Powerful Reasons Your Content ROI Is Undervalued

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OCTOBER 2016

Content ROI (return on investment) is a powerful, necessary part of our budgets and our businesses. After all, no one wants to throw precious marketing funds and time away on campaigns that don’t yield conversions, visitors, shares, likes, leads and sales. Many marketers believe that if it can’t be measured, it doesn’t exist. Fortunately, content marketing ROI (return on investment) can be measured easily and effectively. However, if you’re only looking at content from the point of view of your calculator, you’re missing out on most of its value.

Unlike traditional advertising and marketing, content doesn’t expire. When drivers listen to a radio spot about buying new vinyl siding and windows, that commercial goes in one ear, out the other and is gone forever. Every time the commercial runs, the business pays for the air time or the ad space.

Not so with content. Buy the content and it’s yours to host on your site forever. Even better: you can update it and repurpose it. That’s not just content ROI, that’s content VOI.

Content ROI isn't separate from or bigger than content VOI

Content Return on Investment (ROI) isn’t separate from or bigger than content Value on Investment (VOI)

Illustration by Iris Content, LLC

Content Value on Investment (VOI) is better than Content ROI

Content value on Investment isn’t about quantities, but qualities. It’s intangible, but just as real as love, beauty and democracy. VOI contributes to a business’s success even more than the measures that make up the ROI because VOI includes ROI, not the other way around. VOI goes beyond line-item costs and returns; it’s the benefits, often long-term benefits, that the investment nets in addition to content ROI. VOI includes intangible benefits like:

Customer loyalty and retention

Providing content that customers find useful and engaging makes customers consult one business’s site first over those of its competitors. Customers know that they can find helpful articles on the site and they return again and again to learn more and to shop. That content can be repurposed into emails and newsletters, which are more tools to retain customers and build brand loyalty. Dedicating some posts to customer service also retains customers who might look elsewhere when they encounter product issues.

Brand authority and customer trust

Posting factual, useful content on a business’s site boosts the brand’s authority and trustworthiness. Customers turn to businesses who post blogs first as a resource and then as a trusted partner in their purchasing decisions. They trust that the business’s employees will offer the same expert advice that they find on the website and blog, so they return to the site again and again to learn and to shop.

Business reputation and influence

Once a business has built a library of informative posts and a following of loyal customers, the business gains a trustworthy reputation among people who haven’t visited its site or shop. The business also gains influence. Experts, other businesses, community organizations and government entities seek out the business to offer opinions and assistance with projects and questions.

“VOI contributes to a business’s success even more than the measures that make up the content ROI because VOI includes ROI, not the other way around. VOI goes beyond line-item costs and returns; it’s the benefits, often long-term benefits, that the investment nets in addition to content ROI.”

Content VOI is like a trophy case full of value, including content ROI

Value on Investment (VOI) is the trophy case that houses all of these trophy benefits including content ROI.

Illustration by Iris Content, LLC

Don’t undervalue your content marketing’s ROI

If your business calculates marketing content in the same manner as its radio, TV, or print ads, it’s time for a shift in thinking. That ebook from 2015 still enjoys hundreds of downloads and brings in hundreds of new emails for the mailing list, but it doesn’t show up on this year’s P&L sheet. The direct mail piece from that same era? It’s not even lining birdcages any longer.

Let’s say that the direct mail piece and the ebook had cost the same amount. After swapping out calendars at the end of the year, the balance sheet started fresh, so neither the radio spot nor the ebook showed up on the ledger. However, that ebook kept earning money at no additional cost. A sharp guy in the marketing department repurposed it into shorter blog posts and some promo emails at very little cost. It’s been updated, rehashed, and recycled into many forms at little additional cost and it’s still chugging away, earning, converting and attracting more visitors. The direct mail campaign may have had an initial ROI that was more favorable than that of the ebook’s, but the ebook has a better content ROI over time.

This is the reason that HubSpot’s David Meerman Scott argues content shouldn’t be listed as an expense. Instead, he argues, it should be listed as a long-term asset, like trademarks, brand recognition, patents and manufacturing processes.

Content is indeed an asset and the more quality, targeted, useful, engaging content a business has on its site, the more it grows in value. Think of each blog post, landing page, ebook or whitepaper as a mythical, magical, ever-burning log. Create a bonfire at the beach with these logs and the flames reach higher and burn brighter every time someone adds another log/blog to the fire. Bonfires attract visitors who bask in the warmth, engage with others and drink whatever’s in the cooler. It’s fun, it’s bright and it’s magically everlasting.

That’s what your content marketing is. So, set aside that calculator, throw another content log on the fire and let’s toast some marshmallows. You’ve made an excellent content investment decision.

Diane Trim, Iris Content

Diane Trim

Chief VOI Engineer

Diane loves a good investment and content marketing makes sense from both content ROI and VOI perspectives. When she’s not writing, editing or investing in content, Diane enjoys reading and talking about content. She also likes photography, geocaching and the Packers. Want to know more about how Iris Content can improve your ROI and VOI for your business? Contact Diane at Info@IrisContent.com.

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