Seven in 10 B2B marketers are planning to invest more in content creation in 2021, with blog posts, articles, videos and virtual events among the formats that are set to command a large portion of expenditure next year.
While the vast majority of modern companies are now fully aware of the benefits of an expertly managed content marketing campaign, there will always be some executives who will want to use funds earmarked for marketing for other business activities.
One of the key trends for 2021 identified by experts in the marketing industry will be demonstrating the value of content to higher-ups, which will go a long way to addressing the issue.
In order to stave off the threat of C-suite deciding that content marketing doesn’t work for the business, you need to show them that it really does and remind them of this fact as much as possible.
Key to this is cutting down on reporting mishaps that could prevent you from showing that content is delivering ample return on investment (ROI) or generating awareness on social media platforms. Here are six ways that you can do just that.
Set SMART goals
You may have drafted a strategy to achieve certain goals, but if they are not written down or not realistically achievable, then you are fighting a losing battle from the outset.
This is why successful marketers use the SMART mnemonic to filter and set realistic targets that they can actually track and prove over time. SMART stands for specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-bound.
By outlining SMART objectives and linking them to clearly defined key performance indicators (KPI) that allow you to demonstrate whether you are achieving them, you can quickly and easily point to evidence for your efforts to secure budget support.
Higher-ups are more likely to buy into what you are saying if they actually know that content marketing is hitting the right notes and having a positive, tangible impact on the business.
Another part of this is documenting your goals and wider strategy. A Content Marketing Institute study found that more than half of B2B marketers still don’t have a documented strategy in place. Addressing this blind spot in 2021 will put you in a better place to deliver on actionable, measurable goals.
Align reporting with the business roadmap
It is natural that each department and executive will have their own self-interests. It is important for marketing not to get closed off from what matters to others in the business for this reason, especially when conversations about all-important funding are ongoing.
Fortunately, a recent HubSpot report found that nine in 10 marketers are either “somewhat” or “very” confident that their campaigns have a positive influence on revenue.
You can effectively use this as leverage. Talking about how content can support other objectives and impact the bottom line regularly is recommended, but actually intersecting your reporting with the priorities of C-suite is the key to sustainable support and investment.
The same HubSpot report found that 75% don’t actually report how their work is influencing revenue. This is a problem, especially if budgets are under threat. Using the measurable objectives outlined earlier, make sure to link your efforts to the company’s balance sheet and communicate this regularly in reports.
Numbers are good, but leadership will not always have the time for a deep dive into hard data. For this reason, it is important to contextualise your findings to make them more accessible and digestible. You can do this by comparing the difference between your strategies year over year and the impact they are having on the business, backed up by metrics where possible.
Context is also a great tool when the numbers might not be exactly where you want them to be. For example, visitor numbers to a blog in recent months may be flat, but you could highlight how struggles elsewhere in the business may have contributed to this.
Always be ready and willing to demonstrate how content is helping to drive lead generation, convert sales, educate consumers, and generally push them along the sales cycle in the best way possible. Drilling down into the context of numbers will uncover some interesting insights that you can use to your advantage.
While you want to show that content is working as intended, it is never a good idea to obfuscate the truth by creating misleading narratives about poor numbers or negative reports.
Being transparent with leadership, even if everything is not up to standard at the moment, will garner trust that could be crucial when leadership eventually decides how to allocate funds.
If something is not quite right, make sure to explain the steps you will take to adjust your approach in the future so that you can deliver success.
Set regular reporting intervals
You need to set up a reporting procedure with a clear timeline for each process. This goes back to the documentation touched on earlier.
Start by defining your SMART goals and KPIs in month one. Begin rolling out your campaign in months two to four. By month five, you should have gathered sufficient data for analysis and to be able to identify emerging trends. Your findings should be presented, along with your recommendations, in a report to executives in month five. By setting a timeframe, everyone will know where they are, with clear expectations for a clear and coherent reporting process.
There will always be ups and downs in terms of key metrics such as traffic, conversions and engagement with content marketing. Making sure that the full picture is communicated consistently and on time will again increase the transparency and quality of your reporting.
Storytelling is a common tactic deployed by content marketers to engage audiences, but it can also be a powerful tool for internal battles over budgets.
With advancing tech enabling marketers to collect a range of data across various digital touchpoints, such as time spent on page, click-through activity and average order size, you can weave together information to tell stories about how your customers behave.
By making it clear how different customers are engaging with your brand and buying products, and highlighting how content supports this, you can really sell the power of your campaigns to the right people.
By eliminating reporting mistakes and making the right decisions about how to track, analyse and then communicate data to higher-ups, you should be able to win support and investment for your content marketing endeavours in 2021.