Content marketing is now a way of life for B2B businesses. It’s one of the primary ways B2B marketers generate and nurture leads, establish thought leadership, build their brands, expand their social following, and engage with and retain customers.
If you’re a B2B marketer, this probably isn’t news. We’ve been reading and hearing about the importance of content marketing for years. But it was still good to see the importance of content marketing confirmed in a recent 2013 study by the Content Marketing Institute, which found that 33% of B2B marketing budgets are now allocated to content marketing, which is up from 26% in 2011.
Content marketing has certainly arrived. But with increased budget comes increased scrutiny from executives and higher-ups. And getting management to buy in to the importance of content marketing – and the necessity of increasing their investment in it – can be a challenge. It’s now no longer good enough to create engaging content, you have to be able to prove its ROI, and that requires the right data and tools.
Proving content marketing needs data
Good marketing teams are able to show how their content is having a positive impact on the following.
- Web traffic
- Social media followers
- Newsletter email lists
- Blog subscribers
- Email open and click-through rates
- Video views
Measuring that data is a good start, but while those numbers are useful in understanding the types of content and topics your audience enjoys, they aren’t going to impress most executives.
Better marketing teams can show how their content is having a direct impact on lead generation. Being able to demonstrate that this eBook or webinar generated X amount of leads usually gets an exec’s attention, but this usually isn’t enough to convince them that your content marketing budget is worth increasing (or, in some cases, justifiable as it already is).
Show me the money
That’s why the best marketing teams are the ones that can prove how those leads from content marketing are impacting revenue. For CEOs, revenue is everything.
They need to see the money.
It’s the key figure that will get them not only to buy in to the value of content marketing, but also to approve an increase in your budget.
Three essential analytics tools
Being able to prove how content marketing is impacting revenue requires three analytics tools. The first two are a marketing automation tool and a CRM system.
1. Marketing automation
Marketing automation tools like Marketo, Eloqua, or Pardot enable you to capture leads from web forms and to tie those leads to the marketing source that referred them. This means that you can create reports on how many leads each of your eBooks, white papers, webinars, and other content generated, as well as the email, web page, social media post, blog, video, PPC ad, SEO term, or other source the lead used to find you.
2. CRM systems
What’s more, when you integrate your marketing automation tools with a CRM system like Salesforce.com or SugarCRM, you can track each of those web leads through the sales cycle. And that means being able to prove to execs that your content marketing has generated X amount of web leads, Y amount of opportunities, and Z amount of revenue.
So what tool is often missing?
The often forgotten analytics tool
The data available from a marketing automation tool integrated with a CRM system can be very powerful, but if that’s all you are using to defend your content marketing, you aren’t doing it justice.
That’s because all you are measuring are the opportunities and revenue from web leads. You aren’t capturing the inbound phone calls your content is also generating, and this is problematic for two big reasons:
- You might not be getting credit for a ton of content marketing leads. If someone reads a blog and calls sales, for example, or calls after watching a video, reading collateral from a trade show, or getting a nurturing email, you can’t prove it.
- Inbound phone calls are often from leads who are ready to engage with a sales manager, and therefore more likely to become revenue than a web lead. Phone calls are the leads you most need to track back to your content.
That’s why the third analytics tool every B2B marketing team should use is a call tracking tool. Call tracking tools enable you to include unique trackable phone numbers in your downloadable and printed content, videos, trade show presentations, emails, ads, and direct mail blasts to measure the calls they generate. Even if a lead visits your web site before calling you, call tracking tools can still tell you how that caller found your site and the web page or blog posts they called from.
Integration is key
And like marketing automation tools, you can integrate call tracking tools with your CRM system to follow each phone lead through to revenue. By using all three analytics tools together, you can share detailed, accurate reports on the impact your content is having on the business’s bottom line. It’s an extremely compelling defense of content marketing that CEOs can understand. Plus you have the more granular data marketing teams can use to understand what content is working and what isn’t in order to make improvements.
Guest Author: Blair Symes from Ifbyphone. To learn more about call tracking and improving your content marketing ROI, you can download the white paper, “Tracking Phone Leads: The Missing Piece of Marketing Automation.”
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