Mostly, it depends on what you consider a return. Because outsourcing content most immediately changes the way you (in the marketing department) spend your time.
Does time = ROI?
If previously you spent days writing content, now you’ll be briefing in content and connecting writers to stakeholders for interviews.
Depending on the agency you work with, this can be a light touch or more laborious.
Yondr, for example, a data center owner/operator that’s worked with Incredibble for nearly four years, introduces our editorial assistant to a subject matter expert, and our team takes it from there.
Working closely with Yondr’s thought leadership experts, we arrange interviews, develop briefs, share the editorial process with the stakeholder, and manage writers and proofreaders accordingly.
Take that off your plate and what can you focus on next? You should be out of (some of) the weeds and able to more effectively plan and lead your team.
Do you consider time a return on investment?
Or is engagement success?
The next most immediate return is how people engage with you in the marketplace now you’re consistently distributing a stream of high quality content across your networks.
This is inextricably tied to how you promote the content, its quality and the size of your audience.
Engagement can be subtle or direct. Marketing leaders working tirelessly to produce content, seeing little movement on traditional stats (likes, comments, MQLs), might hear at an industry event that they’re rivalling market leaders in terms of thought leadership.
Nothing shows up on the stats to suggest such success. But people are noticing, thinking and talking offline. You’re gaining authority. How do you capture that?
More direct engagement comes in the form of speaking opportunities and recommendations. Still not the hard stats you might be expecting: these opportunities rarely come in via the form that marks them an MQL in your database.
But they’re worth exponentially more when fully attributed to the additional leads and recommendations a speaking engagement or advocate will generate.
What about MQLs?
And then there’s the hard stats. The MQLs your sales team can nurture. Content heaven.
A tech company we work with releases long-form content approximately once a month. These long-form pieces (usually whitepapers) attract a low volume of highly qualified leads which are then passed to the sales team to convert. Although the monetary return may be realised months later, when the lead comes in via a form on the website, it’s considered a marketing win.
When will you see an ROI on your outsourced content? It depends. What do you want for your marketing department this year? What does success look like to you?