Connecting content marketing efforts back to business goals and proving out ROI has long been the industry’s white whale. In fact, in a recent survey of our community of storytellers, they ranked demonstrating ROI as their biggest recurring challenge.
In the pressure cooker that is demonstrating quarterly ROI, we’ve inadvertently wedged ourselves inside a performance trap. This kind of thinking is called short-termism, which amounts to: marketers funneling most or all of their budget towards demand campaigns or bottom of the funnel, leading to one or a combination of these problems:
- High volume but poor quality leads
- A small prospect pool
- Selling to prospects before they’re ready to buy and alienating them as a result
The way out of short-termism involves employing a concerted brand-to-demand marketing strategy. This strategic approach requires us to take a long view in terms of measurement and demonstrating ROI; over the length of the sales cycle, with short-term quarterly feedback loops to allow for optimization. To put this strategy into action, get your copy of our Definitive Guide to Brand-to-Demand Marketing.
Read on to learn how to demystify content marketing measurement and demonstrate the ROI of your own brand-to-demand marketing program.
[For step-by-step assembly guidance + a plug-and-play measurement template, get your Brand-to-Demand Measurement Kit.]
A Note on Data Terminology
Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s start with some definitions to illustrate how we view data through the lens of our brand to-demand measurement theory.
Golden KPIs vs. Supporting Metrics
- Golden KPI: The single-most influential indicator of brand, trust, and demand respectfully that will have the most impact in driving your marketing goal and your overall business goal.
- Supporting Metrics: (optional) Should your golden KPIs require additional context, consider adding supporting metrics for brand, trust, and demand from our data menu:
By focusing on driving your golden KPIs, you avoid getting lost in a sea of data, have anchors to tether your campaigns to, and can regularly optimize efforts to move the needle toward what matters.
Step 1: Define Your Goals
Now that you’ve got some vernacular down, let’s move on to all-important goal setting. One of the major keys to proving out ROI lies in laddering your marketing team’s goals directly into your larger business goals.
To do this:
- Start with your business’s top-level goals and work backwards. In this example, let’s say that’s booking a certain dollar figure in sales by year-end.
- Next, work with your marketing team to devise a shared goal for brand and demand, ensuring it keys directly into your overall business goal. In this example, that would be contributing a certain % toward the overall sales goal for the business.
- Lastly, work with stakeholders to determine your marketing program’s golden KPIs and associate a goal (%+ or #) against each. (We’ll give you more info on getting to your golden KPIs in just a moment). We suggest benchmarking against past program performance to determine attainable goals.
Note: this is a simplified look, and it will all vary on a case-by-case basis. In this example, it involves connecting with your sales team to determine how many MQLs are equivalent to attaining your marketing team goal.
This increased alignment with sales is one of the many benefits of brand-to-demand marketing.
Step 2: Getting to Your Golden KPIs
Remember our data menu above? Keep it handy, gather your stakeholders, and go through these exercises to reach your golden KPIs:
- What is your goal for the marketing team and what category does it fall into (Brand, Trust, Demand)?
- What metrics does your team have regular access to?
- Of these metrics, which ones does your team care about? Select your top 3.
- Of these metrics, which ones does business leadership care about? Select your top 3.
- From your redacted list, which KPI will have the most impact in driving your marketing goal and your overall business goal?
Repeat until you have reached a golden KPI for Brand, Trust, and Demand.
Step 3: Choosing Supporting Metrics (Optional)
Tracking your golden KPIs will help you realize your established goals. But if your efforts require additional context, consider adding additional supporting metrics for Brand, Trust, and Demand from our data menu.
For example: If your golden KPI is organic traffic, a common question would be “Why did we see x% growth or decline?” To answer that question, we can turn to Organic search (for branded keywords), Share of Voice, and Unique Visitor Traffic to better understand what people are searching for, how much of that conversation we own in our space, and the proportion of new traffic stemming from search results.
Tip: To avoid getting lost in too much data, we recommend a maximum of (4) data points per category — (1) golden KPI + (3) additional supporting metrics for Brand, Trust, and Demand respectively.
Step 4: Assembling Your Measurement Framework
With your goals set, and your data all lined up, you’re ready to get it all into your measurement framework and start tracking success.
To get your plug-and-play measurement template and assembly guidance, get your Brand-to-Demand Measurement Kit.
Step 5: Interpreting Results
It’s crucial to get comfortable with measuring over the long haul. Measure short-term performance on quarterly feedback loops, and measure long-term success by looking at the overall program across sales cycles (which typically run 6-9 months for enterprise; 4-6 months for mid-market).
The best way to go about interpreting results is to practice pattern-matching:
- Increasing ⬆️ Periodic dips and data anomalies aside, successful brand-to-demand programs should overall see golden KPIs trending upward over the length of the sales cycle.
- Decreasing ⬇️ Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If your golden KPIs are trending downward over the length of the sales cycle, there’s an issue within your program.
- Erratic or Stagnant 〰️ If your golden KPIs are all over the map (i.e. up on Brand, up on Trust, yet down on Demand) or flatlining, there are a host of issues that could be the culprit.
Effectively troubleshooting program issues takes an expert eye. Consider contacting a content strategist for tailored assistance.