How To Align Your Business and Marketing Goals
A common scenario we work with is trying to match a business’s goals with marketing goals. How on earth does creating content help a business attract new customers or increase sales or improve profitability?
How Content Marketing Goals Are Developed
A great content marketing strategy means supporting your marketing goals and business goals. A measurable goal is one that gives the desired outcome of the objective in quantifiable terms. It specifies tangible outcomes delivered in terms of the results achieved.
When content marketing doesn't work, the mistake is not aligning the business goals with the marketing goals.
How do you set content marketing goals? What sort of outcome should you be looking for when setting content marketing goals?
The first step is to understand exactly what category of goal you are trying to achieve. It depends on what kind of business it is and what you’re selling. A content marketing strategy selling someone’s expertise in the practice of law would initially look very different to the content marketing strategy of a business selling leather shoes. This is because the lawyer might be primarily concerned with lead conversion and nurturing, while the shoe store is more interested in customer conversion and up-sell.
The Content Marketing Institute helpfully provides with specific and measurable goals in one or more of the following categories:
- Brand awareness or reinforcement – This is a strong goal for businesses that may not sell a product on line.
- Lead conversion and nurturing – The types of leads vary according to business, but this is a common goal.
- Customer conversion – Many e-commerce sites simply want their content marketing strategy to drive up actual purchases.
- Customer loyalty/retention – An advanced method of content marketing is the retention strategy – keeping the customer post-sale.
- Customer up-sell – The more that a customer interacts beyond the initial sale, the better. Content marketing can help him or her do that.
The following chart, also from the Content Marketing Institute, shows how you would measure these marketing goals.
Now that you’ve put some thought into the category of marketing goals you are interested in, you can start thinking about specific goals. Increased traffic to your website? Subscribers? Repeat business from existing customers?
The beauty of content marketing is that you can tailor it to meet your goals specifically. If you want to improve the perception of your brand, then a content marketing strategy will develop content that sells your story to your audience and demonstrates your expertise and leadership in your industry. If you’d like to improve customer retention and loyalty, the post-sale experience will be important. A content marketing strategy might include follow-up contact offering a discount on the next purchase or access to exclusive information.
The reason why content marketing works is that it allows you to build your own audience of prospects and customers who want to hear from you. Using content to capture contact details like email addresses or phone numbers allows you to construct a specialized list. You don’t need to worry about trying to reach a certain audience size if you’ve cultivated a high-quality database of people specifically interested in your content. When you send an email to the people on your list, it’s much more likely to be of interest than if you send the same information out to the general public.
How Marketing Goals Drive Growth
I’m sure many of you want to hear about the numbers. How can a marketing strategy translate into meeting business goals? The great news is that the investment you make in content continues to drive business your way for months or years after the initial spend. This happens in a number of ways, for example:
- Creating content around certain keywords allows you to influence organic search rankings. The more often your content is returned in search results, the more web traffic your company receives.
- Stories about how your customers have benefited from your product or service are good investments because they capture the sentiment of a positive user experience at the time it occurs, and it doesn't go stale over time.
- A white paper attracts new subscribers long after it’s first published. Using a landing page for each white paper gives you the ability to capture new names to your list for weeks or months after it was published.
- Content like a blog or podcast increase your authority on a topic by showing a collection of work demonstrating expertise around a certain subject. Content also help to increase audience numbers and establish your credibility outside of products or services you offer.
- Overall cost per lead reduces with time. The most content assets you create, the greater the ability each of them has to influence each sale. A blog post you wrote five years ago still has the ability to generate leads.
When people ask about the ROI of content marketing the answer is always, ‘It depends.’ It depends on business goals. It depends on the type of content you’re creating. It depends on the maturity of your content brand. Several studies report the same fact; the cost of a lead generated by content marketing is less than leads generated by traditional marketing and advertising. As an added bonus, content has a long shelf life and will continue to drive business for you long after the initial spend.
For those of you who just can’t be without a good mathematical formula, Paul Farris of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, Dominique Hanssens of UCLA Anderson School of Management, James Lenskold of Lenskold Group, and David Reibstein of The Wharton School teamed up to tame the chaos of calculating marketing ROI (MROI) and create a common approach to what may be the marketing profession’s most critical, high-level productivity metric.
The authors define MROI as “the financial value attributable to a specific set of marketing initiatives (net of marketing spend), divided by the marketing ‘invested’ or risked for that set of initiatives.” Here’s the suggested “formula” for how marketers should express and communicate it:
Our analysis measured a (total, incremental or marginal) MROI of (scope of spending) using (valuation method) over (time period).
For example, MROI plays one role in the strategic realm of setting marketing budgets, and a vastly different one in the more tactical maneuvers around allocating those investments across marketing channels and activities.
The idea is to maximize profit, not necessarily MROI. It’s basically the difference between being efficient (obtaining high MROI) and being effective (driving maximum profit and long-term value). As the paper points out, maximizing profit isn’t a simple matter of shifting marketing investments from low- to high-ROI activities. That’s because you must also consider strategic issues such as brand building and new customer acquisition vs. the need for short-term sales, among others.
In simpler terms then, this formula should help you work out which marketing activity gives you the most bang for your buck in both strategic and tangible ways.
What are your experiences in aligning business and marketing goals?