Branding and Lead Generation: Battle or Balancing Act?

Author: Sheila Kloefkorn, Pragmatic Marketing Inc

It seems there is a never-ending competition for customer mindshare. We all want prospective customers to consider our brand. But we also want them to know who we are and what we offer long before they make a purchase.

For many executives and product managers, the decision to focus marketing efforts on brand awareness or lead generation can feel like a constant wrestling match. On the one hand, brand marketing efforts help expand audience size. On the other hand, lead generation helps pinpoint a group of individuals who are willing to exchange their contact information for your content.

The good news is that you do not have to let awareness and lead generation tactics constantly battle it out. In fact, when used strategically and effectively, the two methods complement each other.

The key to determining the right balance between branding and lead generation is to realize that while each has a certain ebb and flow, the two strategies must work hand in hand to be effective.

Brand Awareness

To achieve the right balance, it’s important to understand the premise behind both marketing strategies. As you know, everything you do drives your brand: the quality of your product or service, the experience of using it, the way your company responds to problems, the way customers feel when they have an issue.

Loosely defined, brand awareness is your company’s visibility to the public. It is the emotions and attitude the public associates with your organization. When someone searches for a product or service within your industry, you want your company to come to mind.

Companies are increasingly focusing on branding via content marketing. HubSpot and Fast Company are two examples of companies that do it well.

HubSpot continuously produces useful branded content that has earned them widespread recognition and trust as an industry thought leader. From videos and white papers to webcasts and ebooks, HubSpot consistently develops content B2B audiences desire, while simultaneously promoting their brand. Even if viewers haven’t invested in the company’s software, it is likely they have downloaded a piece ofHubSpot’s valuable content.

And while it may feel like infographics are a dime a dozen, progressive media house Fast Company has figured out how to use them to inform (and entertain) its C-level audience with original and compelling content. Not only does Fast Company promote their brand by giving readers what they want in the form of powerful, quick chunks of information, but they also use social engagement to boost sharing and drive results.

To effectively increase brand awareness, several factors must first be in place.

Brand Foundation. Your company’s website is your brand’s foundation. Is it functional and user-friendly? Is content fresh, relevant and SEO-optimized? Make sure the landing pages and forms work and that your site is mobile responsive. And what about traditional marketing? Make sure your brochures and other printed materials are up to date so prospective customers can easily learn more about your products or services.

Message and Positioning. Be clear about the products or services you want to sell. What is your brand’s message? Does your product or service provide a solution to customer needs? More important, can you fully understand how your product or service works for the consumer?

Diverse Content. Once you have garnered attention, it’s important to actively engage with your customer. And engagement means content, such as social media, video, blogs, images, graphics, infographics and more. Not all customers look for you the same way, so make sure they can connect with you in a way that’s comfortable and appeals to their preferences.

Thought Leadership. Without question, today’s customers are a research generation. They thoroughly review items, visit multiple websites and scour background information before deciding to buy. As a trustworthy brand, you must prove yourself as a valuable resource and industry thought leader.

Lead Generation

Capturing leads is one of the most crucial parts of content marketing. When done properly, high-quality, relevant content draws users in, enabling lead capture while simultaneously boosting your brand’s SEO rankings.

Lead generation usually results in a specific call to action, as well as a distinct value proposition. And while it does not always require brand awareness, lead generation is far more effective when the two are working hand in hand.

To be successful with lead-generation efforts, start with a solid plan that includes the following steps.

Plan your campaign. What do you want to achieve: leads or product sales? Be sure to further reinforce the purpose behind your content. Create downloadable opportunities for users to connect with you via landing pages, infographics, case studies or white papers.

Provide collateral. As a marketer, it’s important to understand the difference between a pull campaign and a push effort. Use collateral to drive leads and begin a nurture funnel. Remember, simply because someone is not a hot lead does not mean they are not worth the sales-cycle effort.

Gather and analyze data. Any time you encourage customers to sign up for a webinar or interact with one of your publications, you’re engaging them. And that means you are gathering data, plain and simple.

It Takes Two to Tango: A Careful, Yet Strategic, Dance

In this day and age, focusing on traditional marketing approaches to define and shape your brand is simply not enough. The key to any effective marketing plan is to discover the right balance between brand awareness and lead generation.

To further convince yourself, go online and scan through every big brand in the market such as GE, Accenture and Emerson and see how smoothly and seamlessly they have managed to combine these elements to create a perfect marketing plan.

Some Final Thoughts

Today’s brands cannot expect to generate leads and drive conversions for the foreseeable future if they are not also continuously enhancing awareness and building the credibility of their brand.  Brand building and lead generation are interrelated. For ideal growth, you must use the right amounts of both. There should never be two polar sides in the process, but instead, a flexible range to achieve the right balance between the two.

The Most Successful Brands Focus on Users — Not Buyers

Author: Mark Boncheck & Vivek Bapat

What makes a brand successful in the digital age? A joint study by SAP, Siegel+Gale, and Shift Thinking suggests that digital brands don’t just do things differently; they also think differently. Where traditional brands focus on positioning their brands in the minds of their customers, digital brands focus on positioning their brands in the lives of their customers. Furthermore, they engage customers more as users than as buyers, shifting their investments from pre-purchase promotion and sales to post-purchase renewal and advocacy.

As part of our study, we conducted an online survey of more than 5,000 U.S. consumers and asked them about 50 different brands, both digital and traditional. We asked them about their perception, usage, preference, and advocacy for the brands. We also supplemented the survey with well-known brand rankings, Net Promoter Scores (NPS), and an analysis of their marketing expenditures and strategies.

We found distinct differences between legacy/traditional brands and newcomer/digital brands. For example, consider the following “brand twins” – pairs of legacy and newcomer brands that compete in the same industry. In every case, the legacy brand rated higher on the statement “Is a brand that people look up to.” But the newcomer brands all rated higher on the statement “Makes my life easier.”

  • Airbnb vs. Hilton/Marriott
  • Dollar Shave vs. Gillette
  • Red Bull vs. Coca-Cola
  • Venmo vs. American Express/Visa
  • Tesla vs. BMW

There were similar differences in how people’s brand perceptions are formed and reinforced. Respondents were more likely to hear about legacy brands through advertising and traditional media, compared to digital brands which are more often discovered via social media and direct word of mouth.

Overall, we found two distinct clusters, which we have categorized as purchase brands and usage brands:

  • Purchase brands focus on creating demand to buy the product, while usage brands focus on creating demand for the use of the product. Consider the makeup department of a department store. The whole focus is getting you to buy the product with samples and professional makeovers. By contrast, Sephora and Ulta provide instruction, community, and services to help people feel confident in being able to use the makeup themselves when they get home.
  • Purchase brands emphasize promotion; usage brands emphasize advocacy. Vail Resorts remade their entire marketing strategy with a program called EpicMix. It’s a social network for skiers that uses gamification, performance data, and photos as social currencies that skiers want to share with their friends. Most other ski resorts focus on promoting their snow-making abilities and giving discounts on lift tickets.
  • Purchase brands worry about what they say to customers; usage brands worry about what customers say to each other. For example, where traditional hotels put more emphasis on the content in their advertising, Airbnb puts a greater emphasis on the content generated and shared by hosts and guests about their experiences.
  • Purchase brands try to shape what people think about the brand along the path to purchase; usage brands influence how people experience the brand at every touchpoint. Apple Stores are an example of this shift, from the removal of a checkout area at the front of the store to the prominence of the Genius Bar. Where other stores are focused on making a purchase, Apple Stores are about having an experience.

The simple view would be that traditional brands are purchase brands and digital brands are usage brands. But there are exceptions, including brands like Visa, FedEx, Lego, and Costco, which exhibit many of the characteristics of usage brands. We suspect that the nature of their products, culture, and business model leads them to more of a usage mentality. They think of customers less as one-time buyers and more as users or members with an ongoing relationship.

The difference between purchase and usage brands can be seen through the lens of the “moments of truth” method that has become a cornerstone of customer experience design. Purchase brands focus on the “moments of truth” that happen before the transaction, such as researching, shopping, and buying the product. By contrast, usage brands focus on the moments of truth that happen after the transaction, whether in delivery, service, education, or sharing.

The benefits of shifting from purchase to usage are reinforced by our research. Survey respondents show more loyalty to usage brands. They had stronger advocacy in the form of spontaneous recommendations to others. And they showed a higher preference for usage brands over competitors, not just in making the purchase but in a willingness to pay a premium in price. On average, the usage brands were willing to pay a 7% premium, were 8% less likely to switch, and were more than twice as likely to make a spontaneous recommendation of the brand.

Golf coaches have long known what marketers are figuring out: the best way to hit the ball is to focus on the swing and follow-through.

Companies looking to exploit the branding potential unlocked by core digital technologies need to make the shift in their engagement with customers – from purchase to usage. These changes fundamentally require rethinking strategy, organization, investment, and measurement. In many organizations, marketing comes after product development. But a usage mindset requires a closer relationship between marketing and product development because the brand and experience are increasingly one and the same. Typically at purchase brands, customer service and loyalty take a back seat to marketing campaigns and lead generation. Usage brands, by contrast, elevate customer service and loyalty from resource-starved cost-centers to key drivers of growth and profitability.

The role and investments in advertising must also change to shift toward a usage model. Purchase brands try to create differentiation in brand perception in the hope it will influence consideration and purchase. But usage brands are focused on how their products will make a customer’s life better. The role of advertising for a usage brand becomes getting useful content and experiences into the hands of customers. The message becomes “Look how we can make your life better now, before you’ve even spent any money with us. Just think how much more we can do if you become a customer and use our product or service.”

The shift from purchase to usage has implications for measurement as well. Ad impressions are valuable, but what matters most is engagement. Usage brands look at engagement through a much wider aperture. They recognize that some of the most meaningful activity happens outside the sales funnel. Do people find the content created by the brand to be relevant and useful? Are people actually using the product? Are people spontaneously talking about the brand or product? A usage brand marketer would rather have a five-star rating in their online reviews than win an advertising award at Cannes.

More broadly, the shift from purchase to usage suggests that we need to rethink how we measure brand equity. We’ve all seen the annual brand ratings put out by the top firms. But they measure how much a brand is worth to investors more than consumers. Furthermore, their focus is on how people perceive the brand rather than how they experience the brand. Companies that get too focused on winning in the ratings will find themselves ultimately losing in the marketplace.

Although our survey emphasized B2C brands, we believe the Purchase and Usage mindsets are equally, or even more, relevant for B2B brands. Business solutions tend to have longer life cycles than consumer products and there is an even greater opportunity to deliver value outside the sales funnel. In addition, many B2B companies are moving to cloud-based services with membership and subscription-based business models. With these models, the purchase is just the beginning of a long-term relationship. The economics are driven primarily by renewals rather than by initial purchase. In turn, renewal rates are driven not by what buyers think about the brand, but what users experience of the product or service. The key is to think about prospects not as buyers, but as future users.

To review the full blog visit:

7 Market Research Tips That Will Actually Impact Your Organization

Author: Mary (Shirley) Sheehan, YourGoToMarketer / Verto Analytics

Recently I ran a Q&A on Sharebird, a new platform that connects professionals in tech to help share knowledge. There were great questions about market research, and since this is critical to so many functions within an organization, I wanted to share my responses. These market research answers dive deep into 3 themes:

  • Building competitive intelligence that sales will actually use
  • Creating a culture of market research
  • Making buyer personas that don’t suck!

1) How do you create market research, competitive intel specifically, that is really beneficial to sales (i.e. they actually read and use it)?

Answer: I’ve had the best success with easy to digest “competitive battlecards” for sales. The simpler, the better. They should give basic company info, pricing, and how to handle objections. These are a great reference point for sales teams to use on the phone.

The ultimate goal of the battlecards should be for any salesperson – new or experienced – do be able to quickly articulate how you are different from the competition. If it doesn’t meet that goal, you’ve missed the mark.

The design of this is really important. I’ve used a Google doc with a grid and also a vertical PPT slide – it depends on what your company is most familiar with. I would try to update these at least once a quarter.

Scrappy tip: If you’re in a pinch for time, use a service like UpWork to create this for you – you create the framework, and they fill in the rest. For 5 competitors it should be no more than $100 if you pick a good freelancer.

2) What information sources do you use to create buyer/user personas?

Answer: When creating buyer personas, you’re ideally using data from current, prospective, and churned customers to create archetypes of your buyers. The goal is to understand more about them, to design better products, create better marketing programs, and arm your sales team with the best talking points.

The problem is, most personas suck!  The ones I see most often have demographic info (e.g. “Marketing Mary is 32, has a BA in Communication, and lives in a large city) or really generic info (e.g. “She’s hoping to increase her MQLs this year.”) Are these helpful? Not really.

Understanding customer motivations is the key to better personas. I recommend surveying or interviewing 25 or so people and really trying to understand their motivations for using your product, or a product like yours. This goes for both B2B and B2C. Some questions to ask to uncover motivations:

  • What were the real pain points they had that led them to buy your product?
  • What were the alternatives to your product?
  • How did they get budget to buy this?

Talking to existing and – even better – churned customers will give you more insights. I wrote a blog post that dives deeper into this, and talks about a helpful framework to follow – the “Jobs to Be Done framework” if you’re interested.

Scrappy tip: If you can go to a conference where a lot of your clients, or prospective clients will be – bring an ipad and get a bunch of people to survey/ and talk to you.

3) Can you outline the best structure and format for user personas that are useful across the organization?

Once you’ve interviewed and/ or surveyed your customers, prospects, and churned customers – it’s time to put the personas into a digestible format. I recommend Google slides (or PPT, if that’s your jam) and hosting them on a central resource so all teams can use. For example, at a recent Product Marketing meetup, Shyna Zhang, Director of Enterprise Strategy at Marketo, talked about how they whiteboarded the personas in a common space for product and engineering to always be able to access.

The persona should include:

  • A brief synopsis of who they are – (e.g. “Marketing leader of 5-10 person teams, usually in the B2B space. Checks analytics every day and is obsessed with getting the maximum ROI”
  • What motivates them to buy your product or a product like yours
  • What their decision making power usually is (i.e. do they have the final call? Are they part of a team that decides?)
  • Quotes from actual interviews
  • Their real challenges and frustrations
  • Optional: What they love / hate about your product
  • Important: A catchy name to define the persona segment that people will remember (i.e. “Jack of all trades” or “Silver spoon” were ones we used for a prior project)

The last bullet might seem random, but it’s critical to getting the personas used throughout your organization. If you do good work, and the personas have value, it won’t be long until you hear the CEO referring to one of the personas using your catchy name during an all hands meeting (true story)!

4) How do you drive culture change with market research?

Quick answer: Data. Bring the nonbelievers snippets of real customer conversations or data points that they don’t know from interviews, surveys, CSAT, NPS, customer service feedback – you name it. This will show the value of talking to customers, and will leave them wanting more.

To be even more influential, if your product team isn’t listening  – make sure your exec team is. Get an executive sponsor who wants to champion the “voice of the customer” – and leverage their position to leverage the customer insights you’re finding.

It’s really dangerous when a product / eng team is building something “for themselves” – they will miss critical insights that could make or break the future of your product and company. It’s the PMMs job to show them the light!

5) How do you convince your company that it’s worth the time to invest in researching and making buyer personas?

Answer: I’ve worked for a company where we paid $100K to an agency to make buyer personas, and another one where I had to figure it out on a shoestring (< $1000). I honestly had so much more fun and learned a lot more doing it the scrappy way! I used budget for incentives to get clients, prospects, and churned customers to talk to me. I developed an interview script and trained others on how to interview so we quickly got 30+ interviews (recorded, too!). I used a little more budget to run a raffle for customers that would take a survey. The chance of a $250 Amazon gift card gets people to answer your questions!

But to answer your question directly, if you do not clearly know who your customers are – there is no way you’re being effective with your product development or marketing budget. One thing you might do would be to ask 5-10 people internally in different orgs who they think your customers are. Chances are – the answers will be all over the place. Package this up and send it to your boss, or your exec team, however you have the best influence – and I bet you can make the case to get the budget and time resources you need to make this your next project.

6) Can you share best practices to do impactful market research on a tight budget?

Scrappy research – my favorite! First, let me start with a quote – “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” Many a research project hasn’t gotten off of the ground for fear it won’t be statistically significant or have thousands of responses. But guess what? Some market research is much better than NO market research.

Here are some quick ideas for creating impactful market research on a tight budget:

  • Email a survey to your existing customer base
  • LinkedIn messaged for surveys
  • Phone interviews with existing clients
  • for quick interview recruiting of non-clients
  • Bring an ipad to a conference with your customers / prospects and offer $5 or a starbucks gift card (right then!) to take your survey
  • Google search trends to show the rise of certain key terms
  • User testing on your website

I dive into this more in a post here.

7) What top 3 places / sources of intel should a product marketer look at when doing competitive research?

Answer: If I could only spend my time in 3 places when doing customer research, it would be Owler, G2Crowd, and Glassdoor (since I’m assuming you would already look at their website and marketing assets). Ideally you’re trying to create a SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats – and these 3 resources give you the best intel, quickly. Let me explain a little bit more about each below:

  • Owler gives you the macro industry perspective of the company. Other folks within tech vote on the CEO’s reputation, and you’ll find valuable info like estimated revenue, number of employees, and even product screenshots.
  • G2Crowd is a great place to see real customer reviews of how the product works for them. This is critical in understanding how the product works and is perceived by real customers. I’ll often pull quotes from G2Crowd to tell a great story.
  • GlassDoor might seem a little odd here, but it gives you an idea of the inner workings of a competitior. Is the engineering team unhappy? Salespeople leaving left and right? A quick purview of the top negative comments will uncover a lot about what’s going on behind closed doors.

Bottom line, there are a lot of free resources out there with a wealth of information for all of your competitive projects.

Visit to read more articles by Mary.

Personalities Trump Personas in B2B

Author: Hank Barnes, Gartner

Personas continue to get a lot of attention by B2B marketers.  And while it is hard to argue with working to get a deeper understanding of the individuals involved in buying decisions, the persona approach, at least in B2B, may not be effective–particularly if used on its own.

Here’s the problem (in my opinion).  If you research best practices in persona development, they emphasize going deeper than demographics to look at emotions, wants, aspirations, etc.     These personality attributes are a critical aspect of personas in consumer situations as you can target people that have similar wants and needs.

But in B2B, that is much harder.  First, you aren’t dealing with individuals making a buying decision, you are dealing with teams.  CEB (now Gartner) finds that 6.8 people are involved in B2B buying decisions.  For technology related purchases, it’s even higher.  Gartner research shows between 6 and 8 people actively involved and another 5-6 occasionally involved.  That is a lot of people and personalities.  And it is nearly impossible to find a segment where you will find the same aspirations for specific CIOs, business unit leaders, and other roles.  Further, appealing to individual personas could create conflict when these teams get together to build consensus.

Applied incorrectly, persona based marketing in B2B could be slowing down your deals (or leading customers toward no decisions) rather than accelerating them.

But there is an alternative that Gartner (and CEB) believes holds great promise.   The idea of targeting particular personalities that came from the consumer space is a good idea.  But in the enterprise space, evaluate the personality of the enterprise.  You could almost think of it as an enterprise persona.   This positions you to go after customers that have the ideal profile for your business.

Then feel free to do some persona development, but focus more on understanding who is involved in the buying decisions, what their role is in that decision, and what questions they need to answer.   You can consider some personality attributes, but recognize that the enterprise context carries more weight (and it may be very difficult to find a broad swath of companies where everyone on the buying team shares the same persona attributes).

Finally, and this is critical, as you start working on opportunities, profile the individuals to understand their personal motivations and styles.  The CEB team has categorized people involved in buying decisions into 7 profiles (go-getters, teachers, skeptics, guides, friends, climbers, and blockers).    These profiles (covered in more detail in their book, The Challenger Customer (recommended read))  are independent of role, so you really can’t attach them to a persona–you have to uncover them as you are working on opportunities.

The focus on these profiles is critical, because they guide you into who is more likely to actually drive organizational decisions and actions–like buying. As the graphic below shows, specific profiles, the grouping CEB calls mobilizers, are the ones that can drive decisions.  Others are likely to slow you, and more importantly their organization, down.  These profiles could be people in different roles in every organization and every buying situation. Personas won’t guide you, and they could mislead you.mobilizers

So, summarizing, the alternative path to persona driven B2B marketing and sales is:

  1. Build an ideal customer profile of the enterprise (almost an Enterprise Persona) that looks at a variety of attributes, including psychographic elements.  Use this profile to tailor marketing efforts and sales qualification.
  2. Develop information on the typical members of the buying team that focuses on their role in the buying process.  You can call this a basic persona, if you like, but you won’t benefit from the consumer level persona development.   Don’t feel obligated to go deep into personality attributes that may vary widely across your target customers (or conflict with the enterprise personality).
  3. As you engage with customers, profile them to identify mobilizers, talkers, and blockers.   Evaluate those profiles again your buying team personas and develop an opportunity strategy that engages the mobilizers to help you build the consensus toward a decision.

This idea and approach requires must more focus and understanding than is possible in a blog post, but I invite you to think about this approach and if you are interested, consider engaging with the Gartner team to explore how this could work for your business.

Accelerate Growth with Product Qualified Leads (PQLs)

Are you sitting on the sidelines thinking growth is solely a marketing and sales responsibility?  As a product leader, you’ve got more influence than you realize…

As a SaaS product leader, you are under increasing pressure to create products that generate and grow revenue for your organization.  As if acquiring customers wasn’t challenging enough, you must also continue to deliver value to your customers to increase customer lifetime value and mitigate churn.  As you develop new product initiatives to deliver on your revenue growth goals, you really have two options; focus on acquiring new customers or increasing share of wallet from existing customers through up-sell and cross-sell offers.

Chief Product Officer at Box, Jeetu Patel spoke at the Mastering Product Adoption & Growth event in San Francisco and made a comment that caught my attention.  He stated that “Building immersive product experiences that people love is the key to customer retention and growth.”

This caught my attention because when he said “product experience” I assumed he meant that growth comes from focusing on increasing share of wallet from existing customers.  For a majority of enterprise software companies, the customer doesn’t use the product before purchasing it, so how can any product experience really influence new customer acquisition.

What I quickly realized was that Jeetu was referring to companies that use a product-led G2M strategy in which the product is offered to prospects on some sort of trial basis.  Using this model, his statement really means that an immersive product experience can influence both new customer acquisition as well as increasing wallet share.

With a product-led G2M strategy, the product leader has more influence and now responsibility as the experience the prospective customer has with the product will determine if they choose to buy or not.  See below, the outline of the customer lifecycle with a product-led strategy.

Using the traditional marketing and sales led G2M strategy, marketing is responsible for acquiring leads and nurturing them until they are ready to make a purchase.  Marketers use the term MQL/MQA (Marketing Qualified Lead/Account) to refer to a prospect that is ready to buy.  Once a prospect becomes an MQL/A they are then introduced to a sales rep to close the deal.  Sales are an expensive resource for any organization and so this method of handing off MQL/A’s to sales is an attempt to focus sales on the most valuable prospects.

With a product-led G2M strategy, marketers now work to get people to try your product.  Instead of being a lead awaiting to meet a sales person, you now have users in your product experiencing first hand the value of your offering.  The users experience with your product is now the determining factor on them making a buying decision.

You don’t want your sales team to spend time speaking with every single user of your product.  This would be an inefficient use of their time.  In this model, you want to introduce your sales team to the users who have realized the value that your product offers.  Enter the PQL, or Product Qualified Lead.

The anatomy of a PQL has similarities to an MQL in that both profile data (who the person is) and company data (who they work for) are used to determine fit.  The biggest difference is that instead of looking at behaviors a lead takes with your marketing material, you also must incorporate what features of your product they are using (aka the Customer Behavior Index).

Moving from theory to execution can be a bit overwhelming.  And as a result, we at Aptrinsic are here to help product leaders take advantage of this G2M strategy and accelerate your growth.

Aptrinsic co-founder Mickey Alon is hosting a webinar on the how to lead with your product and effectively use PQL’s to accelerate growth.  Please register here to attend the webinar.  We hope to see you there.

And if webinars aren’t your style, you can also get a free copy of our book Mastering Product Experience.

Travis Kaufman

Vice President Product Growth – Aptrinsic

What we learned from analyzing 34 million content interactions

Author:  Courtney Chuang, DocSend

It’s widely acknowledged that sales enablement content plays a pivotal role in the buyer’s journey. But do you know how your content actually stacks up?

Companies spend over $12 billion annually on sales enablement tools. And sales enablement professionals, tasked with optimizing how companies do business, have become strategic players on many sales teams.

Problem is, despite the investments being made, few organizations have clear expectations for the impact or success of their sales enablement initiatives. The result? Time and  money wasted.

When it comes to sales enablement content, the cost of misaligned objectives starts in the millions. For mid-market and enterprise companies, it’s estimated that unused or underused B2B content costs roughly $2 million to $2.3 million annually per company.

So, what can businesses do?

While the problem may be costly, the solution is relatively simple. It starts with aligning sales and marketing around the buyer’s journey and sales content performance. By defining benchmarks for success and implementing the methods needed to track it, sales and marketing teams can get and stay on the same page and build rapport with prospects.

“The fact is, the B2B buyer wants to self-educate on their own time. This puts a heavy onus on a thoughtful, ‘full-funnel’ content approach that can influence a purchase decision,” explains Clari’s Chief Marketing Officer, Dave Karel.

Today’s high-growth organizations drive results by tracking prospect engagement with sales collateral throughout the funnel and aligning it with clear sales content benchmarks. Collecting this type of actionable intelligence translates to higher efficiency, and fewer resources wasted generating content that’s never used.

In our new report, we delve into the sales content benchmarks every business needs.

Grab your free copy to read the full report.

Insights from over 34 million content interactions

There’s no magic formula for sales enablement content. But, it turns out there are data-driven insights we can glean about developing that content.

In order to create high-performing sales content, marketers and sellers need to understand how their content measures up. They need benchmarks for prospect engagement.

Our new report, From Strategy to Execution, 6 Sales Content Benchmarks Every Business Needs, digs into over 34 million  interactions with sales content on the DocSend platform. Taken in aggregate, these 34 million interactions paint a detailed portrait of when, where, and how prospects consume content during the sales process.

We focus on what the data can tell us about practical, measurable strategies for increasing sales efficiency. And we distill our findings into six sales content benchmarks that every organization can use to start optimizing their content.

Here’s a preview of the first two benchmarks:

Prospects spend less than 3 minutes, on average, on sales content.

sales content benchmarks avg time spent

While 3 minutes may not seem like very much time, prospects often make important judgments about your product as soon they start reading. Track the average viewing time across your content to identify collateral that’s effectively capturing prospects’ attention and collateral that might need to be reworked or shelved.

If you practice account-based selling, dig deeper into how prospects consume your content using page-by-page analytics. Oftentimes, you can figure out what topics matter most to your accounts just by seeing where prospects spend their time.

Over 80% of visits to sales content happen on desktop, not mobile.

sales content benchmarks desktop visits

While mobile may dominate the top of the funnel prospect engagement, the vast majority of prospects at the middle view sales content on desktop. And it makes sense. Prospects involved in important purchasing decisions are likely doing their research during work hours.

What does that mean for content creators? You can stop optimizing every piece of content for all devices and screen sizes. Focus on crafting content that performs well on desktop, and use the extra real estate to make your content easy to digest.

But wait, there’s more.

In this report, we examine all six sales content benchmarks in detail, including the two we called out above. We explain the importance of each benchmark to the sales process, and identify key takeaways for creating, sharing, and measuring sales enablement content.

Additional topics covered in the report include:

  • When should you optimize sales content for mobile?
  • What are the best times to share sales content?
  • What types of sales content perform best?
  • What’s the optimal length for sales content?

Visit the link to read more:

This Year, Put Your Customer’s Voice To Work

When it comes to driving sales, your best content isn’t that impressive case study or persuasive white paper you’ve just published. It’s the in-depth customer review that your prospects know they can trust.

Let me explain.

If we just think about how we buy in our personal lives, whether it is selecting a hotel for your family’s vacation or buying a new gadget, we seek 
​the opinions​ of our peers​ and we typically look for reviews from other consumers before we buy.

The same trend is happening in B2B. Business technology buyers have increasingly adopted consumer-like behavior as they evaluate products. They now complete more than half of their evaluation process before contacting you, and they seek and trust opinions from other users ahead of vendors and analysts. In fact, two-thirds search online for peer reviews or testimonials.

How should you market and sell to this new breed of prospect?

The strategy is quite simple. You need to elevate the voice of your customers. You need to put the voice of your customers in every aspect of your go-to-market strategy. That is what will resonate at every step of the buyer’s journey.

So why aren’t you encouraging your customers to speak authentically on your behalf?

You are your own biggest obstacle to transparency.

As B2B product marketers, we have historically micromanaged the flow of information to prospects. We are used to carefully crafted value propositions conveyed through highly produced marketing communications, salespeople trained to convey a standardized message, and tightly managed reference programs that gate access to customers.

Some of us have also become complacent. Despite having hundreds or even thousands of users, we are satisfied when we have a few dozen case studies and references.

But more importantly, almost all of us are afraid to give up control. Letting are customer openly and candidly share what they think about our software is nerve wracking. Truth is, we fear for our job security. What if one of the review is less than stellar?

It’s actually not a bad thing. As consumers, we’ve inherent distrust of content that just looks too good. Many studies have shown that when the language is too positive or the rating is too high, consumers don’t trust in the content. Ultimately, the reason your prospects are turning to user reviews is that they care about product benefits, but they are just as interested in limitations.

Change is not easy. However, faced with a new buyer’s journey, you don’t have any other choice — you must change. Your users are already sharing insights and telling your story in their own words. And your prospects are listening, whether or not you tap into the conversation.

So this year, invite your customers to share their voice, and thank them for their open and honest feedback. 
This will only make you a better product marketer. 
Bertrand Hazard is VP of marketing at TrustRadius where he leads brand, demand gen and sales development functions. Previously, he led a team of product and demand generation marketers as senior director, market strategy for the systems management business unit, at Solarwinds​. You can reach him directly at