Rethinking ROI and content marketing

As consumer behaviors change and evolve so do those of brands and marketers. No longer do we live in a world of one-way promotional messaging, but one where consumers have the power to interact, change, and mold a brand.

In our 60-second guide to millennials, we note that 62% of millennials are more likely to become a loyal customer if a company engages them on social networks. We also know that 70% of individuals want to learn about products through content rather than traditional advertising.1 This is important because the type of tactics that are harder to measure (in a traditional sense) are becoming more influential in a consumer’s path to purchase.

So what does this mean for the traditional ROI model?

It means brands will need to rethink the idea of return on investment. Meaning, the return may not always be measured in dollars in the short term, but rather number of brand advocates—which will eventually lead to more dollars in the long term.

Once a brand accepts their marketing strategy is more of a long-term play, there are ways to measure and monitor content, social media, and brand chatter to validate the short-term return.

1. Search:

Search is a great free tool marketers can use to understand consumer behavior. It can be used to see what people are saying about your brand by looking at associated phrases and letting Google autocomplete your search. Additionally, the location where your content falls within search results may be used as a performance indicator.

2. Tools such as Social Mention:

This free social analysis tool is a great way to understand how often people are talking about your brand, the sentiment, and the reach. You can search for specific branded content or for broader brand mentions to quantify qualitative metrics like strength, passion, and sentiment.

3. Site visits:

Social media is not always the best indicator for content performance and certainly not the only option for measurement. Many people interact with content on social media but do not share or like it, which makes it difficult to measure. In fact the top three reasons people participate in social media are all passive forms of networking (staying in touch, news, fill time).2

That’s why it is essential to monitor site traffic within an analytics tool—especially as it relates to a campaign or content. This can be a clear indicator that users are interested in learning more about a brand or a specific piece of content.

When you’re willing to rethink the concept of return, measurements like these will help you maintain the confidence you need to stick with a long-term content strategy. As the path to purchase shifts, brands need to invest in alternative ways to interact with their consumer throughout their journey and build their army of brand advocates.

Like a tree seed, content needs to be planted, watered, and monitored. And eventually that one seed (content) will become a big booming tree with roots (brand loyalists), and branches (brand advocates), and layers upon layers of leaves (new consumers), ultimately leading to a great return on investment.