Why You Should Shift Your Content Marketing Focus to ROI
Content marketing will be an essential part of leading marketing strategies in 2014, but many marketers are still challenged by its deployment. For our 2014 Content Marketing Tactics Planner, Curata surveyed over 500 organizations about their content marketing strategies. Marketers identified their top three content challenges as limited staff, limited budget, and creating enough content.
These same marketers ranked measuring content marketing ROI and promoting existing content as their lowest priorities. While it’s possible that some organizations are so effective that ROI and promotion aren’t seen as challenges, many companies are simply too focused on creating content. They aren’t giving enough thought to promotion, distribution, and measurement. It’s time to put those priorities at the top of your list.
Measuring the Impact of Content
Limited staff, limited budget, and developing quality content are all sizable challenges, but you also need to know which content leads to engagement, and which content doesn’t resonate. If you have that information, you can cut out the ineffective content, create more of the content that your audience craves, and increase your overall content ROI.
Marketers clearly believe that content marketing is effective. In our survey, respondents estimated that their content positively impacted brand awareness, engagement, thought leadership, SEO/web traffic, lead quality, and lead quantity.
Estimating impact, however, isn’t the same as proving impact. So how do smart marketers measure the ROI of their content and determine which pieces are valuable? Here are some places to start:
Your content should be developed for your target audience, and provide information that readers will be compelled to share. Where does your target audience spend their time? Make sure your content reaches these locations, whether you’re marketing on news sites, blogs, social media, mobile, or email.
How can you be sure you’re reaching readers? Check the open rate on your emails, shares on social media and blogs, page views on your blog, and click-backs from any site you post material on. If you’re not getting a high enough open rate or enough shares on a certain channel, you can adjust your content accordingly, or focus more time on your most successful channels. To give a basic example, if a blog post on one topic got 10 shares, and another blog topic got 100, produce more of the latter.
Provide your prospects and customers with the information they want – content should always revolve around your customers’ needs. Find out what your customers require in order to move through the sales cycle – what questions do they need answered? What pain points do they need addressed?
Continually ask your customers for feedback. Which topics are they most interested in, and what kind of information are they looking for? Track the impact of your customer-focused content, and keep the conversation going through comments and personalization.
Provide Thought Leadership
Delivering content that provides thought leadership entails diverse sources, new perspectives, and high-quality insights. Become a go-to source for readers, even on topics you’re not an expert on – just curate content from authors who are.
For the best results, be strategic in your choice of channels. Don’t waste your time posting to sites, or on topics, that your readers aren’t interested in. You can use the same basic metrics (shares, views, and click backs) to ensure you’re striking the right note with your readers.
Ways to Improve Your Content ROI
1. Maximize SEO/Web Traffic and Leads
Another great way to improve the ROI of your strategy is to optimize content for search – as long as you aren’t sacrificing value for readers. Search optimization should actually be helpful to your audience – after all, your target audience won’t find your content if the keywords they search aren’t in your titles, subtitles, text, tags, etc. Including internal site links within your blog posts and social campaigns will also increase web traffic.
You can measure web traffic and points of engagement through tools such as Google Analytics or KISSmetrics. Do valuable sections of your site have low traffic? Work on optimizing these areas to get the highest ROI on that content. Also, always include a call-to-action, inviting readers to learn more about your product/service. This will encourage them to spend more time on your site – an important metric.
Put forms (or “gates”) in front of content that indicates an interest in your product, so that you can capture those leads. Over 61% of marketers in our survey saw an increase in quantity and quality of leads as a result of content marketing. If certain campaigns aren’t bringing in enough leads, either add value, or focus more on campaigns that are more compelling for readers.
2. Maximize Your Content Engine
Readers want fresh, relevant content every day, which can be difficult with a limited budget or small marketing team. Balance the demand for new content with available resources by adjusting your content mix. Curated content (content written by other people, which you then organize and share) gives your content offering variety, and keeps your organization from practicing egocentric marketing. When you back up your thought leadership with third-party sources, it lends your organization credibility.
Content curation helps maximize ROI by quickly delivering more content to readers, without your team putting in extra hours. According to our survey, best-in-class marketers create only 65% of their content – 25% is curated, and 10% is syndicated.
Promoting existing content is another easy way to increase your content marketing ROI. Many marketers publish great content, but move on to the next campaign before that content’s achieved its full potential. Re-purpose the quality content you already have with the content marketing pyramid method — turn your ebooks into webinars, webinars into infographics, infographics into blogs, blogs into social campaigns and then curate related content. Be sure to saturate the topic with your content before moving on. This will help you reach a wider audience, using the same content re-purposed into more digestible formats.
Once you’ve started to analyze the impact of your content, you’ll be able to optimize your strategy for higher engagement and better leads.
To learn more about improving content marketing ROI by developing a team, implementing content technology, and improving your content mix, download Curata’s latest ebook, Content Marketing Tactics Planner 2014.