What’s The Real ROI of Content Marketing?

In Common SEO Topics, Digital Strategy, Social Media by Marius Badenhorst

We all know that the traditional ideas around SEO are no longer effective. Moz already had a whiteboard session on how link building should become link earning – hence the push for content marketing. However, some agencies tend to cower away from it because how can you measure the success of content, regardless of how engaging it may be?

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Content, like diamonds, is forever

DJ Miller of the Content Marketing Institute pointed an invaluable fact. Unlike other forms of marketing where the value lies only in the initial placing of the brand message, once content is published online, it’s there forever. Because of content marketing’s longevity, its ROI has been found to outweigh that of paid search threefold. Yet, paid search is widely believed to be the most cost effective marketing tactic.

However, the ROI of content marketing is not seen immediately. Traditional SEO link building has conditioned clients to expect quicker ROI, particularly smaller business with less working budget. It’s now a case of educating clients on the true value of content marketing. Like Bridget wrote earlier on why we should care about SEO, content caters not only to search engines but to people as well.

There’s more to the bottom line

To consider ROI as purely pounds and pennies severely excludes other equally valuable returns which should also be considered when establishing a budget. A rise in traffic to a client’s website or place of business, and even their little corner in the social network realm that came from well placed posts with relevant content are undoubtedly linked to profits. The ability to retain old friends while gaining new ones is valuable. That forms part of building an audience, which plays a role in customer experience. According to Adobe’s research on 2014 trends, both firms and clients appreciated the importance of customer experience last year, and the trend in 2014 is for firms and/or agencies to actually do something about it. Improving customer experience goes a long way to improving brand loyalty, which is something that can at times hold more value to increasing the bottom line in the long run.

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Lessons learned

The main lesson we learned from the previous year is that content marketing and copywriting are not mutually exclusive. Both are required for a smart online marketing strategy. A well written blog with relevant content will not get anywhere without a great headline to take it. However, it can’t stop there. The hard fact of the matter is, no matter what industry your client is in, there are bound to be competitors. Competing on content with keywords shared by your competitors diminishes the effectiveness of even the highest quality content because the first hurdle to overcome is visibility.

Of course, the obvious solution to this is posting on social media, but even that takes some finesse. It’s been generally accepted that the conversion rate on popular platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is  1 in 100 followers, and that’s with the assumption that the probability of a follower seeing a message is 1 in 10.  All that boils down to the fact that the chances of completing a sale through that channel are close to nil. Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t plan to make it easy on us as they are slowly veering towards reducing organic reach to nil in the near future.

Fortunately, with these lessons learned, there are also solutions. For clients with a lot of competitors, the best way to ensure a lead finds their firm is to just drown them with content. Albeit excellent well written content! If your competitors each have 1 piece of content with the same keyword, but your client has 10 thanks to your brilliant work ethic, then the chances of your client’s firm being found increase tenfold (all other things being equal of course).  Ultimately, for a client with many competitors, the investment in content marketing needs to be high. The other two learnings seem obvious but considering limited resources, they can be hard to put in practice – you have to build an audience and do some active engagement. If you want to know more, we’re always happy to chat.

About the Author

Marius Badenhorst