It’s hard to ignore the impact COVID-19 has had across the globe. As concern sets in and the workforce transitions to operating remotely, companies are rethinking how they run their businesses. In the marketing industry, big-name events like Adobe Summit, Google Cloud Next, and Salesforce World Tour have all gone virtual. By in large, dollars invested in events have shifted to content. With this renewed focus on content, measuring content marketing ROI is more important than ever for marketers to understand the impact they’re making

We should note that even before coronavirus struck, businesses had been using content to their advantage. In Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising 2019, which explains the maturity, adoption, and application of technologies, content marketing graduated off the Hype Cycle in 2019 and is now considered a fully mature technology.

Content Marketing is a Fully Mature Technology

Credit: Gartner

“Fully mature” means the technology and tactics around content marketing have officially entered mainstream adoption.

Brands started out the year prioritizing content marketing, and have only doubled down since. The CMO Club surveyed US CMOs in August 2019 and found that 86% stated that content marketing is the most important area to invest marketing dollars.

Credit: eMarketer

Content Marketing ROI Can Be Tough to Measure

However, as brands make more room in the budget for producing compelling, relevant content, they’re discovering that proving content marketing ROI can be tough. eMarketer reports that 55% of B2B marketers say determining content marketing ROI is their greatest challenge.

Credit: eMarketer

That's because content has a different purpose relative to other forms of digital advertising. Content tells a story, connects brands to certain values, and creates authority. This leaves traditional KPIs such as unique visitors, time on page, and scroll depth only revealing a portion of the true content picture.

Enter content intelligence.

Content Marketing Institute has highlighted the importance of content intelligence technology and how it can provide insight into content performance. 71% of enterprise marketers gain better insight into how their content is performing through content marketing technologies. Seventy one percent!

Credit: Content Marketing Institute

Content establishes trust and affinity between the brand and their consumers, and measuring that sentiment is essential for a holistic understanding. Through measuring content marketing ROI, enterprise marketers gain insight into audience preferences and can drive conversations with consumers.

Determining Content Success

Now that we’ve established the trust that marketers are placing in content marketing and the necessity of measuring content marketing ROI, it’s time to think about the steps needed to make that happen.

Goal Setting

First, set realistic goals surrounding your content. Perhaps that's influencing brand perception, evaluating the effectiveness of your messaging to your target audience, linking your business to a set of values, or moving consumers from one stage of the customer journey to another. It could also be measuring the trustworthiness and effectiveness of publishers, or identifying successfully performing content themes to continue investing in.

Either way, it’s going to be tricky to evaluate performance when your goals aren’t defined or achievable. When considering realistic goals, Knotch partners like Ally, Ford and JPMorgan Chase are moving the needle through careful planning.

Budget Allocation

Second, decide just where your content budget will go. According to Content Marketing Institute, the B2B marketers that are the most successful are spending 40% of their total marketing budget on content marketing.

Credit: Content Marketing Institute

PredictHQ reports that in February alone, there was a 500% surge in cancellations and postponements of significant events due to COVID-19. This leaves even more dollars at marketers’ disposal to invest digitally. Consider your media mix and the various channels you have at your disposal, and make sure to allocate accordingly. More money allocated to content doesn’t mean simply shoving money into content without strategic thinking. Careful planning will allow you to stretch your content budget even further.

Choosing The Metrics That Matter

Third, choose the exact metrics you’re going to track and make sure they align with your goals. Just because you can measure something, doesn’t mean you have to. It can distract you from what’s really relevant, like consumer sentiment. Be disciplined with the metrics you choose and don’t overdo it. Metrics such as audience demographics can give you a unique view of who’s interacting with your content. After engaging with your content, audiences will leave with a particular impression and emotional response. See how they're feeling after engaging with your content so you can optimize where needed.

Content Can Drive Results

Now that you’ve created a strategy to help you with your content marketing ROI, just what results can you expect to see? According to HubSpot, content marketing can drive three times more leads than leads from paid search ads, and YoY growth in unique site traffic is 7.8x higher for content marketing leaders. High quality content is critical for generating inbound leads, and content marketing ROI correlates with site traffic and increased leads.

Content marketing isn’t a response to COVID-19. It’s a thriving discipline that’s been fueling marketing efforts and returning results for quite some time. Marketers can lean on the wealth of opportunities that content marketing provides as they learn to navigate the new reality this healthcare crisis has created.