Why there’s more to content marketing ROI than just numbers

Jacki James

Jacki James is a Strategic Planner with digital strategy specialist, Zuni, and moonlights as a digital marketing lecturer for ADMA. She blogs for Zuni at zuni.com.au and you can follow her on Twitter @JackiJames.

Most brands are producing more content than ever before. Even those still operating predominantly in campaign mode are finding social media demands an always-on content pipeline.

As a result, more budget and staff are being allocated to content marketing initiatives. In fact, according to the Content Marketing in Australia 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report, Australian marketers invest an average of 27 per cent of their total marketing budget in content marketing, and that’s set to rise.

Yet while content marketing programs are maturing, Australian marketers are still struggling to demonstrate their effectiveness and ROI to the rest of the organisation. The big questions to answer are: Is this additional investment in content marketing activity making an impact? Where and how is it adding value? Is it worth the investment?

Here are some tips to help you respond to these questions.

Start with a purpose-driven content strategy

Demonstrating ROI from content marketing starts with a strategy that focuses on high-value areas. Invest in a documented content strategy and developing content that is well thought out and contributes to business goals.

Success will come by providing genuine value for your audience, and producing quality content that consumers actually want. Don’t be tempted to produce volume over quality, and don’t let the quest for engagement get in the way of your ultimate goals. Every piece of content must have a purpose and a reason for being.

Having a laser-sharp focus on the role content can play in achieving business objectives will hone your investment and allocate your resources in the right areas, ultimately delivering more bang for your buck.

Smarter content marketing is a wise investment

How you implement and execute your content marketing strategy will also impact the value you can extract from it.

Start by equipping the people who will bring the strategy to life with the right skills, tools and resources. Communicate the strategy to the team, and even better, engage them as part of the strategy development process. Provide content training to address skill gaps, and provide a shared understanding of how your brand tells stories.

Arm your staff with a tangible content framework to structure and focus storytelling efforts. Develop a Content Playbook with examples, best practices and tips to guide content production and publishing.

There are also a host of marketing technology tools designed to help execute smarter content marketing. Technology solutions promise to centralise and streamline the process around content production, distribution and measurement.

Leading content marketing brands in Australia report that marketing technology has delivered benefits including:

  • Shared content calendar across a multi-divisional organisation
  • Visibility of publishing and engagement activity across multiple publishing channels
  • Ability to scale content activities with a lean team
  • Speed and efficiency in collaborations, workflows and publishing
  • Optimisation of content marketing from applying insights provided by metrics.

Ask the right questions to get meaningful metrics

The only metrics worth investing any energy in collecting are those that help you make decisions.

At a board and CEO level, the only perspective they need is on how effective your content strategy is in driving business results. This doesn’t require an endless list of metrics, just an answer to: “Is your content working?”. Good questions to ask your team are:

  • Are we providing qualified leads to sales teams?
  • Are we converting more customers online?
  • Is our content helping our customer retention?

Detailed reports are also useful when looking for opportunities where we can make our content work harder and improve the effectiveness of our marketing. So think about:

  • What can we do more of to grow our audience reach?
  • What content does our audience engage with most?
  • Are there trends or insights by channel or demographic?

Benchmarking operational efficiency will provide useful information on appropriate budget and staff allocation, potential costs savings or even productivity improvements.

Continuous refinement is key

Digital has provided a faster changing landscape than ever before. What works today might not deliver the same results next month. Consumer behaviours change, as do the channels we prefer for interactions.

Actionable analytics will alert you to a change in trends, which should lead to a refinement of your strategy. This may, in turn, impact your implementation tools and resources.

Continuous optimisation of your content strategy and the resources you apply to executing it will ensure ongoing success and a return on investment.

Tags: content marketing, data-driven marketing

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