Measuring ROI for Content Marketing
Measuring content marketing ROI isn’t always simple. Great content marketing demonstrates value that can extend beyond traditional metrics. Content colors your brand’s personality, attracts new clients, builds customer loyalty, and establishes your authority and thought leadership within your industry.
Nevertheless, the hard metrics prove tangible success. Metrics can help verify and monetize your return on investment—especially with regards to marketing and sales strategy.
What are your key performance indicators?
When measuring ROI for content marketing, it’s important to determine which key performance indicators are relevant to your brand. KPIs are quantifiable measures of your business and content success—the figures you can reference when discussing your strategy and results to your team.
Different businesses call for different KPIs—because each company has a unique strategy and goal. While every KPI provides value in its own right, dissecting every figure isn’t the best use of your time. Delivering big numbers in every category doesn’t equate to success. You want the best ROI in areas that best relate to your business and its strategy.
For example, if your goal is to increase brand awareness, you may look to social shares or page views for an indication of progress. But if you’re more focused on generating leads, you’ll home in on click patterns to better drive conversion.
KPIs are a great way to identify where you’re succeeding, but they also alert you to opportunities for improvement. To refine your business strategy, pick the most relevant metrics and follow those closely. Watch and track the rest, but focus on the most relevant KPIs that will give you the strongest indication of your content ROI.
Consumption is a great way to measure content ROI. Consumption refers to how and how often your content is consumed. Tracking consumption helps you understand how visitors navigate your site and engage with your content. There’s a direct correlation between the way a customer moves through your site and their perception of your brand. What do they want to look at? What other kinds of content do they want to see?
Consumption can also be an indication of the conversion of a consumer to purchase your product or service and the likelihood that they’ll return for future visits. Harvard Business Review reports that decision simplicity drastically increases a customer’s engagement with a brand’s website. The easier it is for a person to gather and “consume” information from your site, the more likely they are to purchase and recommend to others. Thus, consumption is a crucial measure if you’re using content marketing to generate sales.
You can measure consumption in several ways:
Total visits gives you the number of visitors who access your site. This should not be confused with page views, which are a total measure of all visited pages, inclusive of pages visited by the same user multiple times.
Unique visits is the number of visitors to your site, but not the number of times they visit.
Downloads refers to the number of e-books, whitepapers, or other free content users have downloaded.
Time on site is the amount of time a person spends browsing your site with or without purchasing.
Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing just one page, along with how quickly they leave.
You can track these metrics with a range of tools including Google Analytics and SpyFu. SpyFu offers a supplemental service that tracks site traffic and organic keyword growth. You can also use site-specific metric analysis via your site’s host (i.e. Squarespace, WordPress, etc.). Be sure to track your data data weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually to best monitor your progression. When you hit a metric goal, celebrate!
The number of leads you capture can help create a sales funnel, which becomes a direct measure of your content marketing ROI. You can generate leads using a variety of content:
- Newsletter signups
- E-book downloads
- How-to guides
- Case studies
In each case, you’re providing added value to a potential customer in exchange for their contact information. Receipt of their email address provides proof of engagement. But it’s crucial to dive deeper than the number of leads some form of content generated. Understand the lead origin: Where did the lead come from? What kind of content is generating the strongest response?
You can track lead origin by using cookies. Cookies track visitors on your site and log the pages they viewed before interacting with your lead-capture form. However, it’s important to note that cookies make any visitors uncomfortable. As an alternative, you can use lead-capture form plugins, like tools offered by Sumo or OptinMonster.
Social media metrics are a bit more straightforward. They include:
- Likes, comments, and shares
- Conversion rate
- Post reach (organic and sponsored)
Your social media reach is an indicator of brand awareness and content engagement. You can also use the platform to establish strong customer relationships and gain real-time understanding of your clients’ wants and needs.
Track your social media performance with tools like Shared Count and Get Social. Shared Count is a free, user-friendly application that shows the number of times a piece of content was shared on social media. However, you can only check one URL at a time. The Get Social plugin tracks all social interactions to give a more complete view of how your content is viewed, shared and engaged with. Separately, you can also keep an eye on your brand mentions via brand-specific hashtags, the number of times your brand is tagged in others’ posts, and mentions on Google Alerts.
Search engine optimization is a major indicator of your content’s visibility. If you successfully rank in the top spot for an industry-specific keyword, this translates to thousands of organic clicks and potential new customers. When measuring the ROI on your SEO efforts, you can see exactly where your customers and sales are coming from. You can then take the highest-performing keyword or best-performing page layout and apply it to other parts of your site.
Though SEO is a long-haul effort, it gives you precise indicators of where you’re succeeding and enables you to make adjustments that improve your bottom line. SEO includes several metrics:
- Keyword rankings
- Bounce rate
- Conversion rate
- Time on site
- Time on page
- Page views
- Referring websites and backlinks
- Domain authority and page authority (measures of the likelihood your site or page will show up in search engine results)
Track these metrics using tools like Google Trends. These figures will help you evaluate how your brand’s SEO has evolved over time and where you rank. The higher you rank, the more clicks you get; the more clicks, the more potential customers. From there, you can look at your conversion rate to determine how SEO attracts and then how other parts of your content convert.
The best way to track content marketing ROI is sales.
Conversion rates or close-rates prove that ROI is coming from content marketing. These rates track a customer’s engagement from their first click to the closed sale (and beyond). It also shows which type of content generates the most leads that convert to closed sales. For example, your content conversion rate might tell you that articles about product details convert better than articles about current events in your industry.
Loyalty rates indicate how much money subscribers spend compared to non-subscribers. This includes newsletter subscribers, social media followers, and any other membership-based aspect of your business. Loyalty rates also determine the value per piece of content. Basically, your content keeps people loyal via newsletter, social media, and email; you can then determine how much that content is worth based on how much those followers spend.
Sales can help you determine the path from content to lead to revenue. Does the sale come directly from clicks on your content? This helps determine the true value of your conversion chain.
Measuring ROI for content marketing isn’t as simple as a single method or metric. It’s both subjective and objective, where much of the value is related to multiple metrics at once. You can measure your content marketing ROI based on your brand’s strategy and future development.
Always ask potential customers how they heard about you. Track their responses. If they heard about you from any of your pieces of content, you’re already seeing a worthy return on investment!
Right now, jot down the KPIs that are most relevant to your brand. What programs can help you measure these? How can you streamline your tracking process so you can measure ROI on a consistent basis?
Not sure which KPIs are most relevant to your brand? Contact Palm Beach Content Co. to help understand how to best measure your content marketing ROI.