Measuring Content Marketing ROI? Key Metrics You Must Know

When you begin any initiative within your company, you need a way to measure your return on investment. Otherwise, how can you tell if it’s successful or in need of reworking?

While 72% B2B content marketers say that their company measures content marketing ROI, only 25% B2B content marketers feel that their team is proficient at tracking content marketing metrics.

The problem measuring ROI is when it comes to content marketing it isn’t as black and white as some people make it out to be. You need to know your return on investment, but there isn’t always a firm answer to that.

In this guide, we will discuss a few things in regards to content marketing tracking, including:

  • How to define content marketing ROI.
  • What content metrics you can use to measure the ROI.
  • Reasons to actually find your ROI.

First things first: let’s understand what the concept of “content marketing ROI” really entails.

What Is Content Marketing ROI?

In the simplest terms, “content marketing ROI” is a number that reveals what you’ve gained from the particular content marketing campaign you’ve been executing. This can help you determine what percent of a return you’ve made in comparison to your spending’s on the campaign.

Unlike other parts of your marketing strategies, content marketing is a little tricky to measure because it can be difficult to directly relate it to an increase in revenue. Content marketing can do a lot of great things that aren’t measured in monetary terms, like bringing in more page views and visitors to your website.

Therefore, we tell our clients that there are more than a few ways to go about measuring content marketing results. You will likely need to use a handful of different metrics to determine if your return on investment is truly worthwhile.

How to Measure the ROI of Content Marketing – The General Formula

If you conduct a little bit of research around the web, you’ll find that many people have different formulas for determining ROI in terms of content marketing. For the most part, there is a general formula that applies to most campaigns. It involves looking at:

  • How much it costs to produce the content.
  • Costs of content distribution.
  • How much you earn from the content.
  • Compare these figures.

Take the amount you earned and subtract from it the amount you invested (production and distribution costs). Then, divide that sum by your investment. Finish the process off by multiplying that final number by 100. That should give you a percentage that serves as your content marketing ROI.

For example, let’s say you spent $100 producing content, $50 distributing it, and you earned $180. Using that formula, you’d determine that you had an ROI of 20 percent.

Why You Should Measure Content Marketing ROI

Haven’t been measuring your content marketing ROI, you’re not alone.

Many B2B and B2C marketers haven’t been doing so, and 26 to 27 percent of them say that it’s because they don’t know how to measure content marketing.

Additionally, many don’t understand why measuring content marketing is so crucial. In order to evaluate the true success of your content marketing strategy, you need to know if your ROI is above zero.

If the number is negative, then you can know beyond a doubt that your strategy is not effectively helping you reach your goals.

Metrics to Keep in Mind to Measure Your Campaign’s Success

Measuring a content marketing campaign can be challenging simply because there are so many different aspects to consider.

Let’s dive into the various metrics that you can evaluate in order to measure the success (or lack thereof) after a campaign.

1. Leads Generated

A qualified lead is a potential customer that has indicated (in some manner) that they are interested in buying from your company. If the content marketing strategy has been crafted effectively around lead generation cost, it can help generate three times as many leads as outbound marketing – while costing more than 60 percent less.

The more leads your content marketing strategy creates, you’ll be in a better position to measure sales and conversion rates at the end of a campaign.

How to Measure?

Wondering how you measure the number of leads generated by a particular campaign?

There are multiple ways to do so, including:

  • Tracking a call-to-action (CTA) method such as quality lead generation form completions.
  • Examining completed purchase rates/lead conversion rates.
  • Measuring the number of content downloads.

You’ll also want to set up a goal funnel visualization report in Google Analytics. These “Goal Funnels” (a.k.a. Conversion funnels) show the set of steps your customers must go through in order to fully convert.

To set up a goal funnel, visit your Google Analytics account. Click on “Admin,” then “Views,” then “Goals.”

Set up Goals in Google Analytics

There, you can set up a new goal to measure so that you can learn how to track leads and understand the process your customers are taking.

How to Track Leads via Google Analytics

2. Sales

Keep in mind that sales performance indicators can be measured online as well as offline. For example, if you run an e-commerce website, sales metrics can be measured in the number of purchases made directly from the website.

Other businesses might want to invest in content marketing to boost their offline sales. In other words, they’re looking for results outside of the sales made directly on their website or store page.

How to Measure?

Here are some ways in which you can track sales, both online and offline:

  • Page Value: In Google Analytics, you can survey it from Behavior » Site Content » All Pages. There you’ll find sales performance metrics that tell you which pages on your site are contributing to your site’s revenue more than others.

    Page Value Metric in Google Analyics

  • E-commerce Conversion Rates: In Google Analytics, there’s a dimension called “E-commerce conversion rate” that details the ratio of transactions to visits (expressed in the form of a percentage). This tells you exactly what percentage of your website visitors are actually buying things. You can check it out from Acquisition » All Traffic » Channel.
  • The Number of Transactions: Obviously, you’ll want to know the total number of completed purchases on your site at some point – it’s one of the key sales metrics. You can find this number in Google Analytics under “Acquisition,” then “All Traffic,” then “Channel.”

    ecommerce conversions and transaction in google analytics

  • Time to Purchase: This sales productivity metric tells you the total number of days it took for a user to complete a purchase. You can find this under the Conversion » E-commerce » Time to purchase section of your Google Analytics account.

    time to purchase metric in google analytics

3. Website Traffic

To some extent, measuring site traffic can help you determine the success of a content marketing strategy. However, this isn’t an exact science – traffic can fluctuate due to other correlations such as holidays, offers, SEO trends, updates, etc.

How to Measure?

The best way to examine website traffic metrics  is head to Google Analytics and look at “Channel” under “Acquisition” and “All-Traffic.”

measure different customer acquisition channels in google analytics

There are multiple different aspects of traffic to evaluate when learning how to measure website traffic, including:

  • Overall traffic
  • Channels
  • Source/medium of traffic
  • Referral traffic
  • Pageviews
  • Unique sessions
  • Top landing pages
  • Average session times

In certain cases, such as with content marketing campaign strategized around a certain group of people, you’ll want to measure site traffic based on demographics. Head over to “Audience » Demographics » Overview.”

audience demographic in google analytics

4. Social Media Engagement

Social media engagement metrics indicate how many public shares, comments, and likes you’ve received via your content marketing strategy. Although this doesn’t directly translate to sales in every case, social engagement metrics play an instrumental role in evaluating a campaign’s performance.

How to Measure?

Methods for tracking social media engagement include:

  • Looking at likes
  • Tracking shares
  • Monitoring comments
  • Measuring follower growth
  • Tracking views (on video campaigns)

To take things a step further, you can actually determine how much revenue that social media traffic is garnering by looking at Google Analytics. Go to “Acquisition » Social » Overview.

measure traffic via social network in google analytics

Some marketers like to use third-party social media analysis tools, such as Hootsuite or Buffer, to learn how to measure social media engagement more directly. You can also use social media tools directly on the platforms themselves, including:

  • Facebook Insights
  • Instagram Insights
  • Twitter Analytics
  • Pinterest Analytics
  • LinkedIn Analytics
  • YouTube Analytics

5. SEO Success

Learning how to measure SEO success is hands down one of the most important parts of gauging the overall success of content marketing campaigns. However, it’s not an easy beast to measure.

While there are many different SEO measurement tools to help understand how successful the SEO part of a campaign was, you need to look at all the key metrics.

How to Measure?

  • Keyword Ranking

    The goal of a content marketing campaign might be to start converting on certain keywords, brand keywords, and long-tail phrases to enhance your overall SEO performance.

    Free tools like Google Keyword planner, Google trends, and Search Console can help you target certain keywords by giving an insight of keyword volume, its CPC, clicks, etc. Paid tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush can take your efforts even further.

  • Backlinks

    Ahref’s Backlink Checker and Google Search Console help you examine which inbound links are connected to your content. Backlinks are a huge aspect of SEO tracking, and although it might not lead directly to conversions, it certainly helps you establish a foothold within the industry.

  • Domain Authority

    Take a look at how the domain authority of your website has improved. Are people spending more time on your website and linking back to it as a source of credibility? Are certain pages on your site scoring well with page authority?

    Moz’s Link Explorer tool can show you what your domain authority is.

6. Customer Retention

The goal of customer retention is to keep as many customers as possible. This is often achieved through actions such as installing customer loyalty programs or special rewards for old customers that have stuck by the company.

Considering that it costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep an old one, many companies are focusing their efforts on building a high customer retention rate. Content marketing strategies can play a big role in that as well as learning how to track customer retention.

How to Measure?

In Google Analytics, your “Cohort Analysis” can tell you how your website is performing, and more importantly, how users are behaving through customer retention metrics.

cohort analysis in google analytics

The Beta version of this feature can even tell you when you acquired a customer, as well as their transaction rates, how much revenue they’ve brought in, how long their sessions are, and other helpful pieces of information.

For a simpler version of measuring customer retention, you can take a peep at Google Analytics “New vs Returning Report” in “Behaviour ” section under “Audience”  This shows you how many of your old customers are returning with fewer details.

new vs returning customers in google analytics

7. Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Your click-through rate (CTR) is the ratio of users who click on specific links to the total number of users that visit a page, email, or advertisement. It’s typically used to measure the success of an online advertising campaign for a particular website or email message.

Not sure how to calculate a click-through rate?

The general click-through rate formula is to divide the total number of clicks by the total number of impressions. For instance, if 100 people saw an ad but only 10 people clicked on it, you’ve got a 10 percent click-through rate.

8. Email Opt-In Rates

  • How many people have signed up for your newsletter?
  • What do the open rates look like?
  • Who is clicking on the content within your emails?

These are some of the main content marketing metrics that need to be studied when looking at email opt-in rates. Tools like MailChimp, Litmus, and iContact can help you do this with relevant email campaign reports and email marketing metrics.

How to Measure?

If you’re relying solely on Google Analytics for all of your ROI information, you can check out your email campaign analytics under the “Channels” section of the “All-Traffic Page” under “Acquisition” There you’ll find the user flow and all of the conversions that were made via email.

measure customer acquire via email campaign in google analytics

9. Web and Social Media Mentions and Sentiment Analysis

Brand mentions are an excellent way to bolster your online reputation. Whenever someone mentions your company name online, that’s a brand mention. These social mentions can be categorized into positive, negative, or neutral “sentiments.”

How to Measure?

Every time someone mentions your brand name, that’s an opportunity to engage with your audience and shape public opinion of your company. Use social mention tools like Hootsuite, Brandwatch, or Social Mention to track social media mentions and the public perception of your brand.

If your content marketing campaign has helped in building positive sentiments on behalf of your brand, that can be a serious measure of success, even if it doesn’t translate directly into revenue that can be tracked.

10. Number of Downloads and Installs

This metric is typically used by companies that deal with software.

Understanding the number of downloads/installs on a new device can tell you how successful a content marketing campaign is at enticing conversions from new users.

How to Measure?

If you’re using Google Analytics, you can check out download statistics under “Top Events.” In order to track app downloads, you’ll need to enable download tracking as a page view event.

If you haven’t already done this, check out the steps on Google How-To.

Conclusion

Measuring ROI is essential if you want to understand how effective (and profitable) your content marketing strategy truly is.

You can’t just assume that your campaign worked well because you’ve seen an increase in traffic or more email sign-ups – you need to use the above metrics to determine exactly how successful the process has been.

  • Jahnavi Desai is an SEO and Content Analyst at E2M Solutions Inc. She focuses on strategizing content in order to help brands connect purposefully with their customers. You can connect with her on Linkedin and Twitter.
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