When creating new content, what’s your ultimate goal?
(Hint: The correct answer is “increasing sales”.)
Okay, okay…on some level, we all know this. But, in the frenzy of creating new, engaging, SEO- and audience-friendly content, it can be easy to lose sight of why you’re creating it.
Yes, your more immediate goals revolve around attracting and engaging with your target audience and delivering value to them via this content.
But if your audience simply consumes your content – but never takes further steps toward conversion – your company hasn’t gained anything from the deal. Really, you’ve just given away something for free – and wasted a ton of time, money, and other resources in the process.
Which is why content selling is just as important as content marketing.
What Is “Content Selling”?
Content selling refers to the creation and distribution of content to initiate and facilitate sales.
But this isn’t to say it’s about creating “salesy content”.
Rather, it’s to create content that sells. Content selling is about injecting sales-focused strategies into your content creation efforts – making conversion the obvious next step for those who engage with it.
Again, this concept might not seem all that earth-shattering at first. In fact, HubSpot recently found that total sales is the most commonly-used measurement of content marketing success.
But there’s a bit of discrepancy, here: That same report found that tracking conversions is not a priority when analyzing content marketing performance.
So, it seems like most companies aren’t actually tying content to sales – and are merely assuming that an increase in sales is at least somewhat attributable to their content marketing efforts.
(After all, if they’re not laser-focused on tracking content-based conversions, they can’t necessarily be sure their content had anything to do with the customer’s purchasing decision.)
This discrepancy exposes the fact that too many brands are still creating content for the sake of creating content — without really taking stock of how much it impacts sales.
Which brings us to the key difference between content marketing and content sales:
While content marketing is often about nurturing the customer over the long-term, content sales focuses solely on conversion.
This doesn’t mean being salesy with your content; it means orienting the target toward a clear path to conversion.
Content Sales: Refocusing Your Content Creation Efforts to Include Sales
Back in 2017, HCSS’ Director of Digital Marketing, Skyler Moss, made it clear:
“Traditional marketing teams and content are already going away, and the lines between sales and marketing will blur until both of those become one.”
Moss predicted that, by 2022, “content marketing” would become “content sales”.
And… well, here we are.
In working to desilo your marketing and sales teams, you’ll enable sales to become a more integral part of your content marketing efforts.
(This goes for the development of both individual pieces of content and of your overall content marketing strategy.)
In taking a more collaborative role in the content creation process, your sales team will inevitably make their main job – selling to your audience – much easier.
With that in mind, let’s talk about what content sales actually entails.
Always Nurturing to the Next Sale
Content sales focuses on creating content that is both engaging, valuable, and actionable.
Without the first two pieces in place, your audience will simply pass the content over in the first place. Without the actionable part, you’re again giving away value without getting anything in return.
By including your sales team in content planning, creation, and delivery, you ensure that every piece of content you create:
- Delivers relevant, need-to-know info at the exact right moment
- Showcases specific benefits of your solution based on your target audience’s needs
- Presents an offer your audience absolutely cannot refuse
…all of which paves a clear path to conversion for your audience.
Even for first-time visitors, the idea behind content selling is to get the prospect to convert as quickly as possible. While providing maximum value throughout the sales funnel is effective in the long run, content sales is more interested in spurring purchases from the get-go.
Here, we’re not taking the typical approach of delivering x type of content to Aware-ness stage audiences, and y content to BoFu prospects.
Rather, we’re talking about delivering whatever content is needed to get the prospect to open their wallets at any given moment.
And we’re talking about your sales team’s ability to use this content to make an immediate sale happen.
Note we said, “an immediate sale”, there.
While your content marketing efforts are focused on long-term nurturing toward a bigger purchase, content selling aims to deliver premium offers that meet the target where they currently are.
For example, skincare retailer Bambu Earth, offers a quiz to new visitors to get a better understanding of their needs.
Once a prospect completes the quiz, they’re given the option of communicating with the team’s lead esthetician for product recommendations:
Yes, the team will certainly use the info gathered to deliver relevant content and offers over time. But they also don’t pass up the opportunity to make an immediate sale whenever they come about.
Really, this content creates the potential for an immediate sale – and the customer simply has to take the team up on their offer.
Which is exactly what content selling is all about.
Supportive Guidance Toward Conversion
No matter your industry, the reason your customers come to you is because they need your help.
It’s a vulnerable, stressful situation to be in — and the need to make a purchasing decision only serves to add to the stress.
To this end, content sales focuses on removing any doubt a prospect may have about going through with a purchase.
This contrasts with content marketing, which focuses more on convincing prospects to convert by piling on information over time. Content selling cuts right to the chase, removing any blockers that are inhibiting the prospect’s decision-making process.
It’s the difference between “Here are x reasons to buy our product” and “We know you’re worried about x – and here’s why you shouldn’t be”. While both are certainly valuable, the latter actively aims to empower the prospect’s purchasing decision – which will help spur them to immediate action.
It’s the age-old practice of handling sales objections, applied proactively to create content that answers your prospect’s questions either immediately as they ask them – or well before they’ve even come to mind.
By involving your sales team in the process of creating and delivering this content, you:
As shown above, HelloFresh’s chatbot is prepared to answer a variety of questions prospective customers may have before making their first purchase. Additionally, the chatbot provides the option to immediately speak with a human representative – who can both deliver additional support and facilitate a sale.
Creating content that anticipates and addresses your prospect’s specific concerns shows that you truly understand where they’re coming from – and that you know exactly what to do to help them. From there, you simply need to put the offer on the table and allow the prospect to take the final step toward conversion.
Creating a Personalized Content Journey and Buyer’s Journey
By nature, content sales aim to inject personalized content experiences throughout the individual customer’s path to purchase.
As we said earlier, it’s not about delivering certain info and content to individuals at certain stages of the sales funnel. Rather, content sales is about understanding how to deliver certain information to specific individuals throughout their individual buyer’s journey in order to prime them for purchase.
Think of how the common “Best X Tools” roundup post compares to the average product comparison chart. While both would likely communicate similar information, the former is typically seen as top-of-funnel content, while the latter is often aimed at nearly converted prospects.
The assumption, here, is that the average prospect will see the roundup post first, and eventually will check out your comparison chart as they become more serious about making a purchase.
Of course, this isn’t always the case.
Delivered strategically, the typical ToFu content can cause the right prospect to jump ahead to purchase. Or a prospect may happen upon your comparison chart before they even know what your product is all about — which may spur them to do further research.
(Conversely, a product comparison chart may not do much to impact a prospect’s decision if delivered without proper context.)
Shifting to content selling means understanding that all pieces of content have the potential to sell.
…that is, as long as they’re delivered in the right context, and supported by a strategic and tactical approach from your sales team.
- Ensure you’ve covered the most common and impactful objections your prospects have
- Present the content in a way that grounds the prospect (instead of overwhelming them)
- Deliver the necessary information in the optimal format, on the optimal channel
By contextualizing your content delivery practices, you’ll inherently create personalized content journeys for each of your prospective customers. In some cases, this may mean delivering the same information in multiple formats to paint a more complete picture of your product. In others, it may mean delivering more advanced information that builds on the prospect’s initial inquiries – and leads them to more comprehensive solutions.
Creating this context again requires that you anticipate your individual customers’ needs throughout their lifecycle with your brand. That way, you can develop content that delivers the factual information they’re looking for at any given time – and presents it in such a way as to spur immediate action from the consumer.
Whether via ever-evolving content repurposing, delivery of dynamic content, or good, ol’ fashioned human interaction, content sales’ ultimate aim is to create content that will spur a sale in any given scenario. As your content library grows, your sales team will become increasingly more equipped to make this ideal vision a reality.
Once the content exists, it’s a matter of your sales team putting their know-how to work to deliver it to just the right target, at just the right time, in just the right way to move them closer to conversion.
The post Are You Focused Just on Content Marketing, Or Content Selling? appeared first on Post Funnel.
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