Content marketing is going full-on beast mode.

And business owners are starting to pick up on it. More small businesses are allocating resources to it, and more B2B content campaigns are in the queue than ever before. With this trend, two big problems arise. The first is for the stragglers out there, who have to justify the expense to a greater degree than the argument that it’s “what everyone else is doing.” The second is for the folks who have already begun investing time and resources into content, but encounter the issue of showing its business value.

This week, we’re taking some of the biggest questions in the content marketing space and resolving them, once and for all. *drags out soap box*

How do we even know what to write about?

What this boils down to: Resources

Creating content that’s actually valuable requires more than a good idea. Why? Because those ideas don’t come out of thin air. They take people; knowledgeable, creative, driven individuals. When making the case for content to your higher-ups, the conversation will quickly turn to dollars and cents and personnel and budgets.

The fact of the matter is, content marketing is an investment that impacts all aspects of a business. Sales managers can supply service/product information to prospects, blog posts can reinforce a smaller team’s subject matter expertise, and case studies can act as proof that a company’s product or service helped a client overcome a major challenge.

As it stands, an investment in content marketing covers far more areas than the final document, video, or blog post. It’s really an investment in your entire brand, arguably your most valuable marketing resource.

How would we determine our return on investment?

What this boils down to: Value

We knew this was coming. With all the talk of business value, monetary value is the next logical step. Sure, pieces content explaining the features and benefits of a service are an important touchpoint on the path to a sale. The other types of content, the stuff that reinforce your brand’s story? Tying them to monetary value can be a little more enigmatic.

In conversations to get content marketing off the ground, you’ve got to have a mutual understanding of something: content marketing ROI exists, but it doesn’t happen overnight. In our experience, this type of objection to adopting content doesn’t come from someone who’s leery about the investment; it comes from someone who doesn’t understand how content can have value at all.

This is where your strategic approach and key performance indicators (KPIs) come into play. If your focus is leads, your strategy can contain KPIs like conversions and subscriber retention. And if it’s brand awareness you seek, take a look at consumption metrics like social media shares and website session duration. So long as you align your KPIs to what you hope to achieve overall, justifying content should be no problem.

Isn’t this just part of the SEO and social media we’re already doing?

What this boils down to: Education

Now this can be a tough one depending on who the folks in the room are. On one hand, yes, social media and SEO heavily depend upon valuable, interesting, and edutaining content. But are they one in the same?

Yes and no. Allow me to explain.

Because SEO, social media, Pay per Click, and others all need content to exist and be effective, they’re definitely associated with content marketing. On a different level, though, content marketing is an entire way of approaching how your brand interacts with customers. In that way, it’s distinctly different from the tactic of SEO or the channel of social media.

So back to the question at hand. Is content marketing a part of SEO and social? Yes, but to be successful, we have to think about it as more than that. Rather than ask:

  • “How should we do SEO better?”
  • “What do we post on Facebook this month?”

Take a second look at your marketing tactics through a content marketing lens:

  • “Are we providing valuable content based on what our target audience is searching?”
  • “Is the content being posted to Facebook relevant to the right users?”

That’s quite a difference, isn’t it? On one hand, thinking about digital marketing in this context more closely associates your tactics as means of achieving your business goals. On the other, it allows your team to understand how individual areas work together as you speed down that path. And at the end of the day, your content is going to be what holds it all together.

Still left with burning content marketing questions? Let ‘em fly in the comments!

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