One of the best ways to win in the digital sales world is to build engagement with clients through carefully nurtured content. Sixty-one per cent of participants in a recent ITWC briefing said this is the most relevant lead generation technique for their businesses.

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“At the end of the day, we want to be a trusted knowledge partner for our customers and potential customers. We do that by delivering content which is engaging and really relevant,” said Karen Rowden, Marketing Manager for Epson Canada.

In the past, sales representatives focused on building a personal rapport and trust directly with prospects. Now, they must find ways to do that in an increasingly digital environment.

Content sharing, webinars, online trade shows and social media are all good ways to connect with prospects now, said Rowden. “It’s an omni-channel approach,” said Jim Love, ITWC CIO. “You want your message to come from a lot of different channels to reach people in the way they want to be reached.”

Understand what the client wants

In order to deliver relevant content, you have to understand your customer first, said Rowden. “You need to know what they are looking for, what information they need, and what keeps them up at night,” she said.

This requires a close working relationship between the sales and marketing teams to share information, Rowden said. It also relies on data and analytics about customer behaviour. For example, Rowden said she receives data on the response to specific ads, website bounce rates and website heat maps to show where visitors click on the page.

At the same time, Love cautioned against getting lost in the data. “I’m not looking for big data,” he said. “I’m interested in data that has an impact. What you’re looking for are the signals that allow you to predict or influence behaviour.” Love noted that ITWC uses data and a sophisticated AI program to optimize campaigns. This involves the development of personas to help tailor the messaging. “We have to understand what clients need,” said Love. “They are not clicks or eyeballs. They are people.”

In some cases, it makes sense to design different versions of the same content to suit various roles in an organization. However, it should all be tied together with a consistent message and branding, said Rowden.

Meet the clients where they are

The customer journey is not linear, said Umesh Patel, Director of Marketing with Eaton Electrical Canada. “It’s much more complex and ebbs and flows in multiple directions.  There are often multiple people involved in the decision-making process,” he said. “You need to understand the role of each decision-maker and what their frustrations and hot buttons are in the buying process.” Unfortunately, digital tools can’t shorten the overall lead time, added Rowden. “You still need patience.”

“The customer is in charge of the journey,” said Love. “It’s a subtle series of influences, not a structured path. You need the information to figure out where they are on the journey. But it’s their journey and you’ve got a choice. You can follow them or you can lose them.”

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