We keep hearing about the value of content marketing—how it helps demonstrate expertise for our company, generate trust and credibility, as well as SEO value and authority when people share—all great stuff. But how do you measure the ROI of content marketing?
While it’s easy to show that you have been working on a number of content marketing projects, the more difficult task comes in actually showing how that content marketing is delivering measureable results that contribute to the bottom line–acquiring new, paying customers.
With so many types of analytics readily available, it has become too easy to fall into the trap of paying attention to the numbers that are easy to capture. Page traffic, views, clicks, etc. It’s easy to focus on these simplistic metrics, all the while ignoring the ultimate metrics we really care about like new revenue and actually calculating the ROI.
What is Quality Content?
For many companies, the challenge is creating quality content. Great content is that which is relevant and compelling for your audience. In order for it to be relevant, your prospect has to be able to envision themselves working with you, using your product or services.
Today, where content fails is that it is irrelevant and sometimes even confusing. If a person does not understand why they should become a customer, they won’t buy–ever. Focus on making your content relevant/relatable! Don’t leave your future customer guessing why your product or service should be important to them.
Use your content to talk about the types of problems your products and services solve because that’s the kind of information that helps convey relevance. Think about the way you buy—businesses buy the same way. They have to have a problem to solve and a pain that is bad enough to drive them to part with their hard-earned money.
Amplifying Your Content
The other area that seems to be a challenge for many organizations is getting enough eyes on your content. There’s a tremendous volume of content being created, however, how much of that content is actually seen or read?
Unfortunately, a lot of content gets created and then isn’t being amplified to increase the audience that sees it. And that’s really part of the reason for creating content—to build an audience.
So what are the metrics we should be looking at as we measure how well our content marketing is performing? We should consider how engaged the audience is, the actual size of the audience and its growth, and that will help us calculate the return on investment of your content marketing.
In order to measure your content’s performance, you’ll need to look at the audience produced. When you track your content’s performance, you’ll know whether it’s getting the exposure it needs and you’ll know what kind of information resonates with your audience. And this detail essentially tells you what to write more about. You can look to the following metrics to evaluate your engagement level:
– Social shares. If your content is being shared by others, that suggests they find it useful or educational, so you can assume you’re delivering quality information. People don’t share sub-standard content. Look to the social shares on each of the networks to see what is performing well with each audience as they may be quite different.
– Pages viewed per visit. Think hearty bites, not nibbles. Someone who comes to your site and immediately moves on is not as valuable as someone who visits one page and then navigates to another link on your site. Pay attention to whether people are nibbling or feasting. Build your content and post it such that it encourages visitors to take a look at other pages on your site.
– Visit Time. In addition to tracking the quantity of page views, track the quality. This means paying attention to how long the article or page was viewed for. If people are spending more time with your content, it indicates that they have found some sort of personal value from it.
Business Growth Metrics
Don’t forget the ultimate goal of your marketing is to produce leads which convert into sales. The following metrics contribute to growth.
– Click-through rates on calls to action (CTAs). When visitors take your call to action to heart, you have succeeded. Track the click-through rate, and if it is unsatisfactory, consider different placement, alternative copy or maybe a change to the button.
– Bring your sales cycle time down. The amount of time spent turning leads to paying customers should go down if your content marketing ROI is working.
– Ensure that your content is attracting real customers. Track the leads that click on your CTAs and consider the percentage that turn into paying customers to confirm that your content is in fact attracting the right kind of audience.
– Track the average revenue per customer. Think about the lifetime value of a customer (how much they will spend with you over the years) and then compare that with the amount of spend that is necessary to generate those quality leads.
Calculating The ROI of Content Marketing
Calculating your content marketing ROI really isn’t that difficult. It’s a fairly simple financial equation. Take the money you’ve invested—including the cost of writers, paid distribution, etc. Then determine the total value of sales resulting from that content. The difference is your return—positive or negative. The equation is below.
Profit from marketing – Cost of marketing = Content ROI
Cost of content marketing
The calculation is relatively simple—but the value to your strategy is immense.
The metrics above are important to you and your working level marketing organization, however, when it comes to metrics your executives want to see, they’re really only interested in a few key pieces of information.
1. Are we generating new leads? You want to understand which content is generating new leads. If you were then to further amplify the content, how many more leads can you expect?
2. Are leads turning into customers? Social shares and bounce rate are valuable to you for evaluating your strategy and how you execute. But these metrics don’t carry a lot of value with the rest of the organization.
You’re spending money on content to engage, educate and entertain, but at the end of the day, it needs to bring in new customers. That’s what the C-suite cares about most.
3. What is our cost per lead? Regardless of the marketing channel, we know we have to spend money to make money. A decrease in the cost-per-lead or cost-per-acquisition means your content marketing is adding value. You should also be measuring how long it takes the lead to transition into a paying customer. If you’re able to convert leads to customers faster, you should also be saving money.
4. Are we maintaining our existing customers? We all know it’s much cheaper to keep the customers you already have then to go find new ones. Keep an eye on your churn rate to ensure you’re not sacrificing new customers for those that are already sold on doing business with you.
There are a tremendous number of metrics you’ll need to be looking at to assess which activities are worth your future attention and dollars. Different stakeholders in the organization will be interested in different information. The one thing that everyone is interested in is ensuring that your marketing is generating new leads and understanding how it’s delivering a return on the investment. Use the information above to pull together a metrics plan that will work for your organization.