In an increasingly saturated digital content landscape, companies are wasting huge amounts of their content budgets due to a lack of engagement. Nick Mason, CEO of Turtl, explains how a more scientific approach can ensure that this money is used effectively.
The media landscape is more saturated than ever. It has become much more difficult for brands to break through and gain recognition, regardless of their size. The result is that they often spend beyond their means on promotional content that never gets read or, worse yet, is so uninviting that it actively drives readers away from the brand in the future. Creating content for content’s sake traps marketing departments in a vicious circle of bad content and worse strategies.
The unfortunate part of all of this is that business decision makers are often blind to how much of their marketing budget is essentially wasted on bad content. Since content budgets typically make up around 25% of total marketing spend, this is a significant amount for any business to waste without thinking carefully about how to maximize ROI.
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The costs are high, but how much are actually at stake?
Gartner analysis shows that a typical company’s marketing budget is 6% of revenueand Forbes demonstrated that 25% of that is spent on content. We can use these numbers to demonstrate the potential losses and gains individual companies are making on their content strategies.
For example, if we take a company with $200 million in revenue, using Gartner’s measure, their monthly content spend is probably in the range of $250,000 – that’s not really a big amount! This money is an investment designed to generate new leads, increase brand profile, and build demand in its offering. But those successes rely on people paying attention to your marketing content. Simply put, you need people to be engaged to talk to them.
Producing content requires a lot of thought: evaluating its design, coding, checking for compliance, etc., but how much thought is needed to maximize attention? It’s not just about creating compelling content, but delivering it in a format that engages the reader. We need to help them retain as much information as possible, thereby ensuring longer-term interest in a brand’s offering.
Lumen research found that by applying some basic psychological principles to content delivery strategies, brands can increase reader attention between 75% and 1,000%. Concretely, if a company obtains 1 million minutes of reader attention for its investment of $250,000 each month, but does not optimize the psychological aspect of its content, it loses between 187,000 and 2,500,000 additional minutes of reading. attention without additional investment!
That equates to losing up to 90% of the readers’ attention they could get, which – going back to our original numbers – equates to missing 22% of the return on investment: roughly $220,000 for the their entire marketing budget. This is extra attention that can be leveraged from an already existing budget to go straight to those other very important KPIs such as lead generation, demand generation and more. At the end of the day, we don’t necessarily need to increase spending to get radically greater value from our marketing investments, we just need to focus on getting the right results.
When we talk to brands, there are two things that often surprise us. Firstly, they don’t realize how much of their money is wasted on ineffective marketing strategies, and secondly, they have no idea of the analytics behind their content and therefore are unable to understand how much of their content (if any) is actively engaged by users.
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Prescribe a remedy
So what do businesses and marketing teams need to do if they want to unlock that extra 22% ROI from their marketing budgets? The trick is to start taking a more scientific approach to content, and there are three principles we consider essential to a successful strategy.
Talk to brains
If the last 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that following the science is the best way to get better results. Yet so few marketers know the psychology behind human attention span – a critical oversight in a world where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to cut through the noise and capture the imagination of our audience. The importance for marketers to understand How? ‘Or’ What and when speaking to their audience cannot be overemphasized, as these are the deciding factors in whether or not a brand’s content will be read and, just as importantly, remembered.
Capture Meaningful Metrics
Progress is impossible if we don’t look at the right data. If we decide to measure data and metrics that have no tangible impact on business results, we end up directing our processes toward results we don’t want to achieve.
In the real world, marketers base their decisions on a handful of nearly useless metrics. Whether or not someone clicked, opened, or downloaded something doesn’t tell you how much they engaged with or paid attention to a piece of content. And it certainly doesn’t give any insight into their retention of the content they’ve read (if they’ve read it at all!).
Proper measurement requires that we be able to see exactly how someone engaged with a piece of content, which pieces they skipped, which messages and pieces they focused on, and which parts they interacted with. This data allows us to make better decisions and achieve better results over time, as shown below.
Understand what your data says
Once we know we’re measuring the right data, we can then piece together the precise story of how different people engaged with a piece of content. This gives us the behavioral insights we need to improve relevance, engagement, and results for the next marketing campaign.
This data can also be key to spotting who’s ready to sell right now, giving marketers the ability to track leads faster, directly impacting revenue and shortening sales cycles. People’s “content body language” can be incredibly telling, so take the time to understand meaningful buying signals.
Finally, rinse and repeat. Learn from data, update your approach, then measure and learn again. It’s the surest way to get the most out of your content investments.
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