Many companies consider content marketing a good investment that pays off well, and helps to retain customers and win their loyalty. At the same time, there’s been so much talk and controversy over how to measure a company’s content marketing efforts and justify their expenses. Most likely, the goals that you set when developing your campaign don’t have a monetary value. However, whether you’re aiming for new followers, subscriptions, filled-out contact forms, downloads or other things, your objectives can be measured.
We were very excited to have Lyndon Antcliff @lyndoman, author, speaker and content marketing coach, discuss the ROI of content marketing. He and the other experts who joined our SEMrush Chat shared their thoughts on the topic. Also, anything you would like to know about the art of content marketing you will find on Lyndon’s Cornwall SEO.
Before going deep into the subject, we wanted to find out what essential steps businesses should take when planning their content marketing strategy in order to get a high ROI. Everything begins with a solid plan and clear goals. Express Writers @ExpWriters described some content marketing benchmarks: “It starts with getting to know your audience. Create high-quality, valuable content on the topics they're searching for.”
Make sure that your goals are aligned with your company’s culture and business model. What’s more, when planning your content strategy, estimate your opportunities and resources.
Today every business creates content. To come up with something really fresh and captivating, you have to brainstorm for new ideas. Search social media and influential online sources, read industry news, use tools for keyword research, look through your previous content, and cooperate with your clients – these things will help you improve your brainstorming sessions.
A lack of research can result in the failure to attract your targeted audience and retain your customers. Monitoring your competitors and analyzing their activities are the things you should do on a regular basis in order to anticipate their behavior in the future. Ryan Johnson @rsj8000 also suggested paying attention to your old data: “Look at your old analytics; break down those topics that are converting. Your audience may not be who you think it is.”
Actually beginning with your end result in mind is not a new technique, but it’s a very effective one. It was introduced by Dr. Stephen R. Covey in his bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It involves several significant strategies, including setting goals, defining your mission, identifying desired results, and setting priorities. Covey’s technique will help you determine and take the necessary steps to achieve your main objective.
You will have a competitive advantage if you can build a good digital platform that successfully attracts an audience and encourages co-creation.
Rachel Howe @R8chel_Marie also recommends reading a guide on how to develop a good content strategy by Erin Kissane: “Analysis, planning and targeted writing. Great and easy read on content strategy: The Elements of Content Strategy by @kissane.”
Developing a content strategy seems to be a pretty difficult and time-consuming work. But if you constantly produce great content for your audience, your investment will hugely pay off.
We know that, generally, content marketing pays dividends in the long-term. But our clients/bosses/investors want to see results as soon as possible. So we asked our chat participants what types of content they consider to be the best for a quick return.
The term was popularized by marketer David Meerman Scott, when he wrote a book on newsjacking, which seems to be a real art.If you can inject your brand and ideas into trending and thrilling news, soon you’ll triumph and celebrate your marketing success. Pratik Mohapatra @mohapatrapratik thoroughly describes content that targets quick returns: “Content aimed at creating a buzz, contests, sweepstakes, and content on current viral trends all give you quick returns.”
Lyndon Antcliff @lyndoman suggested another tactic, which is much easier, but can also be helpful: “Content that has proven to resonate in the past is the best guide; previous "test" content will reveal areas for a quick return.”
It’s quite unexpected, but 70 percent of small business websites don’t have a call to action, according to a study that was published on Small Business Trends. However, a compelling call to action is inevitable for both B2B and B2C websites. Try to use time-sensitive variants, such as “now,” “ends,” or “today.” You can also test several options, making your call to action personal, including verbs in it or giving a reason why visitors should complete your CTA.
A blog post series is a very effective way to involve your existing readers and attract new ones. A piece of content that offers practical tips and in-depth instructions can be of great interest for your audience: “High-quality and well-written reviews of relevant solutions (products/services) can bring a quick return – for example content that has a “how-to” approach and offers a relevant solution at the end with a clear CTA,” explains Amel Mehenaoui @amelm.
If your content can spark this kind of reaction from your audience, then you’re doing a great job! But seriously, if you’re focusing on quick results, each piece of content that you produce should provide your readers with something that nobody else can give them.
Nevertheless, some of our chat participants doubt that a quick return is something that marketers should focus on:
Check out the recap to find a complete list of content types that you should be using in order to get a quick return.
The dynamically changing digital world provides us with ample opportunities. There are many different types of content that you can apply to your marketing campaigns, based on your audience, your own goals, your product and other factors.
When marketers create content for the sake of generating leads, it’s easier for them to measure the success of their campaign. But what if new leads are not your main goal? We asked our guests to share their tips for measuring content that has other purposes.
The content marketing expert and trainer believes that, instead of chasing as many social signals as possible, marketers should do their best to create something that their customers will sincerely love. He assumes that this metric is often neglected by companies.
And some chat participants suppose that you can’t entirely ignore leads, as lead generation is an inevitable part of every content marketing strategy:
A3) If content hasn't converted leads or achieved thought leader metrics, then it's not successful, no matter how good it is. #semrushchat
— Ryan Johnson (@rsj8000) April 20, 2016
Ryan Johnson @ rsj 8000 also suggested using such thought leadership metrics as social shares, comments, backlinks, and re-publication on other sites. Many pointed out that content metrics depend on your goals:
Tadeusz Szewczyk @onreact_com added several other metrics: “Content metrics depend on your goals: What are you after? Links? Shares? Time on site?” And Phoebe Fasulo @ Fassooo named her favorite tool for measuring your website’s performance: “Track referral traffic, links, engagement, shares (using BuzzSumo – my personal favorite).”
Along with your content performance, engagement is another important metric that shows how your audience receives your content. For example, the number of pages users visit, comments, shares and other metrics show you how people interact with your content and helps you understand how relevant, attractive and appealing it is to your audience. To find out more on the topic, you can check the guide to content marketing analytics and metrics published on Curata.
You can also check whether your visitors remain long enough on your website to read your content or leave it quickly.
Analyze these content metrics in order to discover your online performance and identify elements of your strategy that should be improved.
Every business wants to know how much it should spend on content marketing. When we asked our chat participants to share their opinions, most of them agreed that producing something valuable and high-quality is your own choice. You can rely on poor content, which will probably result only in a waste of your time and resources, or you can invest your time and effort in high-quality work in order to achieve your goals.
Creating excellent blog posts is one of the best ways to increase your website traffic. Captivating articles, informative infographics, comprehensive e-books and guides are the reasons people visit your website. The cost of each post depends on several factors, including its length and features, such as interviews with industry experts and in-depth research.
Lyndon Antcliff @lyndoman also pointed out the importance of building relationships between the creator and their readership: “Content should not be purchased off the shelf, but requires a relationship to be built with the creator. Investing in the relationship between the creator and the readership is when ROI gets tasty.”
There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Obviously, you can’t create a high-quality and useful piece of content with minimal spending.
Bill Slawski @bill_slawski recommends investing not only in your content, but in yourself as well: “Invest in yourself, and grow your ability to create effective content; every day brings a new chance.” It’s never too late to learn new things and develop new skills.
Outsourcing content creation is a good option for companies that don’t have enough internal resources to produce good content on their own. Professional agencies have a staff of competent experts and can provide you with a fascinating ready-made product. But their services come at a price.
Indeed, you know your audience better than anyone else and you have your own goals and specific requirements.
You should decide how much content is profitable for your brand. As Miles Technologies @milestech assumes, content is a long-term investment, but can deliver incredible results: “Once you create something, it's yours. As long as it's sound information, it can continue to deliver results.”
Even though it usually takes a good deal of time for content to start demonstrating results and justifying your ROI, the benefits it can outweigh your spending.
To effectively spend your resources and seize the opportunities you have, you should focus not only on content creation, but also on successful distribution. You can do this through search, social networks, influencer channels and paid media. As for the latter, we wanted to know if there are any ways to reduce the cost of content distribution. Check out the following list of tips from our experts!
You can test several options and choose the one that works best. It will also depend on your specific content and your audience’s behavior.
We’ve come to our final question. Our guests shared some examples of their own remarkable content marketing strategies. Lyndon Antcliff @lyndoman mentioned outstanding, creative idea for an infographic that he used for a loan website:
Even though this idea came at a cost, it delivered the desired results – links from key authority websites.
It’s worth paying attention to the following aspects provided by ThinkSEM @ThinkSEM: “Must have a good writer; know thy audience; track and analyze all goal-oriented actions.”
Besides blogs and infographics, they also use PDFs and infographics. What’s more, Julia has recently written a book.
Evergreen content remains fresh and relevant long past its publication. Megan Marrs suggested several common evergreen formats in her article posted on WordStream: top tips, “how to” tutorials, encyclopedia-esque entries, product reviews, videos, and lists.
This looks like a formula for a successful content strategy; every masterpiece requires time and efforts.
You can also test how free templates and email courses will work for you: “Genuinely useful, practical free stuff: templates, how-to guides and email courses work for us at @aweber,” explains Kristen Dunleavy @KristenWritesIt. And some of our chat participants assume that guides and tutorials are not always the best option:
In conclusion, I would like to quote Obed M. @MrClics, who reminded us about the importance of people who create content: “The most important investment in content marketing is in the people who make the content.”
Can you name your most effective content marketing strategies? And how do you measure the success of your content? It would be great if you would share your opinions and recommendations!
Many thanks to Lyndon Antcliff @lyndoman and all #semrushchat participants for the interesting discussion, as well as his amazing tips, knowledge and expertise in content marketing!