06 May 2014 0 comments Likes

How to Measure ROI: Content Marketing 101

CEO’s, CMO’s and CFO’s alike are inquiring: how can we prove that our content strategy is working – and what is the return, anyway? There are plenty of theories strewn across the web, but at the end of quarter, which metrics does your boss actually care about?

Within the past year, Content Marketing has grown into an industry buzzword that digital marketers use daily, but it is commonly misunderstood. It’s time to break it down; what is content marketing, why is it beneficial, how much money is it going to bring in and how can you measure success?

What is Content Marketing?

Lets start with content. Content can be almost anything; it is the chair you’re sitting in, the conference you attended last week, the epic photo you just discovered on StumbleUpon. A successful campaign is centered on a series of content pieces that leverage your brand messaging and/or resonates with your target audience. In a healthy partnership, content + marketing is essentially a platform to build a mutually beneficial relationship between your company and your desired viewer.

Content Marketing is unique marketing material (online, TV, print) personally crafted and promoted with the goal of creating and nurturing a long-term connection. It is presenting information in an original way that grabs your audience’s attention, often by answering a question or helping them live better lives. Ultimately, your content builds loyalty among readers so they return to you as a trusted source for information.

Content can be delivered in multiple mediums (video, eBook, infographic, case study, article, whitepaper, photos, etc.), diversity being vital to keeping your strategy lively. It’s a form of consistent communication with current and potential customers with the aim to inspire, educate, inform and/or entertain.

Why is Content Marketing beneficial?

Think about why you interact with brands, why you subscribe to certain newsletters or blogs, why you find something interesting on Facebook and Twitter. People typically gravitate towards informative information that in some way helps them achieve a goal, educates them, makes them laugh, or somehow entertains them.

People are consuming information every day and the most compelling and reliable information will get the most attention. The benefits to Content Marketing include: increased engagement with your target audience, organic buzz about your brand, positioning your company as a thought leader in your industry, heightened visibility, and ultimately higher revenue.

Google didn’t get popular overnight. They consistently proved themselves as a reliable source for information, serving up the most relevant subject matter to people’s searches. Google has created new platforms and features that enhance the user experience and interface. They understand how to deliver answers to people’s questions – quality and quantity. This is why they are the number one search engine. What are you going to do to get on top?

How is content shared?

It is important to note that your content is useless if you don’t allocate sufficient budget toward strategic promotion that reaches authoritative publications and industry influencers who identify with your target audience.

Content marketing is most commonly shared on a blog (to build domain authority), your website (via a landing page), a newsletter (to reward loyalty), email, or through your company’s social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.). The goal is for your fans, brand advocates and media to share, re-tweet, forward, and re-purpose your content, ultimately linking back to you for credibility. Ideally, content goes viral – shared so many times that it develops into a trending topic.

Google’s algorithms reward original, consistent, and relevant content by boosting its search rankings. If you produce dependable, share-worthy content on a regular basis, Google will help it be found.

Will Content Marketing make me money?

The companies that acknowledge their brand advocates, continually provide great customer service, prove to be trustworthy, and deliver outstanding products/services will build consumer loyalty and lower retention rate. It allows you to narrate your brand story, illustrate your culture and values, and highlight why your brand is better than your competitor.

Content marketing is used as a vehicle to define brand identity and in turn, allow brands to help define individual human identity. Why do women love Lulu Lemon despite the bad press and see-through material? They enjoy what that logo says about them – small framed, flexible humans who can afford luxury workout wear. It is bitter sweet that brand identity is so much more than a logo and a tag line – technology has allowed it to evolve, and although it is hard work, the opportunities to connect with your customers are limitless.

If you create content that people crave, it will make you profitable. The issue that many companies run into is that they don’t clearly outline how their brand story, goals, and objectives complement each other within a formal Content Marketing strategy roadmap. If you can’t detail the content plan, how can you measure its success?

How to measure success?

To start determining your ROI, you must first develop a solid content marketing strategy with a realistic metric plan to effectively determine what’s working and how it is contributing to a positive bottom line. Reporting is crucial, since the nature of this type of marketing tends to contain trial and error.

It is important to show profit margins, but first you have to define the “return” and understand that Content Marketing ROI numbers cannot be compared to a traditional model, since it is inherently a long-term, organic engagement. Therefore, building a solid, durable plan will be critical in managing expectations and accountability during the process. Before you can implement and start monitoring, you will need to document your current benchmark numbers, determine what your goals are and how you plan to achieve them – quarter after quarter. Once you have a complete understanding of where you want to head, these are some of the metrics you want to pay attention to: reach and brand awareness via website/blog traffic, social engagement, time on page, bounce rate, and page views.

It’s all about crafting purpose. One way to categorize content offerings is by goal: sales, lead generation, branding, and traffic. Under the overarching goal, each piece of content should have it’s own tone, CTA, and objective that relates back to the core messaging and brand mission statement. Then map out the content into yearly and monthly editorial calendars, therefore transforming one-off deliverables into a fluid brand narrative. If you can reach your target audience and inspire them to relate to your story, you’ve now created a following and secured a content goldmine.

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