The 'Likes' on a Facebook post rarely correlate with sales or services procured. Many content marketers operate on one rule of thumb: in order to connect with a customer, you have to offer them content that's relevant to them on their preferred platform. If only it were that simple.

It's a start, for sure, but you should never focus solely on views, shares, 'Likes', comments and click-through rates. These so-called vanity metrics are good for measuring goals such as brand awareness and sentiment, but they don't tell the full story.

They can actually make marketers overconfident in the value of their content but the clients know better.

Content marketing campaigns, when measured correctly, should link to specific business outcomes and data collected from customer engagement through to point of sale and beyond. In short, they should have a positive impact on a business's bottom line that is in the form of sales or savings.

Sometimes money saved is worth more than money earned — especially when it also makes life a little easier for customers.

For example, New Media has produced content for Vodacom's now! blog for several years, helping set up a platform that supports their vision and strategy of becoming a leading digital company. The blog caters to Vodacom's mid to high-LSM customer base with articles and videos that are closely aligned to that vision.

It has also given an innovative way to measure and show return on investment to the client. New Media's how-to posts on the blog saved Vodacom almost R1.7-million between April and October 2019 and continues to save them around R250 000 a month. This means calls to their customer care line have dropped by many thousands as a direct result of useful content.

An example of ROI in the form of sales is the WCellar wine club that New Media launched for long-time client Woolworths, which has resulted in double-digit growth in wine sales for Woolworths.

New Media created an entity called WCellar and a monthly mailer to educate customers about wine, give them special offers and discounts and offer them the chance to attend an event or win wine-related prizes.

17 000 have signed up, which is a 4.8% conversion. The monthly mailers achieve an open rate of over 53% on average, well ahead of the industry standard of 15 to 25%.

The results that really count, however, aren't adequately represented by these metrics. We wanted to create a database of engaged wine customers but, of course, the ultimate goal was to sell more wine too. And on that basis, WCellar has done incredibly well.

For the first eight months of the project, Woolworths saw a return in sales of three times the amount they had spent in content with New Media and on promotions and incentive vouchers.

Ultimately, the expertise content marketers bring to brands is in emotive and relevant storytelling. But there's always a CFO in the room. When demonstrating to clients that understanding audiences translates to positive commercial impact, either through cost savings or revenue growth, then their marketing spend becomes that much more palatable.

The key to getting this right is performing against an agreed set of pre-determined metrics that are far more considered than the vanity metrics of views, shares, 'Likes' and comments. When it comes down to it, the real value of content marketing lies in solving a real business problem.

For more information, visit You can also follow New Media on Facebook, Twitter or on Instagram.