Why Measuring Content Marketing ROI Drives Results
I totally understand your pain. Take it from me, like many others, I learned the hard way.
My boss at a privately held, $100 million in sales, B2C retailer confided to me, “Did you know everyone I interviewed for your analyst job always asked about the firm’s sales but never questioned its ROI?”
I smiled because I knew the answer since I had spent a year studying French in Paris. I proudly responded “ROI means king.” The truth is that it does but not the way I thought at the time.
I’m telling you this story because the key takeaway from Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2014 is:
Specifically, marketers who measure ROI are 17 times more likely to generate higher year-over-year ROI.
But measuring ROI is not easy. Only 53% of marketers measure ROI. The mere act of tracking ROI puts you in the upper half of your peers.
[Editor’s note: Hubspot’s research measures inbound marketing. It encompasses content marketing, social media and search. While the term differs, a solid content marketing strategy integrates these 3 elements.]
Improved ROI is consistent across company types. It’s not surprising that not-for-profits seeking to find lower cost marketing options have a higher ROI.
By contrast, 2015 content marketing trends based on research by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs found that 21% of marketers are successful at tracking ROI.
More importantly, the biggest factor for getting additional marketing budget is past success with content marketing. Past success overrides 2 critical corporate elements that marketers can’t control, namely the economy and management change.
Data provides opinion-free guidance on how to plan, execute and distribute your content marketing to yield optimal results.
The Sales Lion’s Marcus Sheridan is the poster child for content marketing. He aligned his content marketing, social media and search strategies to drive qualified leads to his firm, River Pools and Spa. His main content marketing tool was his blog. His favorite saying is “your customers ask and you answer.”
His results are off the charts. Sheridan turned his in-ground pool business around during the real estate downturn!!! [Editor’s note: Sheridan uses Hubspot.]
Without giving away the store, his pricing page yielded $2million in sales. (Here’s an explanation of how it works.)
More importantly, it’s not just about marketing.
Sheridan admitted in his forward to Jay Baer’s Youtility
if a buyer read 30 pages on his blog before a salesperson visits, his firm will close the deal 80% of the time. This is 8 times his industry average. Content is a win for both marketing and sales.
So how can you achieve this type of success for your business?
Use content marketing to create more knowledgeable sales prospects. This has important business implications.
- Reduces sales time to close a deal.
- Improves marketing and sales relationships.
Sales people are more likely to prefer traditional outbound marketing approaches, specifically telemarketing, direct mail and traditional advertising. Yet, social media, blogs and search drive more sales leads than these older methods.
To yield maximum results, invest in marketing projects that yield the most and best quality results. Based on Hubspot’s Inbound 2014 research, use blogs, search optimization and content distribution. No surprise–these 3 initiatives are intricately inter-related.
Both search and distribution are critical for making your content more effective! Consider Social Triggers’ Derek Halpern’s 80-20 ratio: Spend 80% of your time distributing your content. If no one sees it, is it worth your effort?
Examined by company type, blog content, webinars and how-to videos stand out for B2B firms while online tools, interactive content, and search optimization stand out for B2C. With the exception of webinars that tend to be B2B stronghold, these formats can work for both B2B and B2C.
Staff and executive content creation are a key element of any content marketing program. This makes sense since your business insiders can provide quality content based on their experience with your products and services. They know what questions your customers want answered.
Yet solely relying on these 2 content sources alone is liable to yield less than optimal results!!
While this sounds contradictory, it’s not. Your employees and executives don’t have enough time to create a sufficient amount of quality content. Therefore, strategically supplement your content resources with guests and freelancers.
Interestingly, content curation yielded the least profitable results. This is most likely attributable to its lack of original commentary and related creative effort to distinguish quality curation from aggregation. Many firms dedicate their staff to original content not curation.
Get your entire team on board to help you create content marketing. Hubspot found that sales (25%) and services (10%) participate in content marketing. This makes sense since these employees are on the front lines with customers.
What’s the biggest driver of content marketing ROI? The answer may surprise you.
It’s blogging, a page straight out of Sheridan’s playbook. Blogging is 13 times more likely to increase company ROI. (BTW–Here’s a report on The State of Blogging 2014.)
Further, content marketing leads regardless of company size are cheaper. This makes sense because you’re creating the information internally. Also, you’re not paying for third party media.
Interestingly, leads generated from both inbound and outbound marketing are most expensive for companies between 51 and 200 employees. While Hubspot didn’t comment on this difference, the chances are that these firms are going through large growth phases that requires additional content and other marketing.
Of importance, Hubspot’s research found little difference between North America and Europe. This applied to both key performance indicators and content marketing projects. Note that the survey reached 4 times as many North Americans as Europeans so that these numbers may not be as accurate.
The bottom line is that starting to measure content marketing aligns your content efforts with your key business objectives.
This enables your organization to provide the kind of information that your prospects and customers actively seek. As a result, your potential buyers are more knowledgeable and closer to buying from your business, whether you’ve got a B2B, B2C or not-for-profit.
While it may not be sexy, a blog is an effective way to provide this information that customers want and need. (FYI–Social Media Examiner research revealed a decline in blogging in 2014.)
What have your results been tracking content marketing ROI?
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