There are many misconceptions among non-marketers about content marketing, particularly at the executive level. If you ask three different people about content marketing, you are likely to get three different answers. As we continue to head into a recession and budgets go under the microscope, you want to make sure that everyone in your organization understands the business value that content marketing brings to the table so that your program isn’t derailed by budget cuts. Let’s take a closer look.
What is Content Marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), content marketing is defined as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if the business delivers consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they will ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.
How is Content Marketing Different than Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is a broader strategy for attracting buyers to you. It includes other activities such as advertising, social media marketing, email, SEO, and your website as well as content marketing. Content marketing is a subset of inbound marketing and works with all of these activities.
What is Hard Business Value?
Business value can definitely be a form of economic value but it also expands the concept to include other forms of value that relate to the health of the company such as security and agility. The image below illustrates what most businesses would consider business value.
Here’s the Problem that Marketers Face Today
According to the latest Annual Survey from CMI, marketers state the top four goals that they achieved with content marketing are brand awareness, building trust, educating audiences, and building loyalty with existing customers.
These four activities are perceived by many as soft value, and not necessary for impacting the bottom line. The key word here is perceived. As marketers, we know that without brand awareness, trust, education, and loyalty, the cost of sales and the length of the sales cycle increases dramatically.
The goal of content marketing is in its definition – to drive profitable customer action.
Align Content Marketing with the Business
The first step to changing perception and aligning content marketing to the business is to define the right KPIs. Building brand awareness, trust, education, and loyalty are indicators that your program is creating business value, however, marketers need to use KPIs that signal business success such as leads, conversions, and revenue.
The table below gives a quick overview of the most commonly used KPIs when it comes to content marketing. It is not a definitive guide to the importance of all KPIs; KPIs with one or two stars on this list could be very important for your company, but not to others. (Source: Search Engine Journal)
Here are a couple of examples of what you would measure if your goals were sales enablement or lead generation. (Source: CMI)
- Sales Enablement - lead-to-customer conversion rates, effect on time to close new customers, and revenue generated.
- Lead Generation - form and landing page conversion rates, downloads, and percentage of marketing- and sales-qualified leads.
The second step that marketers need to do is socialize or sell the idea of content marketing internally to win over support from decision makers, colleagues, or even from those reporting to us or other stakeholders.
You need to sell up into the executive team, sell down to all that report to you, and sell laterally to your peers and other stakeholders such as thought leaders throughout the organization. Every time you talk about the program, you need to remind your audience of the goals that you have collectively established for the program.
To make your content marketing program strategic to the organization, you need to define the right KPIs that align with your business. Need help?