How To Prove Content Marketing ROI For Your Business
Content marketing has exploded in the last couple of years. The platforms to create new content, curate existing content, and publish all of it to the right channels have grown and matured. However, in spite of the exponentially higher volume of content that is being churned out by businesses today, the fact remains that the majority of these activities still cannot be directly tied to company bottom lines.
Accountability and revenue attribution are the twin gaping holes in this mega-bucket of content that most businesses are racing to build.
A report by Marketing Score showed that 6 out of the 10 lowest ranked marketing tools from an accountability perspective happened to be key elements of content marketing.
So what gives? Where’s the gap, which once plugged, will show the impact that every content marketing effort has on business metrics? How will you start to more effectively measure content marketing ROI?
Attribute revenue to content marketing
Revenue attribution is the final mile in the process of making content more accountable. With revenue attribution in place, you can clearly see and judge how each content asset performs. You can identify the best performing campaigns from a conversion perspective. You can even single out which sale came from which particular white paper or blog post.
This attribution works for nearly every piece of content you create. Landing pages, emails, video content – whatever your poison, it can be tracked and measured to the last cent with revenue attribution.
Content attribution is an integral part of enterprise CRM platforms like Salesforce. By syncing your CRM platform with your campaigns on web analytics (Google Analytics), email (MailChimp or Aweber), social media management (Hootsuite) or marketing automation tools, you can pinpoint the direct revenue driven by each campaign and each individual piece of content.
Attribution can primarily be of three kinds:
First-touch Attribution: Where 100% of the credit for a closed sale is given to the first content asset the customer interacted with.
Last Touch Attribution: Where 100% of the credit for a closed sale is given to the last content asset the customer interacted with.
Multi-touch Attribution: Where credit for an acquired sale is distributed evenly among all content assets the customer interacted with.
Given a choice, I usually recommend a multi-touch attribution model, as no piece of content is shortchanged and the impact of each one comes out clearly. Instead of the equal credit for each asset as described in the image above, I would in fact place custom weights for each content asset. This process allows you to tweak the amount of importance you place on each content asset from a lead acquisition perspective.
Further reading: 12 Steps to Setting up Your Marketing Attribution in Marketo
Let data dictate the content you create
So you’ve set up your content tracking systems. You know what conversion goals your content needs to hit. You know which channels to prioritize and so on. The challenge now is to develop content that meets these parameters and delivers on the lofty goals you’ve set for it.
Create content that people enjoy. Content that they come back to. Content that they seek out and share with others. Easier said than done.
One way of doing this is by digging into your analytics tool and checking the number of visits to each piece of content, time spent per piece, social shares and so on. Keep a track of the topics that set the conversation going among your audience. Once you know what topics interest them, you can go ahead and create more content along similar lines.
Many marketers would be happy with just measuring and showcasing the number of subscribers they got from their content marketing campaigns. However just measuring vanity metrics like subscriber numbers or shares is missing the ROI point altogether. Need inspiration? Use these two as your primary conversion metrics for judging the efficacy of each content asset:
Revenue per post
Revenue per subscriber
This investigation into how your content performs will also equip you with insights about which platforms work best for your business.
Research shows that on an average 5 pieces of content account for 50% of visitor traffic. This means, like in the case of search marketing, content marketing has a significant long tail too. The bulk of your visits and conversions will come from star content assets. It’s your job to identify which ones these are and promote them aggressively.
Optimize your content assets
Each content asset you create is the penultimate location leading up to an inquiry, lead or conversion. Thus, it follows that setting up your content assets to meet your conversion goals is of paramount importance. Even the most brilliant content marketing programs fall flat when the asset itself that assists conversions is not optimized.
Let’s look at an example to illustrate what I mean.
Above you see a Shopify “landing page” that hits nearly all the CRO factors out of the park.
The core objective of the page is loud and clear with a self-explanatory headline.
The page focuses on an extremely narrow audience – owners of sites built on Wix.
The call to action is unmissable in a contrasting color and is placed above the fold. It’s repeated at the bottom of this pretty long landing page, for those people who might have missed it earlier.
While the audience is narrowly targeted with a feature specific to them, the page is selling the company’s flagship product – an ecommerce website. The relevant benefits are explained clearly and concisely just below the sign up form.
Clean separators, ample white space and appealing images make the page a pleasure to browse.
The product trial form is elegant in its simplicity. Who wants to scare away customers with long winded forms, right?
Testimonials from known celebrities like Daymond John of Shark Tank fame make the product look even more compelling.
All in all, I’d give this landing/lead gen page at least a 9 or 10 from a content marketing perspective.
If you quiz any marketer about it, they’ll tell you how they wish they could measure the impact of every step they take to promote their business. However, data from a recent survey by CMI and MarketingProfs shows that just 21% of B2B marketers are actually successful in measuring their content marketing success.
It’s time to step away from the majority and join that little group of successful content marketers who know what they’re doing and how they’re getting it right.