With more than 86% of B2B marketers using content marketing, it’s very likely your competitors are engaging in it as a way to differentiate themselves. In fact, 55% are looking to increase their budget in the next year. (Source: CMI) But what is the return on that investment?
Successful firms recognize that while the initial return from content marketing is hard to measure in dollars, they need to invest in the long-term for growth. They appreciate that content marketing is a long-term strategy focused on helping firms develop relationships with their audience and position themselves as uniquely knowledgeable, trustworthy and client-centric. Of course, the end game is to eventually bring in more revenue either directly or indirectly, but the marketing message has value beyond the financial return.
You still need a way to measure results, but it should encompass nonfinancial objectives as well as financial ones. The first step is to define and prioritize your various goals and decide what metrics will help gauge how well your efforts are working. Some of the more common metrics for measuring the impact of content marketing include:
- Website/blog traffic. This includes number of page views, unique visitors, amount of traffic referred from search engines and time spent on the site. Blog comments also show engagement.
- Organic search engine ranking. Good content is rewarded by search engines and makes it more likely you will appear higher on search engine results pages when people search relevant terms. (Non-organic results are advertising.)
- Social media interest. Is the firm gaining followers on its social media channels? What about the individuals who are writing? Are they getting more profile views, invitations to connect? Is the content being shared, liked and commented on? For LinkedIn, has the content been picked up by a Pulse Channel?
- Email open rates, click-throughs, downloads, forwards. These demonstrate people have viewed your email at a minimum and in some cases, took further action.
- Inbound links to your site. Third-parties like your content and are referring people to you.
- Registrations for your newsletters, webinars, events, white papers, etc. These are great leads. Your audience is clearly asking for your content and giving you their contact information.
- Quality and quantity of leads generated. Are more people showing interest in your firm? Even more importantly, what is the quality of the leads? How much do they know about your firm and what is their overall opinion?
- Acknowledgement/positive feedback from clients, prospects, potential employees and media. Even a little of this is significant since most people don’t take the time to give such feedback.
- Improved client retention and referrals. Ask clients what information they want and if they are interested in what you are sending them. You want to use content to engage directly with clients and stay top-of-mind.
- New business closed. This is rarely a direct path, but it’s important to look at how content marketing played a role in generating and nurturing the lead.
Depending on your goals, you may have other metrics. The point is to establish a way to measure your success and be able to test and revise your strategy and tactics based on results. To justify continuing to spend money on content marketing, you want to show continual progress toward achieving your goals even if you can’t directly tie revenue to your marketing in the short-term.
Remember that with any content marketing strategy results won’t be seen immediately even with relatively straightforward goals like increasing web traffic. Content marketing relies on consistently producing and promoting valuable information over time. One fabulous article may get a good response, but isn’t likely to have a long-term impact.
So what are some examples of great content marketing that got results? Check out 5 success stories to inspire your own investment in content marketing.
Still not convinced that content marketing is a good investment? A pilot project may be the answer for you.