Article

Michael Georgiou
Michael Georgiou 5 May 2016

Content ROI: What Does Your ROI Say About Your Strategy?

Content marketing provides a powerful value for business. It offer users a unique gateway to your site by providing value upfront. This might take the form of an e-book, a tutorial or simply a useful blog with a unique perspective.

The tough part of content marketing is determining its return on investment (ROI).

Other forms of marketing like paid ads or landing pages are much easier to quantify than blog posts or e-books. The ROI for these doesn’t necessarily translate into dollar signs, at least not right away. Content marketing is more about building a long-term relationship.

When you’re building a business, you’re building for the long term. While more direct sales pitches will reach a certain level of buyer and user, that kind of reach is limited to those who already have a need for your services. Prospects looking at your content may just be in a research phase. 

What content marketing offers is the opportunity to build a long-term relationship with users, which in turn creates long-term success in the form of sales, referrals and repeat customers.

What is your strategy?

Strategy is a must when it comes to all marketing campaigns.

This is particularly true when it comes to something like content strategy, which is more ethereal than other forms of marketing since the ROI may not be immediately visible.

Your content strategy says a lot about your business and its goals.

What is the goal of your content?

  • To create trust in your brand
  • To build customer loyalty
  • To improve customer experience
  • To drive engagement
  • To increase subscribers
  • To control customer focus

Your content strategy may have several goals.

For Imaginovation, our content strategy goals include creating trust in our brand and driving engagement. Our aim is to establish ourselves as experts in web services and technology. We choose our topics strategically, by looking at search terms used by customers to find us and our competitors. SpyFu is a great tool for this. We also reach out to partners such as Digital Doughnut for guest posts, so we can reach a larger audience.

Even if you start out with a certain content marketing goal in mind, that goal is likely to change and morph over time. For example, when we launched our blog, it was purely for SEO purposes. We took the time to write helpful posts, but as we learned more about the power of content marketing, the goals of our blog and our content as a whole became more complex.

Content marketing requires effort to figure out what works, then requires flexibility to allow for growth. Often content strategy has changed over time without a business even realizing it.

We recommend evaluating your content strategy on a regular basis and documenting these changes.

When determining what your strategy is, be honest with yourself. If your stated goal is that you’re wanting to use content marketing to increase newsletter subscribers, but you’ve not seen an uptick in that metric, then you need to either re-evaluate your end goal. Is a newsletter necessary?

Is your audience more interested in reading blog posts than having a newsletter come to their inbox? Should you add an incentive such as an e-book to encourage subscriptions?

However, you might be effectively building customer loyalty with your content instead, which also provides a valuable ROI.

This means your current and past customers remain engaged by subscribing to your newsletter, following your blog or following your social media accounts. This most certainly increases your chances of receiving referrals and repeat business. This is just one example of how content ROI doesn’t necessarily translate to sales in a linear fashion. The question is, are you getting the return on the investment that you’re seeking with your content marketing?

How do you quantify ROI?

This is an essential piece of the puzzle. Are you tracking the ROI of your content marketing? If so, how are you doing it?

Here are some relevant metrics that you might be tracking, or that you might want to start using depending on your content marketing strategy:

Traffic

  • Hits
  • Landing or entrance page
  • Exit page
  • Time spent on page(s)

Engagement & Sharing

  • Social media shares
  • Social media follows/likes
  • Downloads
  • Comments
  • Backlinks

Sales

  • Calls
  • Online form submissions
  • Inquiries
  • Referrals
  • Repeat customers
  • New customers

Whether or not you’re currently tracking any or all of these metrics says a great deal about your strategy. Since engagement is an important part of our content strategy, we look towards social media shares, follows and likes to determine the success of our content. We don’t look at just pure numbers though.

If our content gets shared by a major influencer, we would consider that a success, even if the actual number of shares wasn’t as impressive. The quality of the shares counts too!

If you’re primarily driven by those under the engagement & sharing category, then you’re likely interested in brand awareness, reputation and traffic.

Sales are the end goal of all marketers, however if this is your primary focus then you’ll want to concentrate on controlling customer focus with targeted landing pages and carefully tracking their journey on your website.

Do they hit any “snags”? Where do they tend to stop in your sales funnel and how can you guide them more easily to make that purchase or request that quote?

Every business benefits from strategy

No matter what kind of business you’re in, you’re going to benefit greatly from creating a content marketing strategy.

You already have goals in mind and the more defined and well-thought out your strategy is, the more success your content will bring, whether that be in terms of brand awareness, sales or engagement.

Luckily, we live in a new era of analytics, where data-backed decisions are able to be made with the metrics important to you.

Meaning, you have the power to create content based on what is performing.

Every business should have an analytics tool set up such as Google Analytics so you are able to see which blog posts are most popular or visualize how your prospects move through your website. Use this data when tracking your goals and to make changes if your strategy isn’t working as expected.

It should be clear whether or not your strategy is helping you reach your business goals.

Consider the costs and benefits

One big mistake that businesses make with content marketing is that they don’t worry about ROI at all.

While relevant, rich content is always a great addition to a website, it’s still important to make sure that it is in line with your business goals.

Evaluate your strategy by checking your metrics regularly.

Content marketing has real costs. It doesn’t create itself! You are either paying writers or taking the time of other employees in order to create it and measure its success.

Business owners are often the experts on what they’re promoting and feel the need to create content themselves, but this has a cost as well in the form of time. If you are hacking it on your own, remember to take this into consideration.

You are investing in content no matter who generates it.

Getting some kind of return on that investment, in whatever form you find to be most valuable to your business, is an important part of your success.

How do you measure the ROI of your content strategy? Which metrics are important to your business?

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