Selling in the value of content marketing to your boss or to a client is a difficult task in itself, and if you manage to do that then you have the somewhat mystical (to some) task of showing the return on investment. Half of the battle in showing the ROI of content marketing is defining what you are trying to achieve from your content, once you have agreed exactly what that is you are in a much stronger position for measuring and calculating the ROI.
The different types of content metrics
Consumption – This covers the metrics you will find in any analytics suite but if we look at examples from Google Analytics these would be pageviews, unique pageviews, bounce rate and average time on page. Although classed as the most simplistic type of metrics they are fundamentals when it comes to measuring content, if you have tons of pageviews on a blog post but your bounce rate is 99% then there is something fundamentally wrong. You can also look at these metrics over a wider date range to discover your best performing content, as well as your lowest performing content. You might want to consider re-sharing your top performing content (make sure your email capture is optimised to take full advantage), or you could go in and optimise your poorest performing content and re-share it.
Sharing metrics – Social shares are one of the most talked about metrics when it comes to content and they are great and important to the success of content however, they are not the be all and end all when it comes to measurement and ROI. You might be in a situation where you are seeing shares but not seeing any engagement or conversions, whether that is a sign up to a newsletter or converting a reader in to a customer. You should consider shares as a fundamental measure of how people are responding to your social posts. Keep an eye on which social network is responding best to your content and look at who is actually sharing your content, this will help you determine if they are sharing because they feel the content is providing them value or if they are sharing it for the sake of it. You will then be in a strong position for optimising your content and hopefully gaining more valuable shares.
Lead generation metrics – You will be able to tell how great your content is when looking at the amount of leads you are able to capture through your content, whether you are looking for email sign ups or even if you use phone calls – if there are neither coming in then you are not crafting the right content. If you are consistently creating and pushing out content that is high quality then you should see a consistent rise in the amount of leads that you receive, do not mistake users giving you their email address as intent to buy your product or service. It is highly likely that if you do capture a lead from your content that person has a higher propensity to be turned into a paying customer, than someone that hasn’t. You need to be mindful and not just go straight in the for the hard sell, keep providing value to them through engaging content – add value and educate them and once you have done that you are able to ask for the sale. Make sure that your blog is optimised for capturing leads by using tools such as SumoMe which allows you to place polished and intelligent forms on your site, for some awesome tips on increasing conversions on your content check out this post by Brian Dean of Backlinko.com on how he increased conversions by 785% in one day!
Sales metrics – This is it. The thing you are shooting for is sales, producing great content can be costly (check out this great post from Neil Patel on how much it cost him to build his website analyser) but the returns can also be great. You want to make sure you track when users convert from a lead to a paying customer, there are lots of great CRM’s that you can use to manage this process and once you get a steady flow of leads converting, you can then begin to measure and refine this process. Perform regular A/B tests on your lead capture methods to make sure that not only you are capturing the highest number of leads possible, but also test the point of conversion so that you can spot and eliminate any potential blockages. Once you have sales and you can clearly see where they have come from and at what point they have converted to paying, you can then work out the cost of conversion based on the cost to produce the content as well as any promotion support you put behind it.
Defining the goals for your content
Making sure you have a set goal that you are shooting for when you produce content will help you weave in elements that help you achieve it, and you can then optimise based on your goal. If you are looking to build your email list you can employ techniques such as the content upgrade technique, this is where you hold some extra content back or offer an extra bit of content, in exchange the user gives you their email address. Tim Soulo’s article (which has the potential to massively improve your game when it comes to writing content strategically) has some really useful and actionable tips, go check it out. If this is something you are able to do, having that thought before you start crafting your content will help you think of the perfect thing to use as an incentive.
If you are looking for traffic there are things you can do to help your content gain some traction when you hit publish. Obviously there is paid promotion which you could use to get your content moving but for now i am going to focus on free techniques. To gain traction and shares which will lead to traffic you need to think about putting the groundwork in. Find relevant communities and engage and contribute there, apply the same concept to your community engagement as you should be doing for your content – provide value and earn the right to ask people to engage with your content. You need to find communities that sit within your niche for example we try to spend time over at GrowthHackers and Inbound.org, these communities fit perfectly with the content we are producing and it is easy to add value to conversations going on there because we have experience in those channels.
Defining the goals for your content is essential not only for structuring your content, but also for helping you decide where best to spend your time and energy for getting people to show your content some love when its ready.
So you have put the time and energy into crafting something amazing, you have put the hours in within relevant communities ready to submit your own content, but do you have measurement covered? Analytics is vital for helping you visualise the response, but the real gold comes when you analyse your performance and optimise your next piece of content based on your findings. Google analytics is free and should be part of every content marketers arsenal! You can track traffic and see where it is coming from, so if you have submitted to communities you will be able to see which one has sent the most traffic. Take this information and look at how you can improve, test different messaging and see which earns you more traffic. If one community is constantly sending more traffic than another find out why? What are you doing differently in one community to another, do you need to spend more time engaging? Google analytics also allows you to set up goals so that you can track things like newsletter sign ups, you can use event tracking for this and create a goal for each event. If you set up a goal for your event this means you will be able to assign it a monetary value which is great for tracking subscription sign ups if you have a SaaS business like us 🙂
You will want to keep track of the social share data for your content too so you can find which social network is responding best to your content. You can easily view and analyse your contents performance using Uprise.io, see how you perform and look at how competitors are doing. Viewing your social share performance across the major social networks will help you spot where you are succeeding or where you need to focus on improving. Do you need to create content that appeals to each network natively? Or could you optimise your social promotion posts to improve the chances of engagement and shares. Sometimes this can be overlooked when often getting a view of this can help you make simple changes that can drastically improve the response to your content.
Feeling inspired? Go have a look at some of the top performing content within your niche right now, for free!>>
Return on investment (ROI)
Working out the return on investment for your content efforts can be challenging, you need to make sure you have a clear goal defined for your content to allow you to measure its performance. Tracking as many elements of your content performance as you can is a smart move but what it all comes down to is revenue. You need to be able to show the cost of your content VS the revenue returned.
“We tie content back to revenue via Kissmetrics by measuring the % of users who become customers that have also read the blog.”
In its most simplistic form that is how you should measure your content. Platforms such as Kissmetrics are designed to make this super easy however, it can also be done in Google Analytics which is free. Remember that content marketing is a long term strategy so you will need to consider being able attribute users that have visited and come back at a much later date. Use goals and event tracking to assign monetary value to conversions, this way you will be able to look at channels within Google analytics and tie back revenue to a channel. This enables you to see which channels are responsible for sending you the most traffic and revenue, and then you can go down to page level and see the goal conversion rates for your posts.
If you are serious about content marketing you need to make sure you can excel and gain good returns from all the effort you put in. Defining goals is the first step and will allow you to refine and optimise your process, also make sure you have the appropriate tracking setup so you don’t have any problem recording the performance of your content. Most importantly remember that you need to provide value and inform as well as educate your readers, if a user is able to go and find the answer to the question you are answering in under 30 seconds, you probably have not gone deep enough when crafting your content.
Do you have a content marketing strategy? Or are you thinking of starting content marketing? We would really love to hear your stories and if we can help out with anything please let us know, either jump in to the comments or tweet us!