Content Issue: Ask the experts

What will help businesses ensure content grows the bottom line?

What will help businesses ensure content grows the bottom line?

Natalia Dykyj, director of product management, Vocus
Savvy marketers already have an arsenal of tools to optimize their content marketing based on what generates the most leads for their business.

The problem is, that is where most conversion tracking ends – at the sign-up. It is not enough to put out a great piece of content that gets a large amount of leads. The question is whether those leads were the right ones and resulted in a sale. We should start to see more tools go deeper into the conversion funnel and use the downstream sale as the primary indicator for content success.

Marc Cowlin, director, content marketing, Meltwater
Content creation holds the ability to drive word of mouth through viral sharing, increase SEO and direct Web traffic, establish thought leadership, increase brand exposure and equity, and drive customer affinity, earned media, and of course, revenue.

With all of these benefits, the missing ingredient is holistic measurement. We are able to measure each of these benefits individually, but so far individual metrics are scattered. I want to see a single tool that can easily aggregate these metrics into one centralized dashboard that provides a picture of overall content marketing ROI.

Stephanie Losee, managing editor, Dell
I do not believe organizations are missing any measurement capabilities. The gap is in understanding the role of different kinds of content. Once companies digest the implications of digital disruption on traditional media, they will put the necessary resources toward content creation.

The measurements applied to traditional advertising, particularly reputational, should apply to top-of-the-funnel works, such as thought-leadership editorial. The measurements applied to direct marketing collateral should be applied to promotional content deeper down the purchase path: lead-gen and other ROI. Right now, companies are failing to make those distinctions.

Marc Johnson, CMO, Resonate
The reason why audiences engage in content are many and complex. Yet, PR measurement of the ‘why' is sorely lacking.

‘What happened,' as well as reach and share of voice are all measured and it is the same with the ‘who' – demographics, key targets, and influencer segments. Yet without knowing why those things happened, or why those audiences engaged – the motivations, driving values, or human beliefs – PR professionals are unable to derive real learnings from their campaigns and cannot fully recreate the successes of them.

Johna Burke, EVP, BurrellesLuce
One often-neglected means by which PR practitioners can positively affect revenue results is to implement programs that advance a company's strategic goals.

By not viewing their activities as an isolated function, but rather as a core component of their company's overall operation, PR pros are well positioned to enhance the impact of their own efforts. When applying this integrated approach to content measurement, two requirements stand out: create key messages and other metrics that mirror corporate goals, and, even before the metrics are established, develop programs with component parts that easily lend themselves to qualitative and quantitative measurement.

Dallas Lawrence, head of corporate communications, Mattel
Far too many organizations continue to rely on outdated modeling efforts that take weeks to assess impact and legacy advertising programs that focus resources on broadcasting messages rather than truly engaging audiences with impactful content.

Smart brands will focus resources this year to ensure the year of big data that was 2013 gives way to the year of analytics-based insights that leverage immense consumer insights into the kind of content and engagement our audiences want from us, when they want it, and how they want it. Businesses who fail to adapt to this will find that 2014 will deliver decreasing returns on marketing and PR investment as consumers seek out far more personal and meaningful brand engagements.

Dave Armon, president, Critical Mention
Content creators who want to move the needle must improve their ability to react in real time. Topics that are beginning to trend are not always appropriate for expert commentary or action from a brand.

But those brands that know when to enter the fray consistently get higher rates of earned media coverage, social sharing, and engagement than those that never deviate from their hard-coded, Web-content calendar. The first step is to initiate a comprehensive listening program that's broader than social media. Including TV and radio is key, as many stories begin locally before spiking on social platforms.

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