The ROI of Content Marketing
Posted by Sujan Patel on Forbes
Lots of businesses get into content marketing because it is the “in” thing to do online. You can ask those businesses what their goals are, and you will get answers like exposure, social shares, links, leads, and sales. But when you ask those same businesses how they measure their content marketing to find out if they are achieving those goals, you will get a less straightforward answer. Some may not even have a basic analytics tool in place.
While not all of the goals mentioned above have a specific monetary value, they are all measurable and can be assigned a dollar value if you don’t mind doing a little research. Therefore, you can determine whether you are getting the return you desire. In this post, we’re going to look at how you can track the ROI of content marketing, with or without a dollar value.
Before sharing my own thoughts on how content marketing ROI and success can be measured, I wanted to first share some thoughts from other marketing experts on the topic:
“Exposure and engagement is key when it comes to measuring content marketing ROI. Simply publishing a blog post isn’t enough of a success. You have to go deeper and pay attention to things like social share metrics, engagement metrics, and actual conversions that can be tied to the content you’re producing. — Colin Mathews, Co-founder, Content Marketer
“The best way to measure your ROI of your content marketing is through direct conversions. If you are writing the right type of content and you have call to actions in place, your blog can produce a positive ROI.” — Neil Patel, Founder, neilpatel.com
“Measuring the ROI of your content and the success of your content are two different things in my opinion. I always measure the direct ROI – the actual dollars and cents actually attributed to sales on our ecommerce store. But the success of the content depends on the goal you set in place for the content. Sometimes my goal is social shares for brand exposure – while other times my goal is to get 5-10 quality link backs for an authoritative piece. I measure the success of the content based on my goal – and I set the goal based on the need.” — William Harris, VP of Marketing & Growth, Dollar Hobbyz
“Define your goals: new followers, online purchases, filled out contact forms, newsletter subscriptions, downloads, time spent on an important landing page. Track your goals in Google Analytics, KISSmetrics, or some other analytics platform. Assign a monetary value to your goals.” — Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré, Community Growth at Inbound.org, Moderator at Product Hunt & GrowthHackers.com
“Not all page views (or conversions) have equal value, so it’s important to measure end-to-end results as much as possible, which means that a user-level analytics tool like Mixpanel is invaluable. Pair this with customer lifetime value estimates, and you’ll get a very clear picture of how much ROI is created by which content & channels.” — Jim Gray, Marketing Engineer, Ioseed
“Metrics never tell the whole story, which is why we ask every new blog subscriber and customer how they found us. The data is anecdotal but it gives us a deeper understanding of the customer journey. Two customers rarely follow identical paths so it’s always worth asking.” — Jimmy Daly, Head of Content, Vero
“The best way to measure the success of a content marketing strategy is to apply a dollar value to a specific conversion goal then measure that against dollars spent (budget).” — Jason James Delodovici, Marketing, When I Work
“Engagement is a trendy term these days, but it’s also becoming critical to measure. High-quality content is expensive upfront to produce, but once published yields engaged visitors forevermore – and engaged visitors tend to do nice things, like subscribe, signup or buy stuff. If you’re growing your content engagement, you’re growing the number of people doing these nice things!” — Jason Amunwa, Director of Products, Filament
“Content drives the top of funnel and should be measured accordingly (clicks and sign-ups). I’ve also found it’s super useful for building brand trust with your market and trust makes the revenue funnel flow really smoothly. The measure of good trust building content is it’s ability to warm-up cold leads or re-ignite sales opportunities that have gone silent.” — Dan Murphy, VP – Business Development, Import.io
With those thoughts in mind, let’s get into the real meat of this post:
If the dollar value of your exposure is not a concern, then you can simply look at the traffic you generate to content you publish on your website and from the content you publish on other websites. Use this approach to determine if you are getting ample exposure for your on-site and off-site content marketing efforts.
If you would like to attach a dollar value to the exposure you receive from your content, you can do this in a couple of ways.
You can start by looking at the amount of traffic you receive to a piece of content on your website from organic search in Google GOOGL +2.44% Analytics.
Next , you find out what keywords are driving traffic to your content. If you enter the URL of your piece of content into SEMrush, you will get to see the ten of the keyword phrases that your content ranks for in Google search. Paid members of the tool will get a full report.
In the CPC column, you will see the amount you would likely pay if you were paying for Google AdWords to drive paid traffic to your website for each keyword. In the traffic % column, you will see the amount of traffic SEMrush estimates each keyword drives to your website.
Since Google Analytics no longer tells you the specific keywords that drive traffic to your website, you will have to guesstimate the cost of each organic search visitor. Paid users of SEMrush can export the full report into an Excel spreadsheet and average the CPC of the keywords that drive organic search to their content.
Take that average CPC and multiply it by the number of organic search visitors you have received to your content and you will have what it might have cost to buy that same amount of traffic from Google AdWords.
Measuring Social Shares
If the dollar value of your social shares is not a concern, then you can simply look at the number of social shares you get for your content using tools likeBuzzSumo. You can search for your domain to see the number of shares on content you have published on your website.
You can also search for author:Your Name to see the number of social shares on content you have published elsewhere. Use this approach to determine if you are getting a good volume of social shares for your on-site and off-site content marketing efforts.
If you would like to attach a dollar value to the social shares you receive from your content, you can do the following.
To estimate the costs of social shares from Facebook, create an ad for Post Engagement using a post from your Facebook page promoting your piece of content. Scroll down to the amount you want to spend portion of the set up to see the suggested bid amount for clicks on your ad.
People will have to click on your ad to like your post. So you can multiply the average suggested bid amount times the number of Facebook shares (likes, comments, clicks, etc.) you have received for your piece of content.
You can do a similar process to estimate the ROI of your shares from Twitter TWTR +0.37% using Twitter Advertising’s Promoted Tweets and LinkedIn LNKD +0.94%Advertising’s Sponsored Updates.
This approach will help you determine an estimated dollar value of your content marketing in terms of social shares and engagement, and thus the ROI of your content marketing if social shares is your goal.
If the dollar value of your links is not a concern, then you can simply use a link building tool like Open Site Explorer to see the number of links you have garnered for your content. Use this approach to determine if you are getting great links from your content marketing efforts.
If you would like to attach a dollar value to the links you receive from for your on-site content, you can do the following. Let’s say that you find an SEO consultant who offers a monthly retainer for link building services at $1,000, and they produce 50 backlinks per month. That’s $20 per link. If your content led to 328 backlinks, then the value of those links could be estimated at $6,560.
This approach will help you determine an estimated dollar value of your content marketing in terms of links built to your website, and thus the ROI of your content marketing if link building is your goal.
Measuring Leads & Sales
When leads and sales are your goals for content marketing, you stand a much better shot of calculating ROI as you can attach a dollar value to leads and sales.
This calculation can be done for you by Google Analytics by setting up a goal and associating a value with that goal. For example, if your business collects leads through a contact form, and each lead could commit to a minimum project cost of $500, then you can set up the goal like this.
Once this is set up, you can view your All Pages report in the Behavior section of Google Analytics to see the page value for each piece of on-site content. You can view the Referrals report in the Acquisition section of Google Analytics to see the conversion value for each piece of off-site content driving traffic to your website.
This approach will help you determine a true dollar value of your content marketing in terms of leads and sales for your business, and thus the ROI of your content marketing if leads and sales are your goal.
Do you have other questions for me about how to measure and track the ROI of your content marketing efforts? Ask me below in the comments section!
I’m the VP of Marketing at When I Work and author of 100 Days of Growth. For over 10 years I’ve helped companies like TurboTax, BlueHost, and Sales Force increase traffic & revenue.