Most people are familiar with traditional paid advertising – you create compelling ad copy, pay a certain amount per click, visitors hit a targeted landing page, and a certain percentage of them become customers. It’s easy for marketing departments to secure a budget from C-level executives because the process is so predictable – you can reliably spend $X to generate $X in sales which translates to an X% return on investment. Period.
By contrast, content marketing is more complex with a lot of moving parts. You need a combination of compelling copywriting, marketing knowledge, and SEO expertise, along with collaboration between writers, editors, project managers, and even legal departments to pull it off. The upfront cost tends to be a lot higher than pay-per-click marketing and the return on investment is much longer-term and more difficult to measure.
The good news is that content marketing can deliver a lot more value than pay-per-click marketing. According to Kapost, content marketing produces three times more leads per dollar than other forms of online marketing. You also get the added ‘soft’ benefits of public trust, more engaged prospects, and happier clients, while avoiding the diminishing returns from online advertising in a world where the average person sees over 5,000 ads per day!
How to Frame Content Marketing
Most traditional marketing takes place in a series of campaigns. For examples, marketers buy exposure through television ads, billboards ads, or online pay-per-click ads. These campaigns take place over a set period of time and the results are measured at the end. As a result, many C-level executives may ask questions like, “what’s the return on investment for content marketing?” or “how many leads will we generate per piece of content?”.
When framing content marketing, you need to move past the idea of content marketing as a one-off campaign. Content marketing is a long-term investment in becoming or owning the media. Rather than renting an audience, you are earning the audience over time. This means that the cost per lead will begin very high early on and decrease over time as you invest in content and build an audience with consistent and high-quality content.
Kapost’s study found that the number of leads per $1,000 surpasses that of paid search after about 19 months. Even better, the effectiveness of content marketing continues to grow while the need to continue to pay for ads remains the same. After 36 months, content marketing generated more than three times as many leads as paid search per dollar! In other words, you should frame content marketing as a long-term investment that pays off.
The second part of that last phrase is equally important: investment. Some C-level executives might think content is cheap and easy – that you can just add it to the existing staff’s responsibilities and expect to see these results. In reality, content marketing requires a unique skill set and 84 percent of companies report that hiring for content marketing is a real challenge. That’s why about 62 percent of companies outsource their content marketing.
Measuring Multiple Benefits
Most C-level executives are concerned with tangible return on investment, such as increased lead generation or higher traffic numbers. But it’s important to emphasize that there are many other ‘soft’ benefits of content marketing – it might educate existing customers, explain a product’s features, or help customers improve their business. While it’s hard to measure these things, they’re still important to convey when getting internal buy-in for content marketing.
Some of these other lesser-known benefits of content marketing include:
- Increased Brand Recognition
- Faster Lead Conversion
- Social Media Followers
- Better Customer Engagement
- Improved Technical Support
There are many different ways to measure these benefits:
- Ask inbound leads how they discovered your product or service and their overall opinion of your brand when onboarding them as a customer.
- Ask visitors about their experience using a tool like SurveyGizmo.
- Measure the change in lead conversion times after starting content marketing.
- Ask customer support technicians if customers find articles helpful for explaining problems or features. Or, compare the amount of tickets opened for these requests.
Finally, you should create a baseline before beginning a content marketing campaign to help show the overall results. This will show you exactly how things have improved across the board and help you address any shortcomings by addressing content marketing mistakes.
Types of Content Marketing
Blog posts are the most popular type of content marketing and often make up the core of overall content marketing strategies. They don’t take very long to write, are easily discoverable in search engines, and users can share them on social media. When writing blog posts, it’s important to be consistent, optimize the content for lead generation, and focus on delivering real value to the reader rather than just stuffing articles with keywords.
White papers and case studies are more in-depth pieces of content that address specific customer challenges. For example, they may look at how a customer implemented your solution and how they benefited in tangible terms. These pieces of content can deliver a lot more value than a simple blog post, but they don’t usually rank as well in search engines and aren’t shared as frequently given their specific nature.
E-books, e-courses, templates, checklists, infographics, or other guides are great lead magnets that can be used in conjunction with blog posts or on dedicated landing pages. While they involve a larger upfront investment, they can be tremendously helpful in generating more leads than a generic pop-up form over a prolonged period of time, while greatly improving engagement and enhancing the customer experience.
Videos and podcasts are two other forms of content marketing that have become increasingly popular. While the production costs may be higher than blog posts, they are a great way to reach customers across different mediums.
Create a Plan
Audience Ops specializes in helping companies execute successful content marketing strategies. We can discuss how to create a content marketing plan to show decision makers that they benefit over time and keep everything organized and on track.
Contact us today for a free demo and consultation to learn more!