Ashley Zeckman

Content Marketing Measurement & ROI Advice From Experts at Kraft Foods & 3M

Ashley Zeckman     Content Marketing, Online Marketing


Understanding the potential risk and return on any investment is imperative for making a sound business decision. It doesn’t matter if the investment is monetary or that of time or resources.

In recent years, marketers have begun investing more and more into digital marketing programs. Content marketing investment specifically has been on a steady uprise and will only continue to increase in the coming years.

However, only 21% of B2B marketers say that they are successful at tracking content marketing ROI. That means that 79% of B2B marketers are investing in strategy and execution but are not able to track the success of their programs.

Have no fear, we brought in reinforcements. TopRank Marketing recently had the opportunity to interview Julie Fleischer of Kraft Foods and Carlos Abler of 3M as part of our Content Marketing World eBook series.

Julie Fleischer 070615
Julie Fleischer – Kraft Foods
Sr. Director Data + Content + Media

Content Marketing Measurement

With all of the articles and surveys and agencies calling for an increase in the amount of strategic content that marketers are producing, it would be easy to believe that we have universally arrived at the Era of Content Marketing.  Finally, the industry has come around to the belief, so well articulated by Michael Brenner, that it’s time to “stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.”

Flawed Measurement Models

Unfortunately, content marketing measurement lags far behind the common sense belief that if people don’t pay attention to it, they can’t be persuaded by it.  Marketing Mix Models, while painfully flawed, have the solid advantage of having been around for decades; they are built into volumetric forecasts.  They are the basis for financial investment.  They are the starting points for every media plan.

And yes, they represent a gross approximation of reality and cannot read small spends, emergent media, or the diverse, intimate, personal, service- driven nuances of content distribution, but they have been around forever, so what CMO is going to forgo their guidance to approve a plan that is wholly ungrounded?

And how on earth can the esoteric, precious, and unproven metrics we’ve been using in content marketing unseed the dominance of Mix?  If trust is built on credibility and credibility is built on consistently delivering what you say you’ll deliver, how can convenience metrics ever win? The fact of the matter is, they can’t.

We’ve been so focused on measuring what’s easy to measure and what’s unique by platform, that we’ve failed the basic tests of marketing metrics:

  • Do they measure what we really need to know?
  • Are they material?
  • Can they predictably guide our businesses?

Determine Critical Measurements

The most important thing you can do as a content marketer is determine what measurements are critical in driving spending decisions at your company and then build an analytic methodology that answers it for content.  Is it ROI?  ROAS?  CPA?  What will it take to prove the worth of your content vs every other form of marketing spend available?

The sooner we build methods to measure the true attributable impact of content marketing on product sales in a way that can be compared directly to other marketing investments, the sooner content marketing, with all of its common sense virtues, can finally replace dated, ineffective and failing forms of marketing communications.  It’s all in the measurement.

Carlos Abler 070615
Carlos Abler – 3M
Leader: Content Marketing Strategy

Using Science to Create a Sound Approach to Content Marketing ROI

I want to focus on the notion of blending socio-behavioral sciences methodologies with data sciences and content and application marketing. Today, marketing is being moved sideways into social socio-behavioral sciences but doesn’t quite realize it.

A number of years ago I worked on an initiative where we used intelligent content highly tailored to the personal change management psychographics of individuals, merged with behavioral and other data with the goal of increasing smoking cessation. The results were phenomenal and a testament to how powerful content can be in transforming behavior.

Ultimately marketing and sales goals are about changing behavior. Ideally in an ethical fashion to the mutual benefit of all. And you can’t beat micro-segmentation at levels optimized to leverage principles of motivational psychology. But to even speculate as to how this type of approach can be leveraged in marketing requires education that marketers simply don’t have.

Create a Blended Team

Another skill most marketers don’t have is knowing what real science looks like. They need a lot of help to understand what it means to set up solid research, and to draw VALID CONCLUSIONS from the evidence. If you put together a team that has a blend of social sciences skills, data sciences, and solid editorial and application development practice, all within an agile framework, you would see some really powerful results.

While this may seem a little outlandish, it really is the logical conclusion for tracing the ROI of content marketing efforts. People are doing this kind of work whether they are any good at it or not. It’s the same situation as businesses becoming publishers. We also need to acquire these scientific methods to realize the full competitive opportunity that the digital disruption as afforded us.

Find the Solution That Works for You

Julie recommends that marketers focus on the basics for beginning to measure content marketing programs. However, when it comes to ROI Carlos suggests a scientific approach for determining true value.

What blend of practical sense and a scientific approach do you think will have the biggest impact on your content marketing measurement and ROI?

Header Image: Shutterstock

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Ashley Zeckman About Ashley Zeckman

Ashley Zeckman is the Director of Agency Marketing for TopRank Marketing. In addition to finding innovative ways to showcase the exceptional work of her team, she is also responsible for creating digital marketing programs that drive customer acquisition and growth for the agency. Her background includes expertise in everything from content marketing strategy to branding, account management and social media.

Outside of her role at TopRank Online Marketing, Ashley prides herself on being a great home chef, painter, prankster and dog mom.