The goal of any marketing is to grow your business, and content marketing is no different. Providing authoritative, useful content is a proven way to build trust and engagement in your audience, but it’s still an investment – one that should pay off over time.
So with your boss’s mind on the bottom line, it’s important to be able to speak to what a return on that investment looks like. What are you measuring to judge performance, and how do you determine success? Here are steps you can follow to define your metrics, track your ROI, and make the business case for content marketing.
Calculate Your Investment
One of the first questions you may get within your organization is “How much will it cost?” To get a full picture of your investment, be sure to consider all areas of investment:
How much of your internal resources will be participating in content creation, publication and related endeavors?
Like many organizations, you may intend to use third parties like agencies, vendors and freelancers to help supplement your content marketing efforts.
Tally the costs for tools, which may include paid content management systems, premium online services (like Slideshare Pro), marketing platforms (like Hubspot), content creation software and other hard costs. For examples of available tools, please see our Resources list.
Factor in the cost of any paid services you might use to promote or distribute your content – from social media promotion to native advertising.
Measuring Content Marketing
To demonstrate how content marketing is moving the needle for your business, start by determining how you’re gauging success. You may already have conversion metrics tied to measuring your online marketing and those are a great place to start. But if not, three primary performance measurements include:
Even with a constant conversion rate, increasing the amount of traffic to your site will elevate the business being driven by your content marketing. But in addition to volume, you can also look at the cost and quality of that traffic. For example, growth in organic visitors from search engines may offset paid search traffic. You may also find that visitors from one source generally convert better than another, so growing traffic from that source can be a worthwhile measurement.
Converting site traffic into qualified leads is the hallmark for many brands’ online efforts, feeding the purchase funnel for marketing and sales. As with traffic, lead growth is important, but arguably more important is lead quality. Is your content creating informed, engaged leads who are more likely to become a paying customer? Which lead conversions drive sales, and which drive marketing efforts?
The end goal of any brand is to increase business, so over time it’s important to be able to speak to how content marketing is moving the needle on sales. For ecommerce companies, it can be more straightforward to look at overall sales growth, or average order value. For offline sales, you can gauge content performance in your close rate, time-to-close or average sale.
Whether you’re tracking traffic, leads, sales or a related metric, it’s important to know how that value translates into business. If you know the average worth of a site visitor, conversion or purchase, then you can measure the value of improvements in those metrics. Some ways to determine that value:
You may have conversion values already in place in your site’s analytics. These values can be applied against any number of onsite metrics to identify the relative value of content, traffic sources, audience segments and more. If you don’t currently have values in place for your online conversion goals, be sure to make that part of this process.
As previously mentioned, ecommerce provides a neatly quantifiable measurement based on average sale. While total monthly sales may offer a top-level look at the health of your business, it’s important to look at increasing the per-customer checkout as well.
PPC Cost Per Visitor
If you utilize paid search, then you already have a reliable way to estimate the value of your site’s traffic. In looking at the Cost Per Visitor (or Cost Per Click) values from you campaigns, you have a dollar figure that informs what that lead is worth to you. You can use that figure as a baseline for measuring the value of traffic and lead increases.
If you don’t have current PPC campaign figures to draw from, you can use Google’s Traffic Estimator to get some initial figures to work from. The tool will help you calculate the estimated cost of driving traffic to your site using paid search around relevant keywords.
You have your metrics and the dollar figures that underscore them, so what does successful content marketing ROI look like? In addition to increasing sales, successful content marketing may also help lower certain costs or reduce resource needs. Here are some examples of areas to look at in measuring content marketing success:
Increased Leads and Sales
- Higher sales volume
- Larger average sale/contract
- Lower cart abandonment
- Customer retention/loyalty
- Faster time-to-close
- Reduced customer service resource needs
- Reduced reliance on paid traffic sources
- Lower marketing costs
- Increased lead nurturing to existing prospects over acquiring new ones