communications strategy

Content marketing ROI: process matters

Carolyn McMaster | October 16, 2016

Companies typically evaluate content marketing ROI based on how well it raises awareness and enhances sales. Are targets reading and watching? Are you building a following? Are you expanding brand awareness and generating business?

But how do you know if your content programs are working as hard as they can? Two areas to consider are your content creation processes and how internal stakeholders are using content. When these areas are healthy, costs are lower, efficiency is higher, and you’re more likely to generate a good return on external metrics.

For instance, if your newsletter gets out on time, every time with great content, you probably have a well-oiled machine. Not so much if you’re frequently late or can’t create appropriate content for each issue. But maintaining effective, efficient processes and understanding why things go wrong requires a bit of thought and setting up the right systems at the start. Here are some key measurements:

Production cycle
How long does it take to produce a piece of content, start to finish? Map the steps along the way, and who is handling each stage. Producing a bylined thought leadership article for our clients, for example, involves these steps: concept development, writing, editing, reviews and approvals, copyediting and pitching. The roles needed are client content expert, writer, editor, copy editor, PR pro and project lead; add social media and web personnel when it’s published.

With a production map for each piece of content, it’s easy to see what’s causing snags and how you can adjust to keep projects on track. The more efficient the process, the less it costs. It’s also easier to jump on opportunities or change direction when you have a handle on all the variables.

Content quality
Aesthetic standards are important (nobody wants to read a poorly written blog post or watch a badly edited video), but they’re also subjective—and a gorgeous piece of content can utterly fail to deliver on business goals. So, in addition to assessing aesthetic or creative success, measure how well content meets business goals. Here some elements to track:

  • Content is the right complexity for my audience (role, education, expertise and so on).
  • We have content for every audience type and buying stage, from prospect to client or post-purchase.
  • Content has the right messages for our audience(s) and their relationship to the organization.
  • The content leads naturally to a call to action.
  • We repurpose content for multiple channels (or audiences).
  • Content is professional and free from errors.

Once you have great processes and wonderful content, you have to ask, is your organization using the content? Nothing is more disheartening than finding out your biz dev associate has never heard of that report you slaved over. In a second post, I’ll look at the ways internal groups can use content and how maximizing their participation contributes to content marketing ROI.


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