Contently Explains: How Content Marketing Makes Money

A businessman named John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is I don’t know which half.”

When Wanamaker made that clever quip 100 years ago, he never could’ve predicted the rise of martech. Today, thousands of solutions promise to help marketers track all kinds of data in sleek dashboards. But when it comes to the true ROI of their content, most marketers are still left scratching their heads.

To ease those concerns, let’s go over how content marketing actually helps your bottom line.

By now, most brands understand the benefits of good content. They create blog posts, infographics, videos, and more to generate awareness and establish thought leadership. This is crucial since, statistically speaking, we’re more likely to get struck by lighting than click on a banner ad.

So how do you ensure that content drives real revenue? There are two main ways to do this.

The first way works best for B2C companies in industries like travel, hospitality, and retail. It requires maximizing the real estate on your site to drive conversions, putting a spin on traditional e-commerce. If you look at the most successful publishers out there, they use the space above, below, and to the sides of their articles. It’s a savvy move to tie content directly to your own products. Marriott, for instance, does a great job of this. Every article includes a clear button at the top to book a room. Below the fold, there are modules for related Marriott content and designated sections for relevant hotel suggestions. So when someone makes a purchase, it’s easy to show how a piece of content leads to revenue.

The second method is content attribution. This applies more to B2B companies with longer sales cycles and more expensive products. Nobody is going to spend $100k right after reading a blog post, but it may influence them along the way, and that’s worth something. Think of the customer journey like a trail of breadcrumbs. To track them, you’ll need software like Marketo, Salesforce, or Google Analytics, which can log what actions people take before they become customers.

How you value those actions depends. Some teams use first-touch attribution, which gives all the credit to the first piece of content someone sees. Others rely on last-touch attribution, which emphasizes the final activity before someone signs a contract. The best approach, though, is multi-touch attribution, which shows love to every part of the process. So if you have that $100,000 deal, and someone downloads your e-book along the way, that asset can take credit for $10,000 in revenue.

The big mistake marketers make is assuming technology will solve everything. Software can help you crack the ROI code, but only if you understand how to connect your content to commerce. Thinking about ROI like this will take the guesswork out of your marketing decisions. It may never be an exact science, but if you follow the breadcrumbs, it can still add up to big business.

Image by Unsplash

Get better at your job right now.

Read our weekly newsletter to master content marketing. It’s made for marketers, creators, and everyone in between.

Trending stories