be learning all the time, I believe. So, if someone downloads an ebook or registers for a webinar, completes some sort of data capture or fills in a form, then we’ll ask them what is their biggest digital marketing challenge.

The data we get back from their answers will play a big role in supporting our content strategy.

How do you approach the UI/UX of content campaigns in WP especially around sales CTAs?

This is really important, it goes back to what we’ve been saying about everything to do with the customer journey.

We’re trying to provide site visitors with an enjoyable experience. We want to take them on a journey where they can get what they’re looking for, as easily as possible, and then take the next steps, whatever that may be given their position in the buying process.

If we take a top of funnel blog piece as an example. We don’t just want to provide large amount of information in a condensed format that is difficult to read.

We want to make sure that it's easy to skim read and/or be read on their mobile. So nice formatting that includes shorter paragraphs, images, infographics, videos, snippets from podcasts, anything that can provide a better overall experience.

Then we want to strategically position our calls to action and think about what the experience looks like once they’ve been clicked.

Ask about digital marketing

It’s great for a prospect if they can click on a book a demo or speak to our team CTA and it takes them to your calendar, so they can book a time within your calendar that fits within their schedule. This shows that you appreciate their time and that you really care about getting their business, the little things are important.

The final thing in terms of CTAs and user experience is whether or not you gate content. We’ve talked a lot about data and capturing data but think about how many opportunities to educate prospects you are losing because you ask for an email address before they can read your eBook or white paper.

On the other hand, are you willing to lose the data and the insights that the registration questions provide?

Have a think about using a different strategy, providing all your content for free without any sort of gate, and see how that impacts your traffic, time on page and quality of leads you generate.

I like the idea of having your website optimized for each experience so that when they use it, the user can find and do exactly what they’re looking for as easily as possible regardless of what part of the customer journey they’re on.

Learn more about content strategies that drive your marketing and sales team results by viewing our Marketing Science Webinar Series.

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Posted by Danny Layzell

After growing up in the Ribble Valley, Danny has spent much of his professional career working in international education on the South Coast of England before moving to Manchester at the end of 2017. Danny has a degree in Politics, a level 6 diploma in Digital Marketing and is working towards becoming a chartered marketer. As well as working in international education, Danny has previously worked as a freelance digital marketer which is where he was first introduced to AZoNetwork. He joined the team in 2020. As well as digital and politics, Danny is passionate about most sports mainly rugby and cricket. He is also a life-long Manchester United fan and more recently became a Dallas Cowboy supporter! Travelling has become a real interest for Danny, and he dreams of travelling alongside the ‘Barmy Army’ (England cricket fans) in the future.   Danny is also planning on completing his 3rd marathon in 2021.

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