BossYou’re already sold on the benefits of using content marketing to attract and nurture customers, but now it’s time to sell it to your boss.

Maybe he prefers to stick to what he knows and what has worked for your company in the past. Or perhaps he needs some time to take it all in. Whatever the case, it’s your job to convince him. The trick is to think like him and anticipate his questions.

Here are six questions you should expect your boss to ask about content marketing.

Do We Really Need It?

These days, you can’t depend on newspapers to pick up your press releases or the local TV station to cover your grand opening. It’s certainly an added bonus if they do, but as content strategist Jay Baer says, we have entered an era where every business needs to consider themselves a TV station and a magazine.

Useful content drives traffic to your website and introduces visitors to your products and services one step at a time, guiding them to make an informed decision. Potential buyers need a clear understanding of what you offer the moment they arrive at your website. Then they need more information, but not all at once. They also want to see what you’re up to on social media.

Content marketing allows you to nurture them through the sales cycle and keep track of every interaction.

In short, if you have a website, you need content marketing.

What Does It Cost?

The cost of content marketing depends on your existing resources and how much you determine you can allocate from your budget. In the simplest terms, if you have the staff to regularly produce content, the channels to distribute it and a way to measure the results, you have enough to get started. The question is whether you have someone who can dedicate the time and effort to leading that charge. That means developing a strategy, maintaining an editorial calendar, coordinating with those you identify as contributors and effectively promoting the content through email and social media.

If this person is already part of your staff, the budget will be minimal. It may only consist of paying for some promoted posts on Facebook or sponsored content on LinkedIn each month. It could involve the purchase of a better email marketing platform. Or, if you don’t have the in-house resources, consider hiring a content marketing agency. This will give you access to writers, designers, developers and strategists who will do all the heavy lifting for you.

The monthly fee all depends on your objectives.

Our basic blogging package at Kuno Creative includes market research by trained journalists and two posts per week for as little as $2,000 a month.

Other services we provide include social media, paid search and redesigning your website so it’s more customer-friendly and set up to support your content marketing efforts.

Would it be cheaper to hire a freelance writer? Sure, you could find someone willing to write for you for a nominal fee per post, but if there’s no underlying strategy to what they’re doing, it won’t resonate with your buyers. The advantage of hiring an agency is you’ll have access to a team of professionals who live and breathe content marketing. They have the resources to properly distribute, promote and measure the results of the content. Any good agency will also take the time to interview your buyers and really get to know your business before they start writing what they think potential customers want to hear.

Can It Work With Our Existing Marketing Strategy?

Content marketing is meant to enhance, not replace your current strategy. If you’re already active on social media and are regularly communicating with your customers through email or newsletters, you’ll see results faster because you can use all those outlets to promote your content, driving more traffic to your website.

Content marketing offers more insight into who’s looking for more information on your products or services and gives your sales team qualified leads to contact. A content marketing platform such as HubSpot can be integrated with your existing customer relationship management system. If you don’t use a CRM, it will give you a database that’s updated every time a visitor interacts with you by opening an email or clicking on a new blog post.

ROIWhat’s the Return on Investment?

The most important thing to remember about the value of content marketing is that it’s long-lasting. Once you share the information, it lives on within your website and continues to improve your search engine rankings. It’s also gradually building trust with your customers so by the time they’re ready to make a purchase, they’re already familiar with your brand and its offerings.

But your CEO is a numbers guy, so let’s look at the statistics:

  • The ROI of content marketing was three times that of paid search, yielding 31 leads compared to just nine, according to a recent study by Kapost and Eloqua.
  • The average cost per lead was also much lower for content marketing— $32.25, compared to $111.11 for paid search.
  • 2012 HubSpot report found organic search leads have a 14.6 percent close rate, while leads generated by outbound marketing efforts have a close rate of 1.7 percent.

You can track your ROI by calculating the number of leads generated through your content marketing efforts each month and identifying the cost per lead. Keep in mind, though, there are many other ways to gauge the success of content marketing, and not all of them are easily quantified.

Don’t forget to consider other factors, such as social media engagement, brand awareness and buyer trust.

How Do We Measure Success?

The ROI will speak for itself, but what else should you monitor to know how well your content is performing? A useful content marketing platform should provide you with real-time data that shows you:

  • How many people visited your website this month compared to the previous month
  • How many viewed a particular blog post so you can easily see what type of content is most interesting to your readers
  • How many people filled out a form to download a piece of content you provided
  • How many subscribers you’ve added to your blog
  • How many people opened your emails and actually clicked through them
  • How many marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leads you’ve gained

Watching these numbers will help you fine-tune your strategy. If you notice a particular email didn’t perform well, for instance, you can re-send it with a new subject line to customers who didn’t open it. If you see a certain blog topic has attracted more views than anything else you’ve written in the past month, you’ll know where to focus your efforts moving forward.

What Do We Need to Get Started?

Before you jump in, your company needs a clear understanding of its goals for content marketing and what you consider to be key performance indicators. Every piece of content you create needs to be rooted in those goals.

Do you want to grow your email subscriptions? Attract 5,000 visitors to your site each month? Generate at least 10 sales qualified leads each month? Be specific, and put it in writing.

Next, develop a roadmap for your content based on who your buyers are and what motivates them. If you’re not sure how to do that, check out this guide to help develop buyer personas for your audience.

Whether you’re creating your own content or hiring someone to do it for you, establish some basic standards for appropriate messaging. If you’re a publicly traded company or you work in a heavily regulated industry, your investor relations team and legal advisors should be involved in this discussion.

Think about what images best reflect your company’s mission. Take stock of your existing resources to determine how you can incorporate them into your strategy so you don’t have to start from scratch. You probably already have helpful guides or brochures; perhaps you just need to update them and put them into a digital format.

Consider who will contribute to your content and what experts you can position as thought leaders in your company. How can you make the most of your staff and their skills? Do you have a great designer who can help make your content more visual or an intern who’s a video editing wizard?

Take inventory of where you are now, where you want to be and who or what will get you there over the next six months. You can always re-evaluate and make adjustments as you go.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get started!

What have you said to sell your boss on content marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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