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Creating a Model for Content Investment

  |  June 11, 2014   |  Comments

The growing investments in content marketing should be carefully scrutinized within a framework that optimizes the ROI of the content spend.

It's a given in today's marketing environment that organizations will have ongoing digital content requirements - lots of them. The constant need for content can challenge your resources and stress your budget. As your content needs and budget continue to grow, you need to make sure that those investments are rational, prioritized, and aligned with your business goals in order to maintain a return on that time, talent, and dollar investment. But how do you determine whether a smaller or largish investment makes sense?

Below is a checklist of questions that may help to clarify and prioritize your content expenditures. Ask yourself these questions before you approve that project.


  • Is this content on brand and on strategy?
  • Is this content an asset with long-term value or is it a consumable tidbit?
  • Does this content have a direct impact on revenue, leads, or other critical goals?
  • How many people (that I care about) will this touch?
  • Is this content of interest primarily to existing customers or audience or is it something that could have broad appeal?
  • Will this content live on platforms you own (your website) or rent (social platforms)?
  • Are the results of this content investment trackable?
  • Can this content be used in multiple ways or across multiple channels?
  • Consider your current content mix. Does this help broaden your offering in productive ways?
  • Will this content be featured in a real-time channel or other fleeting opportunities?
  • Is this content evergreen or only applicable to a short window like a season or holiday? 
  • Does this content tap into a strong meme or brand connection that could facilitate wide dissemination?
  • Do you have partner or other affiliations to help with cost or liftoff?
  • Does this content represent something with which you would be proud to be associated?
  • Is this content developed in-house or do you need to tap outside talent?
  • Does producing this content create an uncomfortable stress on your team? Are the timelines insane?
  • Does this represent new thinking or an approach that has testing or learning value to the organization?
  • Can this content scale? Does it lend itself to a series or other versioning?
  • Do you have sufficient budget or resources (after the content is produced) to make sure this content reaches the relevant audiences?
  • Have you tested the content across all likely consumption devices, platforms, or versions?
  • Is there a lag time in your expected response to this content? 
  • Does this investment help to accelerate or enhance the return on a program that already has significant investment?
  • Are you involving any kind of consumer incentive tied to this content? Sweeps/promo/coupons/sampling events? Make sure to factor in all the costs.
  • Is your technology infrastructure prepared for any spikes in activity created by this content? 
  • Do you need audience input to deliver a relevant experience? Highly interactive experiences are more complex and costly to produce and maintain.
  • Could this content be repurposed to serve other audiences (both internal and external) or other goals with a bit of tweaking?

If answering these questions still leaves you waffling on level of appropriate investment, try this simplified diagram to help you project an appropriate level of investment given your particular circumstance.

$ = any investment is a big investment. It requires thought and effort and because budgets are never unlimited, it takes the place of something else that could use your dollars.

$$ = bigger investment. These might be bigger dollar commitments or they might be investments across a significant period of time involving lots of resources.

$$$ = biggest investment. These could include an enterprise initiative or complex or costly content builds like video or interactive games.

Every organization will have their own unique measure of what each dollar sign translates to for them. It may be helpful to think of each category as a range. Larger marketing budgets reaching larger audiences will logically require more content fuel, but some brand relationships, industries, and verticals have evolved to be more high touch or have set the bar high for frequent, quality content contributions in specific channels. For these marketers, content may take a larger slice of their overall budget.

These and other factors should be considered in a regular review or as part of the annual planning process to make sure that the content approach is tied directly to strategic goals. The budget should be funded with some flex to respond to competitive, environmental, or industry changes that are sure to crop up. We may not know precisely what content we will be sharing but we do know for sure it will be a priority and that those growing investments in content should be carefully scrutinized within a framework that optimizes the return on investment (ROI) of the content spend.

Are your content expenditures thoughtful and rational spends?

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Robin Neifield

Robin is the CEO and cofounder of NetPlus Marketing Inc., a top 50 interactive agency established in 1996 to focus exclusively on online marketing and advertising best practices. Robin brings innovative strategy and a depth and breadth of marketing experience to the agency's practice and management. As one of the industry's pioneers, she is a driving force behind NetPlus Marketing's ongoing success with a diverse and discerning client base that considers online results critical to their business success.

Robin is a frequent speaker at national industry events, including ClickZ, internet.com, OMMA, Ad:Tech, SES, Online Marketing Summit, and Thunder Lizard conferences and is a sought-after resource for industry and business publications for her insight and advice on such topics as digital strategy, social media marketing, and behavioral targeting.

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