B2b content marketers have been beating themselves up too hard in the struggle to provide the elusive pure ROI report of ‘spent X got Y’.

Content’s role in terms of pipeline influence and revenue is obvious – just really hard to categorically prove. A tough gig with non-linear buyer journeys and inaccurate attribution modelling.

But some great strides are being made. Kapost’s content scoring technology enables you to look at the whole prospect journey as they interact with content assets, then assign different weightings to different touch points along that journey. There’s a higher weighting on the asset they engaged with initially and the asset that tipped them over the edge to become an MQL.

Exceptionally clever stuff that integrates with most of the big marketing automation players.

But for many content marketers the budget allocation on uber-analytics just can’t be justified until their content operations get the full budget buy-in of the C-suite.

Attempting to build a model of cast iron, 100% ROI reporting is a road to frustration.

So there is a refocus on a granular understanding of what’s happening and why. Content marketers are starting to focus more upon the things they can control and improve.

Vanity metrics, process metrics, KPIs… Whatever the label – this stuff is important.

The FD doesn’t care about why an infographic bombed or why Twitter is your highest performing organic channel. But content marketers have a duty to know why.

Pareto principles are at work with content marketing too.

20% of your content efforts will account for 80% of the results. Knowing what’s happening at a micro level provides a better ability to concentrate on the 20%.

  • Which of our social champions gets the highest content engagements on their LinkedIn status updates?

– What is different about their network profile? Should they be recruited to be the face of the organisation using LinkedIn Publisher?

  • When we use AdWords copy to split test the labels we give to our content, what happens?

– Our audience seems to prefer ‘toolkit’ to ‘white paper’.

– Let’s label our next piece accordingly.

  • Why is this blog performing like gangbusters on SEO?

– What unmet information need have we stumbled across and how do our writers build upon it?

Take the time and effort to know exactly what’s happening.

“Some people drink from the fountain of knowledge, others just gargle.”

Robert Anthony

No budget required, just a love of mind numbingly boring tasks:

  1. Set up a UTM protocol on Google Analytics and stick to it

Create the ability to spot patterns and act upon them.

When our marketing JV Partner distributes our content the conversion rates are through the roof.

– What other channels can we work with them on?

When we share content with this LinkedIn group we get a disproportionate amount of engagement.

– Should we target his group more with Sponsored Updates?

We drove a shed load of engagement by asking the sales team to promote our last white paper in their email signatures.

– Can we get other departments involved?

  1. Define a meaningful conversion hierarchy

Map conversion goals along your buying cycle. Signing up for an e-newsletter is long way off from raising a purchase order. But tracking audience behaviour can build up an understanding of patterns.

Conclusion

Yes, net profit is the only marketing performance metric that anyone should really care about. But proving net profit contribution is the perennial (nay impossible) challenge for our times.

But along the long and winding road from engagement to revenue lies a land of milk and honey. (Ed – and a land of mixed metaphors).

Analytics and predictive data modelling continue to evolve to provide us with dizzying heights of understanding. We now have complete transparency of content marketing performance at a macro and micro level.

Keep fighting the good fight by being relevant and useful.

In the ongoing war to prove ROI, just keep up the battle every day to measure, learn and change.

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