When it comes to running a business effectively, nothing exists in a vacuum. Every part of the business affects other people and various aspects of the company.
To content marketers, that can be frustrating. You know that content marketing is one of the best ways to reach new customers, but it can be challenging to measure and quantify results in a way that decision-makers will understand.
Learning to measure your content marketing ROI, or return on investment, is a great way to demonstrate the power of the strategy you worked so hard to put together.
Content marketing has become a buzz term in the last few years. It’s a digital marketing niche focused on crafting quality, relevant, and useful content, regularly publishing it on a company’s website, and efficiently distributing it through email campaigns, advertising, social media and more to reach a targeted online audience.
The result of effective content marketing is relatively self-explanatory: a documented, tangible increase in the number of viewers or readers consuming said content — many of whom then pass the information on to others who will use it or, themselves, convert and become long-time clients — leading to an increase in sales.
In theory, the premise sounds fantastic: have a writer write content, disseminate that content in relevant places, gain new customers, and improve your overall bottom line. In practice, though, the process becomes a bit more convoluted.
There are several items to consider when determining how effective your content is in driving conversions, meaning tracking progress can be a little murky without proper knowledge.
So, how does a company know if the content marketing efforts in which it is investing are producing the promised or intended results?
To start measuring your content marketing ROI more accurately, follow these steps below.
1. Know Your Audience
Crafting written or visual content without knowing to whom it should be directed is a sure sign that your content marketing ROI probably won’t have the intended results. Imagine hopping in the car in an unfamiliar area hoping to magically run into your favorite small retailer’s brick-and-mortar shop, or blindly choosing herbs to season food if you’ve never cooked before.
Content without a well-defined audience is the same. You could be driving it in the entirely wrong direction, or spicing it up with knowledge that will be completely wrong for your clients’ tastes.
The way to solve this is by clearly defining who you are trying to reach. Sit down with your team and think of your ideal client, as that type of person will also be your ideal reader. Define age, gender, employment and marital statuses, hobbies, kids versus no kids, pets versus no pets, and what he or she needs when reaching out to your company. There might be more than one profile that could use your products or services, so you might end up with multiple personas by the end of the process.
Write for the personas you’re most hoping to attract to your brand, and include that persona when targeting digital advertising efforts, as well. Well-crafted content can easily draw in readers, but great content tailored to an audience can be an absolute game changer.
Then, tailor your content to your defined audience(s). Otherwise, you’re wasting valuable time and money on materials that don’t have an impact.
2. Write for Your Audience
Be clear and concise while still offering valuable information. Your readers do not want you to ramble while trying to get to a point, but they also don’t want to see a bulleted list without any insights. Use an engaging tone, trim unnecessary words, and offer an easy-to-follow structure.
Bonus tip: A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you would feel the content was engaging and helpful, then focus on providing something you’d also like to read.
Structure for Scanning
Most readers do not have time to sit down and read in-depth articles these days. Provide engaging, bolded bullet point titles that act as topic sentences, then provide additional information beneath to expand on your points. This allows readers to cherry pick the parts that most pertain to them.
Provide Something New
Information regurgitated without any thought leadership does not offer your readers value. Give them information that includes a point of view, something different than they’re reading elsewhere, and that also provides usable, actionable information.
Cite valid sources, provide additional information from reputable firms, and demonstrate authority wherever possible. In addition, edit to avoid typos and maintain credibility. Nothing diminishes trust as quickly as typos or misused facts.
3. Outline How You Want Your Report to Look
First things first: Key performance indicators (KPI’s).
You can’t see whether it’s working if you don’t know which elements you’re tracking, after all. What do you hope to achieve through your content marketing efforts? Do you want to double your readership? Would you prefer a 10 percent increase in sales? Are you most interested in higher engagement on social media?
What you track depends on your company and the products or services it provides. Key performance indicators often include:
- Average order value (AOV)
- Customer lifetime value (CLV)
- Cost per acquisition (CPA)
- Cost per click (CPC)
- Cost per lead (CPL)
- Cost per thousand impressions (CPM)
- Overall leads
- Page metrics: views, clicks, downloads, bounce rates, time on pages, interactions, etc.
- Social media metrics: likes, followers, comments, subscribers, shares, views, etc.
- Time to close
- The specific ROI for each individual blog or content piece
- The overall ROI for the entire content marketing strategy from all distribution channels
Whatever your company needs, write it down, along with a timeframe in which to achieve said goals. You might hope to see 25 percent higher readership by the end of the quarter, or a set number of additional sales by the end of November.
Lastly, know your baseline. The current totals for whichever metrics you’re hoping to improve should be written down at the onset of the content marketing campaign. This will allow you to see where you started and where your efforts got you by the end. This also allows you to make changes to the process to improve less-than-exciting results.
All these questions will guide the data you use and the way you reach that magic number. For the purposes of this example, let’s say you want to see the overall ROI for your content marketing blog over the past three months.
4. Calculate Your Creation Costs
The first step in any ROI calculation is adding up all your costs. With content marketing, you need to think about every stage of the content creation process.
Include the cost of your content creators’ time, including the time they spend going back-and-forth with edits and revisions. If you have a separate search engine optimization team, calculate the cost to have them optimize each content piece.
Don’t forget about the publishing process. How much did you pay for an eye-catching stock photo? What about the time your team took to publish the piece on your site and share it on your social media platforms? If there are any paid tools you use to manage different parts of the process, include the cost of those, too.
5. Calculate the Cost to Promote the Content
For companies who want to put extra power behind their content marketing, you’re likely to have paid to promote your content as well. This could include pay-per-click ads, social media ads, and more.
If you did, be sure to write down those costs. Don’t forget the amount you paid your staff to manage those ads, as well as the cost of any tools they used.
6. Identifying & Monitoring KPI’s
Now that you have all your costs in one place, it’s time to look at the “R” in ROI: the return you’ve earned.
This is tricky with content marketing. There are so many different ways your content can lead to a sale, both directly and indirectly. It all comes down to knowing which metrics are relevant in your calculations.
To measure the direct revenue your content is bringing in, start simple. Look at the revenue you earned from people who clicked onto a purchasing page from your content pieces.
This is more difficult if customers can’t purchase items or services on your website. In these cases, though, you can look at the revenue from people who list your blog as their referral source. Of course, to know this, your staff needs to ask that crucial question every time a customer calls: “How did you hear about us?”
On top of this, include any revenue you received which you can trace back to your blog.
For example, let’s say your blog is the first page on your site that a customer visited. They then hopped around to your “About Us” page, the general information page for one of your products, and a few other product pages before making a purchase. Your content marketing should get the credit for that sale because it’s the reason the customer came to your site at all.
7. Add Up Your Revenue from the Content Marketing
Now that you’ve assembled all those metrics to watch on your website and your internal records, add them all together. This gives you the total revenue your content marketing has brought in.
Depending on how your site is organized, this can be a tricky task. However, the trick is to get a system in place so you know exactly where to go and what numbers to use every time you need to find your content marketing ROI.
8. Calculate Your ROI
With all your numbers in hand, it’s time to do the math.
First, take your total direct revenue from your content marketing from step five. Subtract your total costs to produce, publish, and promote that content from steps two and three. This result is your total profit from your content marketing.
Next, divide that profit by your total costs from steps two and three. If you move the decimal to the right two places, that is your content marketing ROI percentage.
For example, let’s say you made a total of $10,000 from your content marketing in three months. You paid a total of $3,000 to produce and promote the content.
That puts your profit at $7,000. When you divide $7,000 by $3,000, you get 2.33. This means you have an excellent ROI of 233%.
9. Take the Indirect Benefits into Account
If your content marketing ROI isn’t as high as you would have hoped, don’t get discouraged. The reason it’s difficult to calculate a true ROI from content marketing is that content marketing plays such a powerful role in the overall big picture.
In reality, the process above tells you the absolute minimum that your ROI could be. Chances are that it’s much higher.
This is why it’s important to have other metrics on hand. Look at how your site’s overall traffic has increased in the time your content marketing has been in place. Are your visitors spending more time on the site? Visiting more pages in each session? Coming from organic search results more often than they used to?
All those statistics demonstrate indirect ways your content marketing is pulling in revenue.
Knowing Your Content Marketing ROI
Remember, always take your time to produce quality content encourages loyal readership. The more professional, insightful, and useful your written content, the more likely your readers are to consume it.
Keeping tabs on your content marketing ROI is vital for several reasons. First, as we mentioned, it’s the ultimate number your company’s decision-makers will use to justify your content marketing investment. Second, it’s a helpful way to know when your strategy is on track and when it needs some tweaking.
To take your success even further and learn how we can help you boost your online revenue, or if you want to learn more about how to make your content as effective as possible, feel free to call us. Our team of SEO experts would be more than happy to walk you through what is working, what isn’t working, and all the ways we can help you achieve the digital and content marketing results you are looking for.