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October 16, 2014

4

22 ROI Examples of Content Marketing showing Hard Business Results

by Tom De Baere

content marketing hard business resultsIn the end CEO’s prefer to see clear results. Hard business results. They want to see the ROI of Content Marketing.

In this article I show you those hard business results using 22 examples of companies that used content marketing, and which had clear business results. These are not business results in terms of brand lift, social following increase,  or  whatever vanity metric you can come up with.

I will show you real cases, providing you with real numbers, where content marketing is increasing revenue for both B2C as B2B companies.

Before we jump into those 22 cases of hard cold business results of content marketing, first a little intro on the business value of content marketing.

Scroll down hard if you can’t wait to get to the goodies ;-)

The Business Value of Content Marketing

The value of content marketing doesn’t need to be proven anymore. Kapost, Hubspot, and many more have endless numbers of statistics available. It has become thé preferred marketing strategy of modern marketers.

If you are looking for some of those statistics, here are a couple for sites you can checkout:

 

It’s also not hard to find content marketing case studies on the web. Here are a couple more sources that compiled some of the best examples on the web:

 

But it’s much harder to find those that are willing to share hard business results.

Content Marketing with Hard Business Results

People that think about investing in content marketing first want to see that it will be working, also for them.
That’s why I started searching the web for real cases, with real business results. Below you can find B2C and B2B examples, both from small companies as from large international companies. A special thanks goes out to Lee Odden and Econsultancy which also compiled a couple of cases on their blogs.
When you scroll down, you can the examples sorted in the following order:

Just click on the link of any of the above sections to jump straight to the section you are interested in.

Here they come…


content marketing - small companies


Tambo Blanquillo (small travel company)

content marketing small travel company

52% ROI in 4 weeks.

Deep in the Peruvian Amazon, about as deep as it’s possible for tourists to go, is a family-owned lodge called TAMBO BLANQUILLO.

Using compelling sales landing pages, editorial planning, downloadable ebooks, PR & outreach, paid amplification and retargeting, they increased unique visitors with 160%, email subscription +661% andimmediate improvements across all revenue KPIs, hitting 52% return on investment within just four weeks. Here’s the case study.
  • 160% increase in unique visitors
  • +661% email subscribers
  • 52% ROI in 4 weeks

Good Greens Bars (small food company)

content marketing case small food company

50% sales increase in 4 months.

Good Greens Bars is a fruit and nutrition bar made outside Cleveland (USA) with ingredients like dark chocolate, wheatgrass juice, green tea extract, acai berry and taste kind of like mini berry brownies.
They developed relationships with local bloggers to increase the number of mentions, reviews, and search engine results pages for Good Greens. They watched their sales average jump over 50% in 4 months. They now do consistently over $50,000.00 in sales per month.
  • 50% sales increase in 4 months
  • 50kUSD in sales per month

Natural Stonescapes (small landscaping firm)

content marketing case landscaping firm

200kUSD in new business within weeks after website launch.

It was 2013 before Mark Higginson decided to create a website for his successful landscape design and construction business. But within weeks of launching naturalstonescapes.ca, the website had generated $200,000 in new business for the Meaford-based company – an impressive 4000% ROI.

Using Multiple landing pages and informative „magazine-style” articles visitors where attracted. The quality of the projects described and the accompanying photographs filter out time-consuming calls and inquiries from those who might not have the budget for the major projects Natural Stonescapes focuses on.
  • 200kUSD in new business

DirkZwager (lawyer office)

content marketing case lawyer office

10% of customers via the web, and most innovative office in their category

About 120 lawyers write on average 3 articles per month. This gives around 1000 blog posts per year, good for 1 million pageviews and 500.000 unique visitors to their website. Their newsletter mobile App has been downloaded 35.000 times. They have a dedicated portal aimed at sharing knowledge, called http://partnerinkennis.nl/.
About 10% of customers are generated via the web. In reality the practice is considered the most innovative office within their category, providing much more return on investment.
  • 10% of customers via the web.
  • 1 million pages views and 500k Unique visitors
  • News app downloaded 35.000 times.
  • Considered the most innovative office in their category.

 

Those where the small to medium companies. Here come the B2C companies…


content marketing examples - 5 B2C cases


Many of the premium content examples below are from large brands, which are created to drive awareness and affinity for these brands. The objective in many cases is to drive social following, create brand affinity, and eventually influence the buying process of shoppers and buyers.

ZAGG (online retailer of mobile accessories)

content marketing B2C case

172% ROI increase through blog.

ZAGG, an online retailer, knows its blog results in sales, as it earns 172% ROI and 10% of the company’s site traffic.

The mobile device accessory provider publishes 25 to 35 posts each week that are targeted at its tech-savvy audience. Zagg pays three writers who are tasked with producing content that is shareable, popular, and also promotes its product range. Using news articles, how-to’s, entertaining content and also promotional content, but also social media and promoted post on Twitter and Facebook.  Here’s the case study.
  • 172% ROI increase through blog
  • Blog draws 10% of the site traffic
  • 60% of blog traffic are from new visitors

Zillidy (personal lending)

content marketing B2C case

Online applications steadily improved each month throughout 2013.

Personal lending company Zillidy launched in 2012 with a view to making a name for itself as an alternative to the established consumer banking industry.

It relied on content marketing to build awareness of its brand and concept, attract press coverage, build and nurture active communities in social media, publish authoritative content, draw targeted traffic to the website and convert that traffic to preliminary online loan applications.

To achieve its goals, Zillidy implemented the following course of action:

  • The website was made “stickier” by recommending engaging forms of content such as video, press coverage snippets and customer testimonials on the homepage.
  • Site architecture was modified to funnel more visitors into the online application, thus improving the conversion rate optimization for the site.
  • It published weekly blog content, which typically covered Canadian startups and personal finance advice-driven topics, and also contributed with highly authoritative articles in places like the Huffington Post and New York Times.

As a result of the new strategy:

  • Zillidy’s social media audience grew from under 100 people to more than 1,000.
  • Search impressions increased 1,350% in the first ten months of the engagement.
  • Over 2,500 unique social shares were earned from editorial content from January through October 2013.
  • Most importantly, online applications steadily improved each month.

City Index (financial services)

content marketing B2C case - city index

60% increase in PPC acquisition for brand terms.

In September 2012 financial services company City Index launched a Trading Academy to give eight wannabe traders the chance to win £100,000.

Each week, one trader was eliminated, eventually leaving two to battle it out in front of a live studio audience at City Hall. It was part of a content marketing exercise aimed at convincing people who hadn’t thought of trading to open a live account, expose the lack of innovation in this competitive space and simplify the concept of trading. The campaign site involved six YouTube episodes, details of each contestants, real time updates on their trades, mentor videos, and an education section. Each contestant was set up with their own Twitter profile and blog space on the City Index site.

The competition led to the best ever month for account openings, and a boost in organic search rankings. Here are the results:

  • 20m impressions generated by the #TradingAcademy Twitter feed.
  • 1m views across all content channels.
  • 67,000 clicks generated by the #TradingAcademy Twitter feed.
  • A 1443% increase in social referral visits.
  • 81% increase in unique site visitors.
  • 60% increase in PPC acquisition for brand terms.

HCC Medical Insurance Service

content marketing B2C case - HCC_medical_infographic.JPG

96% increase in revenue for email.

Infographics have been overused in recent years, but they’re still an effective medium for content marketing.

HCC Medical Insurance Services (HCCMIS) managed to increase blog traffic and email revenue using an infographic aimed at its travel customers.

The graphic had three sections:

  • The anatomy of the adventure traveller.
  • An adventure quiz.
  • Worldwide bucket list.
The idea was that the content becomes more interesting and shareable if there is an element of interactivity. Once it was completed the graphic was initially shared with HCCMIS’s list of influencers before being shared more widely across social and via email.
Compared to its normal sales emails the infographic achieved a 96% lift in email revenue, while on Facebook the post that featured the graphic had more than 2,000 interactions compared to an average of 10. Overall HCCMIS’s blog post featuring the graphic achieved 3.9m views, of which 90% were new visitors.
  • Infographic gave 96% increase in revenue from their emails
  • 3,9 million views of which 90% new visitors

 

Those where the B2C examples. Now come the B2B companies…


content marketing - 13 B2B examples


DocuSign (technology)

content marketing case - B2B - docusign

127% of revenue goals achieved in first 6 months.

Whitepapers, webinars, events, case studies and videos aimed at specific personas, buyer concerns, industries and departments beckon online visitors to the website. Then, as buyers enter the database through a demo, free trial or gated content asset, 36 automated email nurturing programs deliver timely and relevant content based on buying stage and persona.

The results speak for themselves. DocuSign shortened their sales cycle, doubled their pipeline in 2012 and reached 127% of their goal in the first half of the year. Here is the case study on the Kapost website.
  • Shorted sales cycle
  • Doubled their pipeline in 2012
  • 127% of their revenue goals in the first 6 months.

InsideOut (corporate training services)

content marketing case - B2B - InsideOut

388% more leads generated.

Corporate training company InsideOut began content marketing in 2012 to try and shake up its marketing strategy, which previously had focused on outbound, sales-based communications, especially in its email program.

It set out to create compelling content to help grab attention and generate leads, with a focus on simple, bite-sized slide decks, articles and videos. InsideOut also wanted its content to be unique and visually attractive to help it stand out above the competition. The content was produced in-house as much as possible in order to stay true to the brand values and was primarily promoted via email, social, the website and PR.
InsideOut’s strategy improved results across all channels, with the clearest results coming in email. Comparing results of the company’s sales-based and content-based emails in the first half of 2013, the content-based emails were clearly more successful:
  • 20% higher clickthrough rate.
  • 87% lower opt-out rate.
  • 388% more leads generated.

ADP (business services)

content marketing case - B2B - ADP

3,7 MUSD in revenue, 23 MUSD in pipeline.

Multi-Touch and Integrated 
ADP is a Fortune 500 company that offers various business processing services like payroll and human resource management. ADP’s Value Added Services division created a quarterly, multi-touch campaign using unique themes that included a mix of digital assets such as infographics, “cookbooks” and other collateral.

  • 3,7MUSD in revenue
  • 23MUSD in pipeline
  • ROI for Q1-Q3 : 905%

SunGard Availability Services (IT services)

content marketing - B2B - sungard

3000 leads generated in 3 days.

Sungard provides IT operations support and serves more than 70% of Fortune 100 companies. SunGard Availability Services created a video series based around the holidays, injecting humor into educational content on pain points and industry trends. The company analyzed its audience’s content consumption patterns, and used the data to map out a campaign that would promote the content across multiple touch points via email, social, PR and paid media at a time when the audience would be expecting it.

  • Over 3,000 leads generated in 3 days.
  • Email click and click to open rates were 2-3X average.
  • CTAs to download a white paper at the end of the videos had a 87.4% click-through rate.

Newscred (marketing software & services)

content marketing case - B2B - newscred

5MUSD in revenue in first 8 months of 2014.

Newscred is an end-to-end content marketing software technology providers. They run their content marketing using 4 blogs per day, 2 whitepapers, 1 webinar and 1 though leadership piece per month. Amplification is done using Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, and are using Slideshare for infographics and presentation. “Publish daily, distribute broadly, is the mantra of the successful content marketer” they say. Not that difficult when you see it in a list. Of course having the right technology helps. And Newscred is using its own content marketing software.

  • $5Million in revenue in the first 8 months of 2014, through content
  • This equals for 70% of their revenue.

Toshiba (point-of-sale systems technology)

content marketing case - B2B - toshiba

309 leads generated from 1 integrated campaign.

Integrated Demand Generation Campaign

Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions offer integrated in-store solutions which are implemented in 60% of the top 25 global retailers. Toshiba created a series of content assets based on omni-channel retailing including an infographic, checklist, executive brief and an eBook.

 

  • Over 19,000 opens,
  • 1,100+ clicks and
  • 309 leads generated.

 

IBM (technology & services)

content marketing case - B2B - IBM

13.000 responses and significant pipeline and wins for IBM.

Integrated Demand Generation Campaign


IBM is a $100 billion company with 431,212 employees. The IBM “Smarter Commerce” program challenged industry executives to recognize and rethink about the value of empowered customers. A microsite provided content for each of the IBM 12 lines of business buyers and included a mix of digital assets: video, eBooks, case studies, white papers, and reports – each tailored for distinct Lines of Business audiences.

 

  • The program overall has had over 38,000 impressions,
  • 100,000 page views and
  • over 13,000 responses.

The leads generated from this program have been high quality and have rapidly progressed through the pipeline, generating significant wins for IBM.

Xerox (document solutions)

content marketing case - B2B - Xerox

1,3 Billion (yes, billion) in pipeline revenue.

Xerox created a targeted “Get Optimistic” campaign to connect with 30 top accounts and partnered with Forbes to create a magazine that offered relevant business tips.

  • 70% of targeted companies interacted with the microsite,
  • readership increased 300-400% over previous email campaigns,
  • added 20,000 new contacts,
  • generated 1,000+ scheduled appointments,
  • and get this: yielded $1.3 BILLION in pipeline revenue.

 

Logicalis (IT solutions and managed services)

content marketing case - B2B - logicalis

8MUSD in closed and new pipeline business.

Logicalis used content centred around thought leadership to help build up its HP sales pipeline among existing contacts. The marketing department designed six email creatives, an ebook and an eight-page microsite that enabled the telesales team to personalise messages based on a prospect’s participation in the campaign.

Logicalis targeted 2,000 existing and prospective customers, with these results:

  • 11% to 15% click-to-open rate for the microsite.
  • 100 to 200 unique opens from each email.
  • Nearly $8m in closed and new pipeline business.

Hubspot (marketing software)

content marketing - B2B - hubspot

Gained 2000 new customers in 2013, +81 revenue growth.

Hubspot is an all-in-one marketing software platform for small and medium-sized businesses. 4,000+ companies use HubSpot to generate over 500,000 leads per month. They produce case studies, videos, podcasts, webinars, and ebooks for their audience, educating them about their industry. All of these educational tools help HubSpot customers use the platform more effectively. Last year, HubSpot revenues grew +81%, year over year, to $29 million. The company reported it gained 2,000 new customers. The company’s “service marketplace” partners generated an average of $75,000 in revenue, each, using HubSpot’s platform.

  • +81% in revenue in 2013
  • Gained 2000 new customers

Monetate (marketing technology)

content marketing case - B2B - Monetate

Sales doubled. Period.

Monetate is a young marketing technology company in the US. They hired a 3-person content team but their content doesn’t talk about Monetate. Rather, the content team mines information Monetate collects in order to create compelling content about trends in the industry, giving their “subscribers” – customers and prospects – news they can use. Visits to the website increased 255% and unique visits jumped 353%. Best of all, sales doubled in 6 months as a result of this effort.

  • Website traffic increase 255%
  • Unique visitors increased 353%
  • Sales doubled.

Fisher Tank (manufacturing)

content marketing case - B2B - Fisher tank

3,4MUSD of new qualified sales opportunities

Content marketing can even work for industries that might not appear to be all that sexy, as demonstrated by Fisher Tank, a company that makes giant, above-ground welded steel tanks. As you can imagine, Fisher Tank’s products have a long sales cycle and it has traditionally relied on cold calling or referrals from existing clients. However the company altered its approach to include a greater focus on its new website, blog articles, and downloadable content such as a free comparison guide.

Just 12 weeks after launching the new site it achieved the following results, though it’s obviously important to note that not all of this can be directly attributed to content marketing necessarily:

  • Web traffic: 119% increase
  • Organic search traffic: 70% increase
  • Social traffic: 4,800% increase
  • Lead conversions: 3,900% increase
  • Page one keyword rankings: 600% increase
  • Quote requests: 500% increase
  • Value of new qualified sales opportunities from content marketing: $3.4m

ShipServ (marketplace for marine industry) 

content marketing case - B2B - shipserv

Sales-ready leads increased by 400%

ShipServ is an online marketplace for the marine industry, connecting suppliers and ship owners around the globe. Its online offerings include a trading platform, supplier search tool, ordering guide and an ad network. The problem ShipServ encountered was that its customers weren’t always that tech-savvy so many had issues with the switch to an online marketplace from more traditional purchasing channels.

To remedy this, the company implemented a content marketing strategy in 2008 with an initial budget of $30,000. ShipServ launched a new website, started blogging, published a series of white papers and created a LinkedIn group.
After three months ShipServ had broken even on its investment and achieved the following results:
  • Website visitors increased by 59%.
  • Contact-to-lead (landing page contact) conversions increased by 150%.
  • Lead-to-opportunity conversions increased by 50%.
  • Number of sales-ready leads increased by 400%.

Newtec (technology)

content marketing case - B2B - Newtec

Estimated indirect returns of 10 MEUR.

Newtec, a Belgian satellite technology equipment manufacturer, started investing in content marketing. Within 1 year it saw a 32% increase in web traffic, while previously the organic growth was 2%. Using landing pages, ebooks, webinars and blog post, amplified via email and social media, its social following grew 57% on LinkedIn and Twitter, Youtube and Slideshare received 50k+ views. Lead generation using a marketing automation platform generated 800KEUR worth of marketing qualified leads revenue within 1 month after using the automation platform.

The indirect return, measured in press attention, being asked to tender in large project and thought leadership visibility are estimated at 10 to 15 Million Euro in 1 year.

  • 32% increase in web traffic
  • 57% increase in social following
  • 50K+ Youtube and Slideshare views
  • 800kEUR in MQL
  • Indirectly, estimated 10 to 15 million euro ROI

 

That’s it. I hope you enjoyed this rundown. If you want to follow this blog, just drop your email below.

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Warm regards,

 

Tom De Baere

 

  • Christopher Watkins

    A fascinating aggregate of case studies, and most appreciated! It would certainly seem to play up any number of important matters when it comes to content marketing; the two most critical being, it seems to me, 1) the truism that social/digital/content marketing is not only valid, but vital, and 2) the reality that quantifying content marketing ROI remains a challenging proposition, by virtue of the diversity of measurements that can be applied. It’s beyond intriguing, for example, that for each example above, you cite a similar but undeniably varied roster of stats to support the case for success. This is indicative of that fact that there is no one right answer for how to assess success when it comes to content marketing. And what’s most important to know is, that’s ok! Gone are the days when the one-answer-solution is the better one. The truth is, cmeasuring ontent marketing ROI IS complicated, and just like generating the content in the first place, assessing the impact of the content too requires finesse, nuance, sophistication, and improvisational critical thinking. Which, in my opinion, is rather refreshing!

    Mainly, thank you for a fine read. A pleasure to share …

    Regards,

    Christopher Watkins
    Social Media Manager
    fisher VISTA / HRmarketer

    • Hi Christopher, thanks for the insightful comment. Your observation is correct that their is no real alignment between the metrics that I used to show the ROI of these cases. The simple reason is this: I used what I could get my hands on ;-)

      You mentioned that showing the ROI of content marketing seems complex. I believe this is due to 2 reasons, based on experience of working with customers on content marketing:
      – the lack of understanding of what content marketing entails,
      – and the lack of knowledge of how to build your measurement model, what metrics to track, and how to build a dashboard.

      Take care, thanks for sharing the post!

      Tom

  • Hi Tom

    I love the positive examples in this post and have shared it with all my social media networks.

    As a result of reading this, I put together my own case study interview with Steven Uster of Zillidy. You might be interested in the methods behind some of those stats you report:

    http://www.contentchampion.com/zillidy/

    Great post and thanks for the inspiration!

    Cheers

    Loz

    • Thanks Loz. That’s quite a #longread you’ve written ;-). I’ll go through it, and share it. Thanks for the comment.

      br,

      Tom