Facing up to the challenge of measuring ROI on thought leadership
Thursday 10th Nov, 2016
By Rachel Ainsworth.
In our recent survey of marketing and thought leadership professionals, we asked about the biggest challenges organisations face when it comes to producing an appropriate volume of high-quality thought leadership. When nearly 90% of respondents placed “measuring ROI” in their top three, we weren’t surprised. Many of our clients have shared with us their challenges around deciding what to measure, and then—in the complex real world—actually doing the measuring.
This is not a debate confined to the B2B environment. Altimeter in The 2016 state of digital content highlights the same conundrum and presents data from a survey of over 500 content strategists across an array of industry verticals:
In our experience, many consulting firms are prioritising the same metric as 37% of these B2C companies: Reach. Yet this is often not overly helpful. You may reach two million people but if those people are never likely to be in a position to buy consulting services that reach is of little value. Reach can be impressive, but ROI low.
And again mirroring Altimeter’s data, the metric that often appears low on the list for many consulting firms, if tracked at all, is Conversion. That’s probably because it’s really difficult to track sales back to content, particularly when so many other factors and so many other interactions are influencing the outcome. And it seems to be an even greater challenge for larger firms where the complexity of interactions is so much higher.
Unfortunately there’s no “do this and all will be sorted” set of instructions. But we do have a few words of advice: The teams we’ve seen generate a high ROI have always been very clear at the outset who specifically they wish to target, and what success looks like (e.g., a list of meetings they wish to set up on the back of a piece of content). If you know what you’re aiming for it is so much easier to create the relevant content and optimise distribution, and to then track—as best you can—how successful you have been against those objectives. It sounds very obvious, but we have lost count of the number of times we have asked “What are your goals for this piece?” and not received a cogent, let alone compelling, answer.