Content marketing is a tried and tested strategy that’s been around for over a century. It’s always been easy to prove that an ad in a quality corporate magazine generates return on investment, so marketers never had any trouble convincing their C-level boss that such tactics are worth time and money. The dawn of the digital era has tossed a lot of that confidence out the window.
There’s more content on the web than users know what to do with – and whilst no boss on the planet would deny that a strong digital presence is absolutely paramount to success, it can be a bit trickier trying to demonstrate how certain content strategies are providing tangible benefits. After all, there’s rarely a thirty-day turnaround on investment. In fact, it can take months before a content marketing concept shows any sign of taking off.
Bearing that in mind, a question begs the answer: How on earth are you meant to convince the board to continue funding your content marketing efforts? The answer lies in metrics.
Long before you’re ready to factor all your efforts into some sort of tangible ROI equation, you’ve got to examine the value of your marketing strategy as a whole. Metric-based key performance indicators should be able to help. Here are five of the best:
1. Consumption metrics
One of the clearest ways to demonstrate the value of your efforts will be consumption metrics that reveal how, when and where your content is being utilized. Mainstream tools like Google Analytics are able to provide a snapshot of the total visits, unique visits, downloads, time spent and bounce rate of the content you produce.
Better yet, these tools create a tangible map that shows how users travel through a company’s website. For example, perhaps a user stumbled upon your website by clicking through to a top of the funnel blog post, then ended up clicking through to your about us page. Armed with that information, it suddenly becomes far easier to prove that hours spent blogging are actually paying off. Consumption metrics are directly tied to the value of your investment, and they’re simply impossible to ignore.
2. Lead generation metrics
Another way markers are able to justify the value of content is to utilize lead-capture forms. By prompting users to sign up for a company newsletter after landing on your content, you can produce a regular stream of new business leads. After all, email marketing still has one of the highest conversion rates in the business. If you’re able to put a price on each lead, it suddenly becomes simple to calculate the cost-effectiveness of your content.
A note of caution: it’s up to you to decide how much information you’re asking consumers to hand over before they’re given content access – but it’s worth bearing in mind that some requests may turn visitors off. Don’t get too friendly too fast. As long as you’re providing unique, quality content that people want to see, it should act as a carrot that entices them to follow you.
3. Social media metrics
About a quarter of the earth’s population claims membership to some form of social media; therefore, it only makes sense to establish some sort of corporate social media presence. Yet, it can be pretty difficult to quantify the monetary value of that presence.
Social media is one of the easiest ways to generate traffic for your content assets, which in turn can be proven to generate valuable leads. So, each share on Facebook or Twitter might be driving tens, hundreds or thousands more to your digital content.
With the help of built-in tools like Page Insights, it’s possible to chart how many clicks your posts are receiving. When paired with the consumption metrics you’ve already got in place, you will then be able to quantify how social media is benefiting your overall content marketing strategy.
4. Sales metrics
Sales metrics are by far the simplest aspect of an ROI equation and will ultimately ensure the survival of your content marketing strategy. It’s particularly worth reviewing sales close rates. Above all else, it’s these figures that prove whether your leads are actually evolving into direct sales. In order to prove this, confirm that your company’s customer relationship management system allows you to track how visitors are interacting with your site from start to finish.
Not only will these metrics prove the worth of your content, but they’ll also give you a firm picture of what types of content are more likely to influence direct sales, and you can’t put a price on that type of information.
5. Cost-saving metrics
The content you produce might not only be generating sales, but you might be able to prove that it’s saving money, too. For example, creating an interactive FAQ page might save your company hundreds of man hours in customer service queries. Luckily, those savings are fairly simple to quantify. So long as your firm has total cost management metrics in place, you’ll be able to chart all departmental savings associated to new content.
At the end of the day, content marketing is a beast of evolution. Fresh digital tactics are cropping up every single day, and it’s difficult to keep pace – let alone justify the time and money you’ve got to spend to not fall behind. Yet, by deploying various metrics tools, you should be able to quantify exactly how and where your content is earning its keep. Demonstrating ROI can be a fickle endeavor; however, so long as you’re producing quality content as part of a developed strategy, chances are you’ll be able to prove that every content piece is worth its weight in gold.