Kevin Goddess discusses the growth of online video and the opportunity for brand's willing to...
Defining Content Marketing's Return
According to Linde, whose team is responsible for building Web assets to support the IBM.com sales channel and organic Web visitors, IBM deploys content-driven social media marketing in a number of ways, including creating individual blogs, websites, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for sales reps where they can engage in one-on-one interactions with customers. By establishing themselves as content experts in the eyes of customers, IBM becomes a trusted, go-to resource of information—and not just a seller of products and services.
“Smart marketers use the expert to establish credibility, to get the conversation going,” says Linde. “And then maybe you can have the expert point people back to the website where you can do the promotional stuff and the selling activity. By the same token, you listen for activity and if it looks like there are opportunities, you pursue them.”16
Among IBM’s most successful content marketing initiatives is a program called “Listening for Leads,” where specialized ‘seekers’ monitor tech blogs and other social media sites to find potential customers (such as government agencies issuing RFPs)—and then step in as the subject matter expert to facilitate a potential sales discussion. According to Linde, it’s a profitable strategy. “We have uncovered millions of dollars’ worth of sales leads through our intelligent listening program, and we’ve closed a lot of business and we expect to do more. That’s going to be a big growth area.”17
Content is creating a cultural transition in marketing, including new ways of calculating and explaining ROI. The ROI pressure is still there—it’s not like marketers have suddenly been relieved of answering to the CFO, board and investors—but there is room now for a broader, more incremental definition of investment returns.
For example, Atlanta-based agency 22squared has its own definition of ROI: the sum of return on interaction and return on influence. In its 2010 study of numerous brands including Old Navy, Starwood Hotels and Best Buy, 22squared examined the effects of 22 different digital actions on consumer behavior, including posting brand-specific videos online and joining a brand-specific Facebook page. The study’s conclusion is not that actions speak louder than words, but the action of words speak loudest of all: brands that get more people talking about them in more places more often experienced a quadrupling of purchasing levels and higher median spending.18