How to Justify Content in Terms of Revenue: Answers From #CMWorld2016

By September 9, 2016
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Here at EverString our marketing team is pretty motivated by our influence on pipeline and revenue. We use tools like Brightfunnel to track single-touch and multi-touch attribution, Uberflip and Marketo to track content interaction and performance, leaning on Marketo to help us understand where people are in the funnel, and Trackmaven to track social shares and interaction with content. We meet monthly and quarterly about content metrics.

I think most organizations are like this. Marketers are getting a lot of pressure from executives and sales teams to create campaigns, programs, and content that move the needle. We marketers are doing our best to move the right buyers through the buyer journey.

Content Marketing World 2016 hit us with a big reality check. While we’re building this tech stack to track performance and putting out as much content as we can to support our sales teams, we may be forgetting about something very important that is preventing us from reaching our goals; quality.

Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute, laid it out pretty clearly. He said, “mediocre content will hurt your brand more than doing nothing at all”. Time to take a good look in the mirror.

It seems that content is starting to suffer a quality issue. And content is just one of many sales and marketing disciplines that have had to take a hard look at their best practices. Take Account-Based Marketing (ABM), for example, the hottest thing since avocado toast. ABM is all about finding the accounts and contacts that deserve your extra time and attention so your sales and marketing teams can create hyper-targeted, relevant messages. And here we are in content trying to create as much content as possible, without taking the time to think about true thought leadership, pieces with a problem-solution approach, that are going to be a pivotal moment in the buyer journey.

So how do you tie content to revenue? Yes, there’s tools to help you track this and you need those. As Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing says, “You can’t buy a beer with an MQL. You buy a beer with a closed deal”. In order to do that, we need to follow Ardath Albee, B2B Content Strategist’s advice, “we need to be thinking about the core, meaty content that is actually going to be valuable.”

How do you do that? The speakers offered some insight.

Create Personas to Understand Your Audience

It’s not easy to create personas. It takes a lot of time. Ardath said the most effective approach to building personas is to do both qualitative and quantitative research on buyers, customers, and lost prospects. It’s key to get buy-in from sales, marketing, and customer success and update these personas regularly.

In an environment where we are trying to create as much content as possible as fast as possible, it’s hard to think about slowing those efforts to build out personas that truly represent your buyers. But you want to create valuable content that has an impact on revenue, right? We all do. In order to do that, we need to understand our buyers and the problems that we face so we can provide valuable actionable solutions.

Ardath reminded us that we will get more ROI if we are creating less content for the sake of creating content, and spend more time creating substantially more valuable content. Repurposing that content will help you and your team remain competitive in the volume game. Think about the ways you can repurpose your quality content. Can this be an infographic? Cheatsheet? Video? Blog? A combination of these? Get creative in order to get the most out of the content that you’re going to be dedicating time and resources to creating thoughtful content.

You have your personas, how else can you set yourself up to create the quality content that moves the needle? Meet what Jay Baer, author, speaker, and President of Convince, calls the Triangle of Awesome.

Use the Triangle of Awesome

I love this. Jay Baer talks about how content is not a solo act. In order to create quality content, you need to be talking to marketing, sales, and customer service. Too often marketers are assuming or guessing what the buyer wants. Your sales team and your customer service team are interacting with your buyers and customers on the front lines. What challenges are they facing? Find solutions to those problems and create content around them.

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I meet with our sales and customer success teams before every quarter to plan the content calendar, separately. But after Jay Baer’s session, I am planning on creating a content committee with representatives from our sales team, customer success, and marketing team so we can share what we are seeing and hearing from our various front lines, and brainstorm about what content we can create to provide a solution for these challenges.

Oh, and guess what, you should actually be listening to real customers. Customers are giving feedback on many different channels whether you are looking for it or not. Jay encouraged us to find customers and where they are talking about us, engage them, and take their questions to create content. This could be your most valuable resource for content ideas. Not to mention 40% of revenue comes from existing customers. You want your content to effect the bottom line? Tap into that resource and create content that will help you keep those existing customers, and create mid-funnel and late stage content to guide your buyers through the funnel.

Customer question –>Answer –> Content

Slow Down and Think About the Boyfriend Pillow

Ann Handley, Head of Content at MarketingProfs, reminded us that there is value in slowing down – not slowing down in general, but knowing where to slow down in order to create that quality content.

Something to ask yourself while you pump the breaks, SO WHAT?  Seriously why should a customer care? How is this going to help a buyer? Why are you writing this and why should someone read it? Ann called it “the short cut to customer empathy”.

Think of the boyfriend pillow (see below). The boyfriend pillow because you have all the great things about sleeping with another person without any of the annoying things that happen with actually sleeping with another person like – world-class snuggling, no snoring, best sleep of your life. Yes, this is a laugh out loud (lol) moment. Have a lol. Ann Handley is hilarious.

cryaxnewyaa5vyz

More great tips and tricks from Ann:

  • Collect and hoard 5 ideas per day. Keep them in a notebook or online, whatever
  • Be cool with an ugly first draft. It’s a thing, let your first draft be ugly so you can get your ideas on paper
  • Do not hit the backspace while you’re writing. Stop being such a major critic, go back and edit it later
  • Speaking of editing, take a break after you write something before you edit it
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