Return on Content

Delivering content at the right place and the right time along the decision journey is the goal of most content marketing programs. Content is a consumable and shareable asset that has a different and distinct role at each point of the journey. Marketers need to understand each role before they can measure the impact and effectiveness of content assets.

The decision or shopping journey differs for B2B and big-ticket purchases than for consumer products or smaller priced items. For cost per clicks (CPCs), the shopping journey is shorter and often consumers have an entrenched consideration set that they brink to the point of purchase. Disruptive content is essential for breaking through and stimulating new ideas about purchase selection. The decision cycle for B2B and big-ticket items is typically longer and buyers often interact with the brand more directly and frequently.

Despite these differences, the steps on the journey are very similar. In our content supply chain practice, ComBlu uses a simple five-point decision journey, including:

· Awareness: Becoming aware of the brand, product or service with or without any intention to buy through brand communications, word-of-mouth (WOM) or independent discovery.

· Consideration: Researching and becoming familiar with a set of options that could fill a need or want. This is usually through a combination of online research, conversations, or face-to-face encounters either with a salesperson or at a retail store.

· Preference: Honing the considered choices into a short list of likely options.

· Purchase: Making the final decision and taking the plunge.

· Post-Purchase: Driving repurchase intent, as well as brand advocacy or WOM.

We use the following chart to help clients understand how to plan content type, channel selection and measurement along the decision journey. This particular version is for a B2B enterprise.

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Once we understand the type and role of content along the decision journey, we can begin defining the right metrics suite for each point in the journey to track content performance and engagement trends. The following chart is a sample of a measurement-planning matrix that we use.

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After we have identified the right metrics suite for the content mission at each point of the journey, we use the content module of our Social Performance Index™ (SPI™) measurement service to create a performance index for specific content key performance indicators (KPIs). This allows us to understand which topics, formats and venues perform and serve as a data point for refining the content road map and insights process of the supply chain. It allows the content creation team to be more efficient and effective when they create content and for the distribution team to calibrate their channel strategy. This approach also gives great insights into advocate participation and behavior, and can feed directly into a gamification engine that recognizes and rewards people who share, add context and create appropriate content along the decision journey.

Content marketing is a core function for today’s social business. A lot of smart people are working on new ways to socialize many of the core functions of the content supply chain. This approach to measuring return on content will evolve as the social discipline matures. How are you approaching content ROI? It’s an important discussion and one we’re glad to jump into.

ComBlu is sponsoring a free Content Masters Series beginning June 6, 2012. It’s four webinars that breakdown the content supply chain. For more information or to register, click here .Hope you’ll join us.

Kathy Baughman
Kathy Baughman

Kathy Baughman is president and co-founder of ComBlu, a firm specializing in content strategy, community building and thought leadership programs. Kathy’s forte is content and community strategy, and influencer marketing programs. Her passions include bringing a fresh point of view to everything she does and helping organizations take their programs to the next level. Kathy is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. She has authored several ebooks including “Content Supply Chain” and “The Alchemy of Content”. She also co-authors the firm’s research report, “The State of Online Branded Communities”. Kathy can be reached at kbaughman@comblu.com.

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