This final part of the EPIC Content Marketing Formula, C (Conversion), helps you determine how to tweak your content marketing so you end up making money. We will look at these topics:
- Define “ROI”
- Funnel metrics
- Monetizing content
Many people complain that content marketing is too difficult to measure. “How do you know if it’s working?” they ask.
It’s a good question. Most books and articles written about content marketing insist it is a long-term investment.
You commit to content marketing for the long haul. Expect it to take a year – at least – before you can see a return on a tremendous investment of time, money, and effort. Search Engine Optimization is a big part of this plan.
And yes, there are plenty of companies who freely admit their success is based on that long view. Their whole-hearted commitment over several years has now brought them to a point where they are not only successful, but seen as thought leaders in their field, and they are generating great profits.
I want to show you, however, that although it is important to look at a variety of standard metrics to determine how well your content marketing is “working”, there are some things marketers can now do to short-cut the process.
Many people feel the only ROI that counts is an immediate sale.
While sales are the END goal for all your marketing efforts – because that’s how you become profitable, after all – sometimes you will get a greater profit on the back end if you consider a few other ways to look at ROI.
“Return on Investment” means acknowledging ALL the gains you make.
These gains can include such things as:
- The additional people now on your email list after running ads
- After running ads to cold traffic, people who consume your content are now “warmer” prospects. You have increased the odds of going from “know” to “like”
- Your CPC will be lower when warm prospects turn into leads more easily
- You gain market research based on what resonates with your prospects and leads
All of these different gains ultimately lead to better, faster backend sales. Don’t discount their value just because you didn’t get as many frontend sales as you would have liked.
Standard content marketing metrics
Let’s look first at standard metrics.
Jay Baer, a leader in the content marketing industry, suggests that you look at four sets of numbers:
- Consumption metrics
- Sharing metrics
- Lead generation metrics
- Sales metrics
These include such numbers as: the number of views your page or video receives; the number of downloads; and the number of social conversations taking place about your content.
These metrics should then lead to these questions:
- Do people take action after consuming the content?
- Do they come back for more?
Tags and pixels will help you answer those questions.
This is for social media posts and blog articles, primarily.
Sharing includes such actions as: likes; shares; tweets; +1s (are people STILL using Google+??); and pins.
You can also measure who is sending traffic to your blog by using online tools such as Google Analytics.
Lead generation metrics
How many people are completing your forms? How many people are subscribing to your list? How many people who land on your page are becoming leads?
If you have low numbers for any of these metrics, you will want to evaluate your content for such things as how relevant, engaging, and inspiring it is!
And of course you hope that many of your leads actually convert to sales. Measure this through online and offline sales, manual reporting, and customer retention.
Don’t be surprised about measuring sales numbers under the content marketing umbrella. After all, the end goal of marketing is to bring about more sales!
Remember also that only some of your content creation and marketing is focused on prospects. A lot of it should also be focused on nurturing current customers, so you maintain a relationship with them.
Other metrics to measure
Make sure you evaluate which of your channels performs really well, and which could use some work. This will help you decide if you are, for instance, using the right social media channels, or if the content on those channels is most relevant and engaging for your intended audience.
This is how you determine whether or not you are losing too many of your customers. Here are the steps to do the math:
- Choose a time period
- How many customers did you have at the end of that period? (End)
- How many new customers did you acquire during that period? (Acquired)
- How many customers did you have at the beginning of the period? (Start)
Here is the formula:
(End-Aquired) / Start = % retention rate
- You had 1,025 customers at the end of March (End)
- You acquired 50 customers during the month of March (Acquired)
- You had 1000 customers at the start of March (Start)
(1025 – 50) / 1000 = 97.5% retention rate for March
Buyer recency and frequency.
These numbers are very important to know, in order to understand the lifecycle of your customer.
When was the last time your customer made a purchase? How often does the average customer make a purchase?
And the most important question: Over time, what is the average lifetime customer value? (See below)
If you can increase your average lifetime customer value through engaging and inspiring content, you will save your company a lot of money on advertising to cold leads – people who don’t already know, like and trust you – and increase your revenue without a whole lot of extra effort.
Average Customer Lifetime Value
This is one of the most important numbers to calculate because once you know how much each customer is worth over time, you know how much you can spend to acquire a new customer without going negative.
(Avg sale) x (# repeat purchases) x (avg retention in months or years)
For example: $20 x 12 x 3 years = $720 total revenue (or $240/year)
The quick and simple way to do it is to use an online calculator like this one.
Keep track of these numbers in order to determine whether or not your content marketing is reaching your current customers!
The secret sauce for content marketing ROI
There are a lot of changes happening in the way marketers are allowed to advertise online. The rules are changing constantly and it is difficult to keep up.
One thing that doesn’t seem to be changing, however, is that ad platforms like Facebook and Google allow you to advertise a piece of useful content.
So this is the new way to use these ad platforms to your advantage. In fact, this is a huge gift from Facebook! We call it the “reverse squeeze”.
Instead of asking your prospect to commit to you (by giving you their email address) before you give them anything really useful, you commit to them first by giving them content without asking for anything in return. If they like it, THEN they can choose to get the next piece of content by opting in.
The really interesting part though, is that you don’t really even NEED their email address.
Nope. Read that again.
Thanks to the retargeting pixel, you don’t even need their email address.
Of course, if they give it to you, that is better than retargeting them with more ads. Once you can get into their email inbox it is much easier to nurture a relationship with your audience.
But if they follow your ad to a piece of content, it’s like they are on a list of another type; you can now retarget them for future ads and more content.
In fact, they can feel like they are seeing you everywhere, if you do it right! (Just don’t be annoying!)
Here is the new content marketing funnel:
- Create an audience in your ad platform
- Send those prospects an ad that leads to…
- …Valuable content on your website (shorter piece; small time investment to consume)
- If the prospect opts in on your site, put them in an email sequence that shares more valuable content a few more times (gradually longer pieces that require greater time investment)
- If the prospect does not opt in right away, retarget them to new content (you can do this a couple of times to determine if you just haven’t connected with their greatest interest yet)
- Once your lead commits to consuming your content, you have built a relationship
- Now you can make an offer to this more-qualified, more-knowledgeable lead
- Retain customer through continued nurturing
Monetization following content marketing
Creating great content and posting it to various online platforms doesn’t have to be the end of your content marketing plan.
No, in fact, there are many ways you can follow up that content and continue to monetize it. Here are just a few ways for you to consider:
- YouTube ad royalties
- Book royalties
- Software as a service
- Podcast sponsorships
- Website sponsorships
- Memberships sites
- Live event admission fees
- Live event sponsorships
This is the end of our 4-part series about The EPIC Content Marketing Formula. If you missed them, check out the other articles below.:
However, we only just barely began to dive into the possibilities for truly epic content marketing!
The purposes of content marketing are:
- To provide quality content that drives brand awareness and lead generation
- To build relationships with prospects and customers
- To inspire profitable customer action
It sounds so simple, and yet, because of constantly changing markets and platforms, there is always something new to learn. If you don’t stay on top of what is happening now, you will lose out on a big share of your potential customers.
But you don’t have to do this alone. Here at Winning Content Strategy, we are experts in keeping up with the latest content marketing trends.
You have your business to run! You can’t possibly be an expert in everything. Let us give you some shortcuts to market your business efficiently and effectively.