Is Content Marketing worth the investment? Content marketing budgets vary, but it is not uncommon to see companies spend between $5,000 and $50,000 per year on this marketing tactic. The spend amount varies by size of company and what the actual goals for the program are. These companies are obviously seeing a return on their investment to justify these levels of expenditures.
1. What exactly is content marketing?
Wikipedia defines content marketing as a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing, and distributing content online for a specific targeted audience across many channels. Content marketing can play a supporting role for a number of marketing programs including Website Traffic Building, Social Media and Lead Generation/Sales.
Many people think of content marketing as simply using keywords in blogs and websites to increase website rankings on Google. There was a time when stuffing keywords on websites and blogs would dramatically improve Google Search Engine Rankings. Google now changes its algorithms on an almost a daily basis to better match web visitors with websites that have high quality content that best meet visitor’s information needs. So, what content will lead Google to feature your information on their search pages? The truth is nobody knows except Google and they are not sharing. Google advises companies not to focus on developing content to fit their algorithms but instead focus on the customer.
Companies that excel at content marketing use it to enhance their brand, build trust with prospects and increase sales. A simple goal for every content marketing program is to provide the right information to prospects at every stage of their buying journey. This content must be engaging, informative and inspire prospects to take action. It is not unrealistic to expect that content marketing will lead to qualified leads and sales.
A 2019 SEMrush survey revealed that 54% of 1,200 marketers said their top content marketing challenge is “creating content that generates quality leads.”
2. Should every content program have an established strategy and goals?
The most common mistake most companies make is to plan and create content on an “as needed basis”. Content goals should be created that encompass both meeting marketing KPIs and also directly impacting sales. A content marketing strategy should review and/or create business/customer personas for all potential customer segments. Different content may need to be developed based on each persona.
Developing your strategy will involve examining the buying journey of the personas and the type of information they need at each stage of the buying cycle. For example, early in the buying cycle you should optimize copy on your website, blog and social media channels to provide answers for problems and pain points your prospects face. At other phases of the buying cycle, prospects may need case studies, product reviews, webinars, ebooks, podcasts and emails.
Research from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) showed that 73% of survey respondents felt that Blog Posts and Articles were the most effective tactic in the early stage of the buying cycle, Case Studies/White Papers and Webinars were effective in the middle stage and Case Studies and Other Content Forms work well in the evaluation/purchase stage.
3. Do I need to create a Content Editorial Calendar?
An important element of any content marketing strategy is the development of an Annual Plan or Content Editorial Calendar. This task may seem daunting, but it is important to organize what content assets already exist, what content needs to be created and how the content will be directed to each of your buyer personas. This needs to be planned for each month. As we said previously, most content marketing programs that create content as needed usually fail. We have all visited a website and clicked on the Blog Page to see that the last blog created was in 2015. This leaves a horrible impression with a potential prospect.
A key consideration in your content marketing strategy is how the content will be developed. Some companies create an internal content team or lean on inside topic area expertise. Other firms find that outsourcing the content creation process works better. Either approach can be successful. The key point is to make sure the content is produced on a timely basis, and of the quality will help you not only reach your prospects, but convert them into interested prospects.
What is quality content? One way to grade quality is whether your information is already available on other websites, or is it unique?. Google also rewards quality content that is from a source that is an expert or authority on a topic. To be considered an expert your content will need to be referenced frequently on the web or on social media channels. Quality content is also thorough. It used to be that blogs of about 500 words were considered appropriate. Research has shown that blogs and articles between 2000 and 3000 words are now more successful.
4. Can I measure the success of my Content Marketing?
Measuring the effectiveness of your investment in content marketing is key to determining what is creating traffic, leads, and ultimately new business for your company. But, accomplishing that can sometimes be difficult.
The simple formula looks something like this – courtesy of SEMRush
The ‘investment’ in your content is not just the cost of a particular piece of content. It is the annual investment that you have made through dedicated internal resources, plus external resources. This includes staff costs, freelancer/contractor costs, new equipment, education, etc.
The ‘return on investment’ can sometimes be more elusive to capture. But, through tracking metrics, dedicated landing pages, etc., it is possible to identify new business opportunities that have arisen from your content marketing activities.
And when you have identified the investment and the return on investment, you can use the above formula to determine its level of success. This will give you the feedback to adjust your activity and investment to continue to move forward.
5. How much time does it take to see an ROI from my Content Marketing Investment?
Successfully executing an annual content marketing program can be complicated and time consuming but you will see benefits including more qualified leads and a more robust bottom line. Often, the results of your investment may not start to appear for months. But, done correctly, the ‘evergreen’ nature of your content will allow you to continue to see results from your work for years to come.
Digital Equation Marketing can help you understand your prospect personas and their information needs. With this information, we can develop a strategy for you that will distribute content on a timely basis that increases web traffic, social media exposure and impacts sales. Please reach out if we can be of any assistance to you.