Digital Breakfast: Return on Investment

October 10th, 2017

In a lively discussion, our three Digital Breakfast speakers talked about how to get the best return on their investment from content marketing campaigns. Chris Price reports.

Just how effective is the content that you produce for your clients? And how exactly do you measure the success of that content?

These were just two of the questions tackled by our panel of guest speakers at the latest Digital Breakfast session on ROI (Return on Investment) which took place on October 4th.

Both Lance Concannon, Director of Marketing, Europe at Sysmosos and Debbie Zaman, Founder and MD of PR agency Withpr, agreed that for any content marketing campaign to be successful there needs to be a clear set of objectives agreed with the client from the beginning.

“Before you get started you need to know what you are going to achieve and have a laser-like focus,” said Sysmosos’ Concannon. “You can’t prove success if you don’t know what success looks like in the first place,” argued Withpr’s Zaman. “Campaign objectives need to be aligned with marketing and business objectives,” she added.

Measuring the success of campaigns is obviously of key importance when it comes to demonstrating ROI to clients. Exposure is one way to do this, either through the number of website visitors or the number of subscribers to social media platforms. However, Concannon warned that many social media stats are ‘vanity metrics’ which aren’t really that useful to the client. So too is automated sentiment analysis (whether a piece of coverage is positive, negative or neutral in tone) which Concannon said was ‘by and large bullshit.’

While people claim accuracy rates of 80% and above, he said this figure was probably nearer 60% at present. “It is good for broad brushstrokes, but isn’t that accurate.” However, he admitted that automated sentiment analysis is improving in leaps and bounds thanks to developments in AI (artificial intelligence). Other forms of measurement include SOV (share of voice), influence and actual engagement with the content. Particularly important for ROI is to know where your sales leads come from which means using tracking codes, or UTMs (Universal Tag Managers), on your content.

Another way to ensure maximise return on investment is to cut down spending in other areas. “Great content will save you an absolute fortune on advertising,” claimed Concannon. This is especially true in the B2B world where there is less content available for audiences to read. He said that companies could also maximise their return by not spending as much money on SEO which used to be seen as a ‘complicated dark art’ but which is again largely about investing in content. He was also sceptical about spending on traditional PR. “Produce good content and journalists will find it via social media.”

Needless to say, it’s not a view shared by Withpr’s Zaman! Her agency works closely with B2B journalists, targeting them with bespoke content that is timely, relevant and unusual. “Having that filter even before you start a campaign is important, she said. “You need to know how to turn your white paper into a killer pitch or a news story into a headline grabber.”

According to Zaman, good PR is fundamentally about understanding the needs of the journalist and their audience. One successful content marketing campaign Withpr recently worked on was for consumer generated content platform Olapic. Together, they produced a report on the trends in social media which led to a thousand sign ups for the platform as well as 400 people tuning into a webinar.

While producing journalist driven content is the main focus for Withpr, for Tribe’s founder Jools Lund, it’s about user, or more specifically, influencer generated content. Based in Melbourne, Australia, Tribe is a software platform providing a marketplace to connect brands with micro-influencers. Typically, these are individuals in key verticals, such as food, fashion and fitness with between 3,000 and 100,00 followers on Instagram.

Compared to top tier influencers with one million followers or more, Lund claims micro-influencers offer much higher levels of engagement and a better return on investment because they are more passionate about their particular interest. “The smaller the tribe the more potent the influence and the greater the trust.”

However, it’s only been since the introduction of new platforms like Tribe that content marketers have been able to manage hundreds of micro-influencers in one go. “Technology has meant that the divas at the top have had the rug pulled from underneath them by people who are actually excited to work with their favourite brands,” Lund told the breakfast audience.

What’s more, rather than being given a product to promote as would usually happen with top tier influencers and celebrities, micro-influencers have already bought the product. So far Tribe has worked with around 22,000 different content creators on around 4,000 campaigns globally including brands such as Stork butter, Cadbury and Moet and Chandon champagne. “We’re trying to take your mass marketing message and make them personal.”

The way it works is that companies put out a pitch to the micro-influencers who then craft a piece of content – such as a beautiful picture of a cake made with Stork butter or a video image of a spinning bottle of champagne – with the price they want to be paid for their work.

The brand then only buys the content they want to use (the average price is £130) plus a service charge of 20% for Tribe. Potentially this branded content can then be used by the client online on several social media platforms or even by the advertising agency on billboards.

While linking out of Instagram isn’t yet possible, except through the biography, this is set to change with the introduction of shoppable links currently being tested in the US by retailers on Bigcommerce’s platform. This will make ROI much easier to calculate.

Nevertheless, according to Lund, the ROI from Tribe is primarily around the time saving, rather than conversion. He concludes: “With this technology, the time spent on campaigns can be reduced from 100 hours to just 10 hours.”

Commissioned by The CMA

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