content marketing roi is a trip down the rabbit holeIn Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice blindly jumps into the rabbit hole in striking similarity to the way many marketers today are jumping into content marketing.

And like a foolish child struggling to understand the world of grown-ups, most marketers have failed to stop and ask what the rabbit hole really is, and why it exists?

If the rabbit hole is content marketing, then the rabbit is the search for ROI. The rabbit checks his watch, records the time and is scurrying about worried about his appointments. But he doesn’t know why these things are important.

Content Marketing ROI Is An Important Question

I’ve talked about the importance of higher-level content marketing objectives and KPIs. And promised to dive deeper on the question of ROI. So consider this, the second layer of understanding measurement around content marketing.

And trust me when I say we should not discount the importance of the ROI question.

The question about content marketing ROI is a really important one. The pursuit of understanding what kind of return on investment content marketing can provide is more than just an adventure to wonderland.

But we must understand ROI for what it is: a math equation.

And like “the rule of 42″ that declares that Alice must be executed for “being a mile high,” we need to make sure that we can answer the question with precision.

The 3 Components of Content Marketing ROI

Content Marketing ROI starts with a solid understanding of content cost.

How many marketers know the cost of the content produced by their firms?

Sirius Decisions has reported that as much as 60-70% of content goes completely unused. How many businesses know what percent of their content even gets used?

Finally, content marketing ROI needs to define the business value of the outcomes it generates. How many businesses have calculated the business value of any of their marketing outcomes?

content marketing roi and the cheshire catSo when someone asks you “what is the ROI of content marketing?” just smile like the Cheshire Cat:

Alice: Would you tell me please which way I ought to go from here?
Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where—-
Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.
Alice: —–so long as I get somewhere.
Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that if you only walk long enough.

Then ask these questions seriously:

  1. What is the cost of our content?
  2. How much of it gets used?
  3. What is the business value of the outcomes it produces?
  4. How does that compare to marketing ROI overall?

And help your business answer them.

Content marketing is more than a trip down the rabbit hole. It’s the thing that will save marketing itself. Because it works. Because we can track the cost. We can measure the results. And we can trace them back to business value.

But remember, Alice was often most effective when she was very small. So start now and you can help your business to define its own content marketing ROI.

This post was written for an upcoming e-book on content marketing which I will share once it is published in its entirety.

Let me know what you think n the comments below and please follow me on TwitterLinkedInFacebook or Google+ and Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is the Head of Strategy for the leading content marketing platform, NewsCred. He is also the author of B2B Marketing Insider, a contributor to Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding.  Follow Michael on Twitter (@BrennerMichael)LinkedInFacebook and Google+ and Subscribe to B2B Marketing Insider by Email

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