When Cisco launched a new router several years ago, it decided to switch things up and use the launch as a case study to measure the ROI of its content marketing and social media efforts. By the time the launch was over, the findings stunned the Cisco team. Besides the fact that Cisco was able to reach its lead goals for $100,000 less than it had planned to spend, Cisco's senior manager of global social media, LaSandra Brill, rated the launch as one of the top five launches in Cisco's history.
Content marketing no doubt works. Research shows that content marketing isn’t just 62 percent less costly than outbound marketing, but it is also responsible for three times as many leads. Research also shows that content marketing leaders are likely to generate 7.8 times more traffic than non-leaders.
The effectiveness of content marketing isn’t the question. The question is how can you make it work for you? If you are struggling with your content marketing efforts, the following are five simple hacks that will result in a significant boost in your content marketing ROI.
The first key way to boost your content marketing ROI is by repurposing and redistributing your existing content. A single piece of content can be repurposed into over a dozen different pieces of content. A Buzzsumo analysis of over 100 million articles found that redistributing and resharing existing content can increase engagement by up to 686 percent!
For example, a simple blog post can be turned into a webinar, a podcast, a slide presentation, a PDF, an infographic, a Tweet, a Facebook status update, and much more. The possibilities are endless!
The benefit of repackaging and redistributing your content is manifold: research has shown a correlation between engagement with content and the ranking of that content in the search engines. Google for example uses machine learning to look at user engagement with content in order to reward content higher rankings in the search results and thus even more user engagement. Bottom line: repackaging and redistributing your content will help increase its engagement. It will also help generate significantly more links back to the content than you’d have gotten ordinarily -- and links play a huge role in what content the search engine algorithms decide to rank over another.
Your content is only as effective as the number of people that can see it. The more people come across your content, the better. As a result, experts have been advocating focusing on retaining visitors in order to be able to reach them anytime you want -- by having them subscribe to your newsletter, follow you on social media, etc.
The problem with most of the methods content marketers have been using to retain users is that they are no longer as effective as they used to be. Social media in particular. Research shows that organic reach on social media sites like Facebook has been rapidly declining for years now - and it will keep doing so. Reason being is that it makes business sense for social media giants; the more organic reach declines, the more marketers have to pay to advertise to the audience they built, and the more money these social media sites will make.
When trying to increase the reach of your content, a better solution is to use push notifications. When you enable push notifications, people will get a small pop up around their browser navigation bar, similar to the one in the screenshot below. This notification example is typical, asking website visitors if they want to receive notifications from Geek.com.
If they subscribe you can then have new content (such as blog posts) automatically delivered to them, or you can send tailored messages to them pointing to any link of your choice. Typically these notifications are served on the browser window. There are multiple advantages to using push notifications:
To reduce churn, try not to send more than five push notifications weekly. Research shows that more than five notifications a week will cause people to unsubscribe.
You can use the following services to set up your push notifications:
The popular marketing blog Hubspot famously declared back in 2011 that “red beats green” as far as CTA button color is concerned. They included the below screenshot of the landing pages used in the study:
There’s only one problem with Hubspot’s experiment and claims: they made a grave mistake of ignoring the principle of neural adaptation.
What is neural adaptation? It is “a change over time in the responsiveness of the sensory system to a constant stimulus.”
In other words, when you get exposed to more of the same thing -- the barking of a dog, dipping your hands in slightly hot water, wearing your clothes, etc. -- for a long period of time, your body gets used to that stimulus and tunes it out.
In the case of the Hubspot experiment, users have been exposed to the green color -- since the main design of the page uses the green color -- so it’s natural that they will tune out a green CTA button as it doesn’t stand out. A red CTA button, on the other hand, stands out more and as a result is less likely to be ignored.
So whether it is designing CTA buttons or in regards to other elements of your website and content marketing, it is important to make key elements stand out. If they blend in they will be ignored, and your conversions will suffer.
Speaking of which, research shows that for every $92 marketers spend on generating traffic, only a measly $1 is spent on conversions. Research also shows that a simple one second delay in site loading time can reduce conversions by 7 percent! In other words, while most people focus the majority of their content marketing efforts on generating traffic, most of this traffic becomes
useless due to a poor conversion process. Even worse, most mistakes that cause conversions to suffer are easily avoidable. For example, your choice of web host and CMS can make your website faster or slower. Other little changes also add up. To ensure a faster website, you have a few options:
Option #1. Take the hard route and learn the basics of web development (using tutorials like this one) and make the following changes:
Option #2. Take the easy but costly route of hiring a web developer to help you make the above changes.
Option #3. Use the easy and more cost-effective do it yourself option provided by companies like Web.com. These types of website building solutions automatically enable the above features and more, or have them available as an option, to ensure you have a faster website.
Whatever option you choose, just make sure you speed up your website fast!
Speed up and ramp up is how the big guys do it. Just look at Netflix and how powerful their original content has been. Netflix made a bold move in 2016 when it decided to ban the use of VPNs or location masking devices to access its services - an action that affected an estimated 30 million Netflix users (or roughly 36 percent of its user base at the time). Not only was this a controversial move. It was unsuccessful. Users protested by cancelling their Netflix accounts, people filed lawsuits, and in fact the VPN ban was mostly unsuccessful, with 70 percent of VPNs still able to access Netflix’s service.
Netflix thrived through all of this. Research shows that since the VPN ban was initiated in 2016, Netflix has added almost 50 million extra subscribers, giving it an edge over behemoth competitors like Amazon Prime, Apple, and Hulu.
So how did Netflix turn massive user cancellations, a class action lawsuit, and the isolating of 30 million users into a win? By doubling down on its original content strategy. Netflix will be spending $13 billion on original content this year alone - more than thrice the budget of its closest competitor, Amazon.
When it comes to content marketing ROI, original content is the new king. Research by Social Media Examiner shows that 58 percent of marketers agree that original written content is more effective than visuals and videos. Google has also gone on record to cite content as one of its top ranking factors.
So how do you create effective original content that search engines love, and that is guaranteed to boost your content marketing ROI:
From redistributing to optimizing, there are many things you can do to get more ROI from your content. However, don’t forget to go back and plan to create original content. It could be a photograph, a story, research or case studies.
Using tried and true content marketing hacks you can take your ROI to the next level. Even if content marketing is already working for you, there’s always more to do and room to grow. Keep ramping up and you’re content marketing will be more effective.
John Stevens is the founder and CEO of Hosting Facts.com, a portal that gives an unbiased review of the best web hosts.