Are you skeptical about investing in a content marketing campaign? You’ve probably been bombarded with the mantra content is king before, but still don’t understand how it really impacts your online performance.
Even worse, there’s no universal quantitative measurement for content marketing’s return on investment (ROI) and many digital marketers chalk up the results to other qualitative measurements.
Let’s be honest you’ve probably heard these phrases thrown around before to describe content marketing:
- Demand generator
- Lead magnet
- Link magnet
Yet these adjectives are not ambiguous by any means. I understand that it can be difficult for a client who may operate in a highly technical vertical to comprehend how content marketing could have any effect on their business’s bottom line.
Simply put, content marketing represents one piece of the total SEO pie. Conducting any sort of SEO campaign would be futile without content to market your brand, signal which keywords to rank, and improve your online presence.
No matter your digital marketing objectives, content marketing can help accomplish any goal you are seeking. More importantly, authoritative content can help generate brand value and increase the amount of leads your business gathers over time.
Think of digital marketing like a business operating in a macroeconomic sphere. Content marketing represents a long-term investment meant to help retain an active consumer base and slowly increase your revenue/conversions over time.
On the other hand, a pay-per-click advertising campaign would represent a short term investment which would completely eliminate your revenue stream the moment that campaign was paused.
Most importantly, content marketing does not represent a business expense and if you did pause a content distribution campaign, your existing content would still gather and nurture any incoming leads within your sales funnel. So how do you communicate this to your clients or your boss and get them to invest in content marketing?
As they say, the proof is in the pudding.
The Difficulty of Measuring Content Marketing ROI
To begin, content marketing immediately starts with a negative ROI. Content marketing is meant to scale your business overtime and the first piece of content you produce may not deliver results for a few months.
Customers may also view multiple pieces of content and take weeks before making a conversion. More so, there isn’t always going to be a direct link from the page to a conversion, as one of the main goals of content is to be part of a larger strategy of gaining rank with valuable keywords. How do you measure the impact or value each individual piece of content has in your attribution model?
Your content marketing campaign will most likely feature multiple purposes depending on its placement within the conversion funnel.
Some companies share content over referral and social channels to attract direct leads. Other companies leverage mid-stage content designed to guide leads toward a conversion and nurture leads to make larger purchases. For example, a social media contest may drive a user to a purchase, but a piece of content along the funnel may entice that lead to make a more expensive purchase.
This makes it incredibly difficult to assign a real dollar amount to your content’s value. That’s why it’s important to understand how content marketing affects different metrics that contribute to your conversion rate.
Consider the Qualitative Metrics
How do you calculate the impact that content marketing had in increasing your brand value or recognition? What value do referral sources, such as external links, and social distribution channels have toward calculating your conversion value?
Content marketing affects nearly every key performance indicator used to measure your digital marketing campaign’s success:
- Keyword rank
- SERP listing CTR
- Webpage dwell time
- Brand recognition and value
- Organic traffic
- Total leads
All of these metrics contribute directly to your website’s conversion rate and business revenue.
What’s the answer? Do you segment specific conversion attributions based on different content marketing campaigns or do you simply attribute your total ROI to your overall content marketing campaign?
Keep these qualitative metrics in mind when calculating a real dollar amount value for your content marketing efforts.
Calculating Content Marketing ROI: Understanding Goals and Metrics
Mapping out the ROI of your content marketing campaign ultimately depends on the goals your business is looking to pursue. You can track the performance of the content itself to see how it’s affected your website thus far.
Using Google Analytics, track the effect that content had on your organic traffic. You should be able to determine a point in which your website began to see a steady rise in traffic.
Tools, such as SpyFu and SEMrush, will allow you to analyze the total number of backlinks your content has, its keyword rank, as well as the amount of traffic it gathers on an average monthly basis.
More importantly, these applications will also assign a value to your webpages and show you the value of your organic traffic.
The “page value” tool in Google Analytics will actually show users how often a page was viewed before making a conversion.
What’s tough to communicate to clients is that content usually pays off higher dividends in the future and this requires long-term reporting to show quantitative results. I suggest assigning key goals to your content to track, such as lead generation, keyword ranking, consumption metrics, and even the number of backlinks acquired to help your page rank higher.
Calculating consumption metrics is relatively easy and will help you better understand how important your content is to your consumers.
To discover a real dollar amount for your content you can track the amount of pageviews, subscriptions, shares/likes, or email forwards your content gets using Google Analytics.
If your website hosts an e-book or whitepaper, you could also track the amount of downloads these sources. If you price these items, you’ll be able to calculate the amount of revenue gained from these sources.