We all need good content! But, what exactly is good content?
You might be spending hundreds of hours and dollars creating the ultimate content marketing masterpieces. Your content might even attract thousands of readers. Yet, no matter how well-written and popular your content is, it all comes down to the bottom line. Is your content marketing strategy doing your business any good?
In order to determine whether your content marketing is really effective and if it is actually helping you accomplish business goals, measuring results is vital.
Truth be told, no matter what business you are in, people will always equate success to dollar bills. Hence, it is only natural for people to start measuring content marketing success by calculating their content marketing ROI. However, as we’ll discuss in greater detail below, a content marketing campaign’s impact extends well beyond sales and can take a lot of time and effort to measure.
Improving your data measurement and analysis techniques, taking into account direct content marketing revenue as well as other relevant metrics, is the key to identifying what is working and most importantly, what is not.
The better you get at tracking your content marketing key performance indicators, the easier it will be for you to maximize the results you see from your content marketing efforts.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through some of the different approaches and techniques you can implement to calculate content marketing ROI and make the most out of your digital marketing investment.
Table of contents
- What is content marketing ROI?
- Why is measuring content marketing ROI difficult?
- How to measure content marketing ROI?
- Content marketing metrics that matter
What is content marketing ROI?
In simple terms, Content marketing ROI is a percentage that the revenue you made from content marketing in comparison to what you spent.
Generally, businesses calculate ROI using a formula that subtracts the total investment cost from the profit (which equals the net return), then divides this new net return by the cost of the investment and multiplies it by 100.
In this case, the total investments take into account the total content marketing expense.
While this formula can be effective for other cases, there is much debate about its accuracy when measuring content marketing returns.
The problem lies in the role content plays in customers’ purchasing journeys. Unlike an ad or landing page, content won’t directly prompt the potential lead to convert. Instead, content nurtures potential leads at different stages of their journey, building up the trust and loyalty that support conversion over time. Hence why 71% of marketing executives say the biggest challenge in proving the ROI of their marketing efforts is attributing social and content to revenue.
Why is measuring content marketing ROI difficult?
If you are struggling to measure the results of your content marketing strategy, rest assured you are not alone. In fact, according to the findings of the CMO Survey conducted in February 2022, 40 percent of digital marketing professionals share this struggle.
According to their report, “while over 60% of marketers are continuously testing and iterating their digital marketing and believe to have a good understanding of the marketing technologies available to them, fewer than 40% of marketers believe they have the right system in place to track customer data and have consolidated/integrated customer data across all touchpoints.”
Furthermore, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s research from the present year, out of all B2B organizations that measure content performance, only 36% indicate they’re doing an excellent or very good job at the task.
So, why is it so hard to close the bridge between content marketing and its impact on customers’ behavior? Let’s start by taking a look at how content marketing works.
Content writing differs from copywriting in its purpose, providing the reader with value rather than directly selling or promoting a product or service. Instead, content marketing helps you connect with your audience, answer their questions, and help them solve problems.
Rarely do sales occur as an immediate result of content consumption. However, that’s not to say that content marketing doesn’t have any effect on sales. According to Trust Radius, the average buyer consults 5.1 sources of information along their path to purchase.
That is because while the content might not immediately land you a sale, it does contribute to building brand awareness, loyalty, and authority. The issue is that while all of these things positively impact conversion, they are also extremely hard to measure and can take weeks if not months to show up in your metrics.
As a result, directly attributing revenue to content marketing can be extremely challenging.
How to measure content marketing ROI?
Good content will always produce an impact on its target audience. But more often than not, its impact will not be immediately evident.
If we are simply tracking direct conversions (for example purchases or contact form submissions with service inquiries), tracking content marketing ROI would be quite easy. Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple.
Let’s take a look at some of the many factors you should take into consideration:
Calculating content marketing costs
- Content creation – How much are you spending creating your content? This includes the time you are spending creating content today, your content writing services expenses, and any time or money invested into creating images and infographics for your site and social media accounts.
- Content distribution – Here’s where you factor in any money spent getting your content seen, whether it be creating social media posts, hiring a social media manager, or paying for ads.
Calculate direct content marketing revenue
- Direct revenue is any money obtained from people clicking on a link on your content and purchasing a service product directly
Measure the indirect content marketing impact on revenue
Here’s where things get interesting. Content positively impacts sales as it contributes to building connections and trust with your target audience. However, its results are hardly immediate. Instead, the fruits of your labor will become apparent over time. In fact, as reported by Forrester, consumers engage, on average, with 11.4 pieces of content prior to making a purchase.
Nonetheless, there are several ways to determine if your content is having a desirable effect on your visitors.
- Set Benchmarks: Reaching 1,000 visits on each blog post might be good news if you are currently getting 100. On the other hand, if you are currently getting 2,000 visits per post, getting 1,000 visits would be a clear indicator of something going wrong. You should get familiar with your metrics to determine where you currently stand and set benchmarks that are relevant to you.
- Track conversions besides direct purchases: To evaluate the efficacy of your content marketing efforts you need to monitor different types of conversion. Newsletter sign-ups, survey submissions, content shares, and comments are all good indicators that your audience is engaging with your content.
- Track content performance metrics: Data such as keyword ranking, bounce rate, time spent on a page, and scroll depth are good indicators of how your audience is responding to your content.
Content Marketing Metrics That Matter
Google Analytics on its own delivers its users an extensive amount of data. Webmasters and business owners have a lot of information to process, even without any additional SEO analytics tools. This is why choosing the best metrics to measure content marketing ROI is especially challenging.
So what information should you keep an eye on? These are some of the metrics that will give you some actionable insights:
- Site authority – Since the purpose of content is to build trust and connection with your audience in order to convert sales, it is important to understand how your website and business are perceived. The better your site authority, the better the perception the world has of your business
- Pages per session – If your readers are engaged by your content, they will likely feel inclined to read more articles or even start browsing around your product and service pages. Pro tip: use Google Analytics Goals to track the number of visits to specific pages to get a better idea of how you are performing conversion-wise.
- Scroll depth and time on the page – Together these two metrics will give you a good indication of how engaged your readers are with your content.
- Keyword ranking – We all know how important getting on the first page of Google is.
People won’t buy what they can’t find.
But keyword rankings are not just about getting seen, they are also a reflection of the quality and relevance of your content. the more relevant and useful your content is for your audience, the higher it will rank, hence why rankings are something you should always keep an eye on.
How Long does it take to see results from content marketing?
As previously mentioned, content marketing is a long game and its value lies in its impact on your visitors over time. If you try to measure results from content marketing efforts a few days after implementing your strategy, it will be hard to observe any tangible impact. In this case, we recommend you to be patient and give yourself at least a few months before expecting any major results.
At the same time though, you shouldn’t be waiting forever to collect and analyze data. Neglecting to track results from content marketing efforts can cause you to miss out on valuable insights for your business.
When it comes to measuring content marketing ROI there’s a lot that can come into play. For best results, you should create your own system where you take into account the KPIs that are the most relevant to you and measure your success against your personal benchmarks.
If you have been investing a lot of time and money into your content marketing strategy but are failing to see results, even after giving it time, you might need to implement some changes. In this case, we recommend working with content marketing strategy professionals, who can help you create tailored content and boost conversion rates.