As marketers, we are the gatekeepers of impact.
Unless we know what’s working and what’s not for our portfolios, to establish ROI, we’re doing ourselves a disservice. Imprisoning ourselves to a life of having every dollar questioned, or just being stuck on repeat, doing the same old things in a vacuum.
Establishing Digital ROI is not a one-step process. It’s a committed process of continuous improvement.
And a content audit is a finite first step to successfully establishing it. Touted by content gurus like Neil Patel as something that ‘shouldn’t just happen once every few years; it should happen at least every quarter; ideally once a week’, a content audit is the most overlooked heavy hitter in the digital world.
Why? Because a content audit will help you identify which of your assets are truly performing. If your target audience isn’t finding your content useful, there’s usually a reason.
An audit can help spot the patterns that help you make informed content decisions, including the hard ones like what to lose. (Read our full piece on the quantity vs quality debate here.)
After doing countless content audits (we do one for every single client), we have noticed some trends that might be worth looking at in 2019, on where people are seeing ROI.
Supported by some of the very latest research from Chief Marketer’s 2019 B2B Marketing Outlook Report.
Who’s surprised by that chart? The top 3 are Email, Search, and Live Events—by a long shot. Now take a quick think about your budgets on any one project. Is this represented in the way you’re deploying your marketing dollars?
For the purposes of this article, we’re focussing on the top 4 for digital ROI—Email, Search, Content Marketing, and Social Media Marketing.
While the most effective channels for ROI across the board, these won’t necessarily be the same for everybody. It depends entirely on your brand, your audience, and your reach.
One size most definitely does not fit all.
A plumbing company might experience great success with DIY videos, while a bespoke events company has better results on Instagram. You might even (eeeeeek) need to do some testing. Here is a roundup of how each is performing with insights and extra reading from the top voices in the industry.
To all the naysayers that have said that email marketing is dead, we say, think again.
Email is the best channel for connecting with customers and keeping repeat buyers engaged with your brand.
According to Statista and Marketing Charts, 73% of marketers believe email marketing delivers the best ROI (driving both leads and revenue), a recent Demand Generation Benchmark Survey Report found email to be the top channel for driving engagement, while 81% of marketers rate its effectiveness in later stages of the sales funnel.
HubSpot Marketing provides even more stats to support our stance: 91% of consumers want to hear from companies they do business with, and email generates $38 dollars for every $1 spent, an astounding 3,800% ROI. Yet despite the overwhelming evidence supporting email marketing as one of the most important channels in 2019, we’re still finding so few people are tracking basics like opens and click-through rates, or doing split-tests to see what works best. Here’s why email marketing still rules in 2019 and why you should increase engagement:
No digital marketing strategy can be complete without including SEO.
You need a clear idea on how much content you have and what it’s doing, in numbers, to support your wider business objectives.
When 81% of people conduct an online search before making a purchase, and 46% of marketers agree that search is the second most important channel for engaging leads with the highest ROI, search is our second most important digital channel for 2019.
Using search effectively will improve brand awareness and establish brand authority.
What we find though, is that many B2B marketers are neglecting this opportunity. Once you drive traffic to your page, what’s important is what you do with it. You need to convert a searcher into a reader, a reader into a returner, or a customer.
Create landing pages with strong CTAs. Don’t just drive your traffic to a home page, or a generic about us page. This occurs much too often in our searches, and must change. Here’s Neil Patel’s take on why landing pages and what it can do for your conversion. https://neilpatel.com/blog/homepages-vs-landing-pages/
3. Content Marketing
You’re no stranger to the importance of content marketing. You might be churning out snackable content across the online realm, from blog posts to videos and twitter feeds. It’s a credible way to build your brand, establish trust and generate leads.
Three times more leads than paid search, according to the latest statistics from HubSpot and the Content Marketing Institute.
But where things can get a little fuzzy is when marketers try deciphering what content is working best for them.
Which is where a content audit comes in to save you.
An audit shows you what content is really performing well, so you can repurpose it across many channels, insert a stronger CTA for better conversions, use it as a landing page which links out to other less-performing content and a whole lot more.
We’ve found that content that works best in 2019 is longer-form digital content.
This includes case studies, longer (and more thoughtful) blogs or articles and white papers or ebooks that are over 2000 words (if you don’t know where to start, read this with more wisdom from Neil Patel).
On average, posts that are longer are nine times more effective in generating leads than shorter posts, articles between 2,250 and 2,500 earn the most organic traffic and longer posts get more social media shares, according to Buzzsumo. Even Google tends to reward long-form content.
We don’t need quantity over quality
We need relevant, substantive, well-researched and informative content. We need content that creates value in people’s lives as explained by Anne Handley.
And once you have that anchor long-form piece, maximize it by creating snackable pieces that you can distribute through various channels.
More on that in future pieces.
4. Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing can’t be separated from any content marketing strategy. So clearly it belongs up here on this list.
But, how effective is social actually?
While it’s one of the most effective digital marketing channels for the highest ROI in generic terms, we say, social media is only as effective as your target audience finds it (and obviously, you can find out what social channels are working for you the most through an exhaustive but oh-so-rewarding content audit).
But, let’s break it up across the most popular social channels to see what’s working for most B2B marketers in 2019:
With over 500 million users, 47% of whom visit LinkedIn every day, and 39% of them paying for premium membership, LinkedIn is a pretty amazing tool for connecting with professionals.
It’s also where 80% of all B2B leads generated through social media come from, making it the most effective social media platform for delivering content and securing engagement.
Here’s how to get the best from B2B digital marketing using LinkedIn: https://neilpatel.com/blog/linkedin-strategies-b2b-marketing
Instagram is the new darling of social media, with over 1 billion active monthly users and growing (or leapfrogging, at a rate of 5% per quarter!). The average Instagram user spends 53 minutes on the app per day and Instagram Stories posted a 220% increase in year-on-year ad spend, according to HubSpot.
Site visits from Instagram more than doubled in 2019, growing 114% in the first quarter according to a Merkle report (despite the fact that you’re only allowed one niggly hyperlink in your bio).
So, what does this mean for Instagram marketers?
Instagram is a great platform for sharing authentic moments that allow you to connect with your customers.
There are plenty of tools to choose from: fun, creative filters, video storytelling, live streaming and meme-friendly editing, slide design apps, grid and colour grouping apps and scheduling apps based on themes—all of which are pretty useless unless they contribute to your strategic marketing goals, warns the Content Marketing Institute!
To leverage Instagram for greater lead generation and ROI, craft content with care, use third-party scheduling tools and add a human touch that appeals to the interests of your followers.
We also love this article with targeted tips and tools for making Instagram work for your business: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/b2b-instagram-content-tips-tools-marketers/
With its many algorithm changes, data breaches and political scandals, Facebook might have lost its lustre for some, but the fact remains that 74% of people use Facebook for professional purposes and it remains the second most-used platform globally, followed by YouTube, according to the Pew Research Center and Hubspot.
Utilize Facebook as a tool for customer service.
Make customer experiences more memorable while nurturing mid-funnel audiences who want to engage more with your brand. Here’s a 6-minute assessment of the state of Facebook’s worthiness that we quite liked.
This is no surprise. Video hasn’t been king in recent years without YouTube and its 1.9 billion active monthly users and 5 billion videos viewed per day. 45% of marketers still plan to add YouTube to their content strategy in the next year, according to HubSpot.
Then there’s the fact that 32% of consumers engage with branded video on YouTube and product videos can increase purchases by 144%.
YouTube’s competitors; Vimeo, Facebook, Instagram’s IGTV and even Netflix, just aren’t quite there yet, with only Twitch a contender with enough monetization tools and viewers hungry for long-form content (despite its mostly gaming content).
Given HubSpot’s latest statistics: 20% of people will read text on a page, but 80% of people will watch a video; 50% of Internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store; and 4 in 5 consumers believe that demo videos are helpful—the only question that remains is whether YouTube is up to the challenge, or whether the competitors nipping at its heels will surge ahead.
In the meantime, video still offers some of the highest ROI, with a 157% increase in organic traffic from SERP’s (search engine result pages).
4.5 Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat
We’re well aware that these social media platforms deserve to be in categories on their own, but in the interest of brevity we’re going to be really cheeky and place them in one nice, neat section for your reading pleasure.
Pinterest is increasingly becoming a pre-sales platform, with 80% of millennial Pinterest users stating that the platform helps them decide what they should buy and 78% of users utilizing the platform to support a company or brand. Many marketers’ dismissal of Pinterest as a tool for ‘ladies who like craft’ and Pinterest’s own overt push on sponsored content has meant that shockingly few people are leveraging it. This can change. Intelligent use of Pinterest in the lifestyle space, as well as an opportunity for adjacent search term use, is there for the taking.
Snapchat remains a strong platform for content marketers, 64% of whom have a Snapchat account, serving a total of 168 million users, creating 3 billion snaps a day. Recent downs have the jury out on its future, and Instagram Stories has stolen much of its thunder among an older demographic. Bottom line: short-form video is going not going away. Adding snackable content elements that cater to short-form video/slideshow audiences is key.
Twitter had 326 million users in 2018 according to Brandwatch. Tweets with videos get 6 times as many retweets as tweets with photos. And this little nugget is not used nearly enough. We’ve experimented with video and visuals on Twitter to exponentially better results. It’s really worth the extra effort to (at the very least) treat Twitter like you do Facebook or Instagram, featuring your lead imagery.
So, what should you be learning from all these stats?
It’s important to have a multi-channel social strategy.
But use your content audit to identify your top three channels according to what your customer likes, and engages with, and spend your time on these.
Write tailored content. Create engaging video. Promote it.
Of course, it is also important to set and track marketing KPIs so you can measure the success of content across every platform. Then you’ll start working out which digital marketing channels give YOU the highest ROI, and plan your content strategy accordingly.
Still not sure where to start to establish or justify that ROI? Like we said, a content audit is the place to start. And we don’t mean just a website content audit, if that’s what you’re thinking. An audit of every single piece of content you’ve ever produced to see what’s performing and what isn’t, across every single channel. If that sounds like the kind of thing you need help with, book a free consult here.