If you’re reading this, you’re probably already convinced of the value of content marketing. You’ve seen the benefits or results first-hand.
In fact, Semrush reports nearly 70% of marketers and business owners said they planned to increase their content marketing budgets in 2023 – despite a looming recession!
But in our current climate of slashed budgets and hiring freezes, leadership may now be tempted to cut the content budget to keep the ship afloat, since many executives don’t understand the true value of content marketing.
Let’s break down how to turn executives into content marketing champions, no matter the economic landscape.
Content marketers must understand overall business goals
In a recent survey by Content Marketing Institute, B2B marketers reported that creating brand awareness, building/growing credibility and trust, and educating audiences were the top three goals for B2B content marketers.
When a recession comes and your executive team asks, “What is the business impact if we stop all content marketing?” can you speak to your efforts in relation to the overall business goals?
Before you seek executive buy-in for content, understand the following:
- How your executive team measures success (e.g., website traffic vs. sales meetings/demos).
- Topline and bottom-line revenue targets and other financial metrics such as EBITDA, MRR, CPA, CAC, LTV, etc.
- Your company’s approach to meeting these revenue targets.
- The product roadmap for the next 3-4 quarters.
- How your sales team approaches their conversations and messaging.
- Your ideal customer profile(s) (ICPs) and unique value proposition(s) (UVPs) from the perspective of other organizational stakeholders.
Get a sense of how the executive decision-makers set their targets to better align your budget requests with their vision.
Get a sense of how executive decision-makers set their targets to better align your content budget requests with their vision, says @ClearVoice #sponsored Click To Tweet
7 steps to making a compelling business case
Getting executive buy-in is all about trust. Decision-makers are held accountable for their choices about how budgets are allocated. Remember, they’re investing in your initiatives, yes, but they also want to keep their jobs safe. To that end:
1. Develop a plan that ties to the bottom line
During times of economic strife, business leaders are tempted to go for the quick win. That means you have to illustrate how your strategic plan can drive better results with less spend.
Show your executives a top-performing article or pillar page that can provide more value with a relatively lower-cost investment than an entire paid campaign.
In ClearVoice’s data study, More Words, More Money, the team showcased that the lifetime value of content (especially long-form content) is exponential. Just one piece attracted over 400,000 organic search visits in its fourth year, resulting in an equivalent Google ad value of more than $950K.
While content marketing is measured in months or quarters instead of hours and days, the burden of showing value and ROI remains the same. Look at each piece of content as its own investment and explore:
- How does this investment drive quality leads into our sales funnel?
- Is this content repurposable, so we can get more bang for our buck?
- Are we building something that will pay dividends over months or years?
- Does this piece of content provide value across the entire organization?
2. Educate your executive team
Nothing makes it harder to make your case than when the stakeholders don’t understand what goes into an initiative. Help executives buy into content marketing by:
- Sharing general marketing knowledge. Don’t assume that because members of your executive team went to business school, they have marketing fluency. Incorporate key concepts as needed so they understand the landscape.
- Clarifying resource needs. Marketing often feels more like a craft than a science. This can make it tempting for business folks to say, “do more with less.” Tracking projects and team allocation bolsters requests for budget and headcount.
- Understanding marketing data. Ensure your executive team understands the reporting that you provide, why your team tracks each metric, and how they tie into overall business performance.
3. Show you understand the audience
Proving that you’re an authority on your audience is essential for instilling confidence in your content strategy. Take this beyond simple demographics by building out psychographic and behavioral profiles. Showcase how your content marketing program builds bridges that bring in potential buyers and help drive revenue.
4. Show you understand the product(s)
Many content marketers take time to understand their audience but leave the product knowledge to the subject matter experts or product marketing team. Don’t fall into that trap. Be sure you know your product offerings inside and out so you can dialogue with your audience effectively, especially with your middle- and bottom-of-funnel content.
5. Use data from others’ content successes
The meat of any compelling business case is valuable research, expert insights, and hyper-relevant data. Fortunately, many of your fellow content marketers invest their time and money into measuring every aspect of the industry and are more than happy to share them in case studies, eBooks, surveys, webinars, and more.
You can illustrate the addressable market with real data – like search volume or consumption trends – shared on other websites. This data showcases how many people are actually looking for the information you want to create. Moreover, if you tie a reasonable slice of this monthly pie to your conversion rates, AOV, and LTV, you’ll often illustrate a massive ROI that excites executives.
6. Be honest about past performance
Nothing builds trust like honesty. Take the time to get real about the content your team has created and build the strategy based on the lessons learned – good and bad.
A content audit examines existing content, its performance, and any issues that could hurt your content ROI. Use Google Analytics and Semrush for insights into how your content is performing, which can show you:
- Top-performing content
- Underperforming content
- Technical SEO problems
- High-engagement content
- Outdated content
- Pruning opportunities
7. Use storytelling to make your case
Executives sit through presentations all the time, so create an experience that soars. You’re an expert in content marketing, so use those storytelling skills when developing your approach. Nothing stands out more (in a bad way) than a marketer who can’t even market their own initiatives.
Some ideas include:
- Use the hero’s journey with your ICP as the protagonist to showcase how you use content to move people from awareness to purchase.
- Create case studies showing the value of the content marketing program to the various teams in your organization.
- Follow the film adage of “show, don’t tell,” by using graphs and charts to illustrate the growth value of your content.
Provide ongoing reporting on ROI
Continue to shore up your content marketing budget by regularly reporting ROI to your stakeholders. It may seem daunting initially but focusing on a few KPIs can make ongoing performance reporting easier.
The metrics that matter most
User behavior: Understanding your users and their behavior is one of the most important aspects of ROI reporting. First-party analytics tools like Google Analytics provide crucial metrics for content marketers.
Some of the most important metrics are:
- Average time on page
- Traffic source
- Conversion rate
- Engagement rate
- Exit rate
Goals: In your strategy, you likely took time to establish content goals. These may be downloads, registrations, demos, or other important metrics for your business. Whatever your goals are, be sure to track them.
These can be measured via:
- Goals and events in Google Analytics
- Landing page conversions
- MQL/SQLs in your CRM
- UTMs or other means of tracking
- Coupon codes at checkout
Production costs: This is the “I” of ROI. Track the resources spent on content production, which may include:
- Billable and non-billable hours
- Outsourcing costs
- Tools and subscriptions
As tedious as it may be, tracking expenditures is vital for an accurate ROI calculation.
Recession means budgets are getting axed left and right. Here’s how to win executive buy-in for your content marketing budget, even when the chips are down, says @ClearVoice #sponsored Click To Tweet
Create opportunities for regular reporting
Show momentum and showcase successes with regular reporting that ensures your content efforts won’t be out of sight, out of mind. For example:
- Weekly content boosts: Share recently published content with your company via Slack or Teams. This allows you to feature your work and you can ask your colleagues to share the content on their social, in email, etc.
- Recurring reporting meetings: Host regular meetings with your executive champions to consistently reiterate the value of content marketing at your organization.
Avoid the temptation to distill the main takeaways into an email that might be skimmed or ignored. Presenting the information allows you to demonstrate your expertise and the nuances of the data while allowing for further discussion.
Keep finding ways to manage costs
It’s one thing to get buy-in from executives and a very different thing to maintain buy-in throughout the year. Remember you and your team can solidify executives’ trust by providing high-quality, high-performing content while also minimizing costs, regardless of economic conditions.
Executives want to partner with teams and employees who take the time to understand the goals and objectives of the overall business and who take ownership of meeting those goals. By following the tips and guidance above, you’ll be well on your way to proving the value of your content program in ways your stakeholders won’t ignore.
Creating content often takes a lot of trial and error, as well as time to find and vet writers and develop an editorial pipeline. Luckily, there are services that can help you hit the ground running with content production, freelancer management, and content strategy.
ClearVoice provides brands and agencies with content that helps them rank and convert. Our in-house teams and freelance network of thousands of writers, producers, and creators work together to create quality content for all your marketing needs. Connect with us for a cost-effective approach to building and scaling your content program.