In an Economic Downturn, Tying Content to ROI Is More Critical Than Ever
Don’t say recession. The internet will come for you.
But no matter what you call it, there’s little doubt we’re in the middle of an economic downturn. In response, many companies are looking for ways to tighten their purse strings. Marketing budgets sank to their lowest level in recent history during the pandemic and have yet to bounce back. As a result, content marketers across the board are hearing from the top:
“We need you to cut your budget by 10 percent.”
“Let’s make sure we’re only spending on activities that directly drive revenue.”
“I want to meet to determine which activities are critical.”
Directives like these have shifted focus away from paid marketing channels and upper-funnel activity toward initiatives that directly connect to short-term revenue.
Luckily, content marketers are known for their creativity. Here’s how they’re getting innovative and shifting focus as marketing is under increased pressure.
1. They’re buying ads, but with caution
Ads are the first thing under the microscope during a budget review.
Brands like Campbell Soup Company and Chewy are pumping the brakes, whereas others like Tapestry, Estée Lauder, and Coty are hitting the gas at a time when they’ll have less competition on certain ad platforms.
Most companies are feeling cautious about ads at the top of the funnel, including ads meant to drive blog traffic, boost video for awareness, or increase social media engagement. They’re either slowing or delaying spend in those areas to hold onto as much of their budgets as possible until the macroeconomic environment is more predictable.
When they are buying ads, they’re hyper-focused on metrics that directly impact the bottom of the funnel. Ad campaign content that directly drives sales is a top priority. But it’s even more important to tie upper-funnel activities to lower-funnel activities during an economic downturn in order to keep budgets across the board intact. You can do this by either using those audiences for retargeting or by clearly attributing the value of that content to a specific step in the buyer’s journey.
2. Internal teams are shrinking and hiring more freelancers
Layoffs are here. In 2022, almost 150 tech companies had laid off more than 24,000 people as of July. This comes on the heels of the nearly 50,000 ad agency jobs that were shed in 2020. Other industries like retail aren’t immune—in July, layoffs and discharges totaled 1.4 million people across tech, retail, and media.
Marketers who’ve lost team members are tapping into the gig economy to close the gap, which has caused an increase in demand for freelance content creators.
Contently offers access to a network of 160,000+ experienced freelance creatives. Marketers can match with writers, designers, videographers, podcasters, and more in over 10 languages. Matches are made based on contributors’ industry expertise and their history of excellence.
3. They’re choosing projects they can map to revenue
Content marketers are pausing initiatives that aren’t connected to the bottom line—but that looks different for every company.
Companies with mature content operations can definitively say specific pieces of content—gated whitepapers, product pages, etc.—drive leads or revenue. Those with newer content marketing functions might only measure top-of-funnel metrics like traffic and engagement, and will likely have a harder time making a case for projects like flashy video commercials.
We spoke with one company, Passport Photo Online, that recently shifted resources to focus on written content—a format that’s often less expensive to produce and easier to measure. “This year, we had planned to launch a video series, but we had to nix that idea when our production team was reduced by 40 percent,” said Leszek Dudkiewicz, the organization’s head of marketing.
Dudkiewicz’s team also cut back on social media activity to focus on evergreen content that can be reused in future quarters. Both solutions saved his team time and money without compromising quality.
4. Measurement is more important than ever
If your team has paused certain activities to adjust to the economic downturn, now’s a great opportunity to use that freed-up time to improve how you quantify your marketing efforts (i.e., collect data around how content campaigns directly tie to revenue).
The message from the top is loud and clear—the most valuable people and projects are the ones that directly impact the bottom line. In an economic downturn, content marketers should be investing both time and money into implementing new analytics tools, integrating those tools with existing systems, and building the infrastructure to showcase a piece of content’s value down to the dollar.
This is especially true for content marketing teams that only measure traffic and engagement. Those metrics aren’t enough anymore; it’s important to prove a return on the investment your company is making in content.
Contently is built to support content marketers through a four-stage maturity model. Their content marketing analytics tools integrate with systems you’re already using to define the value of everything from SEO to lead value and sales adoption.
Content marketers can weather the storm
Content marketing aims to influence people at every stage of the buyer’s journey. But today’s climate has created pressure to map all activities directly to ROI—which has caused marketers to pause some top- and middle-funnel initiatives until they can come up with compelling data.
Contently supports mature content operations through a SaaS platform that provides end-to-end solutions for content strategy, creation, SEO optimization, workflow management, editing, measurement, and access to freelance talent.
Schedule a demo to talk with a Contently expert about their content maturity model and how you can use it to tie every content marketing action to your bottom line.Image by jcomp