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ROI and the case for content marketing

Proving it's worth the investment

Demonstrating ROI is a big concern for content marketers. Here’s how to argue the case for value and get your budget signed off.

Ask any content marketer and they’ll tell you content has great potential to attract, convert and retain customers. While more organisations than ever are adopting content as part of their overall marketing strategy, many traditional marketing executives are still wondering if it’s worth the investment. And, to be fair, someone has to front up and answer for where the money goes and if was worth it.

Understanding ROI

In the past, traditional marketers used media circulation and reach to justify their budgets. As technology has become more sophisticated, marketers have been offered new opportunities that drive a more complex way of looking at user engagement and conversions. As Darren Woolley, Global CEO at TrinityP3 Marketing Management Consultants, explains, “Digital technology allowed us to have greater insights into consumer behaviour and therefore be better able to engage with them to achieve the desired results.”

“With well-defined goals, brands can better measure the real value of content”

The problem with content marketing and one of the reasons content fails to deliver ROI, Woolley says, is that, “People are often measuring the wrong things. They’re not going deep enough to measure the metrics that count and instead settle for the ones that may look good but are largely meaningless.”

Too often, he adds, marketers are looking at metrics such as social media likes or unique page views, which are increasingly considered superficial and not a true indicator of success. Instead, Woolley believes, “The starting point is the strategy. A good strategy is based on achieving specific and measurable objectives. “With well-defined goals, brands can better measure the real value of content and whether or not it generates leads and eventually conversions.”

Building a case

To make a strong business case for content marketing, author Michael Brenner suggests finding out the cost of producing content, how it will be utilised and how it is expected to perform. Brands should then compare these components against the company’s average marketing ROI to determine if their efforts are worthwhile. “To answer the content marketing ROI question for your business,” he says, “you need to build a solid case based on a deep understanding of your business,” Brenner says in a Content Marketing Institute article.

Improving ROI

Data collected during the building of a business case is extremely valuable for marketers, who can then use it to implement changes to create better quality content that engages the right audience. An easy way to do so is to experiment with calls to action or content types. Perhaps your customers are more inclined to follow through to a product page on your website from a blog post. Or maybe more are subscribing to your email list after watching a video. Whatever you choose to do, it should be delivered against the objectives you set in your initial strategy so as to not lose sight of what you are trying to achieve as a brand.

Admittedly, content marketing ROI is a hot topic right now. Amid the sea of content, it’s unlikely all brands will deliver the viral campaigns so many executives are desperately hoping for. But content marketing can pay if assessed against the right metrics. Or as Woolley puts it, “It’s what people do with content that counts.”

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Caroline Faucher
Caroline is a Canadian-Australian writer and online communication strategist with over 10 years experience in media, not-for-profits and government. Now based in the seaside city of Newcastle, she enjoys the variety of topics a freelance life offers and the challenge of turning complex ideas into simple messages.