An effective online marketing strategy starts with a solid content marketing plan. Content marketing works because:
- It’s helpful. Your content will help people understand your brand, learn how your product(s) address their pain points, offer solutions to problems, etc.
- It boosts consumer trust. Would you rather buy parts from someone who knows all about parts, or someone who doesn’t? Consumers are no different. If your company explains how parts work, what makes one part better than another, how to diagnose a problem, etc., your company becomes more trusted. Greater trust leads to greater sales.
- Search engines love content. Unique and valuable content with a thematic focus is one of the keys to top search engine rankings.
Of course, content marketing is easier said than done. Creating and promoting content on a consistent basis is hard.
But mostly, content marketing requires patience. A good content strategy will not generate a positive return on investment (ROI) for several months. When it comes to evaluating the ROI of content marketing, be sure to keep the following three points in mind.
1. Content Quality and ROI Are Correlated
The ROI of your content will varies based on quality. High quality content is much more likely to generate links, shares, and mentions than low quality content.
Links, shares, and mentions are the goals of content marketing. A great article that gets linked to from a popular automotive website? That’s tremendously valuable. One single high quality link to your website can make all the difference when it comes to Google and Bing rankings.
While there are a lot of items that go into creating quality content, the basics are:
- Format your content to be engaging. Use short sentences and short paragraphs. Use sub-headings and bullet points. Make sure your content is easy to ready on any device. Etc.
- Write about things consumers care about. Some of the best performing content is written to answer a commonly asked question.
- Do more than just write. Charts, graphics, and videos are all good content. So are artistic pieces and cool photos.
- Pay a professional to create your content. Nearly everyone passed high school English – does that mean nearly everyone is qualified to write web content?
2. Distribute Your Content On A Variety of Platforms
To get the most from your high quality content, you to find different avenues to share and promote it.
- Sharing content on Facebook and Twitter is pretty obvious. Paying to share that content (by “boosting”, for example) is a great idea.
- Sharing content on less popular social media sites like CarThrottle, Reddit, and Stumbleupon can be very beneficial
- Automotive forums are a good place to share content too, but it has to be done in the context of a larger conversation or it will come off as self-promotional
- Share your content in your monthly newsletter
- Send out a press release if the content is truly newsworthy
- Repackage your content and turn it into a slide deck, a podcast, or even an explainer video
Whatever you do, don’t just write a blog post and hope “the Internet” finds it. That doesn’t work very well.
3. Attribution Models Are Key To Calculating ROI
Imagine a consumer reads an article on your blog. Imagine they like the blog post, and make a mental note to come back to your website wen they’re ready to buy a part.
Now, imagine 3 months go by, and the consumer who read a blog post has returned to spend $500 on your site. How do you attribute this revenue?
If you use Google Analytics, odds are good the revenue will be attributed to “direct” traffic. This is because too much time has passed to attribute the $500 in revenue back to the blog post…even though the blog post is responsible for the sale.
Now – to be clear – consumers don’t necessarily follow this pattern. Sometimes they read the blog post and buy that same day. Sometimes they read the blog post and never return. But whatever they do, we know the following:
- Some percentage of the traffic that comes to your site to read your content will return to buy parts at some point
- Likes, tweets, and shares are a good proxy for the effectiveness of your content
- Content and search engine rankings are roughly correlated. So, the more traffic your content gets, the higher your website is ranked (even for unrelated terms)
Therefore, when you’re assessing the ROI of content, you want to look at traffic, shares, inbound links, and of course any actual revenue you can track. These metrics aren’t precise, but over time it’s easy to relate traffic growth to transaction volume.
Or, putting it another way: If your blog generates 20,000 visits a month, it’s probably going to help you sell some parts. Even if just 1/10th of 1% of those visitors buy something, that’s 20 customers. 20 customers who spend $500 each is $10,000 in revenue. $10,000 in sales will pay for quite a few blog posts and infographics.
Content Has An Awesome ROI – It Just Takes Time
We’ll close by stating flatly that content marketing has a tremendous ROI. Indeed, it is the backbone of our business. The content we create on this blog is one of the the only sources of marketing leads our company has, and it’s allowed us to grow tremendously.
The same goes for many of our clients – content that we’ve created on our clients blogs has led to tremendous growth and dominant search engine rankings. We usually see content start to show positive returns around the 6 month mark, and then it really takes off at the 18 month mark. If your company can commit to 12 months of content before calculating ROI, odds are good the “beancounters” will be very happy.