The internet is full of evidence that content marketing works—and it works well. But if you’re struggling to measure the Return on Investment (ROI) for your own content marketing strategy, you’re not alone. According to studies done by the Content Marketing Institute, while a majority of businesses use content marketing to expand their reach, 62% aren’t sure how to measure the ROI of their campaigns.
One of the biggest reasons marketers and businesses struggle to demonstrate ROI is that content marketing is a long term strategy. While paid advertising almost immediately demonstrates traffic and conversions, other forms of content require some creativity in order to accurately measure results. We’re here to help you get creative! This article will unpack the five metrics we use to measure content marketing ROI for businesses just like yours.
Content Marketing Overview
Before we dive into exploring ROI, let’s first outline what we mean when we talk about content marketing. Over the past several years, statistics have shown that building engagement with consumers through educational content is one of the most effective (and cost-effective) ways to market your business.
In fact, content marketing (your educational material) usually generates about three times as many leads, while costing up to 62% less than traditional marketing. That’s a huge cost-benefit exchange!
So what sort of content does content marketing actually include?
Every time you create useful content for your audience, it is reinforcing your brand authority. That means customers are more likely to trust your brand and choose your product or service. That’s the power of content marketing.
Measuring Return On Investment (ROI)
If you’ve got a top-notch content marketing strategy and are producing regular content for your audience, you’re already ahead of the curve! It can be easy to lost momentum, however, if you haven’t established key indicators to help you measure the value and success of your content marketing.
That’s what we’re here to do! ?
Traditional methods of calculating ROI require a basic formula: Your revenue (Return) minus your investment (amount spent on marketing). Divide this by your investment, and then multiply by 100 to get a percentage.
When it comes to content marketing, however, simple formulas like the one above aren’t always going to accurately measure your ROI. This is because content can influence your return over a long period of time and in ways that aren’t always as clear-cut as clicks and conversions.
For that reason, we look at five key areas that impact how valuable your content really is. By using these metrics, and looking at long term results (i.e. year over year measurements rather than the past 30 days) you can capture a more accurate picture of your content marketing ROI.
? Lead Generation
The first metric we look at is lead generation. Using tools like Google Analytics (by the way, if you don’t have this set up on your website, do it now!), we can get a better understanding of which content is generating leads.
For example, you can determine if your latest blog post (or even that blog post from a year ago) is enticing people to click on the CTA. Gaining insight to lead generation is much easier when using paid ads and freebie materials, so be sure to incorporate some of that into your content marketing strategy.
Google Analytics can also help you evaluate the quality of your leads. For instance, if a piece of content generated a lot of traffic to your site, but no conversions, then the chances are your content did not attract the quality of leads you are looking for. Fortunately, because content marketing costs less than traditional marketing, you can easily change your CTA, where you are choosing to share that content, or experiment with a new keyword or theme without breaking the bank.
It stands to reason that in order to determine your ROI, you will need to look at how many sales it produces. With content marketing, however, your memes, infographics, and blogs aren’t always guiding your audience directly to make sales. Instead, they are designed to nurture engagement and trust—which will eventually lead to not only a sale but also a return customer.
So how can you measure the impact of your content marketing on your sales? This is where year over year (or month over month) data comes in handy. By looking at different timeframes of sales within your company, alongside timeframes of content released, you can determine if there is a correlation between your content efforts and your revenue.
If you want to better understand how specific content is impacting sales, Google Analytics can again help you determine if there is a connection between the leads generated by a piece of content and increased sales during that timeframe.
? Web Traffic
Increased web traffic is a great way to view content marketing ROI. While not all traffic will lead to conversions, increased traffic will most certainly lead to increased sales over time.
Using our favorite tool (yep, Google Analytics…it’s free!) you can see trends in your web traffic as well as different sources that are driving that traffic. This can help you evaluate the effectiveness of different content marketing strategies.
For example, if you are seeing more organic traffic than traffic from social media, there is a good chance your social media strategy isn’t having the impact you are looking for, but other aspects of your strategy are working well. The same applies to your blog posts, landing pages, and other direct, organic, or referral sources.
Audience engagement with your content is a great metric for ROI. Engagement, however, goes beyond social media likes and comments. To truly understand how well you are growing engagement through your content, you will need to take a look at other types of interaction as well.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Is your content being shared across social media channels?
- How do users interact with your website?
- Are users hitting your site and leaving a few seconds later (high bounce rate)? Or do they stay, read your content, and even click on your CTA?
- Bounce rate, length of time on a page (session duration), and whether or not your audience is perusing your website (pages per session) are all good ways to measure the success of your content.
Social media engagement includes measuring increases in followers, likes, and comments, as well as how often users share your content on their own social media channels.
? Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
One of the simplest ways to measure the success of your content when it comes to SEO is to evaluate your search engine ranking over time. When you search Google for a keyword directly related to your business, where does your website or content show up in the search results? What page are you on for each significant keyword?
Once you have a starting point, begin putting effort into ranking for one of your most important keywords. In fact, you can even spend an entire month, quarter, or year just focused on that one keyword in all of your content marketing efforts. Over a year, or whichever time period you choose, monitor your page ranking.
If you move from pages 10 to 2, then you have direct evidence that your strategy is working! Keep going and keep reevaluating your search engine status, implementing your strategy for other keywords.
ROI is difficult to measure without an understanding of spend. Content marketing expenses come down to how much you spend on writing, graphic design, video production, and social media posting.
Tracking small costs and changes in revenue is a great way to get started understanding how much content marketing is impacting your business. For example, if you don’t yet post on social media or host blogs on your website, start by investing in those two elements. Track your business growth, website traffic, and sales over a period of time (we recommend at least 6 months to a year) while carefully tracking your expenses and time.
With an overview of the above five metrics, you will more easily see how implementing a content marketing strategy is impacting your business, and whether or not the investment is worth the return.
Gain a Strategy for Growth
Measuring content marketing ROI comes down to more than just money spent and money earned. Look at the long term impact of your content, such as audience growth, social media shares and interactions, growth in sales, and improved search engine ranking.
To see an accurate picture of your ROI, compare time periods to see how traffic or engagement is growing or changing over time, and which pieces of content were the most influential in that change. You might find that there are blogs or social posts worth adding to your sales process or sharing as a free opt-in resource to grow your leads.
Ready to implement a content marketing strategy for growth? Learn more about our content marketing services and join our newsletter to get monthly tips to improve your website, digital presence, and overall marketing impact!