4 ways to rethink how we measure our content marketing ROI
Published on September 14th, 2011 by Dagmar King
Anyone who has worked in the field of marketing for more than five years knows it hasn’t always been quite this crazy. And I don’t mean just because of the dramatic changes brought forth by social media and the relentless stream of new tools and technologies. What I’m talking about is the non-stop pursuit to demonstrate ROI in a department not traditionally considered a revenue center. Marketing departments – along with other functional areas of organizations – have always had to demonstrate their value. But today’s C-suite – regardless of industry, market or brand – wants to see marketing’s contribution to increased sales or cost savings or customer retention. We now need to draw the connection between leads and dollars. But what do we do if we’re primarily responsible for generating online content instead of running a lead-gen or DM program? How do we quantify our results? Here’s a few tips on how to demonstrate our contribution to the bottom line.
Remember, it’s not always a straight line between marketing and revenue. Marketers can’t always draw a single, straight line between content creation and financial return. An investment in words, visuals and blogs that drive site visits, Facebook fans, retweets, video views and positive ratings is not reflected on the balance sheet. But that doesn’t mean these activities are valueless. Instead, they are leading indicators that our brand is doing something to create value, and that can drive financial results in the future.
Add some perspective – 4 perspectives to be precise. Take a look at the diagram below to see how we can measure our content assets from four different perspectives. The metrics are based on a “Balanced Scorecard,” which is a time-honored method of avoiding narrow, ROI-based performance management. It enables us to balance the short term with the long term and the direct with the indirect financial outcomes.
1. Financial perspective: Have revenues or profits increased or costs decreased?
2. Brand perspective: Have consumer attitudes about the brand improved?
3. Risk management perspective: Is the organization better prepared to note and respond to attacks or problems that affect reputation?
4. Digital perspective: Has the company enhanced its owned and earned digital assets?
Create your own content marketing scorecard. Today, an organization’s “content” – the value and timeliness of its information – has become as important as the products and services it sells. Content imparts credibility and attracts new and returning visitors. And that eventually translates into revenue. If we examine our own content marketing initiatives we can create a similar scorecard to the above and assign a financial value or outcome to each applicable perspective. The more perspectives, the more balanced our projections and the better we’re able to avoid the narrow vision that contributes to incomplete measurement and incorrect business decisions.
Thanks to search engines, hyperlinks and social interaction, we’re better able than ever to track our progress and measure our results. Even if the payoff is indirect or a bit down the road, by analyzing and reporting our results based on several perspectives we can show our C-suite how our efforts translate into increased sales, customer retention and/or cost savings.
Check out Marketwire’s EasySuite 2.0 content management system. It makes it easy for you to update your website with dynamic, interactive content – without a tech degree.