Content marketing has grown into a powerful force in reaching and influencing a customer base that is mobile, empowered, and bombarded by brand messaging at every turn. But while it’s fun to share your knowledge with the world, content marketing needs to answer the question posed by every budget manager: What’s the return on investment?
Content marketing’s long-term, customer-focused approach has somewhat of a learning curve due to the technologies required to implement. Don’t be discouraged, though. Here are three methods of tracking ROI that build on each other, from simple to complex:
Track basic content metrics from the site that hosts your content: total visits, unique visits, time-on-site, bounce rate, and cost-per-visitor. Make sure to pull reports from social channels as well to measure clicks, shares, and mentions.
Don’t expect these numbers to have a 1:1 relationship with your bottom line, but they can show positive engagement and create customer service feedback that has value. Regular monitoring of these indicators will also help you be more efficient in creating and delivering content.
Simple forms for newsletters, requests for information, applications and more allow you to collect name and email information and affiliate it with a particular product or service you offer. Your sales team still needs to complete the transaction, but you’ve initiated a difficult part of the process, and that has value.
Calculate the value of individual leads by dividing the sales revenue generated during a particular time period by the number of leads generated over the same period. Multiply that number by the average percentage of profit you make on every sale. This approach generalizes all of your campaigns, but it does explain your content’s contribution to financial success.
Systems that track site visitors through lead generation all the way to the end of a sale are the most sophisticated, but offer the greatest value. Marketing automation and integrated customer relationship management software are required to attain this level of insight.
Once in place, however, sales and marketing teams can dig in to campaigns, messaging, and even individual pieces of content to determine what works best in every channel. It takes time to fully incorporate these systems into your organization, but they provide the most direct look into content ROI.
I had the opportunity to attend a Facebook Small Business Boost seminar this week. I wrote a more detailed post for the brass blog, but here are some key takeaways:
After four months of planning and hacking and testing, I’m proud to announce Revamp, a niche vertical aimed at the homebuilding, renovation and repair industry
After launching a self-contained social network about a year ago that was half community, half business directory, we learned that the product lacked consistent reader activity and was difficult for non-blogger business owners to use.
So I and a colleague regrouped and tried to distill the essence of what businesses might want from the Web. Our answer? Personal contact with potential customers. It’s why they join Facebook and do branding advertising and buy a listing on a newspaper social network.
The problem? These are plumbers and designers and landscapers, not writers. So we trimmed down the options to three categories: news, events and offers. We integrated an “Ask a Pro” feature as a way to put experience front-and-center to start the conversation with primed customers. And we always have a way for people to contact our pros to ask in person or schedule a bid.
We can also work with networks like Facebook, Twitter or existing products like a company Website or blog. We want to be the hub for our advertiser’s various work on the Web. We want to bend like the reed and help local businesses understand the social Web.
Seems like a funny thing to explain, but it’s important:
Take a look and see if it meets your needs. I’ll be following up with the kind of feedback we get from the pros who join the network.
I’ve been a little slow about posting here, for a variety of reasons (mostly that we bought a house that has required a significant amount of work — and so when I don’t have a paintbrush or wrench in my hand, we’re asleep).
More to come.
While reporters often write about workforce training and development in beats they cover, journalists have simply been left out in the cold when it comes to dealing with seismic shifts in their own workplace.
As part of a couple of media companies over the years who have ditched newsroom training completely, I’ve had to do much of the work on educating myself for the wired world on my own (for good and bad, I suppose).
At the recent BarCamp NewsInnovation-Portland, I heard from a range of folks who asked for basic information on new media — the kinds of things they hear about ever day and feel like they should know, but don’t know where to go or who to ask.
In light of this, I’m proposing a series of training sessions in a few locations for working journalists, citizen journalists and other media types.
I just read today about an effort at a couple of Belgian publications to teach social media. I think their list of must-knows is right on:
They’ve also planned a series of multimedia workshops for audio, video, and animations, and considered a discussion on striking out on your own.
My idea is to focus more on concepts of social media — why these things are important and game-changing; how to include them in your daily workflow; why journalism isn’t newspapers — than on specific platforms and show how twitter and facebook and digg and flickr are parts of the same whole rather than individual phenomena. I think that’s more important moving forward than platform-specific training.
If enough people are interested, I can start putting these together. I was thinking of charging a small fee to cover costs and maybe of taking the show on the road to capture as many people as possible.
I can imagine linking up with professional organizations (SPJ, anyone?) who really should be at the forefront of helping members prepare for changed professional landscape.
Anyone have any thoughts on this? Advice?
We’re right on top of NewsInnovation Portland and I’m really looking forward to meeting some great folks, forming new partnerships and coming up with some great plans for moving forward with news — not as an industry necessarily, but as journalists and consumers.
At any rate, we’re all but sold out (1 ticket remains at 12:45 p.m. Friday) but if you’re not able to make it to Portland State, we don’t want to leave you in the cold.
So join us and join in!
The web offers not just another platform for distribution of product, but rather an entirely new calculus for how an online media company can be run. By its very nature, it changes the construct of most media businesses. Migrate your newspaper to the web completely and you suddenly lose the cost of ink, paper, presses, pressmen, delivery trucks, distribution and paperboys. Tell your writers to work from home and you can lose the building, the desks, the lights, the cleaning services and most of the management as well. Cut all those costs, and suddenly your ad based web revenue can look pretty good in comparison. Its the overhead that is killing you. Lose it. You don’t need it.
At the time, I thought it was a little goofy, but now it seems to me that if news organizations ditch all the old baggage, they could move to downtown spaces, upgrade the facilities and have all those reporter-bloggers punching away next to freelance programmers, designers and whoever dropped in for a mega-latte.
I think the key is to retain the paper’s brand more than anything. I was up in Vancouver, Wash. a couple of weeks ago in the Columbian’s brand new building. It’s beautiful, and the paper’s staff uses the first four floors, with office space available on the top two. But what really grabbed me was the use of the paper’s brand in the architecture.
The pictures here don’t do it justice, but the cool lobby area features huge portions of the paper’s nameplate etched in the glass and inside on the walls. Clips help set the paper in the city’s history.*
My point is that what matters is the brand and the product, not how it’s delivered.
*Note: The fancy building didn’t help the Columbian. In Dec, 2008, they were forced to move back into their old location. In May, they filed for Chapter 11 protection.