Last week we launched the first of what will become an annual study exploring the impact of content marketing for brands. The research set out to accomplish one primary goal, to explore whether there is in fact a measurable impact on a brands’ [financial] bottom line from investments made in content and brand storytelling. This is a topic we are engaged in with our clients often, and the question, “what’s my ROI” from the creation and sharing of branded content is a common boardroom discussion.

content matters 2014 asia waggener zaheer nooruddin

Although this is an important, if not fundamental question, from our experience the mindset many marketing and communications practitioners use to tackle this challenge is often wrong. Today, the knowledge domain and vendor landscape surrounding the field of analytics, ROI and marketing/communications attribution has come a long way. However, a challenge that most of these frameworks, practices and tools have is that they were developed to measure end-of-the-funnel activities, such as ad impressions, clicks and conversions. We’ve even seen the publication of magic ‘formulas’ that claim to tell you the monetary value of every like, share and comment on your Facebook page. All you need to do is plug in a few numbers, and voila, job done.

Unfortunately, the reality of content marketing and measurement is not so simple. Not only do I personally think these approaches are not conducive to measuring the impact of your content strategy, I would go so far as to say they can be downright dangerous when applied to content. At Waggener Edstrom, we believe that a different approach to measurement is needed to truly understand the impact of your branded content.

Content marketing is a long term strategy, plain and simple.

Think Long Term

Content marketing is a long term strategy, plain and simple. Although we believe it can create increased wealth for a brand it’s important to understand that the returns are not immediate. Kristin Harad defined content marketing as a “communication without selling, give-and-you-shall receive approach to generate interest, attract prospects, and build trust”. I find this definition to be quite helpful, particularly because it emphasizes the point that content marketing is not meant to be a ‘selling’ tactic.

This might be a hard pill to swallow, but if you want immediate financial returns for your marketing and communications budget then buy paid media. Content marketing is not about immediate returns, and is more to do with brand building then it is conversion. Rather than provoke a purchase reaction, content marketing should seek to influence a purchase decision. This is not to say you shouldn’t invest in paid media, rather, that these are two fundamentally different tactics.


Content Marketing Impact

Impact of Content Marketing Over Time

Our research report, Content Matters, was developed as a means to help us better understand the relationship between brand storytelling and ROI, and to see how this relationship might vary across borders and business sectors. We’re very excited to share this research with you for the first time. Below is a brief snapshot of some of the findings, but if you want access  to the results for all 10 markets we studied across Asia-Pacific, head on over the download page here.

Key Findings from our 2014 Content Marketing Study

– Branded storytelling through social media can create a measurable and sizeable impact on your bottom line. Our research showed that digital consumers who are highly exposed to branded content through social media can spend up to 257% more at the point of purchase.
– Branded storytelling through social media can drive significant increases in advocacy. Our research showed that digital consumers who are highly exposed to branded content through social media can be up to 90% more likely to recommend a brand to a friend, family member or colleague.
– Mobile device brands have the most advocates. This finding was true for all 10 markets we included across Asia-Pacific.
– In terms of social network usage, Facebook still dominates in Asia-Pacific, but social IM apps like WeChat, LINE and KakaoTalk are on the rise. The user base for these apps has exploded over the last 2 years, and early adopting brands have followed suite, creating rich brand profiles where they connect with their audiences exclusively through a mobile environment.
– Younger demographics (typically those under 25) tend to have stronger relationships with brands on social. Across all markets, youth were up to 22% more likely to follow their favorite brands on social media, 20% more likely to share information about products and services on social media, and 7% more likely to click on an advertisement or read an advertorial from a brand.

Download the Full Report Here


4 Responses to “The ROI of Brand Storytelling & Why You Need to Think Long Term About Your Content Strategy”
  1. Can You Measure the ROI of Brand Storytelling?

    […] storytelling is not a hit-and-run approach. It’s a long-term, elaborate strategy for shaping the core of your business. You can’t expect it to flourish in a day, but when it […]

    • Jasspreet

      That’s not even 10 minutes well spent!

  2. Itzel

    Cheers pal. I do appreciate the writing.

  3. Bart De Pelsmaeker

    Nice post, Stephen. This post really helped me when I writing a piece called “Telling Brand Stories With High ROI.” I came across it and thought it was a unique perspective that no other article on the subject mentioned. I’ve quoted your content marketing study in the piece if you want to check it out:

    Would love to hear your thoughts!


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