Communicate effectively and regularly with key stakeholders about the right metrics to preserve and grow your content marketing budget.
As the content marketing leader for an established insurance brokerage, Jane regularly provided the CMO with reports that included basic audience engagement and lead generation metrics. Yet when the CMO left for a different company and a new marketing leader took the reins, Jane and her team scrambled to deliver more value-based metrics. The new CMO wanted clear evidence of content marketing’s contribution to key marketing and business metrics.
Despite flat marketing budgets, content marketing has actually grown from 5.9% of the marketing budget to 7.4% from 2016 to 2017 according to the Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2017-2018. With increased budgets come increased expectations for results, and senior executives expect marketing budgets to support business growth and align with business goals.
Take the initiative to determine which metrics demonstrate content marketing’s direct impact on KPIs and business results
Jane and her team knew their content marketing efforts worked, but they needed to produce the numbers and the narrative that proved their business impact in this new environment of heightened scrutiny and new leadership.
“Marketing leaders responsible for content marketing and management must demonstrate and monitor business value to increase future investments,” says Christopher Ross, research director, Gartner for Marketers. It’s critical to measure and prove the business value of content and equally important to regularly communicate the business value of content marketing with targeted stakeholders.
Define key performance indicators (KPIs)
Meet with key budget decision makers to uncover the most important KPIs, and provide guidance on identifying KPIs the content marketing team can directly measure. Once you know which metrics are critical for the broader organization, refine content metrics to demonstrate direct or indirect impact on critical business goals.
A packaged goods CMO might be interested in macrolevel metrics such as brand sentiment or awareness that summarize marketing performance, while the company’s CEO may only care about how content increases profits. In this case, an appropriate KPI to track could be how content boosts customer lifetime value (LTV) among key customer segments.
Create performance benchmarks
Establish achievable performance benchmarks to track progress. Benchmarks provide a valuable anchor to establish context and direct analysis. Compare internal benchmarks with industry averages to get a sense of performance against the competition. Highlight for key stakeholders any internal benchmarks that exceed industry averages.
Develop your narratives
Develop and connect your content marketing narratives to the overall business strategy. Create narrower messages for individual constituencies that revolve around programs and campaigns. Share insights related to how content marketing achieves or surpasses key goals, to directly connect efforts to business priorities.
Target key stakeholders
In the same way the content marketing team creates buyer personas for tailoring content to customer segments, align narratives to key decision makers. Identify and relate the metrics that matter most to key stakeholders. Provide context and deliver the content marketing narrative in the most relevant context for each stakeholder and shape communications to their unique concerns.
Be proactive and take the initiative to determine which metrics demonstrate content marketing’s direct impact on KPIs and business results. Document and report results with stakeholders in a regular cadence. Consider developing a content marketing dashboard to better track and communicate metrics. Meet with stakeholders regularly to keep content marketing initiatives top of mind and prove content marketing’s ongoing value to the business.
Gartner for Marketers clients can read more in Making the Case for Growing Your Content Marketing Budget by Stephen Wellman.
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