As a long-time B2B and channel marketer, I’m familiar with content marketing in all of its aliases. As a short-time customer success leader for a software company focused on accelerating sales within indirect sales channels, I’m consistently shocked by the limited reach of the concept and value of inbound…er…content marketing outside of a company’s core marketing department.
Whether you’re a marketer who is at (or wishing you were at) #INBOUND15 or #CMWorld this week, you’ve been evangelized on the value of inbound/content marketing and the positive impact it can have on helping grow awareness, qualified sales pipeline and a higher rate of closed business. The fact that the hashtags for two of the biggest content marketing events in the world are trending on Twitter tells us that a lot of progress has been made in convincing outbound marketing traditionalists that a sound content strategy deserves a place at the head of our marketing table…and budget.
While the content marketing flag proudly unites marketers around the globe, the fact is that as you go further into the channel, the awareness, recognition and correct application of content marketing is just getting started.
Just How Far Have We Come?
In its most recent The State of Inbound report, the religiously followed content marketing platform HubSpot cites that the number of marketers who state they practice inbound methodology rose to 85%. In the same report, 45% of respondents credited content marketing practices as their primary lead source (2x more than those crediting outbound marketing).
The Content Marketing Institute’s data mirrors the findings of HubSpot. CMI cites that 83% of marketers have a content marketing strategy, and this year 70% of B2B marketers are producing more content this year than last.
If all of those stats are impressive, the outcomes that stem from those efforts are even more astounding:
- Using content-driven tactics save and average of 13% in overall cost-per-lead (HubSpot)
- Content marketing strategies can double website conversions (Aberdeen Group)
- 90% of buyers find custom content to be useful when making purchases (ContentWise)
How Far Do We Have Left To Go?
The very same content ‘revenue marketers’ cite has being critical to their business growth doesn’t yield the same value in their indirect sales channel. (Data Sources: Aberdeen Group, Forrester)
While the marketing industry has made a valiant effort to demonstrate the business benefits of content marketing, those benefits seem to come to a halt at the point those marketing programs reach “the channel” — where 70+% of goods globally are transacted, sold and marketed by indirect sales partners. Even though these resellers, distributors, dealers, brokers, agents (or your own favorite synonym for the word partner) rely on the marketing efforts of their suppliers, they never seem to have the resources and tools they need to be successful.
What’s The Path Forward?
Given the gaps identified above, what is the best way to overcome the challenges and make it viable to extend the value and impact of your content marketing program to your indirect sales partners? Well, like the plot of a overly sentimental independent film, the answer lies within. Within the marketing department that is. Those very same marketers who currently are falling short when it comes to content marketing in the channel, but who were reported in the HubSpot study as having top inbound and content marketing priorities that include:
- Blog content creation
- Growing SEO/organic presence
- Content distribution/amplification
These priorities represent the perfect means to transition and blend content marketing into your channel efforts. Successfully extending your content marketing programs to, and through, your channel ecosystem can yield:
- Countless guest blog articles, case studies and success stories from people who work with your end customers every day.
- Valuable, keyword rich, content that not only helps boost SEO efforts, but also shows for certain just how valuable your products can be to end customers.
- Dozens, hundreds and even thousands of channel partner sales rep sharing, distributing and amplifying the reach of your message and your content to tens of thousands of prospects.
Once marketers realize the critical role their channel partners play in achieving their content marketing priorities, they are sure to see hockey sticks in all of their favorite content marketing metrics.
After all, the content marketing strategies that are generating high quality leads for your direct sales team can just as easily work within your partner channel. In 30-minutes, let us who show you how to take your killer content marketing plans and make them work in your channel.