Despite a huge surge in adoption of content marketing, many marketers still struggle to build their own business case internally. Some executives still view content as “just the latest trend” in marketing and don’t see the value in providing useful, educational and/or entertaining content for their customers and prospects. Therefore, the only way to successfully build a business case that will catch the attention of your organization’s leadership is to be able to communicate and calculate the ROI of content marketing. The way to calculate content marketing ROI will vary for each organization, but the initial process for gathering the information to do so and building a strong business case is the same across the board.
1. Do Your Research
All marketing spend should be tied to quantifiable results that sales and executives can understand. Therefore, the first step in building the content marketing business case is finding the costs and ROI of other marketing departments within your organization. Doing this type of discovery and knowing these numbers upfront will help you benchmark your program and get a grasp of what expectations will be.
If you’re not familiar with what metrics to ask for from your organization’s other marketing departments, here are some to get your started:
- Average cost per lead
- Customer acquisition cost
- Marketing percentage of customer acquisition cost
- Ratio of customer lifetime value to customer acquisition cost
- Time to payback customer acquisition cost
- Marketing influenced customer percentage
- Marketing originated customer percentage
- Cost per registration (content or events)
- Cost per sale
- Conversion rate
- Average deal size of marketing acquisition
- Marketing-generated pipeline
- Marketing-generated opportunities
- Marketing-generated deals
- Marketing-generated revenue
2. Align Program Goals with Company Objectives
Oftentimes content marketers make the mistake of measuring too narrowly, or only focusing on vanity metrics, such as “likes” and “views.” While these do indicate engagement, they aren’t enough on their own merit. Marketers need to be able to measure things that have a quantifiable value they can take the the bank. Understanding what metrics other marketing departments are tracking will indicate which KPIs your organization’s leadership cares about most. Is your brand wanting to boost awareness? Is changing perception and improving brand health most important? Or is driving conversions always the main goal? If your company’s #1 priority for the year is to increase conversions, presenting stellar engagement metrics to leadership will not only leave them unimpressed, but also show that your program is not aligned with company objectives.
3. Set Appropriate Goals
Knowing the ROI of other marketing departments will allow you to set goals that are realistic and expected in order for your content marketing program to be considered a success. If you proudly present that your program has driven 100 conversions, while other marketing departments drive 1,000, leadership will see your program as an ineffective use of time and resources. Setting these expectations upfront will also enable you to manage your program efficiently. If halfway through the year, your engagement metrics are consistently strong but unique reach is dwindling, you’ll be able to reinvest into distribution before it’s too late to meet your goals.
4. Ask for a Realistic Budget
Marketing budgets can vary from a few thousand to millions of dollars, all depending on your organization. Having an idea of the amount allotted to fund other marketing departments will help you ideate how ambitious or humble your content marketing program should be. If you’re unsure of what type of budget you can ask for, present a sliding scale with budget and program goals adjusted accordingly. Depending on your organization, your best strategy can be to ask for the moon and the stars, with the hope of just getting the moon.