Blog Insight

Setting ROI

What to expect with content marketing While content marketing represents another pathway through the digital landscape, your marketing budget represents the historic landmark to which you still must yield. But should you set the same kind of expectations for a content marketing campaign as you would for any other type of marketing campaign: to generate positive results?

So go ahead; ask the question: What’s my ROI?

From a very high level, the answer is that a well-planned and ongoing content marketing campaign should yield a reduced cost per lead and an increase in lead generation. But in the softer-sell environment of the current digital landscape, you should temper any notion of an instant bump in sales. Content marketing doesn’t work that way.

The best practices of content marketing largely employ inbound marketing vehicles—blogs, social media, podcasting, infographics, and videos (to name a few)—that, in many cases, cost little to virtually nothing for space. That doesn’t mean that a content marketing campaign won’t take some budgeting. Your costs might be tied up more in the time it takes to create your content and in telling your story in an integrated way across channels. You also need to devote resources to determining which of those sources are your customers’ favorites and to developing an ongoing plan with an editorial calendar that keeps the content within each source updated.

Free, it’s not. Effective? It can be huge.

In its 2013 State of Inbound Marketing report, HubSpot states that inbound marketing delivered 54 percent more leads in the 2013 marketing funnel than outbound sources, and that twice as many marketers say inbound marketing delivers below-average costs per lead versus outbound strategies.

In a panel discussion at Social Media Week (held February 17–21, 2014, in New York City), Jon Williams, LinkedIn’s head of global agency and client solutions, reported that when American Express brought its OPEN Forum content and thought leadership into LinkedIn, the level of engagement with OPEN Forum increased fivefold over other static media.

Williams also identified HubSpot itself as a master practitioner of content marketing. After releasing content on LinkedIn, HubSpot enjoyed a 400 percent increase in leads.

Of course, your mileage may vary. How much you invest in content marketing and how much subsequent ROI you realize depend on a number of factors, including the size of your enterprise, the story you want customers to know, and how and where you tell it.

There’s another question that should also be asked when considering a push toward content marketing within your business plan: What’s it going to cost me if I don’t?