When you invest in digital marketing, you’ll want to know the ROI to determine if your investment was a sound one.

It used to be simple. Go to a trade show. Scan 500 people at your booth and follow up over the next 12 months to see how many of them turned into customers.

The world is not so simple anymore. With customers doing much of their own research online, they often spend very little time with a salesperson. According to Gartner, they’re only meeting with potential suppliers 17% of the time for most B2B decisions.

Marketing now has much more impact and influence on the buying journey than ever before. At Mercer-MacKay, we have several programs that are aligned to steps in the buying journey and, in most cases, these programs are generating either leads or engagement.

Engagement is key to building and developing digital relationships that influence the buying journey.

Content Marketing in a Box (CM in a Box)

Initially we built our CM in a Box program at the request of one of the partner marketing teams at Microsoft. Their observation was that partners would complete certain elements for a digital lead generation campaign but had difficulty tying them all together for a fully measurable cycle and were frequently disappointed in the results.

Our CM in a Box program is a closed-loop lead generation process that uses intent-based search, email, social and high-value thought leadership content to attract buyers who are in the early stages of looking to solve a problem.

The goal of this program is to invite people to opt-in to your mail list by downloading an asset (such as an eBook) and then continuing to build a relationship with them by emailing them more information along the way.

Three Stages of Buying

Top Funnel – early stage, looking for information and thought leadership, less interested in product information

Mid Funnel – still looking for information but beginning to consider products and services from specific vendors

Bottom Funnel – ready for product demos, offers, proof of concept (PoC), or to talk to a sales person

Lead Generation Expectations for CM in a Box

You don’t need Mercer-MacKay to build a CM in a Box campaign (although we would love to help you if you need help). Here are the elements and the ROI you should expect.

Every CM in a Box begins with a core asset – usually an eBook. It needs to be a thought leadership piece and not thinly veiled marketing. Many technology companies struggle with this core asset because they are so conditioned to talk about their product or service that they simply can’t help themselves. You want people who find you to consider you a valuable source of information in the areas that you are expert in. They will remain on your mail list, they will visit your website and some of them will become customers.

Here are the various methods we use to attract eBook downloads:

Paid Search – Driving Leads from Net New Prospects

  • Net new leads that come from paid search are Top Funnel. You have the opportunity to build a relationship with them. Typically, with intent-based search we see the following:
    • 33% are possible leads
    • 33% are competitors/vendors/partners
    • 33% are tire kickers
  • So for every 10 downloads you attract, 3 might qualify as suspects or prospects

eMail to Existing Customers – Driving Leads from Existing Customers

If you have an opt-in list of customers who are already doing business with you and you send them an email inviting them to download your eBook, you will be able to engage with these people much earlier than the net new suspects that come from a paid search campaign.

Mini Case Study – It’s Quality, Not Quantity

One of our clients was an ISV (Independent Software Vendor) that built speciality merchandising software in the retail industry. Their target list was very narrow and over the course of a 2-month campaign they only received 10 downloads of their eBook. I was certain they would be disappointed with these results but when we followed up, they advised that the 2 downloads represented two significant opportunities. One was with a national grocery chain that they had never been able to penetrate before and the second was with a global retailer that were actively looking for a new solution.

That is because they already have a trusted relationship with you. Typically, 5-10% of people in an engaged customer list will be interested in a new offer you are creating and are potentially willing to speak to a sales person about it. In this case, the most important thing is NOT the size of your list, it is the rhythm of communication and engagement.

You want to communicate regularly (at least once a month) and always make the content educational. This way you will have a very low unsubscribe rate. It is ideal if the emails can be sent from an individual at your company and not the company itself. People buy from people they know, like and trust.

We would rather have a list of 100 people who want to engage with us than 10,000 people who really don’t care.

eMail to People Who Downloaded Your eBook

If most of your eBook downloads came from paid search or social selling, these are net new relationships and you want to teach them right from the start that you will continue to email them. Letting them know exactly what you will be emailing and when is critical to keeping them on your list and not unsubscribing. They are building a digital relationship with you so that when they are ready to purchase or to speak with a salesperson, they already feel that they know you. Our expectation is that you should have anywhere from a 25% to 40% open rate and a high click-through-rate that in some cases can be as high as 30%.

Social Selling

In addition to driving people to download your eBook with paid search, you will be using people’s existing social connections to also drive good engagement and connection.

Paid and Organic Social Content

Use all of your company’s employees and their connections as a platform to grow brand awareness and drive engagement. Personal branding with thought leadership on social channels such as LinkedIn is a complimentary tactic to social selling efforts. Organic content is a cost-effective way to drive engagement, get impressions and attract new business by leveraging contacts already within your team’s personal connections.

Brand messages are re-shared when posted by an employee versus the brand’s social media channels. Also, on average, employees have 10 times more followers than their company’s social media accounts. Teaching your employees where and how to engage is a great investment.i

Paid social content allows you to target your buyer’s personas with precision to grow awareness of your brand’s offer. Without engagement on your content, paid is another alternative to get more impressions and beat the social algorithms.

Having a Featured Banner or Hero Image on Your Website

Having a banner or an asset featured on the hero image of your website helps to drive awareness and downloads for your assets from your website traffic. Without inviting the conversion by offering value, to an unknown website visitor, you will never know who your true prospects considering your offers are.

Marketing ROI Formula

Number of leads x lead-to-customer ratio x average sales price divided by campaign investment

  1. Number of leads is not the number of downloads: it means the number of qualified leads that make it into your opportunity funnel
  2. Lead-to-customer ratio is your conversion rate – how many deals actually close from start of qualified opportunity to deal – for example, 30%
  3. Take your average closed conversation rate and multiple it by your average deal size
  4. Divide that number by your overall marketing investment


  • Number of downloads = 200
  • Number of downloads that qualify and make it into the opportunity funnel = 35
  • Percentage of opportunities that ultimately become customers = 35% = (35 * 30% = 10.25)
  • Average size of deal = $200,000
  • Estimated cost of campaign = $100,000
  • 10.25 * 200,000 = $2,100,000 / $100,000 = 21% ROI

Now that you know the formula for calculating your ROI, is it time to scale back or double down on your current content marketing strategic investments?

If you are interested in developing content that will drive engagement, influence your sales cycles, and capture leads, contact us for a consultation to discuss your business goals.

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