&Marketing, and marketing, outsourced marketing strategy

Written By Kim Steinmetz

On June 9, 2022

The targeting, planning, and tracking of content marketing campaigns continue to get more sophisticated as new capabilities and tools are tailored to the task. However, CMI recently reported that 44% of marketers still find some aspects of improving content measurement challenging, though it remains a top priority.

Measuring their return on investment, or content marketing ROI, is increasingly essential because customers engage with content at every stage of their journey. Forrester found that a customer engages with 11.4 pieces of content before purchasing. Furthermore, the customer journey is rarely linear, especially in the B2B sales funnel. Instead, potential customers may dip in and out of the funnel several times, sampling different pieces of your content before converting.

Measuring content marketing ROI is not an exact science, but tried-and-true best practices are emerging. Read on to learn more about content marketing ROI, measuring it, and which metrics are truly vital.

What is Content Marketing ROI?

Simply put, content marketing ROI is a percentage showing how much you earned from content marketing compared to what you spent producing and distributing it. It is one of the most critical measures of the success of a content marketing program because it is directly tied to revenue.

However, content marketing ROI has been challenging for marketers to quantify because, as mentioned above, the customer journey is often anything but straightforward. Content marketing is, after all, a long-term strategy, which makes attribution more difficult to determine. Plus, content alone won’t necessarily generate ROI – it is most valuable when created to bring value to additional channels like email, ads, etc.

What Are The 4 Steps Involved In Measuring Content Marketing ROI?

Marketers have developed a formula to determine the content marketing ROI percentage. Still, many more metrics are not tied directly to revenue but help provide a holistic view of the success of your content marketing campaigns. First, we’ll explain the formula.

Step One

Add up how much you’ve spent producing content. This could include images, video, audio, the content creator’s salary, work done by other departments, etc.

Step Two

To that number, add what it costs you to distribute the content. This could include tools/software used for creation and distribution or paid promotions. If you are using those tools for multiple purposes, use a percentage of that cost – for example, are you using email solely to distribute content? Perhaps not, so focus on only the portion of the cost attributed to content. This sum represents the total cost of producing all of your content, or your investment.

Step Three

Add up all of the sales or leads (you must establish a lead value) that resulted directly from a piece of content. This is your return.

Step Four

To that number, add what it costs you to distribute the content. This could include tools/software used for creation and distribution or paid promotions. If you are using those tools for multiple purposes, use a percentage of that cost – for example, are you using email solely to distribute content? Perhaps not, so focus on only the portion of the cost attributed to content. This sum represents the total cost of producing all of your content, or your investment.

Which Content Marketing Metrics Really Matter?

The first thing you should know is that it is counterproductive to try to track all possible metrics. Instead, you should hone in on specific metrics depending on what you want to accomplish with your content. When you begin a new content marketing project or campaign, focus on metrics that support your key goals and provide you with information you can use to optimize the project or campaign. Don’t wait until the piece is released to decide which metrics are important. Plan ahead and limit yourself to the most meaningful and actionable information.

Here are some key metrics to consider linked to some common goals:

To Measure Revenue Potential: Lead Quality and Sales

There are many ways to measure lead quality, which are likely to vary from business to business. For example, if you have Google Analytics set up on your website, you can see whether visitors spend time on important pages. Set up a goal for those pages and view the results at Conversions > Goals > Funnel Visualization. Another way to evaluate lead quality is by looking at traffic, bounce rates, and conversions together. For example, high traffic with high bounce rates and low conversions can indicate low lead quality.

In B2C, if you want to know how many leads turned into sales and the value of those sales, you’ll need eCommerce enabled in Google Analytics. At Behavior > Site Content > All Pages, you’ll find a Page View column that can show which pages are driving the most revenue. However, this only works for straightforward, one-session conversions, which aren’t that common for most websites. You can learn more by visiting Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions, which measures conversions that each channel assisted with, and sorting by landing page. For B2B, focus on form submissions.

To Evaluate SEO Performance: SEO Success and Exposure/Authority

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) increases website traffic by helping your website rank higher in search engine results, where potential customers are more likely to click. Measuring the success of your SEO often involves looking at whether you rank well for your target keywords (this is vital), have high-authority inbound links, and are popping up in relevant answer boxes. You can check this by using a private/incognito window to search for key terms and seeing how well you rank. Tools like Moz’s Link Explorer that can give you specific measurements around domain and page authority, and show you your inbound links. Compare your SEO success with your social engagement to see how well your content uses keywords and whether it is finding the right audience.

The more exposure you get and the more you establish your brand’s authority both online and offline, the more people will want to share and link to your content. The Moz tool offers good insight into authority by domain and page, but you should also be sure to track offline metrics like instances of media coverage and participation in industry events. While authority is valuable, it can be challenging to track, so you may want to get creative with the types of metrics you measure here. For example, don’t forget to pay attention to what people have to say about your brand on social media.

You can also see what terms your blogs get impressions and clicks for in Search Console or Analytics. Additionally, there are tools (like Search Analytics for Sheets) that will continuously and automatically export out all queries your pages get impressions for so you can monitor average position and help determine which terms to target for new content.

To Track Engagement: Web Traffic, Onsite Engagement, and Social Media ROI

Without traffic, you can’t generate revenue on your site, so web traffic is an important metric to combine with others for a well-rounded view. You can use Google Analytics to see how much traffic a content piece is driving by visiting Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages. This view shows you which pages visitors first land on, sorted by highest-traffic pages first. Next, look at where your traffic is coming from (referral traffic) by clicking on a specific page and clicking Secondary Dimension > Acquisition > Source/Medium.

Once people arrive at your website, you’ll want to understand how much time they spend on which pages. Low bounce rates are a good sign that your content is well-received, but there are also other important onsite engagement metrics. In Google Analytics, go to Audience > Overview to see pages per session, bounce rate, and average session duration. To see how fast visitors are bouncing off a specific piece of content, go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages and find its URL.

Social media shares are important to track because social proof and peer recommendations have become so critical in the purchase process. You can see how much traffic you get from specific platforms at Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals, and the Social > Overview page can show you how much revenue that traffic has earned you.

Looking for more guidance around understanding and optimizing your content marketing ROI? Contact us today!

About the Author

Content Specialist Kim Steinmetz helps brands and thought leaders discover and develop their unique voice and tone while establishing authority on a topic through compelling messaging and copywriting. An accomplished writer and marketer with over a decade of experience, Kim is well-versed in both B2C and B2B content.

About &Marketing

&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.

Are you facing challenges of your own in generating leads and meeting your business’ growth goals?

We’d love to learn more about your challenges and how a coordinated marketing approach might help take your organization to the next level.