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Compelling thought leadership content needed to drive sales leads

The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council has launched a new study centred on how marketing can effectively generate more qualified sales leads through compelling thought leadership content, a task that has proven to be a struggle for marketers today.
Only 12% of marketers believe they have high-performance content marketing engines that are strategically programmed to target the right audiences with relevant and persuasive content. They are also not using multiple distribution and syndication channels for maximum reach, impact and return.

The study, entitled 'Lead Flow That Helps You Grow', finds most companies lack unanimity on what constitutes an actual sales lead. They are also not teaming effectively with sales and business development groups to create alignment on demand generation strategies, themes and advocacy agendas.

The report features findings from a North American survey of 200 senior-level marketers across a broad range of industries, in addition to interviews with marketing executives at IBM, SAP, Thermo Fisher Scientific, OpenText, CA Technologies and Informatica. The research provides an in-depth, well-rounded view on how content marketing strategies are being managed, how content performance is being measured, and to what degree content is packaged, promoted and syndicated to generate optimal lead flow.


    • Most view their content marketing process as ad hoc, decentralised and driven by internal stakeholder interests.
    • Just 21% of marketers say they are total partners with their sales and business development counterparts when it comes to developing the strategy and measuring the effectiveness of demand generation programs.
    • Some 22% of marketers believe sales teams are too often a roadblock and detractor and are rarely a contributor to the content marketing value chain.
"Generating demand and ensuring the consistent flow of high-quality, actionable leads is paramount to the success of today's business-to-business marketer," notes Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council. "Sales enablement and pipeline performance remain key mandates as organisations look to fine-tune their content marketing practices to be high-performance growth engines."

Key failings

While 75% of marketers, view the number of downloads or registrations as the most important measure of content marketing success, they admit to many key failings that impact this metric. The top five include:
    1. Not developing customised content for target audiences (48% of respondents)
    2. Not allocating sufficient budget to create engaging and authoritative content (48%)
    3. Not producing content that is relevant or meaningful to different audiences (44%)
    4. Not reaching the right decision makers across the organisation (43%)
    5. Not leveraging the right distribution channels and syndication opportunities to maximise reach (39%)
"The quantity and quality of audience-appropriate content correlates directly to the number of leads that will end up in the sales pipeline," explains Robert Alvin, CEO and Founder of NetLine Corporation.

"Content demand generation programmes start with the asset but must ensure proper consumption. Syndication and distribution to target audience groups with measurable results is indispensable for a successful content strategy."

State of Marketing results

According to 46% of the 600-plus marketing decision makers taking part in the CMO Council's 'State of Marketing 2014' study, their greatest accomplishment in the past year was the realignment of marketing to better support sales and improve selling cycles.

Nearly one in three marketers admits that maintaining a high-quality sales pipeline is one of their top senior management mandates for the coming year and half say that lead generation and qualification is the area of business need that will receive the most resources. But despite the improvements in processes, goals and intentions to optimise lead generation and yield, only one in four marketers believes they have made strides in implementing demand-generation systems to better target, acquire, qualify and convert business.

Sample questions

The report also includes the findings of an online survey of 213 respondents (46% from companies with $1bn or more in annual revenue) who provided responses to a wide range of questions, including:
    • How would you rate your organisation's content marketing performance relative to the calibre and incidence of lead flow?
    • Do you have formalised content marketing strategies and protocols in place?
    • How well are you managing and optimising content marketing processes and practices?
    • What are the primary content marketing tactics and programs used by your company?
    • Are you fully leveraging all of your content marketing assets, formats and channels to maximum effect? If not, why not?
    • How are you tracking and measuring end-to-end content marketing performance?
    • Where are there deficiencies, and how are they being addressed?
    • How are you currently packaging, promoting and syndicating marketing content?
    • Which areas of content marketing generate the most lead flow, and what system do you have in place to nurture and convert these leads?
To download the complimentary report, click here.
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