As customer experiences shift, data usage, collection and regulation change and new marketing technologies become industry standard, marketers also change their strategic approach to these things. Despite the industry’s continual evolution, content marketing remains a steadfast component of a successful plan. In fact, 91% of B2B marketers confirm that they utilize content marketing as part of their marketing strategy.
Marketers are making significant investments in their content, as well—content marketing accounts for a third of the average company’s marketing budget. Investing in content pays off with increased lead generation and funnel movement for quality leads, driving revenue for the organization. However, demonstrating that value isn’t always simple and straightforward. Thanks to complex B2B sales cycles that contain countless touchpoints for leads, assigning ROI to individual pieces of content can feel next to impossible.
As a B2B marketing leader faced with driving a data-centric, revenue-generating marketing program, the challenge to document and prove the return on content investment is vital when it comes to justifying budgets to the C-suite. Not only is ROI imperative for conveying content’s value, but it can serve as a helpful gauge for honing your content team’s performance. Unfortunately, only 39% of marketers actually feel somewhat successful at tracking content marketing ROI. When you’re not understanding or believing the results you’re tracking, it’s nearly impossible to identify what areas to improve and which aspects will maximize potential.
As discussed with the Launch Marketing team in part of our “Four Questions Answered” series, the investment in content marketing ROI can be split into two parts: the amount of time it takes to create content and the cost to evangelize it once created. Once you have a clear picture of what’s being poured in from the start, you can start to assess which aspects are meeting or exceeding that investment, and which are draining resources. Not only will this step give you an objective view of the successes and improvement areas within your program, but it’s key for determining the metrics that will ultimately quantify your return.
Pinpointing the Content Metrics That Matter
Lead Generation & Quality
One of the metrics that executives find most valuable and is a clear indicator of content marketing success is the number of qualified prospects garnered from your efforts. For marketing, however, proving these leads were brought in by content marketing can be unclear.
Gated content, or content only available through form submission, is a streamlined way to prove that your content is bringing in leads. Marketers who can show that essential lead information, like email address, title and organization, was garnered by a piece of content are showing that the content they’re creating is valuable and attuned to their target audiences. Ultimately, these strong leads give the sales team tools to churn up more revenue.
Tools to track:
- Google Analytics – Lead Generation Goals
- Marketing Automation software, such as Marketo, Pardot and HubSpot
Strong content marketing will not only bring in leads but also drive home sales. Content becomes a tool in the salesperson’s arsenal when they want to engage with leads and continue to prove not only the value of their products but also how committed their company is to educating and supporting the client’s overall goals.
In fact, 74% of buyers will choose the salesperson who was first to add value and insight, and much of that added value and insight comes from providing leads with content. The executive team ultimately wants their sales team to have the edge on competitors and marketing is the team that can supply that leg up.
Tools to track:
- Google Analytics – eCommerce Tracking
- CRM software, like Salesforce
Content marketing done correctly will pull visitors to your website to explore additional resources and information on your company, moving them farther along their buyer’s journey. Whether a prospect finds your content organically or through more targeted marketing, getting them to your website helps round out your company’s brand image and provide a fuller picture to your potential audience. The executive team will appreciate seeing that content is moving customers to a key staple of the company like the company website.
Tools to track:
- Google Analytics – Audience, Acquisition and Behavior
- Software such as Smartlook and Siteimprove
Social Media Traction
After creating content, part of the marketing strategy should involve sharing the content on your major social media platforms. Considering that 42% of the world’s population, or 3.2 billion people, use social media in some capacity, social media is a large platform for reaching your key audiences. On top of that, 94% of a company’s followers are planning on making a purchase from them. If you already have those active followers on the edge of making a purchase, providing them with content adds extra incentive. Sharing engagements such as social likes, clicks and shares with the C-suite will help reinforce how active and engaged your audience is.
Tools to track:
- Management and analytics tools, like Hootsuite, Oktopost or Buffer
- Social Platform Integrated Analytics (Facebook Analytics, Twitter Analytics, etc.)
SEO, or search engine optimization, may not be something that company executives are inherently familiar with, but the power that content marketing can provide to your search results is essential. Just by utilizing target keywords in a strategic way throughout your content, you can improve your SEO, which will in turn, place you higher in Google searches, increase your domain authority and boost the number of inbound links. Metrics from SEO will help highlight how thoughtful language alone can drive increased numbers and improved search.
Tools to track:
- SEO Keyword Tool, like Ahrefs
- Google Search Console
- SEO software, like Moz
The Value of Content Marketing Metrics
By determining the key metrics your C-suite is most interested in, and using content marketing to support them, the big-picture benefits become more evident. Here are some of the key benefits to help remind marketing teams and executives of content marketing’s far-reaching value.
Read: B2B Marketing for Executives: A Deep Dive into the Big Rocks of Marketing
Drives positive brand perceptions
One of the less tangible benefits of content marketing is the value it adds to your overall brand. Strong content pieces that reach audiences through effective marketing can be invaluable in shaping how customers perceive your brand. The tone of your content and the core values highlighted within it speak to your company as a whole and can help motivate potential customers to dive deeper into your company.
This brand voice and authority can also contribute to influencer marketing, or utilizing people to act as brand ambassadors and advocates for your company. Influencers sharing a piece of content can hold more weight, since audiences may trust influencers more when it comes to sharing impartial, objective content.
A cost-effective tool
Now that customers have more options, the overall cost of customer acquisition has increased, going up by 50% in the last five years. Content marketing is often cited as a cost-effective strategy for increasing customer acquisition and helping companies stand apart from competitors. It shows customers the level of care an organization has for their industry and their desire to provide them with a value that goes beyond selling a product or service.
Executive teams will certainly appreciate the affordability and ROI of content marketing when compared with outbound marketing techniques. Content marketing can generate three times as many leads as outbound marketing while still costing 62% less. With greater results at a lower cost point, executives can easily understand why putting more effort into content marketing can yield better results.
Greater renewals and upsells
Content can also assist in upselling to your current customer base. There’s a certain level of trust that customers have placed in your organization, but there’s a fine line between leveraging and taking advantage of this trust. This is why content marketing is perfect for upselling and cross-selling. Providing current customers with content that is targeted and based on their previous purchases and indicated interests highlights your organization’s concern for their growth and learning.
Content marketing pieces that discuss other products or services your organization sells, that may be of value to current customers, can be essential in creating long-term and dedicated relationships. This, in turn, creates larger sales and more revenue, which will help support the bottom-line goals that executives like to see.
While content marketing is certainly one of the more creative forms of marketing, the backing and funding from the executive team depends on integrating data and ROI goals that align with a company’s overall marketing plan, revenue benchmarks and company goals. By grounding content marketing in data and the macro view of an organization, you can ensure a profitable, high-ROI content engine that both marketing and the C-suite will appreciate.
Looking for a deeper dive in on the best practices for metrics and performance communication between marketing and executive teams? Download our eBook: Effectively Communicating B2B Marketing Performance to Executives.
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