There’s a lot to be excited about in 2019.
But as we plow forward with strategies for the coming year, let’s collectively make a resolution to learn from our 2018 mistakes—and keep building on our victories. Here are ten stats from our 2018 benchmark report to inspire, terrify, and encourage you:
1. Only 35% of Salespeople Think Marketing Knows What They Need
We in marketing like to think we know what’s going on. After all, as I’ve often quipped to my colleagues, “Being nosy is basically our job.” Yet this alarming graph hints that we might not always be as with it as we think we are. While a solid majority of marketers feel confident they know what sales needs, those on the receiving end of our efforts aren’t so sure. (The fact that 43% of sales folks shrugged at the question with an “I don’t know,” is almost more insulting than a flat-out rejection, as far as I’m concerned.)
There are two possible implications of this discrepancy:
Option one: Marketing just isn’t listening to sales. Regardless of whether marketers actually take sales’s advice, it’s crucial that we absorb it. After all, these salespeople are the ones with boots on the ground. On top of speaking with prospects on a daily basis, they’re (hopefully!) using marketing material to close deals.
Option two: Marketing does, in fact, know what sales needs—and is creating it! But sales doesn’t have a clue. Cameron Caswell, who serves as Brand and Marketing Sr. Manager at Synopsys and who chatted with me on a webinar this year, ran into this exact roadblock. “Really, the problem is miscommunication,” she told me. Over and over again, she said, she’d be approached by salespeople suggesting content ideas…that already existed. It wasn’t that marketing wasn’t creating great content—it was that sales didn’t know it existed in the first place.
- Make sure sales feels heard by actively and systematically seeking their input (more on this later).
- Organize all finalized assets in a single, curated, searchable repository for easy access.
2. 47% of Marketing Teams Don’t Have a Documented Buyer’s Journey
Most of us could rattle off some guess as to how buyers move from awareness to closed-won, to renewal and upsell, but the real story is probably a lot messier than we realize. “A successful, impactful customer experience that results in a lead created, sale closed, or account retained has a lot more touch points than you might realize,” writes my colleague Holly Williamson in her blog about her own work mapping the Kapost customer experience.
- Set aside time to choose a handful of accounts and dig into the journeys of their various stakeholders.
- Document patterns, key touchpoints, and how the team could use your findings to inform strategy. (Start here!)
3. 56% of Marketing Teams Don’t Identify Content Gaps by Persona
Most marketers admit that they don’t assess their content coverage by persona, meaning that the majority of us have no idea what we’ve created for each of our target audiences. The minority who do, however, report being able to measure their success at much higher rates:
- Work with your sales and product teams to make sure you understand both end users and members of buying groups. (Tip: they might not overlap!)
- Prioritize how much content should be developed while understanding when and how it should be distributed for each persona at every stage of the customer journey.
4. One-Third of Marketing and Sales Teams Don’t Talk Regularly
With a growing emphasis placed on marketing-sales alignment, building an established rapport between both teams is more important than ever. On top of sharing knowledge and keeping sales up to date on upcoming marketing activity, meeting regularly builds the trust necessary to tackle collaborative projects such as account-based marketing.
Don’t take my word for it. Here’s evidence of the impact of trust:
- 2019 Resolution
Set a regular meeting cadence with your sales team to share ideas, gather feedback, and learn from one another.
4. The Majority of Marketers Don’t Know What Happens to Their Work
Question: How do you know if your content is valuable if you can’t see whether it’s being used?
Answer: you can’t.
Top-of-funnel metrics are all well and good, but today’s marketers must do more than fill the funnel: they must accelerate it. That’s why it’s important to know which assets sales reps are leaning on to move prospects through the buying process. By deepening our understanding of which assets drive revenue, we can better allocate resources to create content that drives revenue.
Improve the investment in content by centralizing assets and tracking sales usage in a single system.
6. 35% of Marketing Teams Don’t Have a Process for Internal Ideation
Encouraging ideas from internal teams doesn’t mean working as ad hoc ticket-takers.
Quite the opposite.
This year, let’s say goodbye to constantly being stopped in the hallway and sorting through emails with subject lines like “blog idea” and hello to a standardized process for internal ideation.
Creating a central intake process allows you to point would-be suggesters to a single place that you can address on your time. The best ideation tools (for example—excuse my bias—the Kapost idea queue) allow stakeholders to check in on the status of their proposals, see whether they have been approved or rejected, and get feedback on why the choice was made.
You’ll get to hear from people—customer-facing teams in particular—who have insights you may not, without feeling overwhelmed by their suggestions. Win-win!
Create a standardized process for internal stakeholders to submit—and track the status of—content suggestions.
7. Marketing Leaders are 3x Less Likely to Call Lack of Visibility into Priorities Outside Their Team a Top Barrier to Success
As marketers are increasingly held responsible for revenue, the most successful teams set goals that align with those of their organizations. Understanding how their work impacts larger priorities doesn’t just give marketers’ work meaning—it drastically increases quality.
Instead of engaging in random acts of content this year, leadership must help their teams create and understand impactful strategies that roll up toward the company’s bottom line.
Non-execs: Communicate with your leaders. Tell them you need better insight into company-wide goals so you can design a marketing strategy that packs a punch.
Execs: Remember that your team doesn’t know what you know. Prioritize sharing what you can so that everything your team does can impart maximum impact.
8. No One Knows Who Owns CX
Ask ten different people, “Who owns customer experience?” and you’re likely to get ten different answers. That’s because the real answer is: everybody.
Those lower down the totem pole are more likely to see this new reality, but many in leadership are still stuck on the more traditional view that sales are ultimately in charge.
Instead of deferring to sales or other customer-facing teams, lead by example by taking on responsibility and making CX a central consideration in everything you do.
9. We All Agree: Consistent Messaging Is a Must for CX
Translation of the above chart: marketing and communications teams are insanely important.
If speaking in one voice is an essential piece of building outstanding customer experiences, it’s up to marketing to shape the message that will span the entire customer lifecycle.
Commit to consistency. Commit to selling the importance of marketing-led consistency to other revenue teams.
10. CMP Users Are as Likely as Non-Users to Say Sales Doesn’t Use Their Content
Tools are a crucial part of success for marketing and sales teams, but users of content marketing platforms are just as likely as non-users to believe sales doesn’t use their content. This doesn’t mean CMPs are a waste of money, but it does mean that they can be if you don’t work to change behavior when you change your tech.
Building a content operation that supports strong sales enablement needs the right tools—but it also requires that teams break down traditional silos and old ways of thinking in favor of a collaborative, full-funnel approach.
Don’t chase fancy tools without committing to leading people and process change within your team.
Full speed ahead!
Want context for these stats and more? Download the 2018 Marketing and Sales Alignment Benchmark.