Content marketing: What’s the ROI?
Now, it’s clear what impact your project managers are having, we can see which salespeople are boosting profits and your consultants and factory workers put out solid, concrete and measurable things. Your content marketers on the other hand might seem just a little less vital to the company’s success.
Content marketers are always open to the criticism that the benefits of their work are hard if not impossible to measure. You might fill your company’s website with SEO baiting blogs, viral videos and clickable links, yet the impact of all this work on profits can always be questioned.
Theory and practice
The theory behind content marketing goes like this:
- A potential customer enters a search term vaguely related to one of your products into a search engine
- Somewhere near the top of the first page they find a post from your company’s blog
- They read the blog, are impressed and begin to see your company as a thought leader in the field, trusting you implicitly
- They then follow through to your website and read more about what you’re selling
- Maybe they download a Whitepaper and leave an email address when doing so, opening up a sales lead
- Alternatively they sign up to your company’s newsletter, or go straight to the ‘contact us’ page
Like most things however, the reality is a lot more complex. Potential customers will come to your website through a variety of channels. They’re likely to have visited a number of times, have compared your product with your competitors, and maybe first heard about you from a range of sources - anything from cold calls to word of mouth. That’s not to say that getting on to page one of a major search engine isn’t helpful, but it’s just one of a whole range of reasons customers will come to your website. So, does content marketing have any value at all?
What the statistics say
For any content marketer who’s had a crisis of faith about the value of their role - don’t lost hope. While blogging, tweeting, video making and whatever other content you fill your website with might not have the clearest impact, you can be confident that the right kind of content really will boost your company’s profile and lead to increased sales - and the statistics support it:
- A HubSpot study found that companies which blog receive 55% more website visitors
- The same study showed the companies which blog received 97% more inbound links and 434% more indexed pages - all of which boost chances of converting into sales
- A study from Inside View found that companies who blog generate 67% more sales per lead each month than those who don’t
- And frequency comes into play here too - these graphs show that companies who blog fifteen times or more per month get five times more traffic than companies without a blog
And we could go on all day - content has an undeniable impact on sales leads, the reputation of your company and your position in search engine results lists. A lot of companies already recognise the importance of content marketing, and it’s a common complaint that this has resulted in an Internet laden with noise, poorly written content and posts churned out at an alarming rate.
There’s blogs and then there’s blogs
Google got wise to the approach of many (in our opinion, third rate) content marketers who stuffed their websites full of short, meaningless and keyword driven blogs. The search engine recently changed their algorithm to prioritise long form, higher quality posts. Google now emphasises posts of around 1000 words and it’s these more thoughtful, more thoroughly researched posts which will grab the attention of the search engines. Importantly, these posts also tend to be a lot more informative and valuable to readers and they’ll be impressed by your company’s knowledge of your field.
There’s little doubt that Google emphasising quality over quantity is a good thing, yet producing this kind of content is of course a lot harder. Putting together a long form blog post, an engaging video or even researching a Tweet can take a considerable amount of time, effort and skill. If your company doesn't have a dedicated marketing department or doesn’t have the budget to hire a full time writer, producing this stuff can be difficult. If you work in a highly specialised niche, or are targeting a global market when English isn’t your first language, these difficulties are compounded further.
To paraphrase Christopher Hitchens - everyone does have a blog in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay. Blog posts, Tweets, videos and website copy all offer considerable benefits to companies, and there’s little excuse to not produce content. Busy companies will benefit from third party content marketing services, and you should at least begin updating your feed with thought pieces, news stories and guidance on a weekly basis. So, while content marketing certainly isn’t a waste of time, it does require well planned, well researched and quality work.