how to convince execs content marketing is valuable

I know content marketing is important, and >you know content marketing is important, but your CEO/boss/C.H.I.C.O.S. (Chief Honcho In Charge Of Stuff) may not be convinced. Yet.

“It’s a matter of ROI,” your boss says while waving the iron sceptre over an open ledger.

“I agree, Your Highness,” you reply. “It’s also about SEO.”

And so continues the alphabetic banter until you realize you need a different approach. You’re going to have to use numbers instead of letters.

What is content?
Let’s start with the basics. Maybe if CHICOS have better information, your battle will be easier. Content is more than blog posts (although those are content, too), and it is more than the text on your website (although that counts as well). Content can be defined as anything you create that you post online. Some examples include:

  • Social Media posts
  • Lead magnets
  • Blog posts
  • Images
  • PPC ads
  • Email capture forms
  • Downloadable PDFs
  • Ebooks
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Podcasts

With that clarification, perhaps the CHICOS will begin to see the limitless possibilities. Now, about those numbers…

Content marketing is measurable
Thanks to the genius techy people who choose to use their powers for good rather than evil, there are apps, tools, and plugins available that let you follow how many people view a piece of content, how long they viewed it, and what action they took after they viewed it.

Ultimately, you can measure whether or not a specific piece of content on your website converts.

Boom! Numbers.

There are a plethora of measurement tools available, depending on exactly what you’re wanting to track and how. For the sake of discussion, here’s a sampling of the tools we use and what they tell us.

Facebook business account analytics
If you have a business account on any given social media site, you have access to the internal analytics for your page. Below is a screenshot of one of our recent, more popular posts.
Facebook Business page analyticsAt the writing of this post, our Facebook page has 1,763 likes. This particular post introducing our Social Media Intern, Kendall, reached 2,170 people, 407 beyond our total number of “likers”. We didn’t Boost the post at all. The only boosting this post got was from Kendall’s Nana and friends. (Never underestimate the power of a good Nana share!)

To date, the post has received 769 clicks, 353 of those on links. Those could be the link to the blog post, the link to Kendall’s personal Facebook page, or the link to Ardent’s Facebook page. According to these analytics, the post was only shared 3 times, but those 3 shares collected 193 likes and 25 comments. See? Sharing really is caring.

Google Analytics
Google Analytics is free for Google account holders, but it has to be installed on your website. It’s a great free tool that shows charts and graphs created by a collection of all types of data. Below is one example of a portion of a report on the Ardent site from this past month.
google analyticsSome things of note from this report:

  • Our website got more traffic from social media and organic searches than from direct traffic. That’s good news!
  • The bounce rate for our organic traffic is much better than for our social traffic.
  • There were two major spikes in the number of sessions over the past month.

I did some research to find out about those spikes. One occurred on August 15 and the other on August 31. Looking back at the posting we did, I learned that the spike on August 15 came from a Facebook post in which our Social Media Guru quoted (and tagged) Pharrell Williams. The spike on August 31 was from the post about Kendall. (Go Nana!)

Other tools we subscribe to and would recommend:

  • Coschedule— We use it to schedule social posts so that they post multiple times, during the prime time for your audience, across multiple social media platforms. (It doesn’t integrate with Instagram, but the Instagram business account has its own internal analytics. You just have to post manually. They’re really serious about sticking to their name, apparently.) Coschedule also tracks metrics for all your social media platforms.
  • ConvertKit— We use ConvertKit with clients who want to send specific emails to visitors who fill out an opt-in form on their site. ConvertKit can stagger a series of emails to a specific audience and does so with all the benefits of automation. Frontload it and forget it, almost.
  • Moz— Moz helps with keyword research and keyword tracking as well as helping us keep up with links.

Curata created a post with a composite list of content tools if you want/need an extremely detailed list of options to present. The visual depiction of that post is below. Measurement stuff is on the left side. (HT: Curata)
Pro tip: some of these tools cost money and some don’t. Start with the free ones in your attempt to convince the execs. Once they realize the value of content, then you can help them understand the value of content tools. Baby steps into the 21st century.

Content marketing broadens (and narrows) your lead funnel
One of the fastest, and cheapest, ways to expand the reach of your company is with content marketing. Thanks to the Internet, any piece of content you create has the potential to be seen around the world (language barriers notwithstanding). What other marketing channel can do that?

At the same time, you can qualify your leads by using content. By the time a visitor on your website fills out a contact form, you know they’re interested in what you’re selling. That’s right. They come to you. But you already know that. We need to convince the higher-ups. Tell them it’s the difference between trying to take pictures of birds by chasing them versus trying to take their pictures by tossing some birdseed at your feet. It’s easier when they come to you.

A recent study done by Curata learned more than 74% of companies state that content marketing has increased both the quantity and the quality of their leads. That’s a good number. If it was a grade, you’d pass the class with room to spare. If it was your chances of winning in Vegas, you’d bet the farm.

Content marketing can be a low-cost way to connect with leads over time
How many times have you heard that it takes seven touches/points of contact before a lead becomes a customer? Counting this time? Approximately 234,598. (That’s not an actual measure; it’s hyperbole to make a point. But it’s a number, so use it if you want to. Desperate times… amIright?)

Content marketing allows you to connect with multiple leads simultaneously, saving time, energy, and money. It’s effective and it’s efficient, two words execs like to hear and see implemented.

So here’s what you do the next time you’re called into the king’s chamber and have the opportunity to bring up content marketing. You ask for a trial run. Offer to write one blog post per week for the next year and measure the results using the tools we mentioned above. At the end of the year, show the number to your hot shot top boss and see what happens. Take the trial up a notch and add an email marketing campaign to coincide with the blogs and measure that, too. A Facebook business page(and other social media platforms) complements both efforts, so don’t neglect it.

Business will boom and the CHICOS will have you to thank. It’s a win-win. So go forth, you content marketer, you. Go forth and educate the executives in your life.