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Content marketing measurement: Show me the money

The best content marketers report results like this: For every $X invested, we generated $X in revenue and $X in profit. Here are my top tips to elevate you above the colouring in department moniker.

I had a conniption last week, and not the right sort… Unfortunately, it became apparent why some people refer to the marketing team as the colouring in department.

 

And I suspect this view is exacerbated for content marketers.

A set of crayons standing up on a table

For context, I was judging the CMI 2019 Content Marketing Awards.

 

I want to say upfront I was honoured to be involved in judging, this is not a soapbox post or a dig at the awards, and there were a heap of cracking submissions that blew my socks off – more on this later. 

 

The winners and finalists are indeed the best of the best, and there were myriad exceptional entries that unequivocally do not fall into the ‘colouring in department’.

But in too many instances, I didn’t believe there was a clear articulation of how content marketing was powering a paid, owned and earned (POE) ecosystem; or how the program delivered commercial outcomes.

And to be honest, some were little more than beautifully glossy entries peppered with bright images and colourful language in an attempt to tart up an otherwise dull campaign entry – i.e., perfectly coloured in between the lines.

In my humble opinion, what we as an industry are often lacking is a clear strategy that aligns and delivers business goals, execution aligned to the buyer journey, and a way to measure tangible results.

When these elements aren’t front and centre, we do ourselves a disservice by reporting on stuff our executives just don’t care about.

Light bulb being held up by person into red and blue sky

In a recent post about judging, I said: “The critical element I’ll be awarding top marks for [are] submissions that show how the strategy enables business goals, and the execution delivers them.”

 

Rather than bemoan the industry or crucify the lesser lights, I want to focus on what made the most robust projects so outstanding.

The submissions that stood out were from organisations that are extremely customer focused and unashamedly monetise their operation.

It’s also worth calling out that some of the best examples operate in dull, low-interest categories. They are most definitely not the likes of Nike, Red Bull or Tourism Australia.

 

Hopefully, these redacted insights, which I’ve summarised and combined from some of my favourite entries, will help you steer a more robust path forward.

Content marketing strategy

Content is not a standalone. It’s the hero within a broader POE strategy. And their operating model straddles content, social, PR, SEO, customer insights, and performance marketing teams.

Content is underpinned by clear customer insights and an understanding of the emotional drivers behind the behaviour.

Marketing strategy written on a piece of paper surrounded by stationery and supplies

Content marketing results and return on investment

They report results like this: For every $X invested, we generated $X in revenue and $X in profit. They understand the macro environment: i.e., if our target audience completes [action] once a year, it will deliver $XM.
A picture of money zoomed in

I can’t wait until the winners are announced as there are some cracking entries.

 

I encourage you to dissect what makes the best so good and to draw inspiration from (i.e. steal ideas) to strengthen your marketing efforts.