The ultimate objective of any brand is to grow the business and earn a return on investment (ROI). However, sometimes you have to spend money to make money. Companies must decide how much to spend on product development, business operations, financials, quality assessment, and marketing (among other priorities).
With so many priorities, how do marketers choose when to spend money and where to cut back? According to data published by the CMO Council, 69% of experienced marketers are allocating funds towards optimizing website content. The same report also indicates that 53% of marketers are investing time and resources towards social media community development. In the new media landscape web content and social media are becoming important investments, yet they continue to pose challenges for CMOs looking to demonstrate ROI.
Look At All Those Content Marketing Companies
This image above is part of a larger Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic compiled by Scott Brinker of Chief Marketing Technology. As an entrepreneurial influencer in the field of content marketing, Brinker felt it was important to create a comprehensive resource that included the growing number of companies specializing in content marketing.
Brinker advises investors to support brands that make rational marketing decisions based on data science. Data-driven marketers are constantly measuring the performance of content and the quality of inbound leads. There is a consistent need to review, refresh, and refine content using real analytics to attract the types of prospects that are more likely to convert into customers. Given enough time, this strategy can yield significant ROI.
Higher Revenues Yield Greater Investments
The content marketing industry is growing at an incredible rate. Since 2006, over $1 billion has been invested in content marketing software, as investors see the potential for high ROI in this burgeoning field. In the latest round of funding ScribbleLive received $35 million in venture capital, one of many large investments finalized during the latest rounds of funding.
PQ Media, a distinguished consulting service and market research organization, anticipated greater investments in content marketing companies. In a press release disseminated in July, PQ reported that global content marketing revenues grew at a rate of 14.4% in the first half of 2015, and predicted the 6th consecutive year of double digit revenue growth by the end of the year, increasing the potential for significant ROI.
How Do You Know Your Money Is Spent Wisely?
According to HubSpot, only one quarter of marketers say they can effectively measure content ROI. Calculating ROI is especially challenging for content marketers because it is a top-of-funnel activity that occurs in the early stages of the sales process and requires a number of factors to calculate accurately.
The upper funnel is the first phase in the ideal sales process. Here, marketers turn prospects into leads, and leads into customers by providing them with useful, entertaining, or valuable content. Essentially the upper funnel helps brands expand their reach and attract a larger number of targeted prospects. However, tracking how these prospects move through the funnel and convert to paying customers is notoriously difficult to track and measure.
To measure the impact of their content, many brands attach UTM codes to the end of their URL codes to help monitor the success of their content. You can insert the UTM into analytics and track exactly how many people clicked on a specific link and understand how well your social channels promoted your content.
However, UTMs also have their limitations. To supplement the information gained from UTM codes marketers are allocating funds to data-driven content marketing software.
The insights acquired from this data help marketers optimize strategies, create more engaging content for the audience, and increase the total number of conversions. Higher conversions will produce larger revenues, which generate greater ROI.
Time is Money
As mentioned above, content helps you expand your funnel and attract a greater volume of prospects. Instead of spending millions of dollars on traditional advertising that may get stopped by Adblock software or ignored by Millennials, content marketing allows you to form relationships with your target audience at very little cost.
However, time is still a critical factor. Your team must ideate, curate, publish, and distribute fresh content on an ongoing basis to provide real value for your prospective clients. If your goal is to become a hub of credible information that encourages repeat visits to your site, you must consistently provide your audience with new value.
The challenge is finding the time and resources to meet those goals. Some marketers assume that people will naturally arrive by increasing the quantity of new content uploaded to the site. However, there is no “one size fits all” solution, and the reality is that you must take your time, construct a plan, iron out the bugs, and create quality content that draws your ideal prospects into the funnel.
This is why data-driven marketing has accelerated in recent years. There is so much content on the web that brands must cut through the clutter to reach the right types of people. Data science allows you to build that plan, identify trending topics, understand the needs of your target audience, and where to distribute content for the highest impact.
Create a plan that works and the funnel will expand as you execute your strategy. When the funnel is large enough to attract leads that are ready to convert, your volume of paying customers will begin to grow. If you can prove that the strategy works, you will generate ROI without burning through excessive amounts of capital. That’s a winning content marketing strategy!