What’s the return on investment from your content marketing? Which pieces of content have worked the hardest for you in 2016?
When it comes to valuable content, the very best ROI can be hard to categorise. Successful blogs and well written newsletters open doors and spark conversations, often in unexpected ways.
Here at Valuable Content our most read blog of the year led to lots of debate, a fascinating Content Group meeting, loads of new connections, two exciting sales leads and an invitation to speak in Cornwall which we’re looking forward to in 2017. VC’s best newsletters prompt people to write back to us straight away, and sign up for Pub School.
It’s good to step back from time to time and look at the big picture you’re painting with your content marketing. Is there anything you can learn from what went well, and from what bombed?
The best (and worst) of Valuable Content in 2016
Our most read content this year
- Copywriter or content writer- which one does your website project need?
- How to market your small business (if you’re not a natural marketer)
- How to write diamond studded metaphors that make your writing sparkle
- How to create meaningful content in a sea of meh
- How to banish your fear of being boring and just write
- How to harness the awesome power of perspective and stand out from the crowd
- Lessons in community engagement – Valuable Content Award for Scilly Sergeant Colin Taylor
- How to write sales proposals that get a big fat ‘YES!’
- What does good content marketing look like?
- What does it take to be a great Head of Content? Interview with James Ainsworth
Our most read blog this year (Copywriter or content writer?) is a great case in point of the difficulties of tracking the return on investment of content marketing. The blog passed our ‘let’s throw it out there and see what comes back’ test with flying colours. It caused a big buzz, and lots of ripples. It turned into an event, which is still causing ripples, that will very likely lead to something that we can’t predict yet, but which will be profitable in one way or other. We count ‘happiness’ as part of our profitability metrics too – hard to measure but vital to us running our small business.
So, in terms of the ‘hard to put a figure on it’ ROI metrics it was a winner. However, that particular blog post had an explicit business aim, which it failed to achieve. We wrote the blog in response to a question a potential client asked, and hoped it would help move along the start date of the project, which at that point was only ‘a few weeks away.’ But that project still hasn’t started, and maybe never will now. The blog failed in its intended aim, but succeeded in ways that are tricky to pin down precisely.
That’s both the difficulty and the beauty of creating and sharing content online.
Lessons for your content
So what lessons can you take from our content star performers this year?
1. Answer questions with content
What about the rest of the list? Like the ‘Copywriter or Content Writer’ post they’re mostly written in response to questions people have asked us. We tackle subjects we know one person is wrestling with, in the knowledge that if one person is finding it hard, you can guarantee that they won’t be alone.
2. Tell great stories
An exception to the ‘content that answers questions’ rule was the very popular Valuable Content Award for the Scilly Sergeant, which proves that great human interest stories always find appreciative audiences.
3. Teach me something new
Practical blogs are popular – How to write better sales proposals; How to use metaphors, How to market yourself when you hate marketing. People go online to learn, so content that fills that need works.
4. Give examples
Posts with lots of examples get shared. What does good content marketing look like? exemplifies this.
I think our focus on teaching this year has really underlined the value of ‘show not tell’ when you’re trying to help someone learn something new. Our very recent blog on ‘How to write a meaningful manifesto’ didn’t make it on to the top ten list, but that one was similarly practical and filled with examples, and will probably end up as one of our perennially popular posts.
Our least appreciated content
It’s not so easy to pick out our least successful blogs, but the newsletter turkeys are glaringly obvious. Mailchimp’s analytics tell you loud and clear what’s gone down well and what hasn’t.
- Our best newsletter of the year was in May. Titled ‘Permission to Rant‘ it went down a storm. With a 48% open rate it elicited many follow up email conversations and one fabulous new customer. It was focused, highly practical and funny.
- Our least successful newsletters went out in April and August. They were headlined ‘Want your content to connect? What teaching Google taught us‘ and our ‘The case for curiosity. Hippy holiday inspiration for you‘ newsletters and they failed to engage our community. There were less opens, and more unsubscribes. Less replies, more silence.
What links these two is easy to see (at least, in retrospect). They were both inward looking, and too much about us. Maybe we sounded like we were showing off about Google (we were!) and just perhaps, if you weren’t on holiday in August, our slightly whimsical ‘isn’t life wonderful’ musings were just annoying. Or maybe you were on holiday, and didn’t want to think about work while you were away.
What we can take from this is to stick to what we do best, always put our community first, and give everyone (including ourselves) a break in August!
Interestingly, 4 out of the 10 most read blogs were written in September too, so having a break is clearly good news all round.
How has your content performed this year?
Creating content that connects is not always easy, but it’s a fascinating business challenge that’s for sure. It takes constant experimentation and there’s always more to learn isn’t there?
So how has your content year been? Take a quick peek at your content stars and your content turkeys, and head into 2017 doing more of what works.
Do let us know what you find out. We’d love to hear.