Content marketing today has left the safe world of ‘proof of concepts’ without the budget to be a widely adopted marketing practice. Consequently, as content marketing becomes more pervasive across the customer-centric organization, the conversation has moved to the thorny topic of ‘return on investment’ (ROI).
But ROI shouldn’t be met by sharp intakes of breath content marketers. We know that content marketing works and is measurable. All it requires is consolidating this knowledge and working on an ROI calculator. To do this, we need to consider three things in determining the ROI of any content marketing:
- Content Cost
- Content Utilization
- Business value generation
Calculating the ROI of your content marketing:
The first and foremost thing is to define and work towards realistic ROI goals. It’s better to put checks in your content process/strategy to assess the quality, relevance, and share-ability of your content. To do so you need to know more about your customers/audience. Start with –
- Taking a survey of your audience
- Knowing more about their interests and concerns
- Using this data while making your content strategy
Once you have made a content strategy and worked towards building its content, assess if the content:
- Fosters the conversion you are looking for?
- Delivers what you expect it to
For example, a compelling newsletter result in nurturing a sales opportunity or How-to videos should help your audience see you as a partner in their increased effectiveness. Once the goals are set, you can work towards the benchmarking of your content marketing efforts.
Does ROI KPAs work against quality content?
For quality content, it’s important to be creative and think beyond revenue creation to cost saving and other contributions to the business. No doubt, creative work is hard and takes a whole lot of time. But if you don’t consciously set aside that time, it won’t happen.
This means one needs to find a balance and set boundaries. The best way to do so is to connect the ‘Why’ to your results. As an exercise, do this:
- Write a Why? on top of a piece of paper
- List all the channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, website, etc) you are creating content for
- Then list “why” for every channel. The reason could be sales, savings, customer loyalty, etc.
If you are able to answer the entire ‘why’ for every channel, you are on the right track. Because if you are unaware where the content marketing ship is heading, it’s impossible to arrive at the right destination.
Creativity and ROI are inseparable:
Creativity usually takes a back seat to high volume, low effort content. It’s important to work on creativity as well as ROI as a single identity. To do so:
- Determine the biggest problem your audience/buyer face today
- Create a resource to help them solve that problem or educate/inspire them to solve it on their own
- Create blogs or how-to articles to educate your audience
- Promote the resource through paid, owned and earned channels
- Link everything back to the core resource to drive conversions
- Tweak things as per the data points
This approach will help the marketers to build content around a single, core resource with a sole purpose of resonating with the audience. So, it’s better to resonate than just reach.
As a content marketer, complement creativity and ROI in your content strategy. It’s important to pay close attention to the basics. Remember, if your basics are not right, whatever ROI you get, is sheer luck!