How To Justify The Cost Of Your Content Marketing Program

There really is no question mark around content marketing anymore.  Content Marketing is crucial for every brand whether you are a B2B or a B2C brand.

A report by Edelman brings to light many of the key reasons why content marketing is essential for marketers.

EDELMAN BRANDSHARE 2014: A MANIFESTO FOR BRAND SURVIVAL is a study that proves the importance for brands to survive and thrive today and into the future.

Two big questions that remain: 1) how to measure return on investment and 2) how to justify the cost of content marketing.  These are both questions you want and need to answer since Content Marketing is a meaningful investment in time and money.

The article 4 Types of Content Metrics That Matter by Jay Baer is a great place to start learning and thinking about what metrics really matter around content marketing.

In the article, Jay talk's about:

Consumption Metrics - how many people are reading and re-reading your content

Sharing Metrics - whether or not people are sharing your content with others

Lead Generation Metrics - how many people are connecting or contacting your company in via phone or web after reading your content

Sales Metrics - how many pieces of content a typical customer reads before buying and what is the average lifetime value of each customer so that you can figure out the average value of each piece of content.

Each individual company and even each brand within your company will have different metrics that are important to them.

We work with some companies that are focused on metrics around Consumption and Sharing because of their branding and brand awareness goals.  We have other partners that are all about Lead Generation and Sales Metrics because they need to tie each piece of content back to their budget and revenue.  And of course there are some companies that need and want to measure all four of these metrics.

Through the Atomic Reach Insights Dashboard we are able to deliver both Consumption and Sharing Metrics and work with our clients to help them use those metrics to unlock both their Lead Generation and Sales Metrics.

Another useful feature of our dashboard is that it helps you understand which pieces of content are resonating with each of your audiences on every platform where you share them including the day of the week and time of day.  This enables you to share the right content with the right audience at the right time and in the right places!  These insights help you unlock ways to improve all four of the key metrics Jay has outlined.

Your first order of business is to define your strategy and the end goal of your content marketing efforts.  You can then tie together which metrics will help you measure your progress and success toward your goals.

When it comes to justifying the cost of content marketing there's another worthwhile article available on the Content Marketing Institute website - How to Justify the Cost of Content Marketing by Michele Linn.

Michele includes some insightful specifics around the monthly costs associated with content marketing for mid-sized and large-sized businesses.  In the article she also highlights the study done by Kapost and Eloqua. This is a great study that compares the cost per lead over 24 months for a mid-sized and a large-sized company using paid search vs. content marketing.

I've included the infographic below on the results of the study. What it shows is that content marketing costs 31% less for mid-sized companies and 41% less for large-sized companies than paid search.  Though the numbers are a bit different depending on the type of business sector you are in, this gives you one useful way to analyze and justify the cost.

Now considering that this article and study is nearly a year and a half old there's no question things have changed.  I'd love to see Kapost and Eloqua re-do this study to see how these numbers have changed too.

The paid search marketplace and the knowledge around the costs of content marketing will continue to shift.  Though I'd suggest that the benefit of content marketing far outweighs the cost and go way beyond straight metrics.  The Edelman report above proves that point.

In addition, to justifying the cost each company has to embrace the culture shift.  Content Marketing cannot be siloed into a separate marketing function.  Content Marketing is an integral part of your marketing, sales and corporate strategy and culture.  What that really means is that the core messaging coming from each part of your organization needs to coordinate around helping and addressing your customers needs vs. selling.

There's a great quote in Richard Stacy's article on the Edelman report.  What he essentially says is we need to base our social media strategies on listening and response.  And that a content marketing process that matches brand answers to customer questions in real time, rather than filling-up our communication channels with brand and product "fill" are the essence and true value of content marketing.

Lastly, Richard says that the social digital space is a medium of connection not of distribution.  Communities will become the new media and marketing people can forget trying to target consumers.  I agree.

If we embrace the reality that we need to give consumers what they really want and need and we actually do it, then they will target us and our brands.  Amen to that!

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