Episode 61: What Good Content Management Looks Like


Shawnna Sumaoang
Shawnna Sumaoang
Vice President, Marketing -Community, Highspot
Sara Hughes
Sara Hughes
Senior Marketing Operations Manager, Limeade
Lindsay Simons
Lindsay Simons
Sr. Director, Acquisition Marketing
Podcast Transcript

A study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and LinkedIn reported that 80% of the content created by marketing teams goes unused by sales. So how can organizations make sure that the content they create is not only relevant to sales, but being used in the right ways?

Here to discuss this topic are Sara Hughes, senior manager of marketing operations, and Lindsay Simons, senior director of acquisition marketing at Limeade. Thanks for joining, Sara and Lindsay! I’d love for you to tell us about yourselves, your backgrounds, and your roles. Sara, let’s start with you. 

Sara Hughes: Hi, I’m Sara. I’ve been at Limeade for just over six years now, and I have played many different roles on the marketing team here, from project management to marketing operations, and have quite a bit of experience using Highspot and how to really leverage it for our organization.

SS: Welcome, and Lindsay, how about a little bit of background on yourself? 

Lindsay Simons: Hi, I’m Lindsay, and I’ve been at Limeade for nine years. I started off smiling and dialing in an inside sales position, and today I am the senior director of acquisition marketing. The budget line item for Highspot is under me, and so is Sales Enablement, as well as a couple other fun programs too that we’ve made Highspot a key part of the function. I am excited to be here today.

SS: Wonderful. I’m excited to have you both here. Now, prior to Highspot, tell me what were some of the challenges that your organization was facing and how is that impacting your roles in the marketing world? Sara, if I could send this one to you, I’d love to hear your perspective. 

SH: Yeah, absolutely. One of the biggest issues that we had in our organization was that since we are a SharePoint org we have all of our files and all of our documents there. One thing that was very difficult for us to control and manage was version control. The introduction of Highspot really helped us leverage the tool in order to not only protect the content that we have but also protect our employees so that they’re leveraging the latest and greatest and so that all of sales and marketing is really singing from the same songbook. 

That’s something that was a huge issue for us especially, as you know, in marketing you’re constantly revving and iterating on all of your different assets and constantly trying to stay as current and up to date as possible. That was one of the biggest reasons we really got Highspot and signed on in addition to just the need for sales enablement and really enabling our sales teams to do the best work that they can with the materials that we would create for them just on sales enablement.

LH: On that note, for a while there, marketing became almost a service counter for just content, and then the content would be in the wild, and we’re like, how’s it going out there, content? This really helped us start to be a leader and to proactively say, here’s the content, how to use it, when to use it in a playbook style, and then have great insights into usage. For a while there, we were flying blind with content and just saying yes. I think that was a huge shift. Now the team just knows it as sales enablement, but for a while there, there was a lot of pain.

SS: I bet. How have you overcome some of those challenges? You guys have touched on it a little bit, but how have you overcome some of these challenges since implementing Highspot? 

SH: We’ve actually integrated our Highspot instance with our SharePoint so that we’re updating it in one location on SharePoint. Once we’ve gotten new content, new creative, new angles, and even embracing new industries that we might be selling to, things like that, and creating custom content. By uploading it to SharePoint and having that integration with Highspot, we are able to stay automatically up to date with the latest and greatest.

I keep going back to the version control piece, but that is such a huge piece, especially as messaging is constantly changing. It’s also helped us really create and form that link between marketing and sales so that they know exactly what we’re working on or what is the latest and greatest based on what is showing up in Highspot for them so that they know they’re not missing something. They’re always getting the latest and greatest from us. 

LS: I would just say in addition to that, because you’re spot on Sara, and I think as we onboarded new employees and showed them our content and how we use it, we started to really leverage Highspot as a great onboarding tool and create these homepages for different teams. They can get familiar with the content and then have some self discovery and then the search functionality is incredible. Then we kept it simple on the enablement side, and because the links made it so easy to either link to a spot or a homepage or a specific piece of content, we love a link farm, an email just really heavy with links that points to Highspot, but then we just recreate that within Highspot. 

It was a really great tool to meet the sales team where they are, but then use that as a broader tool for the rest of the company even if we didn’t have the entire company necessarily on a seat, you can always pitch a Spot, like with a bunch of content. We termed it microsite. That’s the term that made sense internally. We use a lot of microsites to pitch content and to make sure that the broader company is just even familiar with the latest marketing campaigns and that they can share it with their network and that we can still see how broad it goes. Content management was why we bought it, but I just want to highlight all the reasons why it’s been such a sticky tool because we’ve seen the impact and overcomes challenges that we’re experiencing, which is a broader strategy.

SS: I love that and I definitely want to drill into that. 

SH: To tack on to that as well, we have been able to leverage Highspot for various other departments. Things like onboarding our own employees has been a really unique use case for the tool and giving all employees, instead of looking at a stagnant or stale SharePoint site, they’re looking at a customized curated microsite, as Lindsay said, of materials, talking about who we are, where we’ve been, where we’re going, and it really helps I think with onboarding new employees, especially when you’re in a remote world. I think that’s become so important to have them have as much information and an ease in the way that they can navigate through that information and find what they’re looking for.

SS:  I love that. Now, I know we’ve talked about all the different ways that you guys have been leveraging Highspot, and I know that you guys started in terms of leveraging it from a content management perspective. I would love to understand from your perspective, what does good content management look like? In other words, what are some of your best practices for effectively managing that content? Sara, I’d love to send this one to you. 

SH: Clear organization is just the name of the game when it comes to content management, it’s organization and version control. One of the things that I actually find super important when it comes to this is searchability. If you have a list of content or a list of assets you could have millions of things in there. The thing that I think is really important with content management is to make sure, one, that everyone can easily search and find what they’re looking for. If they’re looking for something to sell to a particular industry, they can use the search field and look up that industry, and we have curated a bunch of things already. 

We also have the microsites that help people navigate if they’re not sure what they’re looking for yet and they want to browse. It’s organized in a way that’s by topic, it’s intentional, and it’s not just a never ending list of things. It’s constantly being curated in that way. That’s really one of the most important things. 

It also really enables our sales teams and other teams to be as self sufficient as possible without having to go through and navigate and find out where did this go, I thought this was here? Oh, I moved it. There’s none of that with Highspot because even if a location has moved, you can always search for it and you can favorite spots and things like that and even create your own spot so that your most used tools and assets are really relevant at just the click of a button.

SS: Amazing. You have clearly been doing an amazing job because Limeade has improved content efficiency by 78% with Highspot, which is a ratio of the time spent using content to the time spent now looking for content. What are some of your best practices for optimizing the findability and the usability of your content, Lindsay?

LS: I think one from a broader strategic lens, helping the sales team and  broader company understand the rhyme and reason to why we create content first and foremost. When we start to launch content, they understand where it sits in our broader strategy, and they can start to anticipate what’s coming down the pike for them.

Also, having a lot of channels to make new content to put in their awareness. For us, we have quite a large tech stack. We even have our own platform, Limeade, which we sell. It’s our well being solution that also provides engagement and we would plug some of our great content that we’re putting out there on that tool. It starts at the top of just making sure that there is a way to plug content in and let people understand where it’s coming from and what it’s trying to solve for. 

Just on that note on what it’s trying to solve for, we mapped content to a buyer’s journey and their whole company is starting to kind of buy into what this buyer’s journey and what are our point of views out there. When it comes to the type of content marketing is creating, it gets more scientific there. That’s where Sara just thrives with tagging it and making sure that there’s a universal way to upload it so that internally and externally there again, some rhyme and reason to why we’re doing it that way and just making sure that we hold people accountable. If it’s all inputted in a strategic way, then the tool remains strategic. I think that’s what we’ve successfully done. 

The operational rigor is really where it’s at, so Sara just went over of this like content management and what that’s helped us with and what best practices are, but from what made that 78% possible was getting the sales team bought into our strategy and then seeing that come to life within Highspot and all the goodies. Once you finally get to see the ebook or the video or the infographic and get to use it and pitch it and then get to pair it together, they start to see the magic.

SS: I love that. Now, as you mentioned, Lindsay, it’s really important to make sure that you are tracking what works and what doesn’t so that you can optimize things. Sara, I know one of your areas of expertise is driving program and initiative performance through reporting. How have you been leveraging Highspot Analytics to measure what works and what doesn’t so you can optimize content effectiveness? 

SH: The analytics area of Highspot has been super helpful for us because as marketers we’re constantly generating content and iterating on existing content. Obviously over the years that list grows and grows and becomes a bit of a bear and it has this extensive library essentially. The way that we’ve really leveraged the analytics specifically with activity logs and content lists and scorecards is to basically see who’s using what and how and how often. It essentially tells us exactly what the most popular assets are so that we also know where to focus future updates.

Say they’re using a sales deck that we’ve created. Maybe we haven’t touched it in a month or something like that, but we’re noticing that everyone on sales loves this deck. Knowing tha, being able to see that in analytics and having that information is super helpful because then we know we need to pay a lot of attention to the sales deck. That is the most important thing to sales. They use it constantly. We see them using it. It also helped us interact with people there. People can send through feedback and then we can get those requests, which is great. It really keeps it just this live dialogue happening where we’re constantly able to really improve on the assets that we do have.

On the other hand, looking at an asset, say we spent hours and lots of manpower and things on a particular asset that’s not getting any sort of use, it forces us to be a bit reflective to say is this the right asset? Do people not know where it is? How do we need to enable them? Is that content just not what they’re looking for or not helpful to them? In a remote world, it’s so key to understand that because you’re not having the hallway discussions, you’re not having the water cooler impromptu conversations. It’s super helpful to have that information at our fingertips all the time because it really gives us a little bit more of a finger on the pulse of what’s going on with the other organizations, but specifically sales. 

SS: Absolutely. Now, a lot of the time I think some folks don’t necessarily know how to think about the relationship between content and sales productivity, but by optimizing the impact of your content, how have you guys been able to influence sales productivity? Lindsay, I’d love to hear from you on this front. 

LS: We had an awesome CMO who came and joined us, who really helped us refine our focus. Our focus going into 2023 was to talk to the right person at the right time with the right content. We spent a lot of 2022 just really honing in on the right person and studying that buyer persona and understanding what type of content they want to consume, like what kind of content is for more self education at the top of the funnel versus they’re showing some buying signals and they might be ready to buy and market for a solution like us. I think a large part of our time for a long time was just spraying and praying that the content was sticking and that people just loved how much we loved it.

What our CMO helped us really understand is it has to hit them at the right time, and seasonality is everything. When it comes to productivity, we love a slogan; ‘work smarter, not harder’, and that’s what we made playbooks of just like what works and how do we figure out what works? Sara showed a large part of just like what they’re actually using, but then we also have leveraged Visible, as part of a relationship with Marketo. The attribution also shows when key contacts are engaging with set Highspot content at key moments in the funnel and mapping those activities to certain milestones.

It is super complex because our buying cycle is about 18 months, so it’s hard to point to one piece of content and then poke into that content to say, like, why did it work, but you can see a lot with the correlation of just like, okay, brochure, you get a lot of clicks late in the funnel. What does that tell us? I just think the right content at the right time mixed with works smarter, not harder, helps with productivity. The link farms and pointing people in the right place to finding those channels and how to proactively inform, and then let them have a voice to help inform back. If they are like, I want this piece, we’re like, we’ll say yes, because again, it fits into this larger content strategy and what we’re trying to solve for. It’s not just a one-off conversation. 

Also, to Sara’s point, Gong tells us we have a piece on participation because the word participation is used so much. That wasn’t the word that we like to use, but we prefer engagement. If you think it’s participation, we’re going to make a lot of content with the word participation. To answer your question simply, we let the sales team into the marketing’s brain, let them understand why we’re doing content, and then show that it is impactful if they follow the playbook and use the party tricks that their teammates are showing them. 

SS: I imagine it has to help though, Lindsay. As you mentioned in your introduction, you have a background in sales at Limeade before you transitioned over to marketing. Tell us a little bit about how your sales background impacts how you approach your role and how you collaborate with sales?

LS: My background is in sales development, inside sales, whatever you want to call it, and really figured out that when you personalize the outreach it isa lot more effective. That’s account based marketing basically, is it creating these experiences that feel very targeted, very personalized, and the whole why me, why now coming to life within it. My background in sales was just like, how do you do that at scale? We will do some account research and be like, okay, here’s your pain points in a perfect world we’ll spend two hours crafting this up, but like, you can’t do that at scale. How do you package up your content in little ways that make it pretty easy to customize, segment, target, however you want to say it. That is what you’re doing is packaging up your content and positioning it in a way that says, wow, I need to read this exactly right now or consume it. 

My background in sales helped me understand how to make that easy for the sales team and how to make it feel like that is the path of least resistance versus just knocking on a lot of doors and uncovering rocks with cold outreach. How can you kind of figure out what are they interested in by using some of the MarTech that we’re investing in to drive that behavior and then serve up this content that we’ve either curated by industry, pain point, point of view, product or solution? We’ve tried to position and package it so they can just go, okay, here’s a menu, use it versus be left to your own devices and just add logos to random things.

SS: You talked about how you are bringing sales into the fold and getting their feedback. I imagine that that has helped significantly in terms of collaboration and alignment. Can you talk to us about what that looks like now at Limeade with your sales team since you’ve implemented it in an enablement platform?

SH: I think the best thing you can hear from a salesperson is I got what I wanted and like yeah we will deliver and like here you go, and the rest of you guys can all use it too. Also, getting that trust from the sales leader of the confidence of like I know what my sales team is doing out there. That requires collaboration and so having a tool that you can still have your ability to make it your own, but you’re staying within the sandbox gives people autonomy to do what they want, but the accountability to stick to the songbook. We always sing from the same song sheet, because it does sound better. The whole goal of ABM is that it feels like an orchestration, that, yes, it’s the same message, maybe said a little bit differently. 

What Highspot does a great job is telling the teams here is the science is there, here’s all the content, and yes, you can piece it together, you can add your own, because it’s customizable. I just think that there’s so much content going to waste, and then certain content bubbles up again. 

For collaboration it really depends on the organization we’ve been fortunate to work with some badass sales leaders who just like want to talk shop and be like, oh, in a perfect world, I’d like to talk about this and like, okay, but like, let’s go with like Gong’s telling us, or let’s look at why we’re losing deals and these common themes. How do we be proactive and think of something that will break through the noise and we can have a unique perspective on it. They’re like, oh yeah, that’s fun to talk about too and then they’ll talk about that with us and we’ll get their unique insights, but ultimately we’re trying to just empathize with the buyer to prove like you have a pain point and we’re just here to help you make some progress. And if you hire us, buy us, rent us, whatever, that’s good too. But I think content management really helps. Sales feel involved, but also marketing to have a bird’s eye view and not have to fly blind. 

SS: Absolutely. On that note, I’d love to understand what are some of the key business results that you have achieved since implementing Highspot? I’d love to understand any key data points you might be able to share. 

SH: I can definitely share a really fun one that we are hanging our hats on. For a long time, we had too many KPIs, let’s be real. We were measuring everything under the sun, and a lot of them were just vanity metrics. Our CMO came in and really helped us focus on the thing that matters most. When you really think about it for what we sell into the enterprise space, the SaaS solution, the win rate really matters. Unfortunately we were stagnant for five years, same win rate, so if you’re going to go that way, the only way to grow is by volume and it’s exhausting just adding a lot at the top of the funnel from a marketing perspective.

After a huge overhaul of our sales enablement, we redid a lot of the homepages within Highspot. We made a company KPI that was making sure at 85% usage each week across the company. What we were successfully able to do is increase our win rate by 75%, which is huge in a market like ours. We can’t take credit for it and be like, yeah, it’s content that did it. It’s a huge team effort, but we can point back to the fact that we were singing from the same song book, but we know why we’re winning. We know why we’re losing and we increased our velocity and win rate, which is the best case scenario. So no, it’s not a causation of Highspot, but is it correlated? Absolutely. We feel really proud of that. It was nice that we were all marching towards the same metric and really connecting the sales and marketing organizations. 

SS: I love that. Well, thank you, Sara and Lindsay, so much for joining me today on the podcast. I appreciated the insights you shared and your lens on both sales and marketing alignment with enablement. Thank you both. 

LS: Thank you, this was so much fun. 

SH: Thank you.

SS: To our audience, thank you for listening to this episode of the Win Win podcast. Be sure to tune in next time for more insights on how you can maximize enablement success with Highspot.

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