As the director of a content marketing company, I hope those predictions are right. Indeed I believe they are, especially in the UK and Europe, where companies and other organisations are still way behind their US counterparts in developing content strategies.
I do, though, have one caveat: if current trends are to continue, the marketing industry will need to be much more cute than it has been on the subject of return on investment. Never mind those mind-blowing stats, for example, on how many videos people are watching every day. If you can’t give your boss even a rough idea of how much of a return to expect on that video marketing campaign you’re planning, it simply won’t be happening.
The important thing is to distinguish, first of all, between hard (i.e. financial) returns and softer, less quantifiable ones.
Working out the former is in fact no harder than calculating the ROI for any other activity. There are three key questions to ask:
- Will this content marketing campaign drive sales?
- Will it save us money?
- Will it help us to retain customers?
Then simply add up the expected financial benefits, add up the different costs involved, and divide the total benefits by the total outlay. This article includes a simple calculation for a white paper, but the same methodology can be used for blogs, videos or any other form of content.
Even when using conservative estimates of the likely benefits (and it pays to be cautious), there is generally a strong case, in purely financial terms, for investing in high-quality content.
Then there are the those softer benefits. In an excellent piece for the Content Marketing Institute, DJ Miller argues that these can essentially be broken down into four different types:
Once you’ve produced it, the content is yours. Paid search, by contrast, is temporary. One study revealed that ROI for content marketing is more than three times higher than for paid search - largely for that reason.
Increasingly, Google and the other major search engines are rewarding organisations who regularly publish engaging content with higher rankings. One report found that organic search leads have a conversion rate between eight and nine times higher than outbound marketing leads.
DJ describes content as “the perfect platform for fuelling trust”. One study revealed that nearly two thirds of consumers need to hear information from a company between three and five times before they believe the message. And another report found that more than half of customers are either somewhat more likely or much more likely to buy a product having learned about it online.
More and more of us - especially those born since the early 1980s - are turning away from traditional advertising. One study reveals that 70% of consumers now prefer to learn about a company through online content than through adverts.
Yes, many of the benefits of content marketing can be hard to quantify, but there is statistical evidence to prove them and they are hugely significant benefits nevertheless. When combined with those all-important monetary considerations, they make for a very compelling argument - one which companies ignore at their peril.
So that's what content marketing is and the business case for choosing it. Find out all about getting started in my next post.