How content drives revenue (and how to prove it)
Not everyone understands what content can do for your bottom line. Columnist Rachel Lindteigen breaks it down so that your clients or team members will recognize the results of your efforts.
In business, revenue is often the bottom line. Let’s face it, as marketers, if we’re not driving new customers and business isn’t growing, we’re not really doing our job. It’s up to us to drive business along with the sales team.
Something that intrigues me is how few people seem to understand that you can and do drive revenue with the content you create. I’ve had clients ask how you measure the success of a content marketing program, and it’s not a secret that we should keep guarded. We should be showing our clients exactly what we’re doing to drive revenue for them. By showing what we’re doing, we’re showing our worth and helping them understand what content is doing for their bottom line.
Whether you work for an agency and help clients or are in-house, you have someone you report to — be it a client, boss or board. And while within the industry, we feel that content is second nature, the reality is, it’s not in the broad picture. Many people outside of our niche industries don’t fully understand content marketing. Does your mom, dad, best friend or spouse really understand what you do for a living? Most don’t.
Driving revenue with content marketing
So how do you drive revenue with content marketing?
The most straightforward answer is found simply by looking inside your analytics account and finding out how much revenue each page or post has generated for your website. You can easily find out what your best-performing pages or posts are.
With some of my clients, we’ve found that inspirational content drove lots of revenue. For example, a major home goods retailer found great success with their blog posts that focused on design inspiration.
If we wrote a post that showed customers how to create a current season trend at home for less, we saw a big return. Customers liked being able to shop the blog post. We’d link the product URLs right in the blog post, and that allowed the customer to easily find the items. But it also allowed us to track the referring traffic to those URLs and see how much came from the blog post itself.
Behind-the-scenes or preview posts
Another great revenue-generating piece of content is often the behind-the-scenes or preview posts for a brand. We often find that the loyal customer base (i.e., the blog reader) wants to know what’s going on before the public. If we create a blog post that highlights a new product line and share a few sneak-peek images, we can start to create a bit of excitement over the launch.
If we want to track revenue on that post, we can go several routes — one would be to follow the referral traffic from the post URLs once the products are available. This route is a little challenging if the product is not available online yet.
Another option is to offer a coupon that’s available only from that blog post. If you’re looking to drive to retail, that coupon could be good in-store only. If you use a unique coupon code on it, you have an easy way to track the revenue from the blog post for the preview.
If you’re concerned about people other than the post readers finding the coupon, you can always exclude the post from your XML sitemap and hope that Google doesn’t index it. It’s not 100 percent guaranteed that Google won’t index it, but in most cases, it works.
Content additions/changes can lead to revenue
If you have an e-commerce site, look at your product page. How well-optimized is it?
I don’t mean does it have a Title Tag, Meta Description and H1 tag? Do you have schema markup? Are you using a review system for ratings and reviews? Do your reviews, ratings, price and in-stock status show in the SERP? Is there a size guide available? Do you have a product video if it would make sense? Are there comparison guides or charts if a customer would need help deciding?
These items are all content, and they can all lead to a higher conversion rate, which drives revenue for your business. Your product page can be a big contributor to the bottom line if you optimize it well.
Secondary benefits of content that lead to revenue
When you implement a content marketing plan and start creating targeted content that helps your website rank well for more keywords, you raise your site’s overall authority. With a higher DA (domain authority), it’s easier to rank well for your most important keywords.
The content you create to target a handful of long-tail keywords could end up providing the boost your site needs for a critical term. If you can move into one of the top three positions for a super-competitive keyword, you’ll likely see a big increase in natural search traffic.
While this may not be directly attributable to the newly created content in your analytics account, you should be able to tell when you deployed new content, when the rankings increased for the new terms and when the DA increased, allowing the rankings for the core terms to increase. You can show a timeline that helps the team understand how the content you created drove the keyword rank improvement and, in time, the revenue for the site.
When people say it’s too hard to tie revenue to content, don’t listen. It’s not hard if you know how things work and where to find the data. It’s important to show the results of your efforts so that when it’s time to renew the client’s contract or it’s time for your annual review, you can show how much revenue was tied to your efforts.
Not everyone you work with will understand DA gains, keyword rank improvements — while we know from 4 to 1 is huge, someone else may not understand the significance. People always understand dollars. If content drove $1,000 last year and $100,000 this year, and you know how to show them, the meeting should go quite well.
You can drive revenue with content, and you need to talk about how it’s done.