Investing in a content strategy is a must in today’s competitive business environment. The web has become a go-to place for consumers, clients and other interested parties to get information. Direct marketing is still quite effective, but the scope and dynamics of marketing have changed through both the Internet and the social web. It is important to keep in mind that buyers today are interested in more than one-way direct marketing.
Ongoing distribution of content does take resources and a big question many marketers ask themselves is what they need to be doing to accurately measure the true ROI of content marketing. This concern with ROI is with good reason. According to statistics, a whopping 86 percent of B2B marketers and 77 percent of B2C marketers utilize content marketing. They want to be sure these efforts are paying off.
Mass marketing vs. direct response marketing
Traditionally, mass marketing is the primary route to brand visibility. After all, it keeps a company’s name in the forefront and lets people know the business is out there and ready to provide a solution. However, this method is expensive and labor-intensive because numerous marketing channels must be used — repeatedly. It is also difficult to ascertain which ads are bringing the leads in.
Smaller businesses without the “power” of mass marketing often turn to direct response marketing. This approach doesn’t require the considerable budget traditional marketing does. Direct response is designed to be personal — evoking emotion and action — and it can be especially effective. Putting the focus on the prospect instead of the seller also makes the interactions more successful.
Content distribution and social media interaction fit perfectly into this type of strategy because businesses can share the type of content their audience is interested in, putting the emphasis on them. Another big plus is direct response marketing is highly trackable and measurable.
Successwise.com notes, “Direct response is an accountable way to run marketing for a small business, as it is highly focused on return on investment.”
Why is tracking so important?
Like any other investment, content marketing takes time and money. By evaluating the metrics associated with content marketing, businesses can track which areas are stronger than others. They can also pinpoint which areas are not working and/or need improvement. There is no sense in investing either time or money on a portion of an marketing strategy that simply isn’t working. There needs to be an ROI.
With web tools, many of which are offered at low cost or free, businesses can actively track who clicked on their content, who shared it, commented on it or forwarded it to someone else.
How are businesses measuring the ROI of content marketing?
There are several factors to look at when calculating the ROI on content marketing. Many use basic analytics tools; others pay for more detailed reports. There are several areas marketers should look at to see how much attention is generated. For instance, easy metrics that can be measured include click-throughs to website, navigation to sales pages, blog posts and social media. Other questions to consider include:
• Organic search. How much of the website’s traffic is coming naturally?
• How much is spent on services, such as Google AdWords, in relation to the amount of traffic it generates.
• Are people signing up for email lists? Where did the visitor sign up from?
• Engagement on emails. How many are opened or forwarded?
• What type of social engagement is occurring? Are visitors commenting on blog posts? Are they using social share buttons on particular types of content? Is the company actively engaging with its audience to encourage interaction?
• How many websites are linking back to content? Are they quality backlinks?
Other metrics to look at include other consumption metrics, such as unique visits, downloads, how long visitors stayed on the site (are they visiting other pages?) and bounce rates. For instance, a company could be generating a ton of traffic, but if the bounce rate is high, the traffic isn’t converting to customers. Understanding bounce rates can help businesses understand the adjustments that need to be made to their content.
Some companies measure themselves, but others hire a third party to evaluate the data. Whatever the approach, one big question to ask is whether or not these engagements and views are equating to sales. If conversion rates are low, it might be time to look at the type of content being created and shared.
Attracting traffic to a website is important — after all, this is the gateway to a company’s products and services. However, marketers want to go well beyond the click to the website. It’s important to get clients into your virtual door, but it’s more important to get them to stay and become repeat visitors and, ultimately, customers. Keep in mind that businesses typically do not see a rapid ROI. The Content Marketing Institute likens it to working out; it takes time and commitment to see results.
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