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Published October 25th 2013

How to Decide Where to Invest in Content Marketing

I still often hear “we need a social media strategy” when training or at conferences. This is positive since it suggests a more planned, holistic approach to social media than the “we need a Facebook page” which we heard two or three years ago.

I do wonder, though, what these social media strategies contain; sometimes it seems that all they will cover is general goals, evaluation, policy and how to make use of different potential social networks.

If this is the case, I think it’s important that a social media strategy is linked to, or contains, a content marketing plan which reviews the options for using different types of content to support campaign objectives.

Of course not all content will get the cut-through and sharing, needed – you need a way to see whether it will. “Creating content” isn’t enough – according to Michael Stelzner, it needs to be Nuclear content, or for Lee Odden, Rock Star content, and for Joe Pulizzi, Epic content.

We developed the Content Marketing Matrix as a way for businesses to review potential content types for different target personas. In workshops the matrix seems well received as a useful tool, but it is so good at identifying new approaches that there is then the challenge of deciding on the best investments!


So to pre-empt this, I always ask the groups to decide on criteria for content investment. Here are typical criteria for deciding.

The criteria start with how well the content will support marketing goals to acquire, convert and retain customers through the RACE Internet marketing strategy process we have defined. The criteria are:

1. Plan: Alignment with brand, communications and campaign priorities.

Does the content support the goals of the current planning cycle?

2Reach: Potential amplification through sharing.

Potential amplification or shareability of content via social media, media sites, blogs and other influencers. The “viral effect”.

3. Act: Encouraging interaction.

Content that engages specific buyer personas who visit a site or social media and encourages them to participate rather than bounce.

4. Convert: Potential direct commercial value – linkage to product or services.

Sales directly attributed to content on site through assigning goals on site and evaluating value generated. If the content isn’t related to specific products or promotions it will only have branding benefits.

5. Engage: Integrates with customer communications to encourage repeat sales and sharing.

Email marketing, on-site personalisation and social media are the most effective ways to achieve this.

6. Brand favourability.

Develops thought leadership B2B or aligns with brand positioning (B2C).

7. Reach potential through SEO.

Content hosted on site can attract visitors directly to a page if keywords are targeted and can also increase the authority of the site overall in Google’s eyes.

8. Longevity of content.

Will content be relevant in X months time, will it still attract visits?

9. Repurposing.

Can content be repurposed for other uses, so value can be generated in other ways?

10. Cross-platform suitability.

Will it be effective on desktop and mobile platforms given the popularity of mobile for some brands?

So these are the benefits each piece of content will deliver, then we have to look at the overall cost-benefit, so we need to estimate the costs too.

Potential costs of content marketing

  • Strategy and creative direction
  • Costs for sourcing or licensing content
  • Production costs for creative and design
  • Cost of advertising
  • Cost of outreach

The growing importance of social media and content marketing, and the amount of poor content around means it’s important for strategists to decide on these criteria for investment and the corresponding metrics to review what each selected content asset delivers.

Dave Chaffey is publisher of Smart Insights he is is an author, consultant and trainer who advises on digital marketing strategy and planning including content marketing. He has recently updated his 7 Step Guide to Content Marketing Strategy which is available to Smart Insights Expert members.

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