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Whenever content marketers ask for more budget, they hear the same thing: “Show me the money.” Sounds like a scene from the movie Jerry Maguire, but proving ROI is very real. While the marketing team is used to thinking of content as an investment, the C-suite takes more convincing.How can you demonstrate that a greater content marketing budget and headcount will allow you to drive revenue?Start by showing leadership that content marketing is a valuable asset, not a cost center. This requires a shift of perspective, one that treats content like an investment instead of an expense. After all, your brand value is an investment – and content directly contributes to that value.”If marketing wants to be taken seriously, we need to embrace revenue responsibility and measure the sales and revenue impact of our efforts first and foremost.” –  Matt Heinz, President, Heinz MarketingYes, evaluating and presenting how content creates revenue is critical to getting that budget bump. However, our latest benchmark report found that 54% of B2B marketers consider proving the ROI of content to be one of the greatest obstacles to success.Here are 6 tips that will help you make the case for a greater headcount and content marketing budget. Use them to articulate the value of your content and reposition it as a crucial business asset.#1 Engage the Funnel – Don’t Just Fill ItIf your marketing funnel is flush with quality leads, making the case for a budget increase is much easier. Attracting the greatest volume of qualified leads requires that you create a stream of engaging full-funnel content. For best results, these useful assets should span the customer journey without coverage gaps.These days, content has a long shelf life and producing comprehensive assets is a priority. For example, evergreen content stays sustains engagement over time because it remains relevant. Look to your engagement metrics like bounce rate, page views, pages per session, and average session duration. Low numbers indicate poorly aligned or thin content that needs to be re-tuned to the needs of your audience.. Maximizing the quality of your content is the first step in showing that marketing pulls its weight and pulls leads down the funnel.#2 Prove Your ROI with Revenue MarketingMarketers unequipped with their ROI can only suggest their impact. A revenue-driven approach is needed to prove the real value of your content operation.Our recent benchmark report found that:25% of marketers don’t set marketing revenue goals87% use web traffic to assess ROI (a vanity metric)86% use time on page to assess ROI (also a vanity metric)Vanity metrics won’t help you attribute revenue, improve performance and funnel conversions, or show the ROI of content. Revenue metrics are needed. Using KPIs like conversion rates, number of leads created, lead quality, and revenue driven by marketing leads will help you ground your budget in measurable results. (Source)Use these metrics to assess your prior campaigns and eliminate what didn’t meet your ROI expectations. Be sure to provide a rationale for these cuts during your proposal. This will add credibility to your budget request and indicate that you’re critical of results and serious about revenue. #3 Upgrade From Content Marketing to a Content OperationThough a contested subject, both marketing and sales use content to drive revenue. Empower your request by demonstrating how sales and customer experience will benefit from a budget increase. According to Walker, customer experience will surpass both price and product as the key differentiator between brands by 2020. Since customer experience defies silos and hinges upon seamless asset delivery – you can integrate and improve your content strategy by switching to a content operation.What is a content operation?A content operation is the set of processes, people, and technologies for strategically planning, producing, distributing, and analyzing content. When properly implemented, it unifies the customer experience across all departments and channels. This allows marketers to focus on authentic, resonant messaging that drives revenue and growth. Every department can agree that a fluid customer experience drives revenue more effectively than the disjointed alternative. As seen below, an improved customer experience impacts revenue by way of up-sells and cross-sells, but also improved customer satisfaction and retention. (Source)Unifying the customer experience translates to equalizing each team’s access to content. Cross-team collaboration works to increase the visibility of assets, which helps enhance the efficiency, productivity, and impact of both departments. However, a survey by Illuma found that only 20% of salespeople were satisfied with the findability of the assets needed to enable a sale. When salespeople can find the perfect piece of content, they make can better use of allocated resources and deliver the most relevant content to customers. A content operation works to show the that that content is essential to the customer experience, sales enablement, and the bottom line. #4 Align with Sales Before taking your budget plan to the CFO, run it by sales. Rather than engaging with the rivalry, talk about ROI. Ask them how marketing can help them reach their sales goals, as well as how they’re using assets to enable sales. Illustrate how crucial your plan is to their hitting next year’s numbers. Then discuss the ways content is best used to promote sales before reaching an agreement.If you approach the CFO with a joint consensus about how necessary these efforts are to hit goals, justifying your budget increase will be much easier. Applying for cross-functional benefits will strengthen your case, especially with sales behind you.#5 Set Revenue GoalsLook at the yearly revenue target and pledge to deliver a percentage. Whatever you choose to contribute, back up your hypothesis with metrics and prior campaign results. (Source)For example, you might plan to create more infographics to attract qualified leads. How have these initiatives performed in the past? Support your initiative by looking into last year’s marketing and calculate the ROI for each program. Do you lack the concrete data? Ask sales or a data analyst. If you’re unaccustomed to being accountable for sales numbers, this can be intimidating. However, committing to a goal shows the CMO that you’re confident in your plan and working from a revenue-driven approach. #6 Speak to Business ObjectivesTo be your most persuasive, organize your proposal around to the pain points of the C-suite. Step away from marketing goals and align your plan to the overall goals of the business.What are your revenue targets next year? How will each initiative affect sales, customer retention, margin, or other key business metrics? Addressing results in terms of revenue will ensure that your points resonate. Using executive-level language will catch the CFO’s attention, plus show that you’re a strategic leader who can operate with the bigger picture in mind.Marketing for ROIMarketing is often called a soft science, yet the bottom line is hard fact. To convince the leadership that your content operation deserves more budget, surface the proof. Dig into the metrics that matter and evaluate your past campaigns with a critical eye. Slash what didn’t work while working to improve overall content quality. Discuss ROI with sales and rally their support for your plan. This will help you demonstrate how high-quality content is a necessary investment in your brand – and worth every penny.

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