The content is king mentality stands the test of time if you can actually drive the results you need to fuel your business. This is where content marketing ROI comes in.
You need to prepare to prove your results when you’re presenting reports to the C-suite and other stakeholders.
Content Marketing Institute’s 2019 report found that 72 percent of the most successful B2B content marketers say their organization measures content marketing ROI.
We wanted to learn from other content marketing experts about how they measure ROI, what their most notable results were, and how content marketing ROI influences their overall marketing strategy.
How to Measure Content Marketing ROI
When determining how to measure the ROI of content marketing, your approach will depend on the goals you have in place for your campaigns. Generally speaking, there are plenty of tips and insights you should know.
Here are some bits of wisdom experts shared:
Set CTAs as Goals
Liam Carnahan, the owner of Inkwell Content, a content marketing consultancy, ties his goal assessment to CTAs.
"There are many metrics you can use to prove ROI from content, but this is by far my favorite. If you are using content to drive direct sales, then you should be putting strong CTAs in what you're creating.
"These CTAs will most likely be linked to the pages on your site where conversions are most likely to happen. If you have a goal for these conversions set up in Google Analytics, then you can easily estimate how many of those conversions derived from a landing page that is content related, leaving you with an actual dollar-sign figure."
Think in Micro and Macro Goals
"To determine the ROI of your business' content marketing efforts, you should be tracking the number of macro and micro goals achieved, given your initial investment.
"Macro goals relate to commercial objectives and bottom of the funnel actions (for instance, leads and sales). These actions are closely tied to revenue generation.
"Micro goals represent an opportunity to nurture a prospect. These may be newsletter subscriptions, inbound links, or small actions of that nature that sit at the top of the funnel.
"Both types of goals help in finding the true ROI of your content marketing efforts. Results which directly impact the commercial objectives of your business (e.g., users making a purchase, requesting a demo, reaching out to sales, or placing a phone call) as a result of content marketing efforts can all be tied to ROI."
Ask the Right Questions For Each Campaign
"First, define the business objective. What are you planning to achieve here? How does content consumption translate into monetary value for your business?
"Second, define the marketing KPI. How do you define success? More traffic? Visits above two mins? Watching a video? Subscribing to a newsletter?
"Third, tie marketing and business results. How many people that consumed your content actually became customers? Are they of more value compared to people who did not consume your content?
"Then, I calculate ROI. I generate a campaign that gets tracked in Google Analytics, where I set up content downloads as a goal (I want the user to download my content, so this is my first KPI). The campaign will report the number of content downloads that it generated (my second KPI).
"Finally, I compare the number of online purchases that customers made after downloading my content vs users that did not download the content (this is my business result). In GA, you can achieve this by setting up two segments (download+purchase vs no-download+purchase)."
Focus on Both Kinds of ROI
"There are two kinds of ROI when it comes to content marketing. The first kind is bound to an individual piece of content, and the tracking of its metrics.
"The second kind of ROI is related to the overall lift of your website value and DR, due to the increased number of keywords and acquired backlinks. This lift happens over a longer period of time, as a result of a continuous content feed (usually in the form of a blog).
"In both cases, I’m talking about organic traffic only. The fact is, content marketing creates relevant leads. Relevant leads make great targets, and great targets make sales. The results may not be immediate, but they are certainly worth your dollar."
Notable Results Tied to Content Marketing ROI
It's great to know how to measure the ROI of content marketing, but how does it look in real life? We ask experts to share examples of their results.
Here's what they had to say:
Generating Leads Through Blogs and Conversion Paths
Carnahan shared the results he yielded through consistent blogging and strong conversion channels.
"I worked with a car rental agency that was struggling to find ways to bring in new customers. We built a road tripping blog for them, and created content that was both entertaining and SEO focused.
"Many of these articles were tied to direct conversions. Our most successful article was an infographic around how to choose the right size moving truck.
"This single article ended up driving a huge spike in moving truck rentals, generating a new income stream that is still going months later (thanks to some occasional content refreshing)."
Driving Traffic With the Ski Slope Technique
Chris Von Wilpert, the copy chief at Sumo Group, an ecommerce marketing software company, yielded an impressive recurring revenue through a blog, turning a blog into 1,070 recurring revenue customers in 12 months.
He wrote about the technique he used extensively on his blog. Here is an excerpt, where he describes his approach:
"There are three steps to execute The Ski Slope Strategy successfully.
- Step 1: Build topic clusters to get new organic traffic.
- Step 2: Run quarterly marketing promotions to get new leads.
- Step 3: Promote case studies to convert traffic and leads into new customers.
"Below is a breakdown of how every part of the strategy works. But first let me tell you what this has to do with a ski slope.
"Have you ever gone skiing and seen the green circle, blue square, and black diamond runs?
"You don’t just jump onto a black diamond run and start shredding it up. You’ll land face over ass. You do green circle runs consistently until you’re ready to level up.
"The more runs you do, the better you get.
"What you’re doing here is guiding your target customers down the “ski slope” to get them to know, like and trust you… then you’re guiding them to the finish line (aka your offer).
"Once you build your mountain of content, you will have hundreds of your ideal customers running down YOUR content slopes, and converting into high lifetime value customers who come back year after year."
Earning Big Media Placements
Sadi Khan, the content marketing manager for Run Repeat, an athletic shoe review site, said that content played a big role in landing high profile media placements.
"We have solely relied on content to create the biggest source of sports shoe reviews on the web.
"It's the content that helped us win the trust of consumers, feature in major platforms like WSJ, The Guardians, or NYT, and invited as a keynote speaker by organizations like the International Association of Athletics Federations."
Driving Big Keyword Ranking Gains
"Although we track many different metrics, we look very closely at our positions to see what keywords we’re ranking for and where in Google search results they’re sitting.
"Our most notable content marketing result would be moving our position for the keyword ‘lab grown diamond’ from the second page to the first position. Overall, content marketing, coupled with SEO, is one of our biggest priorities, as it has proved one of the most successful and worthwhile pieces to our marketing strategy."
How Content Marketing ROI Impacts the Overall Strategy
Looking a metrics associated with content marketing campaigns is just part of the bigger picture. You also need to know how these ROI figures affect the overall marketing strategy.
The experts shared the following insights on this:
Track Over Long Periods of Time
Marie Lamonde, the content marketing specialist for DashThis, a marketing dashboard tool, suggests looking at your metrics over the long term to fully understand how to adjust your big picture marketing strategy.
"By following our content marketing ROI, we can see which articles and strategies worked out best, and figure out why. This enables us to go in the right direction with our entire content marketing strategy in order to reach our goals.
"I won't lie, it's quite a long-term process to track your content marketing ROI since your articles can take months to rank on search engines, and will (or will not) become evergreen content, bringing traffic year after year.
"It's quite difficult, if not impossible, to know if the article you posted a week or a month ago has a great ROI for your business. That's why looking at your strategy as a whole, tracking data year-over-year and calculating your ROI over long periods of time is the best way to make sure you're always heading in the right direction."
Look at Top Performing Content
Wilpert tries to leverage high-performing pieces of content to further drive impacts, which can really move the needle for overall marketing efforts.
"First, I'll identify the top 10 highest revenue blog posts, then look at opportunities where we can write on related topics that have organic traffic potential.
"Then, I'll identify the top 10 highest traffic blog posts, and link to revenue-generating articles in the PS at the bottom of high traffic blog posts."
Retain Your Audience
Bedward wants you to remember that your job isn't done once you earn your audience. You need to keep their attention too.
"Overall marketing strategy needs to take into account that your audience, once attracted by your content marketing, needs to be retained using additional high-value content. Content marketing is this respect is one part of a much larger digital marketing process."
When you understand how to measure and use ROI of content marketing, you're not only ensuring that your strategy is working. You can also evolve it in real time and maximize your ROI in a sustainable way.