Content marketing is one of the most difficult marketing techniques when it comes to measuring return on investment. Why? Because most marketers use content marketing for top-of-the-funnel goals like brand awareness, but not directly for conversions.
According to a study by Content Marketing Institute, ~41% of content marketers rate their ability to calculate ROI as average or below average.
How can you improve ROI when it is so difficult to measure?
The answer is to simply make your content marketing initiatives more effective in achieving your marketing goals. The tactics discussed in this post cost minimal investment in terms of money and deliver substantial results, thus improving ROI.
Want to learn five important tips to improve your content marketing ROI?
Read on to find out.
1. Conduct research to fuel your strategy
The first step towards achieving a high ROI from B2B content marketing is to have a solid strategy in place. For that, you need to be thorough with your research and back your strategy with data and insights.
Here are a few aspects that you need to understand better before you finalize your content marketing strategy.
Your target audience
Understand and define your target audience to create pieces of content that your audience cares about. For B2B companies, the usual target audience includes high-level decision-makers of companies.
But, even within that segment, you should know exactly what kind of companies could be your potential clients. The next step is to understand what level of people you should be targeting to drive sales.
Once you have target customers in mind, do some research and find out what type of content they engage with. Check their activity on professional networks like LinkedIn and check what your competitors are doing.
You can also gather insights into your current audience by analyzing the traffic on your website and social media profiles. While most social media platforms have their own built-in analytics tools, you can use Google Analytics for your website.
Understand your sales funnel
According to the previously-cited CMI study, most successful marketers create content based on a buyer’s journey through their sales funnel. The more clearly you understand your sales funnel, the more effective you will be in targeting your prospective buyers with the right content at the right times.
This is because prospects at different stages have different content needs. During the initial stage, your content’s aim would simply be to attract relevant people, but during later stages, you need content that can convince a person to buy.
The most important things that you should be aware of are the length of the sales cycle, stages in the sales funnel, and the content requirements at each stage. While you will have to do a sales funnel analysis to understand the first two, we can help you with the third.
To get you started, here is a list of content types, along with the stage of the funnel that they are best suited for.
Understand content trends
Adding to the previous point, you also need to understand what type of content resonates with your audience. Analyze your website and social media user behavior and engagement metrics to find out:
- Which pages/posts get the most engagement and conversions?
- Where are you losing your leads?
- Which type of content gets the most views, shares, comments, etc?
Metrics like time-on-page and bounce rates are helpful in assessing this. For social media content, the engagement rate can tell you a lot about what your audience likes.
Also, before you finalize your strategy, you should also set realistic and time-bound goals and define KPIs to measure your performance on those goals.
2. Select the right content marketing platforms
One of the most important tips for B2B content marketing is to choose the right content distribution platform.
Some platforms like LinkedIn work better than others for B2B companies because they have a more professional audience base. Understand what each platform is best suited for and select the right ones for your B2B content marketing.
Social media and company websites/blogs are the two most commonly used B2B content distribution channels.
Here are some key channels that you can choose from:
This should be your primary content marketing platform, as high-quality posts on current industry topics are one of the best ways to engage an expert audience. Your blog content should be targeted at your audience and should provide value to them.
For example, check out this blog by the cloud accounting company FreshBooks. Their target audience includes small business owners and their posts provide useful, informative content to help them.
In addition to posting useful content, you should also place calls-to-action at strategic places to get conversions from your blog and increase your ROI.
LinkedIn is the content marketing platform of choice for B2B marketers as it is where professionals connect with other professionals and businesses.
It is especially useful for posting thought leadership pieces, joining conversations in relevant groups, and promoting your latest blog posts. You can also leverage video content such as interviews, panel discussions, and other informative videos that are relevant to your audience.
For example, Mailchimp uses live videos to provide useful tips to business owners on how to succeed. Their topics are current and relevant, and their videos are to-the-point and provide actionable tips.
Also, don’t forget to add a CTA or a link to your website, just like the one in the below example.
Other social media platforms
While LinkedIn might be more popular among B2B content marketers, you cannot underestimate the effectiveness of other platforms.
Instagram, for example, is great for posting visual content in the form of Stories, IGTV videos, and posts. Twitter should be your platform of choice for posting short and frequent updates about your company or sharing opinions on current events. Facebook groups and pages provide a good opportunity for you to create an online community for your customers to connect.
Find out which platforms suit your needs and include them in your content marketing plan.
Email is a cost-effective and direct way to communicate with your existing and potential customers. You can use it both to nurture B2B leads and retain your existing customers.
Newsletters, for example, are a good way to engage your audience while cross-promoting your blog posts at the same time. You can also share offers and deals and introduce new products/features to generate sales from email marketing.
Here’s an example of a newsletter from the leading social media scheduling platform, Buffer. They used it to introduce a new tool that they offer. This information is useful for both existing and potential customers and encourages users to check out the new feature.
Other industry websites
Apart from posting content on your own website and social media, you can also leverage guest posting on other prominent industry websites. This allows you to reach a wider audience, who may or may not frequent your website. It also helps establish you as an industry expert, especially if you post on reputable websites that your prospective customers trust.
Make a list of some of the most reputable websites in your niche and reach out to them for guest posting opportunities. Pick trending topics and provide detailed outlines to ensure that your articles get selected.
These are the two most important content marketing tactics that you should apply to your campaigns. If you have a clear understanding of your target audience and have selected the right platforms, half your job is already done.
Want to know three more tactics to ace your content marketing game?
Read part 2 of this post to find out — tomorrow!
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, content marketing and SEO. He is the co-founder of Attrock, a digital marketing agency. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products and a number of A-List celebrities. You can find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.