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Measuring the ROI of Content Marketing

Content marketing is an integral part of any marketing strategy because it benefits both the brand and consumer. While the brand is able to broaden its audience and generate new leads, the consumer is able to get valuable information that can help with their everyday life.

Along with potential customers, an effective content marketing strategy can also reach and connect with current customers through blog, social, and email marketing efforts. This can generate brand recognition as well as deepen customer loyalty and increase future sales. 

The fact is, today the question isn’t whether or not your company should be doing content marketing; most companies already understand that or at least have heard the facts from several resources by now. The question I get asked several times a week is: How do I gather meaningful data to show the ROI of content marketing?

Taking Advantage of Analytics for Web and Social ROI

The ultimate measure to gauge the success of your content marketing campaign is through several key measurements, such as the sales and cost savings incurred due to the campaign.

Site analytics can provide the most clear, comprehensive picture of your brand and customer interaction. It offers some of the best metrics to show whether your content efforts are paying off.

Some of the most important metrics (and why) to note on your analytics include:

  • Conversions / month: Whether it’s actual sales or measuring the leads gained from the website, you have to track your conversions to know if your content marketing is effective. 
  • Top performing keywords: Track to see which keywords have the best conversion rates. This allows you to continue to optimize the top performers and spend less top on the keywords that don’t have the highest ROI. 
  • Top landing pages: Determine which landing pages users are hitting the most and what keywords are getting them there. Then optimize to make sure the user can find what they need and can easily convert. 
  • Number of pages getting rankings: Every new page on your website is an opportunity for someone to discover your business. Tracking the number of pages that are getting rankings shows the effectiveness of your SEO campaigns. 
  • Number of keyword rankings: If you are continuing to add new pages to your website, you should see an increase in the number of keywords that you’re getting rankings for in search engine result pages. 

As you can already guess, most of these metrics are related and if you’re seeing improvement in one, the others will show improvement as well. 

If you are working with social media, it’s important to first decide what your goals are for each channel. Some businesses are simply focused on getting in front of new people and engaging with them. Measurements for that kind of a goal are: 

  • Number of new followers or fans: This will help determine the success of your ad campaigns if you’re running them and the growth of your audience. 
  • Number of RTs, @replies, shares, or likes: Depending on the medium, there might be some auto-calculated version of this, but these metrics will help you determine the reach of your content and if one post was more popular than another. 

However, if you are looking for more direct ROI metrics, then you might consider the following metrics on top of your typical conversion rate tracking data: 

  • Number of referrals to the website: Assuming your website is the place where conversions will likely take place, tracking this metric will give you an idea of the opportunities for conversions your social media content is giving you. 
  • Number of new, positive (or negative) reviews: Reviews influence buyer decision making as well as things like organic search engine result rankings. While you’re looking, if you notice negative reviews, go ahead and address them. Addressing negative reviews will show your commitment to customer service and could turn an unhappy customer into a brand evangelist. 
  • Top performing referrals: Determine the referrals that are getting the best conversion rate and scale those channels. 

Simple ROI Calculation

There are no exact calculations that can accurately predict ROI because a number of unexpected influences can affect the ROI. Fortunately, there is a simple ROI calculation that can help you determine whether you are profiting from your content marketing strategy:

ROI = (# of leads x value of each lead) - investment

While this calculation can provide a simple measure of the monetary return on investment, it is important to consider the value of social media to your company. This can be difficult. There are no exact numbers formulas in this case because the value of a Facebook “Like” or Twitter “Follow” is really dependent on the company and why that company is posting to social channels. 

What if your ROI Stinks?

In order for content marketing to work, it needs to grab the attention of your ideal target market. This requires useful content that can engage your customers and will encourage them to share the information with others. Creating sharable content is only helpful if it is actually attracting the right customer and generating leads. 

For example, if your company builds bird houses and you gear your content marketing towards basketball, no matter how much traffic you generate, you’re probably not going to sell very many bird houses. 

The important thing to note with all content marketing activities is that a lot of will depend on the quality of the content, your distribution methods, and if it’s something that’s resonating with your target audience. Not seeing an immediate ROI should never translate as “give up on content marketing.” Instead, not seeing results should mean evolve your strategy. 

Content Marketing is a Long-Term Solution

Content never goes away. Once something has been published, it can be viewed for years to come. This means that you will have a never-ending marketing solution. In fact, content marketing is unique because it can take some time to reach the campaign’s full potential and realize an ROI.

Rather than paying for one advertising campaign, which will run for a certain period of time, content marketing will exist on the internet indefinitely. This means that your current strategy can pay off for years to come. Promoting existing content can also help you to reach a wider audience and increase your content marketing ROI.

A recent study by Kapost and Eloqua also showed that the costs of content marketing reduce over time. The study proved that in the first five months, the cost per lead dropped by approximately 80%.

Pulling it all Together 

If you’re producing an ROI report for someone that isn’t in the marketing field, remember that it’s your job to make the report easy to understand. I always include definitions, recommendations, and interpretations as well as a high level summary. 

Producing relevant content can help you to gain trust among consumers and lead to more sales and customer retention, so focus on the items that have been found to produce the greatest return, including featured articles, blog posts, how-to articles, videos, and white papers. Optimized content can establish authority by addressing key questions and concerns.

We are barely scratching the surface when it comes to data collection and analytics. I highly encourage you to take a deeper dive when it comes to each campaign, medium, and customize things to your industry. 

Additional Resources

The Importance of Content Strategy in Higher Education - Mediacurrent Blog Post

How to Drive Traffic to Your Website - Mediacurrent Blog Post

Reputation Management - Mediacurrent eBook

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