How to measure content marketing ROI? Here is one approach
The content marketing ROI question comes up frequently when I speak at conferences. Here is my step-by-step answer:
Content is like a piece of furniture. It’s very hard to measure the overall value of furniture all by itself.
But, if you put the furniture in a partially decorated room…
Or better yet, put it in a fully decorated room… Voila! The piece of furniture suddenly has more value as part of the overall set!
Content is the same way. It’s hard to measure the content in the absence of context. See below, that’s just a blog in a Word file. It doesn’t mean much, if your content is only in a Word file. Nobody is going to see it.
It needs to be on your website or part of an e-mail, etc. It needs to be incorporated into your marketing channels.
Ok, the next question: “what metrics should we use measure content marketing ROI?” Well, I’d rephrase the question: “what metrics should we use to report out to senior management?” There are two approaches to track these metrics. You can track metrics from the sources, which are your syndication channels (number of views, number of likes, number of shares..). Or you can track from the destinations to where your content leads. I call that the end-point.
Guess which metrics management cares about the most? The sources or the end points? I’d say they are more concerned with the end-results. Therefore, your content metrics should focus on the end-points. Don’t take me wrong, the syndication channel metrics have their place. You should certainly review them when you work with your marketing peers to optimize your content copy and creative. These metrics are not something your senior management focuses on. At end of the day, they want to know if the dollar spent on content helps the company’s business.
Let’s take one blog post as an example.
All the outbound marketing channels drive traffic to this blog post.
And this specific blog post is part of the blog site.
So, what is the main goal of this blog site? Well, it’s about sharing relevant and useful information with the target audience. At the same time, it is also intended to increase the number of subscribers.
Hopefully, compelling content will attract “NEW” subscribers who show interest in your products. If they show interest, you have opportunities to engage and convert them to qualified or paid leads. There, that’s the main goal of this blog site. That’s also the main goal of the content you create.
So a quick summary, here is why we track from content to lead.
Now, let’s work back to see how content links to the end-point. In the following example, we can say that 10 blog posts per month help to get 100 leads per month. If you make that claim, your marketing peers will argue with you that it’s not true. They also contribute to making that happen.
The best way is to work with your marketing peers to agree a ratio on how content contributes to leads or the business goals.
You can also do AB testing. For 2-4 months, you do 15 blog posts per month. For another 2-4 months, you do only 5 blog posts. Or you can try different content to see if one generates more leads than the others. You will see if the number of leads correlates with the number of posts. I understand the findings are not absolute, given that the promotion channels may change and other factors may play into it. But you can get the gist of it. That should also give management a sense of the importance of content contribution.
The reality is that it’s hard to measure the ROI of content. To get started, here are the key elements to consider:
- Understand content promotional channels in your company
- Create “From Content to Lead” or “From Content to Sales” mapping
- Initiate a discussion with your marketing peers to help them understand the benefits of content
- Offer to co-own their marketing metrics
- Help them to do their jobs better with your expertise
The best way to show content is in the context of marketing channels utilized.
To unleash the value of content, you need to co-own outbound marketing metrics with your marketing peers. Therefore, as a content marketer, it’s time to have a discussion with your marketing peers. Make that your 2017 goal!