The following is a contribution from Katelyn Dramis, a content strategist, writer, and currently Content Lead at Nebo. Whether you are developing a marketing strategy for yourself or a client, repeating the cliche that “content is important” will not get you very far. But what does make it worthwhile? That’s what Katelyn distills into 4 key angles. Enjoy!
Great content informs every step of digital marketing. It informs the ads PPC works with. It’s necessary for SEO. It’s what PR pitches.
In short, it’s crucial to a comprehensive digital marketing plan.
Which is why a strong content marketing program is a must. However, it’s often hard for clients to grasp the importance of content marketing. Content isn’t necessarily a direct response medium, so showing it’s effectiveness, including return on investment (ROI) and contribution to the bottom line, can be difficult.
But knowing how to do so is the difference between getting your content marketing program approved, and getting the door shut in your face.
Whether you’re a freelancer or a marketing coordinator, you have to be able to articulate the importance of content marketing to your client. They already know what it is, but show them why it matters. The following four points do just that.
1) Content is strategic to your client’s business
Content is the starting point for great marketing. After all, content isn’t just about writing blogs and resources. It’s integral to all aspects of of business, from optimizing a page for SEO purposes, to writing ads for PPC, to supporting your customer service team by providing necessary information to customers. Great content is necessary to an integrated marketing plan.
Content also builds on itself. It’s not a one and done marketing method. In some instances, when content is evergreen, it can bring in a large amount of traffic repetitively, long after it was initially published.
Other content provides helpful answers for potential customers, and can be referenced as more customers enter the decision cycle.
All in all, content offers more bang for your buck. You get way more out of great content marketing than you actually put into getting it up and running.
2) It’s versatile
One of the most important things I’ve learned in my time as a content marketer for Nebo is the value of the buyer journey and the role content plays in it. Ultimately, we approach content in stages of the buyer journey.
Content that works for someone in one stage doesn’t work for someone in another. For example, if you are in the Home & Garden industry, content that works for professionals (e.g. “What loads does composite decking support?” won’t work for consumers (e.g., “What are good deck ideas?”) and vice versa.
One of the most important things I think you can learn as a content marketer, and coincidentally, communicate to a client, is the importance of using different types of content.
Moz has a great video on this that breaks it down extraordinarily well:
Ultimately, it boils down to three buckets of content: Discovery, Consideration, and Viral or Super broad. Here’s a quick rundown.
Discovery: This is the content is to help consumers discover a brand. It speaks to those at the beginning of the buyer journey, who are in the awareness stage. Ultimately, this content creates awareness around the issues that a brand (your client) ultimately solves, and helps establish your client as a trusted resources.
Ex: Say you’re helping an outdoors retailer beef up their content. For Discovery content, you could write pieces pertaining to outdoor activities like the best places to hike in the area, or the 5 things you need to bring on your kayaking trip.
Consideration: Typically when we begin a content engagement, I find that clients rely on consideration content fairly heavily. This is the promotional, product-focused content that ultimately strives for conversion. It’s brand heavy, speaking to consumers who are already aware of the brand.
Ex: This content would be more specific to the outdoors retailer. Perhaps you would create a comparison chart that highlights their products versus other retailers. Or, you could create an expanded FAQ.
Viral: This content is radically different. The overlap between potential customers and the audience for these pieces are very small. However, this viral/broad pieces are key in attracting both visibility & attracting links. They speak to broad topics that overlap somewhat with the brand’s space, but drive interest and get people reading and linking. The linking is crucial – ultimately, it will help build the strength and trust in your client’s site.
I’ve found the different content buckets can be the hardest thing to translate to clients when discussing content marketing efforts. Since consideration content is so familiar (and so brand focused), it can be difficult to move away from it, especially since it is meant to help customers convert. It’s often hard to see the value in writing a piece, or several pieces, that are not specifically mentioning the product, brand, or service, especially if the ultimate goal is to drive sales.
3) It’s measurable
Let’s be real. You can emphasize the importance of strategic content. You can get your client excited about the different content buckets and the buyer journey.
You can even sell the idea of writing more discovery phase content and how it will contribute to the overall success of their content marketing program.
However, if you can’t prove any success, it’s really all just talk. While it’s important to note that building upon strong strategic content takes time (it is not an overnight success story!), you have to know where you started and be able to indicate progress. Which is why being able to speak to measuring content marketing is an important aspect of pitching the importance of your content program.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to measuring your content marketing efforts. Each client has different goals, and each content piece is meant to work differently. For example, engagement on an industry specific piece may be measured differently than engagement on super broad content piece.
Success on an industry piece might be measured through engagement with key industry leaders. For example, if your client is selling children’s toys, are top mommy-bloggers engaging with your content? Are prominent people sharing it? Are key publications repurposing it? On the other hand, success on a broad piece may be measured by social shares.
While metrics and goals will really depend on your client, here are just a few ways we measure our content marketing efforts:
Types of traffic: When reporting on traffic driven by particular content pieces, it’s important to take into account organic traffic, which comes from an unpaid search engine (i.e. google), versus paid traffic, which comes from a paid advertisement. Again, the importance of metrics lie in your client’s goals. However, typically organic traffic has more meaning for content metrics, because it shows a content piece is appearing when users are searching for your topic.
Visibility: Now, pageviews can be misleading, which is why when reporting on content, it’s important to not focus solely on this metric. Sure, pageviews are important, as they show how many users view your content. However, it’s important to keep in mind what type of traffic is coming to a piece. Are pageviews increasing because of a paid effort? Or, are they increasing due to organic traffic?
Engagement: Engagement can mean so many things. Again, it depends on what your client’s goals are and what they prefer to measure. However, a few metrics particularly stand out to me in terms of engagement. First – there’s social media engagement. Are people interacting with the piece on social? Are they sharing it, liking it, and commenting on it? It’s important to note, however, that social media isn’t the end-all-be-all of engagement, especially if a) the content doesn’t lend itself to social, or b) the client’s targeted audience doesn’t typically interact on social media.
Instead, it might be more useful to look at average time on page in Google Analytics. Average time on page indicates the average amount of times users are spending on a specific piece of content. Of course, we can’t equate that directly to reading time, but it can be used to give us an idea of how people are engaging with a specific piece. Make sure you take your site’s general traffic into account when measuring average time on page. Afterall, if a piece as four pageviews and one pageview lasted 10 minutes, it’s most likely skewing this metric.
Conversions: One of the most impactful metrics to look at when measuring content is conversions. Specifically, my agency looks at assisted and direct conversions, as well as assisted and direct conversion value. A conversion is set up as a certain goal (a newsletter sign up, filling out a content form, or a transaction). When analyzing conversions in Google Analytics, we sort by landing page URL to see how the content played a role in the conversion path. From there, we look at which pieces assisted in conversions (where a touch point during the buyer journey at some point before a consumer converted), and which pieces were a direct/last click conversion (where the last touch point before a conversion). We also look at the assisted and direct conversion values to see how content relates to revenue. To me, this is a relatable way to show the success of content marketing to a client.
4) It meets business goals
This goes hand in hand with being measurable. Since you can measure content’s success, you can also show how it meets established business goals. Of course, these goals will vary depending on the company, but here are a few examples. Content can:
- Help lead generation by widening your funnel & driving awareness
- Fuel customer growth by widening your funnel & driving awareness
- Help customers in the decision stage of the buying cycle, which leads to conversion & profit
- Lower marketing costs because it serves multiple needs – a single investment in content can be used for SEO, PR, Paid Ads, Customer Support & more
Content marketing is far more than just blog posts and articles. It fuels every facet of marketing, from PR to SEO and PPC. Great content brings in traffic, educates and entertains users, and, if done correctly, can even lead to conversion. Your clients need content marketing. It’s necessary to achieve business goals. However, it’s up to you to explain the importance of great, strategic content.