More often than not, this is not the case, and even when it is, either the CEO, CFO or Board will ask if budget is not better spent on direct ROI campaigns, or, worse still results are worse or better than expected (both being problems for Marketers). A vast majority have to justify each line of the budget with questions on Content Marketing and cost of Brand Awareness being difficult lines to explain.
Many non-Marketers take comfort from seeing paid campaigns because the path is clear - how much reach, how many clicks, how many conversions per “X” amount spent. So, how can you possibly make a case for Content Marketing?
Step 1: Understand the effects
Before you can understand which metrics to follow, you need to understand the logic of what should be effected. You publish content either on your own website or on another site, both with relevant links (internal and external links both have SEO value). The more widespread the content on external sites, the better the SEO, Brand Authority and Brand Awareness. People see your content and begin to remember your brand and consider your brand as an expert and trustworthy as others are willing to publish your view point. Search Engines also understand that your brand is an authority and value giver and therefore ranks the website higher.
Then promote via Social Media channels, Email Marketing and external links. This generates visitors to the website and content also leads to longer on site. Visitors can be retargeted and Google ranks favorably on sites with good behavior patterns like time on site.
Higher ranking, awareness and trust of the brand means that you should also see more people coming directly to the site and a larger retargeting pool with a higher click through rate.
One vital factor to consider is that reading content has low intention to buy, a buying decision is aided or started from content, not closed.
Step 2: Define the metrics to measure
If you understand the logic, then knowing which metrics to measure and why. The obvious metrics are site visits - you are looking for referrals (from external publications), traffic from social and an increase in direct traffic. This is a quantitative measure - this increases the pool of retargeting group and a far lower cost than Keywords Ads for example. You should also see increases on Organic Search traffic.
For on site behavior, you should look at bounce rate decreases, increased time on site and number of pages visited.
The money time ROI is seen on the increase pool size for retargeted, higher click through rates and higher conversion percentages. If you are fortunate you may see some direct conversion from content, but more often than not, your system will measure the converting visit from session the lead generation was created, so it will mostly be seen on your retargeting campaigns.
Step 3: Benchmarking and Goals
If you are just starting out with Content Marketing, benchmarking is simple - take the metrics from Step 2 and you have a starting point. As you start or increase your Content efforts, you will be able to see the changes.
If you started Content Marketing a while ago and you need to justify the budget, you will need to go back to historical data before to when activities were lower. You can then compare to current metrics to see the effects. Bear in mind that Content Marketing has a time lag. SEO generally takes 4 to 6 months before seeing results, this is a good indication of time to think about Content Marketing in general. You also should not go too far back in history for a benchmark as the further away from the present you go back, the more the data is contaminated with other changes made in both Marketing Strategies and Market conditions. It is better to look at a closer time period with less activity than much further back with none.
The next time you need to defend your budget, be forearmed with data and numbers. Content Marketing can be measured, as can the ROI!
Nicc Lewis, CEO & Founder of Expozive Marketing / Marcom Agency & Consulting
Nicc Lewis is the founder of Expozive, a Marcom / Marketing Agency & Consultancy with a fresh approach. Nicc has over a decade and a half experience in Marketing in the digital field in both B2B and B2C Marketing. Industries include Fintech, Gaming and even fashion.