While other content metrics can be helpful for refining your strategy, the critical measure is your content's impact on the company bottom line. This is known as the tactic's return on investment (or ROI). Like any other investment your company makes, your content strategy and individual content pieces must be measured against the financial benefits they bring. Yet, identifying the ROI of content is not as straightforward as it is for other company assets.
The Challenge of Measuring Content Results
Unlike many other aspects of digital marketing services, such as advertising campaigns that can be tied directly to sales, or professional SEO services that drive upticks in traffic, content marketing presents unique challenges. Correctly measuring content ROI requires a dedication to tracking conversions through a multistep process that includes multiple pieces of content and even multiple interactions with your organization.
As content marketing is a more long-term approach to securing customers, determining when to measure results poses another challenge. Finally, there are unpredictable external factors, not to mention traditional marketing influences, that can motivate when and how a purchase is made.
The Right Way to Measure Your Content ROI
Even with these challenges, the right strategies make it possible not only to measure the ROI of content but to prove that it is an effective element of an overall marketing strategy.
Setting S.M.A.R.T. Content Goals
An effective content strategy, as well as an effective method to measure the ROI of that content, begins with the right goals. These goals are the key to identifying content that meets your business's objectives and weeding out content that falls short. Beginning with clear goals also makes it easier to prove that individual content pieces and your overall content strategy have the intended impact.
Like marketing goals and business goals in general, the best goals are S.M.A.R.T.:
- Specific – Your content goals should be clearly defined and not open to interpretation. Each should describe what will be accomplished, why it is important, and how the goal will be achieved.
- Measurable – Just as numbers are essential to calculating content ROI, they are also essential to creating appropriate content goals. When it comes to marketing, your goals are generally measured through metrics, which are discussed next.
- Achievable – Whether for the overall business or for your content strategy, each goal should be reasonably within reach based on current resources and past performance. A goal should require some stretching to inspire growth, but an unrealistic goal can undermine motivation and confidence in your strategies.
- Results-Oriented – Your goals should be based on the results you want to achieve, not the activities you use to accomplish them. This is an important distinction; all the time working on activities may not result in achieving what you need.
- Time-Bound – S.M.A.R.T. goals must have a time limit. For content, this means bringing urgency and focus to your content efforts. You must also break your goal down into smaller steps within the overall time frame.
Tools for Content ROI
Effectively measuring the impact of your marketing content requires using the right measurement tools. There is a range of analytics options that focus on different aspects and content marketing metrics; these are a few key tools to include in your analysis process:
- Google Analytics – As the most powerful search engine, Google boasts the most popular measurement tool for content marketers. Google Analytics allows you to measure many factors, including traffic and time on page, downloads, referral traffic, and conversions. To track these conversions, you must start by setting up a specific goal that will count as a conversion, such as a visitor reaching the purchase confirmation page. It's also important to assign a monetary value for each goal to compare your investment to the return.
- Ahrefs – Ahrefs offers a range of tools to measure your SEO efforts, a critical element of your content strategy. Its Content Explorer identifies the most popular content on any topic, while Content Gap finds keywords where your competitors are ranking but your brand is not. Along with the SERP Checker, which analyzes search results and estimates traffic potential, these tools in Ahrefs' tool set help you improve your content and your search engine rankings.
- Built-In Social Analytics – While much of your content will live on your website, some of it will be hosted on your brand's social channels, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Each of these platforms has its own built-in analytics to track the effects of your content, including traffic to your website and sales pages. The key is to identify and measure truly valuable metrics rather than vanity metrics.
You likely already know the value of consistency when it comes to your content strategy; uniformity and regularity are also important for measuring content ROI. Consistent analysis of your content results allows you to compare content piece to content piece, as well as improvements over time.
For content ROI, this means measuring each piece of content or content group the same way, and over the same relative periods of time (24 hours from publishing, one week from publishing, and so on). You'll also want to consistently track the same metrics over time, using the same software tools for an accurate comparison.
Benefits Beyond Traffic
Although getting a larger number of visitors on your website is definitely a key goal of content marketing, the benefits of content marketing go well beyond traffic. Measuring traffic value by multiplying organic traffic by your keyword's cost-per-click is just the start. The value or ROI of effective content marketing includes an increase in social engagement and shares, an increase in time spent on site, better lead generation and conversion rates, resulting in more sales.
- Social Engagement – Effective content is, by nature, content that converts and encourages sharing. It should bring more traffic to your social content and your website.
- Time Spent on Site – The right content encourages visitors to stay longer. Not only are they more interested, but the extra time spent on your site boosts your content's ranking with Google.
- Better Lead Generation – Another benefit of quality content is that the leads you receive are better quality, meaning they have a more obvious interest in making a purchase. Better-qualified leads coming in result in a higher conversion rate and a greater number of sales.
Get Content Marketing Services
As you work to measure it's important to understand that you can't immediately jump from no measurement to expertise in tracking content ROI. You have to take the process one step at a time, crawling before you walk and walking before you run. It takes time to develop refined processes and forging the right teams for crafting and analyzing content campaigns.
Measuring the ROI of your content may be a bit more complicated, but it's far from impossible. The right goals, tools, and consistent measurement will reveal not only the financial return on your content strategy but also the wide range of benefits that indirectly influence your content bottom line.
90odd helps companies create content that not only resonates but converts — by tying their core messaging to the pain points of their audience. Want to create content that converts? Find out how 90odd can help with SEO and content marketing for your next campaign.