2020: Your year to make the content marketing-to-revenue connection.
Content marketing is still a thing.
A big thing, in fact, with revenue from content marketing expected to top $300 billion in 2019, according to research by Cision. And while content marketing continues to be a popular choice for marketers to attract and engage customers, it’s still challenging for many to measure content marketing ROI. With marketing investment and accountability growing, it’s more important than ever to create content that counts.
Another consideration is that the increasing use and popularity of content marketing makes it increasingly difficult for organizations of all types to create an effective content strategy that performs well in building brand recognition, differentiation, as well as bottom-line growth metrics.
More good stuff: Content marketing costs 62 percent less than outbound marketing, yet generates three times as many leads. It also drives conversion rates that are six times higher than other marketing methods. And content marketing adopters achieve nearly 6X the conversion rate as non-adopters.
But forget the buzz. The bottom line is that the CMO chair is still very much a hot seat, with tenure that’s about half that of a CEO — and getting shorter in some industries, according to Adweek. The demand for revenue-aligned content marketing has never been greater.
It seems like just a few years ago, some nice top-of-funnel metrics — new and unique visitors, social shares, subscribers, unqualified leads — boards packaged up in a nice dashboard were enough to keep the executive team happy. But now with increasingly powerful and seamless marketing tech stacks, the ability to measure content marketing impact is becoming mandatory. Here are a few ways to ensure your content is tied to growth in 2020:
One of the greatest strengths of content marketing is that it can be used to support a full-funnel strategy. And having high-quality, relevant content available at every step of the customer journey truly can have a multiplier effect. In today’s era of SaaS and platforms, the need for content that reaches beyond the conversion is greater than ever. It won’t do to stack up a bunch of Marketing Qualified leads and throw them over to sales when it’s never been easier to perform attribution modeling, even with free analytics packages. It’s super-encouraging to see organizations put together content that supports attraction, engagement, evaluation, conversion, retention, and renewals. We still think of funnels for strategy and optimization purposes, but the truth is, the growth process looks more like a loop, or many loops to support multiple audiences.
“All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.” — Bob Burg, Author
Remember the golden rule
And business in general: People tend to do business with people they know, like and trust.
Many people have expressed this idea in different ways, but author Bob Burg sums it up very succinctly. Although Burg refers to this as the Golden Rule of Networking, it could be applied to content or any type of growth activity. When mapping your content to stages, the map above is a good thing to keep top of mind. It may seem simplistic, but you can see examples of companies asking for a transaction before they have provided any value at all.
As soon as you accept the cookies, someone wants you to subscribe to this or free trial that. When we’re trying to make our numbers, it’s easy to skip over know, like, and trust — and go straight to the pitch. BTW, have you been to our Services Page? Anyway, in this case, quid pro quo is a good thing. Value-for-value has always been ethos of doing business online and will remain so until someone comes up with a better model. Here are some tips to accelerate the know > like > trust > transaction cycle:
Balance paid, earned and owned
Content marketing strategy and search engine optimization (SEO) strategy are two sides of the same coin. But in many organizations, these functions are siloed. But these functions are often handled separately, with technical SEO done by IT. I’ve worked with companies where IT webmasters owned the SEO function. It was great for the Technical SEO aspects of optimization and making sure the websites were set up for page speed and mobile-friendly indexing.
Google wants to ensure its results are highly relevant for mobile searches, so it’s important to ensure your content is mobile-friendly. But SEO really is something the best content marketers take on, despite the fact that it’s a (constantly) moving target. The issue with separating these activities is that an effective SEO strategy must be baked into content, rather than added on later.
One of the biggest wins marketers can achieve is producing a piece of evergreen content that keeps generating business value for months or years. That seldom happens without skillful SEO to ensure the content gets found. Another missed opportunity can occur when this super-valuable content asset isn’t promoted.
Once you’ve identified a valuable content asset, there is little risk in putting some promotional dollars behind it to drive as much traffic to this asset as possible. Just because an asset, bet it a post, infographic, calculator, video, or ebook does well in organic doesn’t mean it can’t do even better with the addition of paid promotion.
So, people often ask if they should focus on (SEO) or paid search, also called Search Engine Marketing (SEM). The answer is both. SEM campaigns can help you start generating visitors and leads quickly and the learnings from those campaigns can provide valuable audience insights. SEO, or organic search, often enables you to generate higher-quality leads over a period of time, at a lower cost. Who wouldn’t want that?
Use analytics for continuous improvement
Great companies aren’t built on guesswork. If content is king, data analytics is the power behind the throne. It’s no coincidence that today’s fastest-growing and most successful companies are data-driven. That means they make decisions based on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), not opinions or intuition. If there’s a single difference between leading-edge companies and those occupying the middle of the pack, it may be that they simply make better use of data. Data from your customers, prospects, partners, and competitors and limitless.
Every organization is on a digital transformation journey that takes them from reliance on traditional business models and tools to modern technologies and strategies. Every department is becoming digital and data-driven, and it’s critical that content marketing follows suit. That’s not possible without defining the marketing metrics that align with your organization’s most important goals. For marketing and sales, understanding your goals for brand-building, acquisition, retention, and revenue are essential to your organization’s future growth and ongoing success.
Want to deliver more content that counts for growth?
Make it more measurable. Once you start measuring the effectiveness of your content, your most relevant and engaging content will surface to the top. In other words, you’ll be clear about the content that resonates with your audience and triggers them to take action.
Make it more actionable. Metrics mean nothing if they are not used to take action that improves your business results. That means creating a sound digital marketing measurement model to define your most important business objectives, identify goals and key performance indicators. Then use those metrics to better understand your audience and the actions you must take to help them achieve their goals.
Content marketing that counts for future growth
A comprehensive marketing strategy is the foundation of a marketing plan, and should support each one of your organization’s marketing goals. Content marketing is principles are evergreen. You create valuable, educational, and entertaining content that enables you to create and sustain professional relationships with your target audience.
The strategies, tools, and tactics we use to reach these goals are ever-changing, but the need for high-quality content is evergreen. Content marketing has proven to be so durable because it enables you to engage and inform your clients and prospects. With exceptional content, you can build credibility and show an in-depth understanding of your customer’s needs.
How can we help?
Got questions about how to deliver content that counts? Contact us today for a quick, no-pressure, no BS chat to learn how we can help with your digital marketing. If we can’t (which seems unlikely), we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.