How to use personalized experiences to engage sales prospects
One of the most heartbreaking stats you can tell a marketer is this one: 80% of the content created by marketing teams goes unused by sales!
Sadly, most marketers know that their sales teams have no idea what their content team is working on or even what assets are available for them to share with prospects. For content marketers, it’s difficult to hear that most of the content you worked so hard to create is just sitting there.
How can you overcome this challenge?
Bridge the gap by shifting your content focus to personalized experiences that empower your team to engage sales prospects, build trust, and close more deals.
Bridging the Content Gap
Only a fraction of salespeople actively share content during sales conversations. In case you’re wondering why they should do so, consider this fact:
A prospect must touch at least 11.4 pieces of content before they’re ready to buy.
It’s confirmed. Content works.
It helps build relationships. It reinforces a prospect’s trust in your brand. It creates an ideal opportunity to demonstrate that you have been listening to their pain points and understand how to tackle their challenges.
As a bonus, sharing resources helps motivate prospects during their conversations with your team, sometimes nudging them to the next stage of their purchase decision.
Personalizing the Content Experience
So, how do you personalize your content experience and encourage your sales team to share it with prospects?
Spice it up...
While some salespeople do share content, the reality is that much of it looks like this:
Compelling much? No.
Not only is this email copy far from fascinating, but it’s also somewhat overwhelming. And the chances are slim that anyone will click through to all those links. It’s important to remember that emails are also content experiences. If your prospects are getting this kind of outreach from sales, they’re likely not associating your brand with a positive experience.
The simplest way to spice up a black-and-blue, hyperlink-filled email is by encouraging your sales team to embed content rather than linking to it. Whether you embed a single asset or include a link to a curated web experience (which we’ll get into later), your team will start seeing an uptick in engagement immediately.
Use Curated Content as a Destination
A curated content experience can be an impactful way for your team to engage sales prospects. A survey of B2B organizations shows up to 74% of marketers do well at identifying and attracting buyers, but only 11% are comfortable with their ability to engage them. Many believe curated content plays an important role in nurturing potential buyers.
To make this work, the materials shared must show the brand’s deep understanding of the prospect’s needs. This helps to solidify confidence in a company by providing prospects with helpful resources. Moreover, relevance is critical, because 63% of respondents reported they will disregard content if it's not relevant to their needs, industry, or role.
Whether you use a platform to create content experiences at scale or you have a developer on hand to help you customize the landing pages, this type of experience that’s isolated from the rest of your website is excellent for feeding conversations at all stages of the buyer journey—but particularly outreach from sales.
As a marketer, I know what you’re thinking: “How does sales select content? How can I control what’s being sent out?” Here are a few ways you can help.
Build a Content Library of Assets for Sales to Use
If you’re still reading this, chances are you have a ton of content in your library that is just itching to get used. And you probably have some older assets that reference outdated tech, product offerings or services, or use old brand messaging.
That’s not terrible, but it’s not what you really want new prospects to see as their first impression.
To make it easier for your sales team to know exactly what content is marketing-approved, create a collection of articles, videos, infographics, and other resources that either demonstrate the value of what you offer or reinforce your messaging. Organize these by persona or use case to make it easy for your reps to find appropriate content to engage sales prospects.
Looking for a smart way to get organized? Try content tagging. We've put together a few resources to help you get started:
Make Your Content Manageable
You could manage your content library using a shared Google Sheet to keep the assets updated and organized for both sales and marketing. But let's be real: no one likes using Google Sheets.
Make managing your personalized content experiences as easy as possible by using a purpose-built solution like Uberflip's Sales Assist. This feature connects your sales team's email (Gmail, Outreach, SalesLoft, Outlook) directly to your content library.
Moreover, Sales Assist enables your marketing team to handpick the assets you want sales to use while giving your sales team intuitive, fast access to approved content for each unique sales conversation.
Reps can find and embed the content they need for a specific email recipient in seconds. Oh yeah, and it's mobile-friendly so that they can respond anytime, from anywhere. No spreadsheets. No outdated content. Just a great experience for your sales team and their prospects.
Develop Persona-Specific Experience Templates
Rather than build out unique content experiences to engage sales prospects, your team may find it more valuable to create experience templates for each of your buyer personas. Depending on the tools you’re using to manage this, you might create templated web experiences to replicate, or simply develop a collection of resources, appropriate calls-to-action, and role-specific messaging.
You’ll want to give your sales team some flexibility to add additional resources that may be particularly relevant to a prospect’s unique use case or conversations they may have had. You’ll also need to continue developing superb, personalized content to make your sales team’s job as easy as possible.
Creating Personalized Experiences to Engage Sales Prospects
We’re marketing in an age where 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. If that’s not a reason to start leveraging customized experiences to engage sales prospects, then I don’t know what is.
However, according to the Content Marketing Institute, the secret to success lies in “persona-izing” rather than personalizing. Consumers don’t want companies to use their data to determine what content to present to them. That means finding a way to achieve experiences that aren’t blatantly personalized, but instead are personal, relevant, and welcoming.
Users experience your content via three channels:
- The environment in which it lives
- The way it’s structured
- How it encourages prospects and customers to engage with your company
Here are some ways to approach your content, so it fulfills the demands of all three channels.
1. Environmental Elements to Consider
Personalize Through Placement
A content experience occurs wherever and whenever anyone encounters your content. That makes placement pretty important. If you already have a ton of good content that’s a little outdated, consider placing it in a new environment.
For example, a marketing stream operates very similarly to a blog, except that the content exists outside the stream or page and is targeted around a particular topic, audience, or buyer persona.
Revitalizing good content in this way can make impressions surge higher than the view count when it was published originally. You don’t have to stick with one location, either; statistics show that publishing content in more than one place can increase the views by 8x on average!
This is an easy win for your personalization efforts—all you need to do is leverage the content you already have to create helpful experiences to engage sales prospects.
Update Background Images and CTAs
We’ve been using CTAs forever, and chances are good your standard company CTAs haven’t been updated in—well, just about as long. The thing is, our data science shows times (and customer tastes) have changed.
Adding a background image to a CTA that appears beside content can double your conversion rate! Why? Because visuals, along with placement, grab your visitor’s attention, which can significantly impact your efforts to engage sales prospects.
2. Structural Setups Worth Revisiting
Add Enough Menu Items to the Navigation
Visitors to your website or content hub rely on the navigation structure to find what they’re looking for. While there’s a lot to be said for keeping a site clean and simple, data science results show B2B customers are most drawn to navigation bars with four to six menu items. Not one to three. Not seven to nine, and definitely not 10 to 12.
Yes, four to six is the magic number. When you’re personalizing content experiences to engage sales prospects, it’s vital to have just enough options on your site to indicate a professional, informative resource—without overwhelming the visitor with TMI!
The ideal number of menu headings achieves a balance between the two, making the visit a content experience that encourages the user to look around and consume more content than they would in other circumstances.
Make the Most of Metadata
Metadata is data that describes other data, providing a structured reference to help sort and identify attributes of the information it describes. It’s a summary of the content that classifies the material so your sales team can find what they’re looking for based on keywords, personas, or the funnel stage it targets.
Research shows content that contains metatags is viewed 2x as often as content that isn’t tagged! This fact is a mainstay of effective content management, so it might surprise you that marketers often don’t tag their content. This graph shows almost as many marketers tag the majority of their content as marketers who tag only one-third.
Data shows that the more tagged content found in a hub, the higher the number of views per item. That’s because the better your tagging, the more easily people (including your sales team) can find and share the content, resulting in more positive content experiences and views.
Categorize Your Content for Optimum Effect
Creating personalized content experiences to engage sales prospects begins with giving visitors what they want. And that doesn’t happen when they must embark on a treasure hunt across your website to find the necessary information.
Categorizing content effectively helps your customers and sales crew surface the material they need. Do it in various ways, including:
- Type of content (e.g., white papers, blogs, videos, infographics, etc.)
- Prospect’s role, title, or industry,
- Topics based on the challenges a potential user faces.
There are multiple ways you can “segment” your content, but the data shows categorizing by topic and content type was the best way to personalize the content experience and deliver the highest performance metrics.
3. Engagement Opportunities to Include
Generate Viable Leads with Effective Gating
No marketer wants to give away content for free. At the very least, we want to generate viable leads we can qualify each time someone checks out our content. Gating done right can achieve this, but if it’s done wrong, it can have the opposite effect.
Gating is a risky business. Sending a visitor away from a content resource to a traditional landing page to fill in their details changes the experience, an interruption that can cause prospects to bounce. However, gating your content in the original experience and providing a glimpse of what they’re going to get can help improve your conversion rates.
Avoid depersonalizing the user’s experience by sending them away. Keep them on the same page, add a CTA overtop of your content, and you’ll be more likely to engage sales prospects and generate warm leads.
Use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to “Learn” Customer Behavior
Despite research that shows customers don’t want their data to be used for selling purposes, personalized recommendations increase the chances of a visitor consuming more content by 60% over generic recommendations.
AI can help determine personalized recommendations by tracking click-through rates on content offered to users and “learning” from the behavior of visitors with similar interests. It uses natural language processing (NLP) and visitor intent data (i.e., buying intent profiles that our visitors build as they consume content elsewhere online) to develop recommendations.
Leverage Your Content to Gain Maximum Value
Personalizing your users’ content experiences is a proven way to engage sales prospects as they move through your sales funnel.
Use data to identify your customer personas and their behavior, create targeted resources to address their pain points, and publish it in ways that optimize their experience with your company. Reinventing the wheel is not required. If you have a ton of under-utilized content, apply these principles to leverage it and realize its value repeatedly.