Michael O'Neill

Unless you’re Tesla, your company can’t survive on earned media alone.

It takes paid and owned media efforts to define your brand, reward loyal customers and drive measurable business growth.

And content marketing is instrumental to accomplishing all of the above.

Though the term “content” is quite vague in its definition, in truth, it’s a defined business investment that should be carefully planned and continuously improved.

In reality, there is no difference between content experience and customer experience. They should be measured in the same way: through client retention, company revenue and customer acquisition costs.

That’s why top brands turn to in-house production studios or outsourced marketing agencies to create content strategies that propel business results.

Turning content metrics into business metrics

The first step in understanding how a successful content strategy primes your company for sustained and quantifiable revenue is to pivot away from surface-level metrics.

You need not only metrics that your marketing team is familiar with, but also ones that sales departments and executives can grasp. To standardize the metrics conversation, recalibrate content KPIs into actionable business KPIs, like so:

  • Leads Generated -> Cost Per Lead.
  • Sales Demo Request -> Time to Purchase.
  • Number of Assets -> Sales Generated.
  • Email/Social Media Engagement -> Distribution Costs Per Post.
  • Total Customers Acquired -> Customer Acquisition Cost.
  • Repeat Visitors -> Revenue Influenced.

This approach enables you to more closely determine actual revenue. At the end of each marketing campaign, you should be able to point to a single dollar amount that represents your return on investment.

And this is simply: Dollars in relative to dollars out.

Inbound marketing: The highest ROI content strategy on the market

ROI from content campaigns fuels revenue across multiple channels and lines of business. This money can subsequently be used to invest in further lead-generation initiatives, customer loyalty programs and social media branding ventures.

Compared to outbound marketing tactics like cold-calling and paid ads, inbound marketing through regularly updated blogs and consistent email nurturing is cheaper and more effective.

So when building a strategy from scratch, ensure you’re pre-optimizing your content model to be an investment worth making, as you’ll need executive buy-in and actionable data to show in the early stages of the decision-making process.

Inbound marketing:

  • Costs 62% less than outbound marketing.
  • Generates 3X as many leads as paid search.
  • Converts 6X more than traditional marketing.

Creating a strategy that supports sales and customer service departments

Customers are the key to revenue: retaining current ones and acquiring new ones.

More so than elite products or great prices, customer experience is now the primary differentiator that influences purchasing decisions. A positive interaction with a brand can retain a customer for life, and online content is the best vehicle for producing those experiences.

In this way, content is also a sales-enablement tool and a customer-service asset.

Creating a content strategy that serves each part of the sales funnel thus increases the potential for ROI, as opposed to producing only a narrow variety of content that doesn’t have much of a life span beyond its publication date.

Take a blog page, for instance. Prospective and existing customers should be able to find all the answers to their common pain points right there on your blog. But a blog is also a bona fide asset in search and organic ranking – you should map out the other components of your content strategy to mimic this type of versatility. That’s how you generate a return on every single word you write.

Content that’s optimized for search engines and your target audience

Websites that are optimized for search are, in effect, optimized for current and future business success.

To put it more bluntly: SEO is ROI.

And by positioning your brand directly in the search vicinity of your target audience, you’ve laid the groundwork for a stronger pipeline of readers, followers, prospects and customers.

Prequalify leads and shorten sales cycles with content marketing

If you’ve ever had to vouch for your content marketing programs, you know that you often get the question, “But how does this help the bottom line?”

Your response should be a succinct, “Our company wants targeted leads and a shorter sales cycle, right?”

Marketing is often the first touchpoint with prospects. The end point is with the sales team closing the deal. The two departments must serve the same goals and recognize the unique symbiosis that is required for the business as a whole to succeed.

A site visitor who downloads an eBook is at a much different stage of the funnel than the one who reads a single blog and bounces from the page within 20 seconds. So which of these two prospects is most ready to do business with your company? The former, of course.

Armed with this information, you immediately know where and how to deploy your next marketing touchpoints to push that prospect closer to a sales demo or subsequent phone call.

Content analytics data helps your company prioritize your investments and streamline your customer acquisition supply chain.

Leveraging automated email, social media and analytics tracking

Content isn’t a one-hit wonder with benefits local to a single entity like a website or a trade show. It’s the digital equivalent of a Swiss Army knife, completely adaptable and multipurpose.

Whether they’re top-of-funnel blogs or bottom-of-the-funnel customer testimonials, marketing assets can be leveraged across email campaigns and social media channels, as well.

Platforms like Sprout Social, Hootsuite, Constant Contact, Marketo and Pardot automate your social and email outreach, allowing you to schedule, publish and distribute the right type of asset to your preferred lead.

Additionally, Google Analytics, Google Search Console and a host of enterprise metrics-tracking tools like SEMrush, BuzzSumo and Searchmetrics cycle all the backend data you need to understand your site’s and your content’s performance. This information provides baseline figures from which you can measure your company’s growth in a number of key fields, such as conversion rates, search visibility and brand reach.

Marketing assets to deploy right now

When constructing a content strategy that’s intended to perform the upfront legwork of customer acquisition, invest in assets that map to stages of the sales funnel and offer brand experiences beyond text alone.

For example:

Top of funnel

  • Blogs.
  • Infographics.
  • Video blogs.
  • Podcasts.
  • Social media posts.

Middle of funnel

  • eBooks.
  • White papers.
  • Long-form guides.
  • Webinars.
  • Quizzes.
  • Surveys.
  • Product animations.
  • Case studies.

Bottom of funnel

  • Customer testimonials.
  • Web demos.
  • Free audits and offers.
  • Product literature.


High-quality content creation is no easy feat. But neither is founding a business or disrupting markets with new products, and yet you somehow managed to accomplish both.

Marketers should ideate digital content strategies as if they were running the company themselves. This directive means automating as many marketing functions as possible for the sake of efficiency. It also means aligning your social media strategy with your SEO goals and customer experience programs.

Bringing the customer to the forefront of the decision-making process keeps you honest, as your ambitious influencer marketing or user-generated content ideas will, in the end, mean nothing if you can’t attribute bottom-line ROI to them. Marketing tactics are not novelties – they are the engines to drive additional business.