9:16AM July 16 2014
As a relative newbie to the marketing scene, this year’s Marketing Week Live was my first experience of a big marketing conference. The Kensington Olympia’s Victorian grandeur hit me the second I got past the badge scanners and suddenly all of my senses were hit by the sheer busyness of the event.
Amongst a twerking bloke in a morphsuit and a myriad of free pens (you can never have enough free pens) I got the chance to hear some brilliant speakers from our industry give their views on both the zeitgeist and potential destiny of marketing. Throughout all of these talks, one thing stood out to me that each of these speakers highlighted but couldn’t quite seem to pinpoint a definitive answer on; measuring ROI on content marketing. As the day drew to a close, and I was munching on a free Krispy Kreme donut dressed as a Viking, I couldn’t quite shake out of my head how unilaterally bamboozled everyone was on the issue.
They’d all agreed that social media has been the biggest marketing game-changer in recent times, something that would be difficult to argue with. But all of these experienced marketers didn’t have a straight-up answer for measuring how effective content marketing has been.
A year ago on this blog, our Head of Community Influencers, Naomi, discussed the Barcelona Principles. These looked like one of the most likely sources for provision of a framework for measuring ROI on content marketing. However, over a year later at Marketing Week Live there’s still no clear consensus from the industry big guns.
I was hoping I’d have a brainwave during the event and come back to my boss the next day with an answer, quickly cementing myself as ‘that guy who revolutionised content marketing metrics’. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t come to me. If the heads of marketing at some of the UK’s biggest companies couldn’t do it then there’s a slim chance that someone two years out of uni with a degree rooted in medieval history was going to have the light bulb moment. However, what studying knights and castles has taught me is that to solve a problem, you have to understand why it has come to be that way, and I reckon I could offer up an idea as to why the industry can’t give a definable metric.
I’m part of Generation Y which is arguably the first generation to live and breathe social media. I love content marketing and I love how creative it lets me be in my job. Content marketing can totally change the way we think about a brand (I have a friend who now essentially bathes in Old Spice because of it). This is what I think frustrates me when there’s no clear way to measure how good any content marketing I do is.
The layers above my generation in most organisations (i.e. the people who essentially decide how good I am and can effectively ignite or kill my career) tend to be part of Generation X or Baby Boomers, and therein lies what I feel is the primary issue as to why we find it so hard to come up with a clear metric for this ‘game-changer’.
When the tier above me was my age, the marketing they were doing was being measured against a well entrenched system of metrics. In every other sector of industry these measurements are still integral. However, when we’re trying to implement a last generation method onto a current generation process it leads to this measurement discombobulation. It’s like trying to play Call of Duty: Ghosts with an Atari. The traditional marketing measurements don’t work like they do in other areas because of the way consumers seem to process content marketing.
If I was debating with someone making this point to me, my first question would go along the lines of, well surely number of likes/comments can be a measure of success? However, Sonia Carter of Mondelez pointed out that with this year’s Creme Egg campaign 99% of the people who bought a Creme Egg as a result of their Facebook campaign did not engage with the product on Facebook, i.e. did not like or comment on it.
Peter Wilkinson has a brilliant theory that partially explains this. He puts forward that likes and followers of a business are a very temporary friendship (i.e. if the brand becomes the flavour of the month). The customer relationships that brands want are not shallow ones such as likes, but fans of the brand who will fight its corner even when times are tough. Someone who might gorge on Creme Eggs every time they come back at Easter but never like it on Facebook. Not the trend follower who likes all the great content marketing but never buys a creme egg as they’re on the newest fad celeb diet.
Whilst every marketer knows that content is king, profit and sales figures are the Tywin Lannister. It doesn’t need to shout about its power as everyone is all too aware. This means ultimately a piece of content marketing’s success will come down to how much of the product or service that it is advertising is sold. Of course it’d be ridiculous to sound like a stroppy teenager and say that everyone who isn’t Generation Y doesn’t get it. I’m lucky to be in an agency where I’m surrounded by people who get it. However, as content marketing evolves and Generation Y become the head honchos and perhaps technology changes the power of measurement, it will be interesting to see how the content marketing executives of Generation Z are judged.
Business Development and Marketing Coordinator