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Yes, you can make content marketing pay. Here's how…

Roger Barr
5th March 2019

Building a strong business case for your content marketing is more important than ever, but where do you start?

  • The importance of testing methodologies that draw actionable insights

  • The value of setting a clear definition of what conversion is

  • The role of attribution models in measuring content

Content marketing is an alternative to traditional advertising. While advertising interrupts the customer journey, content marketing supports the customer journey at every step with relevant and valuable experiences that drive action.

It is no surprise that 45% of respondents to the UK Content Marketing Institute's 2018 ‘Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends’ report expect their content marketing budget to increase in the next year. It's a discipline which marketing veteran Julie Fleischer famously claimed delivered the Kraft brand four times higher return on investment (ROI) than other strategies, including targeted advertising. Its benefits - including brand credibility and increasing efficacy - are well documented.

Content marketing is an undeniably powerful element of the marketing mix, yet measuring the success of content marketing has historically been a challenge. Why is this the case? More often than not, marketers work with data that is presumed to have innate value and there is a focus on the grey areas of ‘engagement’, ‘reach’ and ‘share’, which don’t necessarily deliver the ROI the brand is looking for. Chief marketing officers (CMOs) need to be very clear about their content marketing goals from the beginning. They need a precise definition of what they want to achieve from any piece of content and set expectations around it – for example, is it to move someone from awareness to consideration? Is it to generate new leads? Is it to convert someone to a sale?

Start by setting goals

It's imperative to ensure each piece of content has an objective and that you are building the relevant audience around it. Our influencer-powered content hub campaign with Danish speaker brand DALI for its KATCH Bluetooth speaker is a good example of this. Working with a group of influencers united in their passion for music, it delivered on its conversion objectives by increasing e-commerce website visits by 128%.

Define your micro-conversions

Sales metrics may be seen as the ultimate legitimisers of a content marketing budget but success does not need to take the form of a 'macro sale' or purchase. That sample request or that test drive ‘micro conversion’ can be really valuable too.

We understand from our work with Sofa.com that out of ten packs of fabric samples customers order as a result of a piece of content marketing, two people will go on to purchase. Rather than directly linking to product pages, our tactic of moving users from promoted Facebook and Pinterest posts onto shoppable content pages has increased product views, sample orders and sales significantly. This content marketing generated a 40 percent increase in product page interaction from social.

Building an attribution model

Customers will interact with a brand across a number of touchpoints - for example, blog posts, infographics on a website, or a video on YouTube. Attribution models seek to demonstrate the impact of those different elements of content marketing. They show how touchpoints are influencing buyers but don’t always mirror what a consumer journey is truly like. The most commonly used last-click attribution method credits the last click a consumer makes for a sale. An alternative ‘first-click’ model gives that full credit to the first interaction and the linear attribution method credits all of the touchpoints equally.

Google Analytics not only enables brands to set micro goals and track conversion, but offers smarter attribution modelling too. Its tools can compare the last interaction, first interaction and also linear. This gives a truer picture of the role of a given piece of content in a consumer’s digital journey and really starts to demonstrate the ROI of content marketing.  

Keep on measuring the same things

It sounds obvious but there is a lot of marketing that goes on without measurement being top of the agenda. Remember to set the right KPIs from the start, establishing goals and ensuring there is a logical framework in place to measure success. Keep your attention on the strategic purpose of your content marketing and maintain a focus on the measurable outcomes that can justify your marketing spend.

Have more questions on content marketing ROI?

Feel free to contact the author of this post, Roger Barr, Chief Digital Officer at digital marketing agency Mediablaze. He would be delighted to talk with you about hosting a content marketing masterclass for your brand.

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