Branding versus sales in content-marketing

Steve Hemsley’s recent article for Marketing Week takes a firm line on content-marketing, and one that many a content-producing agency would take issue with – namely, content should be about brand building, not sales objectives.

Part of Hemsley’s argument is that widely touted observation that you can’t easily link content with increased sales:

Measuring the impact of content marketing is tricky because it is not directly linked to sales and it is difficult to know which pieces of content or which events had the most positive effect.

This view is probably contra to that of many marketing heads looking to placate their superiors with a concrete figure for return on investment (ROI), especially in the wake of a costly campaign.

If increased sales are hard to measure, however, can’t the same could be said for brand impact? Those numbers that underpin even the haziest of ROI estimates are at least still numbers. Yet in many cases, and especially in print, the assessment of quality, implied by the branding route, relies on the judgments of a few people at the top. Or worse, a focus group.

Take Kia, one example use by Hemsley:

Car brand Kia has invested in the Reevoo ratings service which mixes customer reviews with other content. “For the car market, 95% of purchasers spend a lot of time online researching before they buy. So we provide content that people want to watch, engage with and act on at every stage of the consideration funnel. This reinforces our messages around quality and reliability,” says Kia Motors UK marketing director Mark Hopkins.

How does Kia know that it produces quality content, and is the judgment that it does much more reliable than a figure for ROI?

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