“You can get anything you want out of life if you help other people get what they want,” is the philosophy of Warren Whitlock, best-selling author, speaker and social media strategist. “I found out that my sales tripled when I started looking to help the other person rather than talking them into buying what I had.”

If companies embodied this attitude and truly focused on trying to help and educate people instead of approaching potential clients with the mindset of SELL, they would see significant results to their bottom line. A mindset that embodies this mentality can directly contribute to a company’s Return on Investment (ROI).

Content Marketing ROI

Content_Marketing_ROI_CMXPertaining to content marketing, business people are looking to get the most out of everything they do; they want the biggest “bang for their buck.” To find this return, CMOs conducting a content marketing strategy enact tactical operations that will need to be measured and tracked to discover if their goals, such as reduced cost-per-lead or increased traffic, are being met. If you already know what every person walking in or calling your store is worth in dollars and cents, then you can measure that against any number in the value chain.

Before goals can be tracked, they need to be created; goals will be different for each company based on mission, audience, and product/service offering. Goals could range from leads generated, visitors attending an event, registrations on a specific page, or the number of people walking into your store. Predominately, CMOs and marketing teams are looking for people to take a personal step of action, moving prospects along the sales funnel. With today’s technology, companies can quickly adjust their goals based largely on customer interaction/feedback.

A shocking 57% of marketing executives are not tracking their ROI. “In March, 2012, the Columbia Business School of Global Brand Leadership and the New York American Marketing Association undertook a study of 243 marketing executives to understand if, and how, they use ROI measures for budgeting and found that 57% do not use ROI.”

Unfortunately, this is primarily due to trying to hang on to what they think works–what used to work. Most companies use the prior year’s budget to plan for the next year. Essentially, companies are not adapting fast enough. They are stuck with the used-to-work purchasing of newspaper/print ads instead of creating an online presence with social media marketing. Moore’s Law is one of the best examples of rapid change/growth and the inevitability for adaptation. Once you find the correlation between your content marketing/social media and ROI, then finding those actions tied to your return is pivotal in defining where your efforts are best spent.

Warren describes his definition of ROI: “Take the revenue attributable to marketing efforts and divide it by marketing spend, which includes the cost associated with advertising effort. We obviously want to see a positive result greater than one.” Some may suggest that there are ROI opportunities that are not necessarily related to dollars, but ultimately, it does come down to monetary value. You may lose focus on counting the dollars, but at some point, as Warren says, “If you’re in business, sooner or later it needs to contribute to the bottom line, either in a cost reduction or an income expansion. Cut out the waste and increase the income.”

Once there is a noticeable return on your investment, it no longer becomes a discussion of what the ROI is; it’s now about finding more money to invest in the content marketing strategy. For those who have had to write a check for payroll, they know the importance of the bottom line. Finding the ROI and the KPIs associated with measuring return will help companies become cognizant of needed change and proper resource allocation.

Deliberate acts of Content Marketing – Quality/Consistency/Trust

For those that might just be getting started, there’s the sense of, “I’ve got to jump into content marketing; I have to take it a little more seriously.” They don’t want to just do random tweets or blogs, but know the importance of creating content that’s deliberate and purposeful.

There are three primary actions that should take place to insure against the potentially disjointed acts of a content marketing plan.

  • Quality content is crucial. Everything is searchable online. Nothing is private and should not be posted with the mentality of it not being viewed by others. Everything that is posted is permanent and gets ranked by Google, making every piece of content important. High-value, well-written and understandable content will always trump content that’s generated for quantity over quality.
  • Your company, brand and/or product should always be visible. In the media packed world that we live in, most people forget as quickly as they consume. Posting quality content on a consistent basis will keep you in the minds of your target audience. Plus, search engines look for frequency of publication. If you are broadcasting value-added content to three or five social media channels multiple times a week, your chances of climbing up the organic search ranks will surely increase.
  • Creating trust in your company is vital. You may have great content but it’s not going to be seen unless your audience is being engaged. Warren explains, “I find that when I’m open to engaging with people and say thank you, in 99.99% of the time the people are grateful that I responded. They’re not going to get to know you if you’re not online, if you’re not open, if you’re not taking responses to your content. They’re not going to like you unless you like them, which means you’d better be out distancing what your competition is doing, know what people are talking about, know what the industry is doing.” There is no replacement for building a bond with your target audience to form trust.

By being mindful of ROI, you will be able to refine your deliberate content marketing processes, grow company relationships, produce consistent quality content and generate the metrics you need to turn data into understandable information for your boss.

Join the Conversation:

  • What changes have you noticed when you start trying to help the potential client rather than to talk them into buying what I had?
  • What goals have been set based on your mission?
  • How are you staying engaged with your audience?
This article highlights selected excerpts from CMX’s interview with Warren Whitlock, digital business development strategist, and Martin van der Roest of the Examiner on the topic of Content Marketing and Return on Investment – June 25, 2013.