I’ve been content marketing since before it was called content marketing and before Google even existed, and I have found that content marketing offers an enormous amount of value to a business, from increased exposure, increased audience engagement to increased sales.
However, at least initially it’s an awful lot harder to determine a return on investment (ROI) with content marketing than other more direct sales advertising and marketing like sales/landing pages. Content marketing isn’t going to provide any sort of immediate success, it’s a long term investment that provides long term success, and the success it provides is truly spectacular however the period it takes to provide any sort of ROI is typically four to six months at least.
Content marketing ROI doesn’t always equate to monetary terms straight off, for example, content you create to inform your audience about a particular problem might generate some new signups to your newsletter rather than resulting in direct sales of your products or services. Therefore your ROI for this particular piece of content is that it results in new signups to your newsletter, this is a good thing because as you often here “the money is in the list” and once someone has taken action and given you their email address you have the chance to transform this person into a customer through the content in your newsletter.
This is how I like to explain content marketing, the purpose of content is to attract your audience and to engage them with stories, and the purpose of marketing is to get your audience to do something. These two things combined together are content marketing.
Let’s look at some metrics you should be measuring:
- Brand awareness – How is your content driving brand awareness and exposing your products and services to new people?
- Audience Engagement – How is your content creating situations where engagement can occur?
- New Subscribers – Have subscribers increased to your email list and if so can you trace it to a particular piece of content?
- Revenue – As your customers move through your sales funnel, have revenues increased and can you determine what started the increase?
Are your measuring these metrics and are they in line with your expectations or are they not meeting your expectations? When you publish content, can you determine the impressions, traffic, subscription rates, audience engagement and how far your information went? Plus, do you know how much time your audience is taking to consume your content? How often are they sharing it? And at what point do they convert to buyers?
These are all important metrics you need to know the answers to, to help determine your content ROI. If you have a properly documented content strategy you should also have some specific goals identified and documented for each type of content that you create and type of content should be aimed at a specific audience persona. Use the tools that your have available, different setups have different tools, but you should be able to gain information from your newsletter, Google analytics and Google Webmaster Tools to help you analyze whether or not you’re meeting your goals.
As you can see the important things about content marketing are reach, engagement and conversion. Any numbers you can study relating to these three metrics are important to track. Tracking these metrics is the only way to know for sure whether you’re reaching your content marketing strategy goals. In addition, you can use projections to plan your content marketing budget.
By forecasting what ROI you expect, then studying those metrics to determine what really is happening, you’ll get better each time determining the right path to take with your content marketing planning and budgeting. However, remember that if you’re tracking these metrics and you find that what you’re doing isn’t working, it doesn’t mean content marketing doesn’t work. It means something with your strategy isn’t working or the content is not the right content to help you reach your goals, and it signals a need to adjust your strategy to meet your goals.
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