Many executives view content marketing as just another strategy or tactic deployed by their marketing team. They see the blog articles, eBooks, whitepapers, and videos created and published. And they see the investment that was made to produce these resources. But many don’t see the return on this investment. Some don’t see it because they’re not looking for or measuring it. Others don’t see the ROI they would hope for because their content strategy is poorly executed.
Every marketing tactic your team deploys should produce a meaningful and measurable ROI. If not, it should be reevaluated, redesigned, or abandoned. Content marketing is no exception.
Below are the steps to measure your content marketing ROI and ensure it’s maximized.
1. Establish Goals
Before you start creating content or brainstorming ideas, you need to clearly understand what you want your content to help you accomplish.
Do you want to increase your brand awareness?
Do you want to extend your brand into new markets?
Do you want to generate sales leads?
Do you want to improve customer retention?
Once you defined your objective, you can establish some measurable targets (i.e., number of new leads, new clients, etc.).
2. Know Your Audience
Do you know the intended target of your content? Who are they? Where do they work? What is their role? What are the business challenges they’re facing? Where do they go for information now? Who do they view as thought leaders in their industry?
Answering these questions and building a target persona will help you speak their language and tailor your content to resonate with what they find relevant and important.
3. Build a Road Map to Follow
Successful content marketers follow the adage, “Plan your work and work your plan.” Creating a content calendar is the key to consistency, organization, and disciplined execution.
A content calendar identifies the topics of future content, the format of the content (i.e., blog article, eBook, whitepaper, etc.), the designated author of the content, and clear editorial deadlines (draft copy, final copy, design, and publish date). Your content calendar will eliminate last-minute scrambling for ideas and reduce the likelihood of sub-par output.
4. Focus on Quality
Don’t be too ambitious. Don’t create content just for content’s sake.
You don’t have to churn out large quantities of content to be successful. If you want to consistently attract and engage your audience, you need to establish credibility and trust by not wasting their time. It’s better to produce fewer resources that are substantive then publishing “puff pieces” that lack key insights and valuable perspectives.
5. Google is Your Audience Too
Your writing should always focus on your target persona, but make sure your writing is optimized for the Google algorithm as well. Following SEO best practices like using relevant keywords, creating compelling meta descriptions, and optimizing images will ensure that your intended audience will find your content.
6. Go Beyond Just Text
A wall of solid text can be intimidating and actually repel potential readers. According to Shift Learning, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. Accompanying your written content with images, videos, and infographics will attract your audience and improve their engagement with your brand.
7. Experiment and Test
Don’t fall into a rut where every piece of content you publish looks the same. Leave room in your content calendar for switching gears and trying new approaches – new topics, new formats, new designs. It’s okay to experiment. Trying new tactics will help you fine-tune your strategy as you determine what resonates with your target persona. The key is to learn from your successes and failures.
8. Repurpose and Recycle
Repurposing your successful topics will extend their life and impact. You can take an idea that resonated with your audience and deliver it to them again in a new and fresh way. For example, you can turn a blog article into a podcast episode. Or you can cut a podcast episode into small “bite-size” social media posts.
9. Promote, Promote, and Promote Again
You’ve heard the phrase, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" If an article is published on your blog and no one knows it’s there, does it educate your prospect and enhance your brand?
Publishing content is only half the equation. The other half is promotion. Let people know via email, social media, and even paid ads that your content exists and where to find it.
10. Get Everyone Involved
Your content strategy and execution shouldn’t reside in the marketing department silo. Marketing can direct and manage the execution, but everyone in the organization should be involved with both creating and promoting the content. It’s important that your executives and your salespeople establish themselves as thought leaders and subject matter experts.
They have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with your prospects. Encourage them to share it. At the very least, they should be sharing the organization’s published content with their social media networks (especially LinkedIn). The sales team should embed the company resources into their one-to-one prospecting emails and client communications.
11. Measure, Report, Monitor, and Analyze
Establish KPIs to measure your content’s impact. Tracking performance over time will give you visibility into how your content strategy is performing. Common KPIs include website traffic, social media engagement, and lead conversions. But ultimately, you want to measure what happens to those leads that were generated by your content.
How many resulted in a forecastable opportunity?
How many of them closed?
And how much revenue did they generate?
“Closing the loop” on the activity generated by your content will enable you to connect your marketing strategy to a meaningful and measurable ROI.
Content marketing is more than just a set of materials the marketing team produces; it is a strategic investment that should yield a tangible return. The misconception that content marketing lacks measurable ROI can often be attributed to either a lack of measurement efforts or poorly executed strategies. To ensure success in content marketing, executives must approach it with a focused and systematic mindset.
The outlined steps provide a roadmap for organizations to measure their content marketing ROI and maximize its impact. Beginning with the establishment of clear goals, understanding the target audience, and creating a detailed content calendar, the process emphasizes the importance of quality over quantity. It is crucial to tailor content to resonate with the audience, optimize for search engines, and incorporate visual elements to enhance engagement.