How to Measure Your Content Marketing ROI

Ciara Byrne

Measuring the results of your marketing efforts is crucial if you want to make well-informed decisions based on data. As with all marketing activities, content is always a work in progress – whether it’s a new blog or a company whitepaper, you hope it will perform better than last time.

But how do you actually track and measure your content marketing ROI? Is there a defined way to accurately see your return on investment and know that your content is worth it?

In today’s guide, we are exploring some of the best ways to improve your content marketing ROI across different marketing activities. We will also show you how you can measure and benchmark your ROI, as well as some tips on improving it. Whether you are working with an advertising agency or have an in-house marketing team, measuring and forecasting results can be of great use to you.

First of all, let’s define what content marketing ROI actually refers to.

What is content marketing ROI?

For those of you who are looking for the actual meaning of the phrase “content marketing ROI,” it is basically a percentage that shows how much revenue you will gain from your content marketing activities – in direct comparison to what you spend. The exact formula of measuring it is as follows:

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Let’s give an example.

For instance, if you spent $500 on developing and promoting your content and got $2,000 in sales as a result, your content marketing ROI is 300%. (($2,000 - $500 / $500) x 100).

Deciding which metrics to track

As you can see, marketing is not just about creating great content – it’s also about sales and ROI, and how to make most of it. To achieve that, you should know exactly how much you spend on creating and marketing your content, but also some of the key metrics you should track.

So, whereas the return on investment (ROI) is the actual sales you will get from that content, you should also track other key performance indicators (KPIs) for content such as clicks or follows/subscribes. It all depends on the channel you are using to promote – for instance, if you are promoting your content through email, you should track subscribers, delivery rates, open rates, etc.

If your company uses a lot of user-generated content (UGC) — that is, content such as social media, blog posts, unpacking or review videos, or influencer marketing, you’ll need to use content moderation to promote the best and neutralize the worst of user content. You’ll also want to measure the ROI on your UGC content to ensure it makes a positive rather than negative contribution to your content marketing results.

There are two main problems when it comes to tracking content performance. First are numbers – many people choose to track the wrong numbers which leads to inaccurate content marketing ROI. Second is the focus on too many KPIs, which makes it hard to get a clear picture of how the content is performing. For example, the cost of customer acquisition, or how much it costs the company to get a new customer, is a classic KPI because it’s so valuable in helping managers make important decisions.

Calculating your existing content marketing ROI

To make sure you are tracking your content marketing ROI, make sure to identify all of your content marketing activities first, and lay them out on paper. Blogs, ebooks, emails, whitepapers, email or SMS campaign, case study – there are so many types of content that are useful for bringing in new leads and converting them to customers.

However, in order to do that, you need to measure the content and users’ actions when engaging with it. Here are three metrics that can give you an accurate way of measuring your content marketing performance:

  • Conversions: The first metric is conversions. In order to track it, you need your content to perform as the first stage in the funnel. For instance, if your content is an email, it should have one main link or button where it redirects people to buy, see more, or consider your products. Then, you will be able to track the clicks on that button and the actual customers that came from that email.
  • % of closed leads: Personalized content is great for closing on leads. Once a lead requests a meeting, you can create specialized content for them to educate, engage, and teach them more about your products and/or services. After you publish these, use your content analytics to see if they engaged with the content and if the sales team closed them as leads.
  • % of sales: Tracking the percentage of sales is easy and recommended for B2C companies. For instance, if you sell products in an online store, you could lead people to product(s) page(s) from a blog, email, or any other type of content. By seeing the source of the traffic to those pages and the number of orders made, you could see how effective your content was.

If this seems complicated to you, you should know that content marketing has evolved from one branch of traditional marketing to many. It’s not just writing a blog post anymore — it’s orchestrating multiple channels of social media, planning and producing video content, creating on-demand lessons and knowledge bases, designing authoritative web pages, composing infographics, and much more. It all works in concert, and it all has to be measured, individually and collectively, to determine its ROI. Many brands focus on continually updating their content marketing outreach to develop a consistently growing base of new customers. As you measure results, remember that these days, the best content is user-centric, specific, and often takes an approach that is way different from the traditional marketing of five or ten years ago.

At the same time, content marketing is what drives positive brand perceptions and what can sell your brand to customers in the near or distant future. It directly links to your brand perception and is a cost-effective strategy to boost organic reach. For many brands, content marketing yields better ROI than advertising and is the key aspect that influences purchase decisions, upsells, and renewals.

Measuring a campaign vs. the entire strategy

The first thing you’ll need when measuring your content marketing is an actual content marketing strategy — and you’d be surprised at how many organizations don’t have one. (That’s like launching a ship without any navigation instruments. It’s exciting to be out on the sea, but an expensive mistake to risk not arriving at your destination.) Although content marketing is seen as essential in the majority of companies, as many as 46% of companies that sell B2B don’t have a documented approach.

And they’re not alone. Take nonprofits, for example, where content marketing is tailor-made for the kind of storytelling that is essential to gaining followers and supporters. However, organizations that depend on volunteers aren’t always as consistent at maintaining best practices as those with paid staff. That said, even though a non-profit content strategy may be run differently than a for-profit strategy, it still has to produce a favorable return on investment.

So no matter what kind of organization is involved, it needs to measure its results, whether its marketers are great navigators or lost at sea. What's good about tracking your content marketing ROI is that you can do it on a campaign level, as well as in total. So even without a formal plan, you can take a look at the ROI of a single content marketing campaign and the budget you have for it, as well as the overall content marketing strategy and the total expenses that went into that period.

Ultimately, your content marketing ROI will show you whether your content is motivating, engaging, and where you may be getting most of your customers. Over time, this can help you see the potential of your campaigns and direct you to the best types of content for acquiring more leads, getting more clicks, or increasing your revenue.

Improving your content marketing ROI

Tracking the performance of your content is an ongoing task, but what is also important is making sure your content marketing ROI is improved over time. In other words, you should also think about how you can improve your tactics and strategy to boost your ROI. Below, we are listing some of the most effective and actionable activities you could consider.

  • Focus on creating content that does not age – one that your target audience really appreciates and learns from.
  • Update your content regularly – you can expand your content, restructure it, and make sure that search engines regularly crawl and index your site.
  • Repurpose your most valuable content – evaluate your KPIs to find out what are the pieces of content that are proven to be most popular and recraft them in different ways (for example, a blog that is performing great can be repurposed into an eBook that you could use as a lead magnet, a YouTube video, the key topic for your next webinar, etc.).
  • Promote your content regularly – to make most of your content, make sure to promote it on social media and other channels, as one of the best ways to expand your audience.
  • Optimize your content – just like promotion, optimization goes a long way into making sure your content ranks well on the search engines.
  • Get help – If you don’t have time to manage all of this on your own, bring in an expert advisor on content strategy who can help you plan and analyze your content marketing for optimum ROI.

Final thoughts

It’s always good to get a clear impression of what works well and what doesn’t when it comes to your content marketing. With a concrete strategy for tracking your content marketing ROI, you can always be sure that you know how to get more leads and turn them into long-lasting customers.

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