The benefits of the ever-increasing intersection of digital marketing and technology are clear: we can measure the impact of our online efforts like never before.
But, along with tracking valuable content metrics like traffic, downloads and bounce rate, we should remember that content has intangible benefits that should be part of any ROI discussion.
The idea that there are intangible benefits that extend beyond those that are measurable is especially true when it comes to content, which has become the way for marketers to reach their audience.
Marketing executives are pouring money into content, and the scramble to measure content’s quantifiable ROI (only) can be shortsighted. We become conditioned to take a strict benefit measurement by what we see in our analytics and forget to consider those benefits that extend beyond what is immediately measurable.
To be sure, there are a wide variety of metrics that will tell you how your content is performing. But actually measuring content ROI is a particularly tricky challenge. Unless you interview every converting customer about how your individual content assets influenced their purchase decision, it’s difficult to capture all the ties content has to a decision to buy/convert.
I’m not advocating that we take the focus off metrics. They are the engine of any organization’s digital marketing efforts, and they provide the marketer with unprecedented insight into their marketing effort.
But, if your organization is evaluating content ROI, it’s worth remembering that there are benefits that extend beyond those captured in your metrics. In other words — know that you will not get a full picture of the value and benefit of content strictly through your analytics.
Here are several things, beyond what is in your analytics, to consider when evaluating content ROI:
Consumers have become so used to interacting with brands online, and on their terms, that they now expect brands to produce regular, quality content.
According to a WP Engine study:
Arguably most importantly, there is an opportunity-cost for those that do not regularly connect with their audience through content. Forty percent (40%) believe the brand suffers negative effects if they do not regularly produce content.
Regardless of how brands measure their content efforts, the data are clear: brands must produce regular content to meet their audience’s expectations.
The cost of not doing so must be considered in any content ROI discussion.
A common mistake of digital marketers is to “crowd the register” — that is, strictly optimize for transactional terms — and still expect to reach consumers.
The fact is, buyers go through a buying cycle, gradually educating themselves about the criteria they will use to make a final purchase decision. Without content, marketers forfeit the opportunity to influence buyers where it counts — early in the buying cycle before they have formed strong opinions about their buying criteria.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the sales team talks about your product/service one way, the product department another and so on.
Done right, content will serve to unify messaging, put your company’s value proposition in front of your audience and get everyone talking about it in the same way.
Some executives are loathe to take the brand-building benefits of a content investment into account when considering content ROI because it can be particularly tricky to quantify. But brands that are known for their content are not hard to find.
Take Hubspot and Marketo, for example, which have largely built their B2B brands on the backs of their content. Or think of the massive, free publicity Oreos earned with their famous super-bowl tweet that has been retweeted more than 15,000 times and liked on Facebook more than 20,000 times. The potential impact of content on a brand is undeniable.
As an industry, we have increasingly powerful technology that quantifies the key metrics of content’s performance. Metrics are a foundational part of any content ROI discussion, and marketers must learn to get the most from their analytics to accurately gauge the efficacy of their content. And, they must learn to take into account the real intangibles that must be part of any content ROI analysis process.
Are there any other intangibles that should be part of the content ROI discussion?