What is the real value of content marketing? -

Last updated: 10-06-2020

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What is the real value of content marketing? -

Vanity metrics are widely used to measure the success of a marketing campaign. But the likes on a Facebook post rarely correlate with sales or services procured. So where does success really lie for a business spending money on marketing? New Media content strategy director Andrew Nunneley and analytics and social media specialist Megan Singh weigh in on true ROI.

Many content marketers operate on one rule of thumb: to connect with a customer, you have to offer them content that’s relevant to them on their preferred platform. If only it were that simple. It’s a start, for sure, but you should never focus solely on views, shares, likes, comments and click-through rates. These so-called vanity metrics are good for measuring goals such as brand awareness and sentiment, but they don’t tell the full story. Worse, they can make marketers overconfident in the value of their content. And clients know better.

Content marketing campaigns, when measured correctly, should link to specific business outcomes and data collected from customer engagement through to point of sale and beyond. In short, they should have a positive impact on a business’s bottom line – in the form of sales or savings.

Sometimes money saved is worth more than money earned – especially when it also makes life a little easier for customers.

New Media has produced content for Vodacom’s now! blog for several years, helping set up a platform that supports their vision and strategy of becoming a leading digital company. The blog caters to Vodacom’s mid- to high-LSM customer base with articles and videos that are closely aligned to that vision.

It has also given us an innovative way to measure and show return on investment to the client.

The Vodacom call centre had become overwhelmed and Vodacom wanted to educate customers on how they could be fulfilling some of their own support requests. The Vodacom now! blog uses a custom-built AI engine to offer users personalised content, including “how-to” information.

Using a formula developed by the client, we’ve been able to determine that New Media’s how-to posts on the blog saved Vodacom almost R1.7 million between 1 April and 31 October 2019 and continues to save them around R250 000 a month. This means calls to their customer care line have dropped by many thousands as a direct result of useful content.

An example of ROI in the form of sales is the WCellar wine club that New Media launched for long-time client Woolworths, which has resulted in a double-digit growth in wine sales for Woolworths.

In February 2019, Woolworths approached New Media to add a branded wine club to their portfolio. We created an entity called WCellar and a monthly mailer to educate customers about wine, give them special offers and discounts, and offer them the chance to attend an event or win wine-related prizes.

The initial target group for sign-up was 350 000 people who had bought wine from Woolworths within a certain period. Of that, 17 000 have signed up, a 4.8% conversion. The monthly mailers achieve an open rate of over 53% on average, well ahead of the industry standard of 15 to 25%.

The results that really count, however, aren’t adequately represented by these metrics. We wanted to create a database of engaged wine customers but, of course, the ultimate goal was to sell more wine too. And on that basis, WCellar has done incredibly well, with a year-on-year increase in wine sales over a five-month period of 20% for the VIP-tier customers who received the content and 38% year-on-year for the regular-tier customers who received the content. There was little movement in year-on-year wine sales among customers who didn’t opt in.

For the first eight months of the project, Woolworths saw a return in sales of three times the amount they had spent in content with New Media and on promotions and incentive vouchers.

Ultimately, the expertise content marketers bring to brands is in emotive and relevant storytelling. But there’s always a CFO in the room. When we demonstrate to our clients that our knack for understanding audiences translates to positive commercial impact – either through cost savings or revenue growth – then their marketing spend becomes that much more palatable. The key to getting this right is performing against an agreed set of pre-determined metrics that are far more considered than the vanity metrics of views, shares, likes, comments and so on.

When it comes down to it, the real value of content marketing lies in solving a real business problem.

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