How to Use Hard Data to Sell the Value of Content Marketing

content marketing

Did you know that according to a recent study published on The Drum, only 28% of brands can successfully understand the ROI of content marketing? The fact is that most old-school business leaders don’t fully get how useful content marketing is in driving sales, building authority and reaching and retaining customers. And that’s a huge hurdle to overcome if you’re an SEO manager focused on using content marketing as a key part of a client’s SEO strategy. So how do you bridge the gap? With hard data, because that’s what makes sense to those companies. Here’s how you can prove content marketing ROI with analytics and reporting.

Context, Benchmarks and Goals

1. Set the Context

First of all, it’s important for companies to understand what’s already happening with content marketing across all industries. So getting data from companies like Gartner, eMarketer and others will provide statistics on the effectiveness of content marketing, the rise of mobile content marketing, the importance of social media marketing and more. Use these definitions of content marketing to explain what’s involved and show how blogging can help with lead generation. And share stats like this about the number of businesses using content marketing (90%) and the relatively low cost of lead acquisition.

2. Create Benchmarks

The second step is to illustrate where the company is today. A business that’s been around for 100 years may be well respected in its niche and still make little impact online. A simple Google search highlighting the gap where their business should be will show the need to build online authority with content. You can also use social media engagement tools to show what their current online profile is, looking at mentions, shares and other social statistics. That makes the case for why it’s important, then it’s time for step three.

3. Show What’s Possible

Next, it’s time to show what companies can achieve with content. This will help you set the goals you will report on. This will include items like:

  • Winning attention and raising awareness. These days, if people aren’t talking about your client’s company, they might as well not exist. Getting people talking becomes a key goal.
  • Building relationships and trust with customers. This may seem a bit touchy-feely to an old school business but your job is to present the stats on how other business are doing it to show them what the full potential is. And don’t forget the power of that connection to get feedback from customers so businesses can create what people really want.
  • Expanding reach. Getting what your clients have to offer beyond the walls of their business.
  • Conversions. Are people downloading reports or taking the next step in the funnel and buying a product or service?

Brandpoint has an excellent infographic which you can use as a resource for identifying goals and ways to measure them.

7 Metrics to Measure and Report On

With the groundwork laid, it’s time to track the company’s progress. Here are some of the areas you can report on, and the tools to help you do it.

1. Improved SERPs ranking

You’re already tracking this via your in-house or external tools. There’s also the Google Webmaster Tools interface which has a nice report on ranking for the top keyword phrases. All you have to do is export this and you have the data you need.

2. Visits

More visits mean more attention. Google Analytics (or your favorite analytics tool) will tell you how many people are coming to your web pages, where they came from (so you will know if your content strategy is working) and how long they stayed. A reduced bounce rate is another sign of increased engagement.

3. Social engagement

While fan and follower growth shouldn’t be an end in itself (quality is more important than quantity), any increase in these numbers shows that a company’s content has found favor with social media audiences. Facebook Insights, Google Ripples and social engagement dashboards, as well as the social reports in Google Analytics can give the data you need on this.

4. Leads

Have you noticed an uptick in the number of people signing up for the company’s email list? That could be a direct result of content marketing. A great piece of content with an appealing call to action will improve signups, and that in turn makes it more likely that the company will get additional business because of content marketing. Again, analytics reports on visitor flow and landing pages will help show what’s happening with lead generation. And email marketing software will give hard numbers on signups and clicks.

5. Feedback

Uberflip says that as well as measuring leads and engagement, keeping track of customer awareness and feedback shows whether your content marketing is successful or not. Social listening can help with this.

6. Links

Links may seem to be a dirty word these days, but they are not. A link from a high quality site is worth its weight in gold. Checking a company’s backlink profile and seeing an increase in quality inbound links is another sign that content marketing is working, and it’s something else to report on.

7. Quality of Attention

This last metric goes beyond the numbers to assess what kind of online profile they result in. A tool like Social Mention or another social analytics tool doesn’t just look at mentions, but at sentiment. You can then report to a company on whether there’s an increase in positive mentions of its products or services. If people are also taking the time to interact on social media and review products and services, then that connection will result in better business.

Finally, the Content Marketing Institute lays out a compelling way of proving value to businesses. As well as focusing on the value of content compared to advertising, its SEO value and the trust it builds, the CMI says that once content is up, it continues to accrue benefits. That makes it a great investment for any business.

If your client is saving money, and converting customers while making sales and leads then that makes the argument for content marketing – and that makes your job even easier.

Creative commons image by Sean MacEntee / Flickr