Beyond Monetization: Measuring the Value of Content
If conversations with your board about your organization’s approach to content tend to shift quickly from strategy about what makes great and engaging content to concerns about costs and revenue potential, you’re not alone.
For many associations, investment in a robust content strategy is high on the wish list until real-world budget constraints come into play—at which point questions about the ROI of content and the potential for monetization bubble to the surface, making it more challenging to gain budget approval.
While actual revenue from sponsorship and advertising is one good indicator of content success, the value of content extends beyond just sponsorship and advertising sales. That’s why it’s critical for association leadership to understand other ways to measure the value of content.
Here are three other ways to measure the value of content to help justify your organization’s investment:
Education. The content your organization presents makes a strong impression on industry professionals. For those new to an industry, your content may be helping to educate them on ways to build and expand their careers. For industry veterans, an ongoing stream of content dedicated to best practices and innovation could be helping them evolve and adapt their approach to how they do their jobs.
It’s difficult to measure the extent to which your organization’s content is educating professionals because it’s so subjective, but the best way to do so (beyond measuring content consumption with the typical metrics) is to ask. Survey your audience regularly to find out what works and what doesn’t—what is necessary to the professionals you want to reach, and what isn’t. Understand what other industry content resources your audience consumes, and why, and take steps to ensure that your content is different and meets your audience’s specific expectations and needs.
Engagement. Content—timely, relevant, actionable content—is one of the best ways you can regularly capture the attention your members. This is why it’s so critical that your organization have outlets for regularly publishing content—an online content hub, supported by multiple modes of content distribution via email and social media, as well as a print publication if your budget can manage the cost. The more platforms you develop for content publishing, and the more varied types of content you’re able to create (articles, videos, podcasts and more), the more opportunities you have to engage your members and your industry as a whole.
Opening your content outlets to contributions from members is another way to engage your audience. People want to engage with their professional peers, and one way to do that is to provide them with an opportunity to share their expertise (via written article, Q&A, video profile, by being a guest on a podcast, or some other method).
Expansion. This is an intangible benefit that can be difficult to measure, but attracting and retaining new members is another important function of content. Again, the content you put out there is the face of your association’s brand, and the first impression of your organization for many professionals (especially that coveted young professional sector). If you’re not regularly producing content that is valuable to prospective members, you’re not communicating the value of your organization.
Deciding what content to share broadly (for all of the above reasons, including attracting new members) and what content to make available to members only can be tricky. Consider developing in-depth, research-based content like white papers and industry reports that you make available only to your members. But always promote a teaser of that members-only content to your broader industry to help demonstrate the valuable content that comes with being a member.
There is no doubt that monetization of content via sponsorship and advertising is an important component of any content strategy. But don’t overlook the less obvious benefits of content—content is how your organization gets known, how you disseminate the knowledge and expertise of your membership, and how you communicate the ongoing value of membership.
Jason Meyers is Senior Director of Content Strategy for SmithBucklin.
SmithBucklin Content helps you position your organization as an authoritative source of timely, relevant, comprehensive and engaging industry intelligence. Contact us to learn about partnering with SmithBucklin Content to create a customized content strategy for your organization.