Marketing teams persuade and captivate audiences every day. They convince people to buy everything from $160 pens to coffee beans that pass through elephants. But a CMO’s toughest sell is always his own boss — especially when it comes to content marketing.
Executives want to know a marketing strategy’s expected ROI before they commit money and resources to it. But content is a different animal than other marketing initiatives. It doesn’t produce impressive short-term results; it bolsters long-term profits. Once a content marketing strategy proves its worth, executives feel more confident investing in it. The challenge is convincing them to take the initial plunge.
Here are six selling points you can use to persuade your company leaders that content marketing will go the distance for your brand:
1. Leads generated from content: Anything that requires visitors to submit their contact information — whether that’s subscribing to your newsletter, downloading a piece of content, or signing up for webinars and other offers — will ultimately capture leads. Use tools such as Google Analytics to track and document engagement with internal and external content. Then, take this data to your boss to demonstrate how different types of content generate new leads. Analytics also give you clear, actionable information on how to improve your ROI and pivot from poorly performing strategies.
2. Sales generated from content: Executives are especially interested in these numbers. Use your analytics systems to track how many people sign contracts or purchase your products after downloading content from your website.
Encourage your salespeople to ask prospects and clients how they found your company. They may have read an article you posted but didn’t click through to a download or sign-up page. It’s useful to know which articles compel prospects to get in touch.
Ask your sales staff how often content comes up organically in customer conversations or how frequently they use it to educate leads. All of these insights will demonstrate how content indirectly influences the sales process.
3. The performance of referral traffic: By tracking your content’s referral traffic over time, you can make fairly accurate assumptions about how it’s impacting your business. My company saw a 151% increase in conversions in the first quarter of 2015. Thanks to our analytics system, we can attribute that jump to the guest contributions, blog posts, and gated content we developed and executed this year.
Lead generation and referral traffic numbers help you set benchmarks for your content. Build a strategy using Google Analytics and marketing automation software to tie a definitive ROI to your content. By showing a favorable comparison between content production costs and the value of sales generated, you can make a strong case for a content strategy to your CEO.
4. Non-quantitative metrics: Analytics don’t tell the full story. Great content creates ripples in your industry, which can’t always be measured by social media shares or lead generation numbers.
For example, I often reference American Express’ OPEN Forum content marketing strategy during keynote speeches. Amex doesn’t track those types of mentions, but small wins for brand visibility like these can add a powerful punch to its ROI. Hard data is important, but don’t overlook content’s role in brand storytelling and positioning.
5. Budget opportunities: Content marketing isn’t cheap. Getting it right requires a substantial financial investment that might not show a visible ROI for a while, which can make it a hard sell to budget-conscious executives. Anticipate your boss’s reservations, and suggest ways to make the numbers work.
Make the case for pulling funds from the sales, recruitment, and research and development budgets. Content serves as a great asset in social media campaigns, recruiting efforts, public relations strategies, and sales, so marketing shouldn’t be the only department shouldering the financial burden.
But that doesn’t mean marketing is off the hook. Revise your own budget to see where you can redirect funds to more productive channels, such as content marketing. Too many companies throw money at outdated or ineffective SEO strategies like link building and keyword stuffing rather than content creation.
But creating valuable, engaging articles and guest posts is the surest way to rise in the SEO rankings. Plus, good content yields a number of other benefits: lead generation, sales conversions, thought leadership, great customer relationships — the list goes on.
The money for a great content strategy is already there. You just need your boss to rethink how she’s using it.
6. Competitors’ content: With 78% of CMOs saying custom content is the future of marketing, you know your competitors are hard at work crafting industry-leading content. And the more powerful and compelling their content strategies become, the harder it will be for your company to catch up. Your boss doesn’t want competitors controlling the conversation, so she’ll come around quickly when she realizes what’s at stake.
Once you’ve sold your company leaders on the value of content marketing, you can get the ball rolling with implementation. Your leadership team is an invaluable asset to your marketing game plan, but time constraints often prevent top-level executives from contributing their insights. Create a custom knowledge management process that allows you to leverage their experience without eating up their time.
Content marketing is a no-brainer when you consider all the ways it supports your bottom line. Solid content drives traffic and positions your brand as a hub for information. As a marketing professional, you already know this. You just need to help your boss see the light, too.
John Hall is the CEO of Influence & Co., a company that specializes in expertise extraction and knowledge management that is used to fuel marketing efforts. This article was written by John Hall from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.