Marketing ROI: De-risking the Up-front Investment of Content Marketing and Technology Solutions

Marketing ROI: De-risking the Up-front Investment of Content Marketing and Technology Solutions. But that won’t make it easy for leadership to green-light hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending when facing the prospect of spending months in the dark on the return on investment. Content marketing is an investment that pays out incrementally as time goes on. For example, blog articles are easily the type of content viewed as most useful by 35 percent of consumers. It’s very unlikely, in the early stages of implementing a company-wide strategy, that these numbers will even come close to generating a positive ROI for your company. By identifying these positive trends—even though they exist at an unfeasible scale—you can reasonably argue that time and persistent content marketing can increase the volume of that positive activity, leading to significant gains in ROI that actually will move the needle in terms of sustainable marketing spend. Similarly, companies sometimes face the decision of choosing between a content marketing agency and a costly PR firm. As you track this growth in page rank, pay attention to how it affects your website traffic: This can help you project what kind of growth might be on the horizon. After six months, there should be a continue increase in overall reach, with that growing audience engaging your Twitter regularly, making reference to your brand, and participating in an ongoing social conversation about your company. Email is also a great channel for using content marketing technology to improve your performance, either through better segmentation, improved email timing, or other insight-driven changes.

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Imagine you’re a marketing director who just wrapped up oversight of a major TV ad campaign. The budget was enormous, the stakes were high, and you delivered the results your company wanted to see.

But in a recent meeting, your executive team asks how your marketing ROI turned out for the campaign. You admit, sheepishly, that you aren’t sure how to answer the question. You point to the mass audience reach and brand impressions, and report the strong viewership numbers the network enjoyed when the ads were aired. In the past, this has always been acceptable to the leadership.

Now, though, they want to know: did your marketing campaign generate sales? When pressed for a concrete number, you have nothing to offer. In all honesty, you can’t say for sure that sales were affected in any way at all. Between their questioning and your own lack of answers, it reminds you that in today’s marketing world it’s all about return on investment. The solution is much more than trying to dig up some numbers to offer to the executive team: When you start to roll up your sleeves, you realize a new marketing model is needed, one that can offer tangible ROI.

Content marketing is capable of filling this hole in brand marketing strategies, but the struggle is balancing its long-range plan with the up-front costs. It’s true that content marketing ROI compounds over time, and that long-term ROI is much more reflective of success than any short-term gains. But that won’t make it easy for leadership to green-light hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending when facing the prospect of spending months in the dark on the return on investment.

To satisfy the executive team asking for better insight, you’ll need to convince them to spend more money now, while taking the risk out of the equation. For committed marketers, there’s a way to get this done.

1. Measure Short-Term Success

Establishing measures for short-term success is much different than evaluating long-term. Remember: growth doesn’t always happen on a straight line. Content marketing is an investment that pays out incrementally as time goes on. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit around and spend money for two years before you get any signs that the investment is paying off. There are plenty of metrics that can indicate early success and show either direct ROI or indirect evidence that your content marketing plan is unfolding as is expected.

As the Content Marketing Institute pointed out, most of your content discovery will come through just three channels: email, search, and social. At the start of your content strategy development, these channels should be prioritized. Whether you’re creating blog content, video, newsletters, white papers, or all of the above, these channels need to effectively reach an audience if there’s any hope of squeezing value from them.

But in the early months, the volume of this traffic isn’t as important. Instead, find your starting point and aim for incremental growth. As you grow the audiences reached through these channels, seek out ways to limit turnover—which will indicate that the content is strengthening brand loyalties and building a relationship with consumers. Track customer retention and percentage growth in the early stages of this distribution strategy, and don’t abandon any of these channels—if something isn’t working as planned, change your approach.

According to entrepreneur and influencer Neil Patel, the types of content you choose early on can dictate your success. It’s best to stick to content that will be most palatable to the broadest audience possible, since growth is such a priority. For example, blog articles are easily the type of content viewed as most useful by 35 percent of consumers. Infographics rank second, at 24 percent, followed by case studies at 11 percent. Focusing on the top types of content early on allows you to prioritize what works best—and, through that, maximize your early returns.

Fractl/Moz Study of what clients want most from content marketers
what clients want most from content marketers

Meanwhile, consider scale when evaluating metrics related to customer acquisition, purchasing influence, upselling, and other benefits of content marketing. It’s very unlikely, in the early stages of implementing a company-wide strategy, that these numbers will even come close to generating a positive ROI…

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