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February 13, 2023 (Updated: March 8, 2023)
Sales and marketing have always gone hand in hand. One generates leads, the other closes them. One creates opportunities, the other sees them through. With this relationship, it’s no wonder that a sales forecast is so important in content marketing. The role of sales forecasting in content marketing allows you to create budgets, outline goals, and define your strategy for each period. In this article, we’re diving into the role of sales forecasting in content marketing with the following topics:
Image via Statista
Across B2B and B2C industries, content marketing produces a huge return on investment (ROI). Content marketing does everything from capturing new leads to strengthening customer-brand relationships. Statista predicts that content marketing will hit $137.2 billion in annual revenue by 2026. But in order to achieve the great results that this industry is known for, it needs one core ingredient: capital. Content marketing can’t function as efficiently without a flow of money that supports content writing, ad campaigns, and a whole other array of topics.
Without knowing how much budget a marketing team has to work with each quarter, we’re unable to plan campaigns for the future. That’s why sales forecasting is vital in content marketing, as it actively shapes the work we do across the year. Every penny counts in marketing. But if you don’t know how much you have to spend, you’ll be in a sticky situation.
Marketing budgets come from two inputs: a sales forecast and the business goals for the coming year. If a business wants to scale its operations, for instance, it needs to invest more in marketing. And how much is possible to fund this will depend on what the sales forecast says. The first step when applying these two factors is to know the total forecasted income.
Knowing how much is available for spending allows you to limit or expand your marketing goals for the year. If the forecast is lower than you expected, you can pull back on expectations. But if the forecast is higher than expected, you can budget for more. Starting with a sales forecast gives you a rough scope of how your marketing goals can operate. This is vital as it allows you to plan the total amount you can put into different campaigns for your business or brand throughout the year.
As marketing experts, we know that two campaigns can have completely different budgets. A content marketing approach might cost significantly less than a PPC social media ad, for example. After analyzing marketing data on our own endeavors, we also know which content formats our audience enjoys most. Some consumers prefer email marketing, while others respond well to video content. When a marketing team knows the exact amount of budget they have, it allows them to then more effectively plan which content formats they’ll use that year.
While most teams will use a little of everything, a flexible budget can also lead to unique approaches. Balancing different content formats with their ROI against the total budget we have is why a marketing strategy is so important. But before we dive into that, marketing teams have to have a sales forecast and budget ready to go.
Related: How To Measure the ROI of Content Marketing
A Nielsen study traced the correlation between the audience reach of marketing campaigns and expenditure. Unsurprisingly, as spend increases, so does almost every other marketing metric. In short, you need to spend money in order to make money.
With this in mind, the targets that a marketing team sets for itself are, in part, dependent on the total budget they have. It would be unfair to expect an incredible ROI without actually giving any initial investment.
Sales forecasting in content marketing allows teams to create realistic expectations and goals. Forming goals is one of the best ways to keep your team on track throughout the year. But, it’s hard to make realistic targets without an accurate understanding of the budget you have to spend and the scope which it could deliver.
Related: A Detailed Guide to Marketing Analytics
Content marketing strategy and sales forecasts go hand in hand. Even though they work together, the role of sales forecasting in content marketing isn’t the same as it is for sales teams. More often than not, you’ll have to wade through numbers until you find the info that’s most useful for your situation. But you can generate sales forecasts for your content marketing strategy and make them useful for budgeting, projecting leads and traffic, and even predicting the ROI of your SEO campaigns. Here’s how to make sales forecasting work for content marketing:
This might be an odd tip to start with, but if you want to create more useful sales forecasts for content marketing, you need to think about the bigger picture. Go beyond the marketing team and check in with others—like the sales and customer service teams—to see what their goals are.
For example, get with product development to see if they have any new models planned to launch. Looking at previous data, how did a new launch impact sales in the past three years? In the past five years? It’s not enough to trace last year’s sales and assume they’ll remain the same. There’s always more to the story.
Alternatively, you could meet with HR and see what their employee resource plan is for the year. Is it going to be a year for scaling or one where you reign in your resources? All of this can impact the sales forecast, which in turn affects your marketing budget and strategies.
Pulling sales data directly from customer management platforms helps align all of your data. One of the problems with sales forecasts is their level of inaccuracy. You can solve this by removing as much human contact as possible by automating what you can with your tech stack. In fact, an InsightSquared study revealed that removing human error is vital for accurate forecasting. So once bias, error, and other human issues are removed, the accuracy of a sales forecast grows to 76%.
When sales teams turn to CRMs, they’re able to get access to much more trustworthy data. Not only does this help boost the accuracy of your final report, but it also ensures that you know exactly what data influences it.
Not all sales forecast methods are made equally. Depending on your business, the industry you operate in, and your company goals, the right strategy for you will vary. Be sure to pick one that aligns with your marketing goals and allows you to plan accurately for the future. Looking for more insight into sales forecasting in content marketing? Check out this recent Knowledge Base guide: 6 Methods for Effective Forecasting in Marketing.
While sales forecasting comes mainly from sales and marketing data, these predictions impact everyone. From CEO strategy and HR hiring to changing the budget that each department gets, a sales forecast has influence across all departments. When you get sales forecasting right, it has several advantages for your business:
After a pandemic, a global bull market, and years that will go down in history due to the sheer number of world events, the first stint of the 2020s hasn’t exactly been easy. For businesses, this period of uncertainty has led to unexpected turbulence. The only way to regain a sense of understanding is to closely plan for the future.
Without accurate sales forecasting, it becomes impossible for businesses to visualize where they’ll be a year from now, let alone in five years. When you can accurately predict your annual number of sales, you’ll know how much money you can expect to earn. From there, CEOs can give every department their budget, allowing people to plan for the future.
Maybe you’ll spend the year hiring new workers, or maybe you’ll invest in internal training and education programs. Ultimately, though, the direction your business takes depends on the available capital. If you want to keep things flowing, you need to have a ballpark figure.
Related: How To Make Your Content Marketing Budget Effective
The role of sales forecasting in content marketing is vital for predicting overall costs and revenues. When it comes to investor confidence, being able to extrapolate your data into the future allows you to predict both short-term and long-term performance. While you might not have the future predicted down to the cent, a general idea is often more than enough to appease investors. Even on the internal side, knowing the direction in which your company is growing is great for future content marketing plans.
Most of the benefits of sales forecasting fall on the business side, impacting entire companies or their C-suite executives. One often overlooked benefit is to the sales team itself. By having a sales forecast, you’re able to track performance and see if you’re over or undershooting expectations. This can help keep sales teams on track. If you have a few consecutive weeks of missing your objectives, for example, this can be an early warning sign that something needs to change. In this way, sales forecasting is valuable for keeping your marketing initiatives aligned with sales goals.
With increased uncertainty in business on a global scale, we could all use a little bit of stability. Sales forecasting is one of the best ways to take control of your company’s future. These detailed documents point you in the right direction, align your expectations, and allow you to make better decisions in the long run. It’s always better to be prepared instead of launching into a new year without any idea of how sales will run. And the earlier you forecast for the oncoming quarter or year the better prepared your team will be.
If you want to align sales and marketing in your business, reach out to CopyPress. As a leader in the content marketing space, we help our clients develop strategies that align with their business goals. The results lead to increased traffic, higher rankings, and better content marketing ROI.