Whenever I'm pitching to a new lead, one question they always ask is, “How can you guarantee ROI or value?”
Sure, they understand the value of content as a whole – practically everyone in marketing they’ve ever spoken to has told them they need to start considering it a crucial part of their marketing strategy. They also know how content can make their company more visible on search engines and social networks. But what they want to know is how that content converts into cold, hard cash in their pockets.
When I’m in this position, I always explain that ROI isn't the same for everyone, and that no client has the same measure or perception of value as another.
For example, one client might want to expand their newsletter database, meaning that any new name presents value for them. Another may want people to request more information or a demo so their sales team can take over, while a third client’s aim could be getting users to click through from the content to an eCommerce site where they can buy directly.
I can’t tell a potential client how exactly a content marketing strategy will help their bottom line, because that part depends on exactly what the company wants their content to do for them. What I can do is illustrate to each and every prospect that L&T will ensure they understand the ROI they’re getting throughout our ongoing relationship, and that whatever objectives they set are always met – even when they change as the company grows.
Starting the Relationship
When you're starting a relationship with a new client, you should always be aware of their objectives and exactly what value they expect to gain from creating content. If they’re expecting to see thousands of conversions in the first month, it's time to manage those expectations.
You should get a real feel for how the company does business from these initial conversations. Note who’s making the purchase decision and what the team considers to be a decent ROI either mentally or on paper so you can refer back to them when setting KPIs (key performance indicators).
Agreeing on KPIs
Once the agreement is signed, it's time to detail those KPIs, ensuring they're clearly set and fleshed out so that you know what needs to be achieved in order to bring the client what they feel is the best ROI they can possibly get from your services.
At this point, it's also useful to discuss how the results should be reported – will they be daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly? Another helpful step is to build a rough outline of what the reports will include so that, if the client wants more in-depth information or very specific data, they’ll have it from day one. Ensure you have access to the tools you need to create the report way ahead of its due date, whether they’re the client’s Hubspot account, Google Analytics, Moz, Positionly or some other resource.
One Size Does Not Fit All
At L&T, we provide monthly and quarterly reports for all of our clients, each of them uniquely formatted according to the factors that the company values and wants to measure.
Our standard reporting includes performance statistics on all the articles we publish over the course of each month, such as page views and social activity. We’ve recently started including information about the accumulated pageviews as well, demonstrating that a single piece of content has value for much longer than just the month it was published in.
Insight, Not Just Numbers
What we've learned is that just listing numbers and graphs is often not the most effective way to illustrate success and value. Although that's great for the CEO, the CFO, or anyone else with a role that depends on quantitative measurements, marketers want to see more, and that includes the wins that can't be measured in numbers.
It could be that a tweet was picked up by a major thought leader, or that we got a referral from a major industry publication. It's insights like these that make reporting a much more 4D process, one that really helps the client really understand the value of content to their business.
Be prepared at results meetings to present the numbers and satisfy those who like to use figures as a benchmark for success. But it’s crucial that you discuss other successes as well. The more ways you have of advancing towards your client’s company-wide objectives, the more agile and effective your plan can be, helping you to reach those objectives more quickly than your client could’ve expected.