Content marketing ROI: War stories from the front lines

Content marketing is the movement dujour across b2b and b2c which is why we have decided to create a content marketing virtual summit on August 14 from 9-1pm PDT that I know will be awesome — Content Marketing Summit. Paul (our editor) has put together an amazing event with expert speakers like Ardath Albee, Tony Zambito, Justin Gray, and Toby Murdock. The topics will start from the creation of buyer personas to-translating buyer personas to action-to-creating a content marketing organization-to-distribution. I hope you join.

Back to business. The question I have been getting lately is: How do I justify content marketing? (aka ROI)

This is important: We have called out content marketing as its own movement, but in reality content marketing is part of everything you do in sales and marketing lifecycle. It is an approach — You are creating content that the buyer actually wants to consume. It’s that simple. The content you create should be designed to have a direct impact on your core revenue driving activities such as inbound marketing, demand generation, lead nurturing, social marketing, selling and closing. To me, content marketing ROI should be tracked against the metrics you track in your overall revenue machine. When done correctly, content marketing should drive the metrics you are already tracking such as visits, leads, and revenue. If you are viewing content marketing as it’s own “thing”, then you are back in “arts and crafts” class and creating content for the sake of creating content.

Net-net: Content marketing should be driving higher conversions on your entires revenue machine. That being said, here are some examples of content working wonders on the front lines:

1. “I called you because my co-worker printed out your post and handed it to me. We had to talk to you”
I got this the other day for my TOPO post on 8 Reasons Sales Development Teams Fail. Never talked to the guy before that. He reached out via Linkedin Inmail and asked for the meeting. During the meeting, he told me how content made him reach out to me. Insert high-five here.

2. “I want to talk to you about this (pointing to the content)”
Watch this video below from Ardath Albee. We did a preview for the Content Marketing Summit. and she told an incredible story of an impossible-to-reach account that CALLED THE SALES REP to talk about piece of content that the company had written. Sales rep couldn’t reach him and then BOOM…content reels in the fish.

3. “Dude, he finally responded”
Our VP of Sales at TOPO has been putting content selling into practice by choosing particular blog posts he thinks will be of interest to his clients. He recently sent a really unique piece of content on Customer Engagement to a very select group of prospects. Three critical prospects who weren’t responding responded back to him. He got his meetings. In the past, he would have called to “check in” or to “see if we can get that meeting on the calendar”. Instead, he did the “I thought you would like this post” and it worked. Respect.

4. “I keep 5 pieces of content and use them to nurture my deals”
I talked to a top-notch sales person who does content selling on his own. He basically has taken the initiative to use content and nurturing to personally battle the “dark period” where you don’t hear a peep from prospects in between steps. He found 5 pieces of content from marketing that work sequentially and he shares it with his prospects over the course of time. He doesn’t have the numbers but he says his engagement during that period has gone from a problem to an advantage. He not only drives engagement, but he builds value and trust. PS he had a $700K w2 last year. Snap.

5. “We decided to take our buyer journey and publish it. Our buyers use it now to navigate their own organization”
I love this story. We met with a CEO a couple months ago from a company that supports a new development platform that has not taken hold yet. Moving someone to a new development framework requires massive change management. They created a buyer map for the internal folks that outlined the internal steps that a buyer must make to make this change happen. They soon realized their selling problem wasn’t interest from their buyers. Instead their buyers didn’t know how to get started in socializing this new idea. The company then published the map and gave it to their internal champions to help them navigate their own organizations. They have gotten commitments at some extremely hard-to-get companies directly attributable to that content piece. Huzzah!

What are your stories? Share em because we love them.

Viva content marketing and selling! If you liked this post, the Content Marketing Summit. is calling your name.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic and a co-founder of Topo. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter