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Content marketing ROI and the measurement meltdown

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A new survey has revealed how marketing professionals are struggling to convince decision-makers about the value of content marketing, due to a mix of high expectation and a lack of focus in terms of clear marketing ROI. And, while budgets are growing, it is getting harder to deliver the results now demanded by those holding the purse-strings. Marketers are under more scrutiny than ever, as the pressure is on to achieve the desired result. Kirsty Daniel investigates the survey findings.
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In 2018, it seems content marketing is at a bit of a standstill. Common struggles are causing less investment, less investment means less content marketing, and this cyclical issue means that no developments will be made in a brand’s marketing efforts.

So how do you propel your brand into new areas and convince those all-important decision-makers that your marketing plan is the bees’ knees?

You need data.

Now don’t drift off because I’ve mentioned the dreaded D-word. The truth is that neither you, nor your managers can argue with cold hard facts – so make sure your company purse-holders don’t have a reason to turn down your requests: whether that is for more content marketing budget, a more thorough SEO strategy, recruitment for a new team member or even a new staff coffee machine. If you have proven results, your management will have no option but to consider the reality you have presented, and question why they haven’t looked at this before now if it will produce visible results (and if coffee machines aren’t the source of great work, then I don’t know what is.)

In a recent Zazzle Media survey, almost half the marketers interviewed were unable to measure the ROI of their content marketing efforts; 42% of marketers is a significant proportion of people who cannot measure their results, and this could be a catalyst for why 29% find that resources have slowed in this area.

marketing ROISo how do you break down each aspect of your campaign to prove its success? Let’s look:

The idea

First you need a campaign plan. Get your ideas together, sanity check each one, and progress with creating the campaign. Get all the relevant content planned in, so that a steady stream of content is supplied to your target audience, and you’ll be on to the right track.

Now consider, have you done something like this before? How did that campaign perform? Get together as much data as you can on that previous campaign, so you can show that you blew it out of the water this time round.

Have your competitors done something like this before? You can learn from your competitor’s efforts, and in fact this could be a great persuading factor for your management. Avoid sounding like a petulant child in this approach though, as “Well, Zazzle Media’s managers let them do content marketing” doesn’t sound great – but there are loads of tools you can use to keep an eye on competitor’s results, if you want a benchmark.

What are your goals?

So now you’ve got your content plan together, what do you want to achieve?

Input from your bosses will be useful here, as they will be keen to know how does this content marketing campaign tie into the wider business plans? If you haven’t considered how your efforts tie into the wider business plans, then you and the rest of the 65% of marketers Zazzle Media interviewed, need to make sure that your content marketing strategy is linked to all other parts of the business. Proving it is an effective channel for your brand will be easier if you can show synergy within the wider business goals.

marketing ROI

Next, what you want to achieve in your campaign: do you want to build brand awareness? Boost lead generation? Or improve your search engine visibility? You can see below that these are some of the top goals of the surveyed decision makers, so make sure you pick clear complementary goals, with relevant KPIs, or risk confusion and muddy data.

marketing ROI

Ongoing monitoring

There’s a lot of numbers out there. You’ve got the plan and are in the middle of executing it. But now you need to keep an eye on progress to see the full picture.

Bear in mind who you are reporting to and your goals – is your manager interested in traffic, conversions, visibility, links, ROI or all of the above? Your goals should indicate where you need to focus your measurement efforts to produce those important KPIs.

Any business worth its salt should have Google Analytics (GA) set up and working effectively. This will do a lot of work for you, giving you an overview of results, including revenue and goal completion statistics for your chosen time period.

Has your campaign been producing results this month, but not last month? Or have your results been producing spikes in engagement? Looking for trends is key to optimising the campaign, and bear in mind weekend and seasonal trends in your audience behaviours. Reporting weekly or monthly will help you identify these trends and any factors that contributed to the successful points.

The end is here

So, the campaign is over – you can’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet though. Analysis is what brings data to life – and to prove the effectiveness of your content marketing, you need to analyse the whole project.

Go back to the start of the project and detail where you were in the beginning as regards your KPIs. Now look at your results from the end of the project, what have you achieved, and break this down if you can – the more separation you have between the successful areas, the more you can learn from the best bits and the not-so-good parts. Now another crucial thing to consider: ‘Is this what I’m expecting to see?’ If the answer is no, then why?

Make your own reports for this analysis – even if you feel that the campaign went really well, and it hasn’t produced cold hard evidence, then your manager will not be persuaded to spend more. Make sure it appeals to the eye as well – creating graphs and visualisations will be better for first impressions, as your managers might not want to dig through a huge table of data to find out your point. Show them clearly to begin with why your content marketing works.

Marketing ROI and proving effectiveness

Keep your data tidy. Stack those numbers from the beginning of the project and the end, to show the impact of your results. Make it clear where the biggest wins are and where improvements can be made – no campaign is perfect.

By sticking rigidly to your goals, by way of your KPIs and being consistent in measuring with your available tools and data, you will then be able to test, iterate and learn from your marketing efforts. And with that type of personal and business development, proving the effectiveness should be no problem!

Check out where your business is in terms of your content marketing and read the full State of Content Marketing 2018 results!

Have an opinion on this article? Please join in the discussion: the GMA is a community of data driven marketers and YOUR opinion counts.

Kirsty Daniel
Author: Kirsty Daniel
Digital marketing executive at Zazzle Media | www.zazzlemedia.co.uk

Zazzle Media is a content marketing agency. Kirsty Daniel handles the brand's internal marketing efforts – marketing the marketers, if you will!

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