A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
The idea behind content marketing is that you publish content that current and potential customers will find valuable and relevant with a call to action to subscribe or drive them to your website or specific web page. Content marketing could be a newsletter, blog, website, video, podcast, social media channel, or any other platform for publishing information. The goal of a content marketing campaign is to generate interest in your business, establish trust in your brand, and ultimately to increase your profit by increased sales. Content marketing can also attract new customers and increase the retention rate of existing customers.
While your customers may appreciate valuable and relevant content, what separates content marketing from simply content publishing is that the content is a means to an end, not the end itself. Every piece of content has a call to action be it a subscription link, a ‘learn more’, or a ‘buy now’ button that can be tracked to drive the analytics of the campaign.
There are many different types of content marketing campaigns. Some focus on gaining new customers through brand awareness through social media posts, others on gaining the trust of potential customers through publishing educational material, and still others on increasing sales revenue by publishing articles on upcoming products. Every content campaign is different and requires that you identify your business’s strengths, target audience, resources, goals, and how you intend to achieve those goals.
One popular example of a successful content marketing campaign is The Furrow Magazine, published by John Deere. While John Deere is a company that specializes in tractors they produce a farming magazine that covers a wide range of topics and perspectives on farming that is viewed as accurate, unbiased, and very relevant to farmers. Over time the John Deere brand became synonymous with honesty, integrity, and competency which fed directly into their sale numbers.
How is ROI measured?
There are a number of metrics that can be used to evaluate the success of a digital content marketing campaign. Consumption metrics like views, downloads, and social chatter can be used to identify how many people have seen your content. Sharing metrics such as ‘likes’, shares, tweets, pins, forwards, and inbound links are useful for measuring the spread of your content over the internet. Lead generation metrics such as form completions & downloads, subscriptions, and comments can be tracked to see how many new clients have become interested in your business through the content campaign.
To calculate the return on your investment you can do the following:
- Calculate the investment
- Multiply hours per month needed to create the content by the hourly pay rate of the employees used to create the content.
- Multiply the results by the overhead factor (This accounts for rent, insurance, utilities, etc.)
- Add up all other costs (design fees, hosting fees, subscriptions, software, etc.) and spread them evenly across each content program.
- Calculate the Return
- Multiply your leads per month by your lead conversion rate, average lifetime customer value, and average profit margin.
- Subtract the investment from the return. Then, divide by the investment.
Example: Spacely’s Sprockets puts 40 hours per month into writing and vetting content for their content marketing campaign. Mr. Spacely pays George $16 per hour and calculates the overhead factor to be 1.2. He also takes into account the monthly cost for their premium social media accounts ($100).Using analytics software one can see that, on average, for every 100 clicks on campaign material 5% end in sales averaging about $500. Last month the campaign generated 256 clicks.To calculate the investment you do the following:(hours) x (pay) x (overhead factor) + (additional costs)
40 x $16 x 1.2 + $100
640 x 1.2 + $100
$768 + $100
$868To calculate return you do the following:(Number of Clicks) x (conversion rate) x (conversion value)
256 x 0.05 x $500
12.8 x $500
$6400To calculate return on investment you do the following:( (return) – (investment) ) / (investment)
($6400 – $868) / $868
$5532 / $868
The return on this investment is 637%
Who Benefits from Content marketing
Established business that can afford to put in the long term investment and have a streamlined sales funnel for clients to land in can benefit from content marketing. Content Marketing primarily targets the first and second stages of the buyer’s journey (see and think) with the hope of pushing them to action, but clients who have decided to make a purchase are more likely to go to your website directly than go back to the article you posted. Content marketing can also target the fourth stage of the buyer’s journey (care) in the form of newsletters, guides, and tutorials, but does not completely cover this area.
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- Establishes your business as experts in your field
- Generates positive interest and gets your name in front of potential customers
- Generates earned media (customer reviews, comments, likes, shares, etc.)
- Excellent synergy with SEO and PPC campaigns
- Increases the loyalty and retention of current customers
- Increases the likelihood of being able to up-sell or cross-sell to customers
- Saves money by replacing traditional forms of of content marketing (newspaper articles, magazines, pamphlets, etc.)
- This is a long term initiative that does not generate results overnight
- The metrics and ROI are not as clear cut as PPC or SEO
- Someone has to take the time to write and vet all that excellent content
What is Content Marketing?, The Marketing Helpline
How to Measure the Success of Content Marketing, Content Marketing Institute
A Field Guide to the Four Types of Content Marketing Metrics, Content Marketing Institute
The Essentials of a Documented Content Marketing Strategy: 36 Questions to Answer, Content Marketing Institute
Developing Goals & Strategies for Digital Content Marketing, Study.com
Promoting & Measuring Success of Digital Content Marketing, Study.com
8 Ways to Use Google Analytics to Measure the Success of Your Content Marketing, Orbit Media Studios