pulling the sled

Lead generation is the most important organizational goal for B2B content marketing according to 85 percent of the respondents in the B2B Content Marketing: 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends ― North America report from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. What’s more, 87 percent of respondents identified sales lead quality as the most important metric used by B2B content marketers. 

Given the importance of demand generation to content marketing, what can we learn from how content marketing and demand generation teams work together in real-world settings? 

We reached out to marketers at three companies, Capterra, a service that helps businesses find the right software solutions, EverString, a SaaS platform that provides predictive marketing solutions and Wrike, an enterprise management and collaboration platform.

The ways in which these companies juggle content marketing and demand generation turned out to have a lot of similarities. Let’s take a closer look.

Separate Reporting Structures

At all three companies, content marketing and demand generation are handled by separate teams within the marketing organization. Each team reports to the head of marketing. 

According to Rachel Burger (@RaylieBurger), B2B Content Marketing Specialist at Capterra, “Marketing and content are considered two separate teams at Capterra. The content team reports to the director of content, whereas demand generation and marketing associates report to the director of marketing. Our two team leads then collaborate to make sure both teams are operating smoothly.”

Dayna Rothman, (@dayroth) Director of Content Marketing and Inbound at EverString, describes a similar reporting structure. According to Rothman, “I report directly into our VP of marketing. Our director of demand generation does as well, so we are peers.”

For Tom Treanor, (@RtMixMktg) Director of Content Marketing and Social Media at Wrike, “We have a content marketing team that works closely with the demand generation team. Jointly, we work to make sure that our content, social, SEO and demand generation efforts all line up to maximize the value of each investment or effort.”

Sharing a Mission

With 85 percent of B2B content marketers saying that lead generation is their most important goal, it’s a given that content marketing and demand generation have a shared mission: leads, pipeline and revenue.

According to EverString’s Rothman, “We believe that demand generation and content are essentially [joined] at the hip. The quarterly planning and brainstorming happens together. We think through the numbers that we need to hit, the content themes that we want to run, the content that we want to create and the programs that will get us to our goals.”

For these content marketers, it’s essential to involve their demand generation teams during the planning process. Getting input from them early translates to generating maximum return from the content that’s created.

According to Treanor from Wrike, “If you start planning based on shared goals and encourage joint ideation, you’ll have better results. If the teams work in silos and plan independently, you’ll sub-optimize, look disjointed in the eyes of your prospects, and waste time [duplicating] efforts.”

Shared Team Goals

Within marketing at all three companies, there are shared team goals. Those shared goals center on revenue, along with the key factors driving it such as qualified leads and software trials. EverString’s Rothman also notes that, “My team … has additional goals around brand awareness, community engagement and even employee participation in content programs.”

At both Wrike and Capterra, the teams use a goal setting system called Objectives and Key Results (OKR). According to a Wrike blog post, OKR is “a planning and goal setting technique made famous by Intel and Google. OKRs represent aggressive goals and define the measurable steps [to] take towards achieving those goals.”

How does Treanor’s team manage its OKRs? Using Wrike, of course. “Tactically, we use our [in-house] collaboration and project management tools to document the OKRs, collaborate on them, [take action on them] and track results,” notes Treanor.

Commenting on her team’s use of OKRs, Burger notes, “Capterra relies on an Objective and Key Results system similar to that of Google’s. The marketing and content leads work together to make sure that our goals don’t contradict one another.”

Project Management and Coordination

As organizations grow, it can become challenging for teams to stay in sync, given differing timeframes. For example, while content marketing works on eBooks and webinars for the next quarter, demand generation is managing concurrent campaigns to hit the current quarter’s targets.

Of course, the more projects that are in play, the greater the likelihood becomes that something will slip through the cracks. As EverString’s Rothman relates, “Things just sometimes get lost. An asset gets published by the content team, and then what? How does demand generation know that an asset gets published? In many organizations, they do not.”

Rothman addresses this challenge with a content specialist on the team “who is in charge of coordinating with the program managers, making sure that they understand the asset messaging and ensuring that the programs that demand generation runs are the right programs.”

Tom Treanor will be happy to know that the EverString team recently deployed Wrike. “By implementing Wrike, both the content and the demand generation teams have their own workspaces and workflows but they are more connected and visible,” noted Rothman.

Rothman is a firm believer in allocating resources to coordinate the flow of information within marketing. “I feel that the role of content project manager will really start becoming a necessity for many organizations. [Coordination] is a critical issue that most companies are having trouble solving,” said Rothman.

How does Wrike use its own software for project management? According to Treanor, “We put each major campaign in its own folder in Wrike. Within that folder we’ll build out all of the work streams that are required to achieve the goals and we’ll assign leads and inform relevant stakeholders. Leadership can proactively check in on the project or wait until they’re informed via an @mention. Housing all of the campaign information, assets and planning in one system allows us to keep everyone informed as the campaign rolls out.”

Go Team, Go

Often, the success of a marketing team is contingent on the success of the sales function. If sales is able to close the qualified leads generated by marketing, then everyone wins and both teams are happy. Similarly, the success of a content marketing team is determined by the effectiveness of demand generation campaigns that utilize their content. 

Quality content can lead to qualified leads, which can lead to sales. It sounds simple, but as we now see, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes. As the teams we interviewed show, it’s vital for content marketing and demand generation to share the same mission, goals and key project management tools to keep the teams in perfect harmony.

Go teams, go. New business awaits!