Sep 7, 2021

Exposed: ROI in Content Marketing

Exposed: ROI in Content Marketing

Contents

Measuring the ROI of content marketing has been the main challenge for marketers for ages. 44% of all B2B companies do not bother to measure their content marketing ROI. 13% of them do not know whether they actually measure it or not

Content marketing is not easy. It requires a solid strategy, a strong distribution plan, and useful content. You will need a team consisting of a manager, graphic designers, and writers, or you may have to hire a marketing agency. This means additional budget allocation for your marketing efforts. Before allocating the budget, it is essential to establish the cost-benefit. Here, measuring the Return on Investment (ROI) becomes inevitable. 

At the same time, competition in the global internet landscape is rising rapidly. Any business trying to capture a place on the internet and gain traction must work hard to do so. Remember, in the modern age, Google is our wishing well. We get what we want just by performing a Google search. In fact, 68% of all online experiences begin with search engines. So it is imperative for businesses to appear on these search engines whenever people search for their products/services. 

Content marketing is a brilliant way to boost your website's ranking and gain an opportunity to be displayed on the search engine's first page. If you have informative, useful and lucid content, there are high chances that Google will display your website on top. Regularly updating existing content and brewing up fresh content will also help you to receive brownie points from the search engines.

It is advisable to refer to a few case studies, whitepapers, podcasts, and webinars of other businesses. They can build a lot of confidence in you to embrace content marketing wholeheartedly. These collaterals will help convince even those who are still sceptical about the benefits of content marketing in this digital era.

Thanks to a plethora of tools, you can monitor every transaction and customer behaviour throughout the buyer’s journey in this modern world. You do not have to spend hours and days to find out whether your marketing efforts are bearing fruits or not. In short, these tools give you 360 degrees visibility on your content marketing efforts. But you might ask why I should spend my time on content marketing when I have already invested in paid advertising and producing results. Let us find the answer in the next section.

Why embrace content marketing when you already have paid for advertising?

Here are two questions that must be bothering you now - 

  • Is it necessary to have both paid advertising and content marketing? 
  • If an organisation is investing in content marketing, should paid advertising be stopped? 

These are valid questions and bound to crop up when you start planning your content marketing strategy. The fact is, both channels can generate useful leads. It will be wise to allocate budgets for both and closely monitor which one is giving better results. 

Today, successful marketers are seen to be using both content marketing and paid advertising to generate leads. Because they understand, fundamentally, it is crucial to create relevant and useful content for building a better ROI for marketing.

Through paid advertising, you can always reach a larger number of people who might not have not known about your brand, product, and service. By watching or reading your ad, they can develop a newfound interest in trying out your product and service.

Also, advertising helps you get leads from other platforms, like Google Partner websites, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, etc. In all these platforms and websites, people are highly targeted based on their interests. As a result, the leads you generate from these platforms have a higher propensity of turning into potential customers. Advertising can be a real game-changer in bringing a sizable number of leads for your business. 

Similarly, content marketing is another potent lead generation tool. Even after reaching so many people through ads, you might not have built the brand awareness you aimed for. You are still out of reach for millions of people who use Google to search anything and everything, from cute cat pictures to complex calculus problems.

When you post quality content on your website about the service/product you offer, they will be redirected to your website from Google whenever people search for any queries related to it. For instance, if you have an LMS business, then having a blog on “How to start your own LMS business” will help people know more about the topic and your in-house product.

In short, embracing content marketing is a win-win situation for all stakeholders involved in a particular business. 

Content marketing helps attract website visitors on a large scale. Once you have a substantial number of organic traffic (without ads), you can focus on retargeting and building a loyal customer marketplace. 

And the best part - your advertisement stops showing up when you stop paying, but the content lives on forever. This makes content marketing a compelling area to spend time and effort in.

How to Measure ROI for Content Marketing?

Measuring Return on Investment is critical to evaluate the success of any program. The rule applies to your content marketing campaign as well. Remember - your organisation is investing a reasonable sum of money in the form of salaries for writers, content marketers, SEO experts, graphic designers, etc. It is important to understand how much margin and long-term benefits you are generating from these people. 

You can measure content marketing ROI using four simple steps - 

  1. The first step is to calculate the total investment made by your organisation for producing every piece of content. As discussed before, this is the salary of all content marketing teams and the resources they use like stock images, videos, and music.
  2. The second step is to calculate the total amount spent on the distribution of the content. This is usually the price you spend for social advertising and pay-per-click. This cost also includes the price of tools and software that you use for content creation. 
  3. The next step is to find if there is a connection between sales and the content you produced. It can be direct sales through call-to-action buttons or indirect sales. Once you have calculated the total sales from the content, we can go to the last step.
  4. Measuring content marketing ROI is the fourth and final step. It can be done using a simple ROI formula. Simply put, the ROI of your content is a percentage that indicates how much you have gained against how much you have invested. In other words, it is the ratio of profit and investment. 

Here is a simple formula used for ROI calculation -  

Content Marketing ROI = ((Sales generated by content marketing – Investment in content Marketing) / (Investment in content marketing)) x 100

Calculating content marketing success and content performance might seem simple. After all, you just have to measure the leads generated from organic sources and find out how many converted to sales. But it’s not that simple. Imagine in step three if the sales are not happening directly, you might have to measure the indirect sales through various other methods. This is challenging as the sales can come from n number of sources.

While calculating ROI, you need to have a clear view of how website visitors are acting on the page and are those people relevant to your business. Will they turn into recurring customers/ subscribers or not? To answer all these questions, you need to keep an eye on the following elements -

Quality of Leads

The leads should be high quality; just because you receive a torrent of leads doesn’t mean your content is doing good. You need to target the right people. To know if your leads are genuine, simply use Google Analytics to understand their demographics and interests. If a visitor is interested in your product/service, they will surf the website for a longer time to know more about your company. 

quality of leads
Source: Google Blog

Sales

Indirect sales play an important role in content marketing. But what is this indirect sale? Let us explain this with the help of an example - a customer comes to your website through a blog. They leave the website to search and compare similar products from other websites. However, they later come back to buy your product. 

Now, how do we track this customer? This is where Google Analytics helps us again. It uses assisted conversion to help track these people and add their purchases to the content marketing bucket.

Traffic

No traffic to your website means no one is reading your content and hence no sales. In Google Analytics, you can find your website's total traffic; you can also find the total number of people who visited a specific page. If your blog page is the primary landing page for most visitors, it means the quality of your content is outstanding. In a survey, 63% claimed that they measured web traffic to gauge content marketing success.

Social Media Sales

Social media is an excellent place for businesses to keep their customers engaged and build loyalty among customers. Having a sizable number of people coming from social pages to your website means you are doing a good job posting solid social media content.  

These are the essential elements that determine the success of your content marketing campaign.  Let us now take it one step deeper and understand the KPIs or key metrics that help measure your content marketing ROI. 

Key Metrics to Measure the ROI of Content Marketing

The goal of content marketing can be summarised into three steps -

  • Increase traffic to your site
  • Convert that traffic to quality leads
  • Convert the leads to sales

Whenever you plan to measure content marketing ROI and present it to management, it is crucial to monitor and measure every micro conversion of the leads along the buyer’s journey. The existing measuring tools often provide heaps of data that make it quite overwhelming to measure different metrics. This is where it is essential to pick up only those metrics that support your end goals and are also actionable. Vanity metrics like website traffic may be popular but will be helpful only if further analysis is done. On that note, here are some of the top metrics that you need to measure to gauge the success of your content marketing effort - 

  • Bounce Rate

Try finding the answer to this question - are the visitors spending enough time on your page and consuming your content? A low bounce rate suggests that people are interested in your content and are willing to try out your product. If they are spending sufficient time on your website, navigating back and forth, or subscribing to your newsletter, it simply means your content is working. A bounce rate below 70% is respectable. Less than 40% is brilliant.

Bounce Rate
Source: Neil Patel
  • Engagement

Find out how much engagement is your content generating? If your content is useful, people will engage with it through multiple means. They will comment on your blog, share your content on their social media network, and so on. Social shares of your content and social mentions of your brand are the measures of your brand authority. Similarly, they will spend sufficient time on your website. For instance, it is shown that 30-45 seconds is the minimum benchmark of time spent by visitors on your website to show that your content is engaging. 

Therefore, measuring engagement is very important. Identify people who are sharing your content. Find out if any one of them has a large fan following. Including social media influencers in your content marketing strategy can yield great results. Find out which social media network most of your visitors use. Design your content to suit the chosen platform.  

  • Performance of Keywords

Measuring the performance of your chosen keywords is also important. You should know the keywords that are relevant to your business. SEO rankings heavily depend on the keywords you choose. Monitor the quality of leads generated from each keyword. SEO rankings, keywords, social shares, qualified leads together give you the right picture to know whether your content marketing efforts are going in the right direction or not. 

Always keep an eye on your competitors. Set benchmarks for your marketing efforts against your top competitor. Find out what kind of social conversations they are generating, how is their SERP ranking. Your page authority should be better than your competitor’s, only then will your SEO results be better. 

  • Page Value Metrics

Keep an eye on the Page Value metrics. This will give you an idea of which content or page is giving you maximum conversions. If you see some pages with a very high conversion rate but low traffic then you know what to do. Promote them heavily to boost traffic.

There will be some aspects of your content marketing that cannot be measured directly. Yet, those are worth monitoring because they are important indicators to tell you whether you are on the right track or not. Monitor all the articles, stories, or any content about your brand that you have not created or paid for but is published by a third party. Your guest posts and the mentions by other contributors are essential for increasing the reach of your content and the growth of your audience. 

To ensure a profitable ROI, you need to focus on creating well-researched pieces of useful content that can inspire your audience and prompt action. Measure multiple metrics, but do not keep too many of them; otherwise, it may become counterproductive. Scrap some metrics if you don't find them useful, add new ones if required. The right mix of own media, paid media, earned media, and a well-crafted marketing strategy will surely give you success in your content marketing campaign.

Tips to Improve Content Marketing ROI

There is always room for improvement in content marketing. Here are the best tips that you can use to improve your ROI in content marketing.

  • Focus on Search Engine Optimization

The most pertinent aspect of content marketing is SEO. This is also the most difficult part to master. The first thing you need to do is run a technical audit of your site. This can be done using various online tools or Google Keyword Planner. This tool will let you know the highest-ranked keywords for your website, competitor’s keywords, and their performance.

focus on seo
Source: Google Ads

Make sure that your content has a good SEO score. Ensure that - 

  • You have used keywords in the article 
  • The article is plagiarism-free 
  • The content has no or limited grammatical errors. 
  • You have used images and videos. More importantly, you have added alt text to the media used.
  • The alignment of the content is good; It should have the main heading (H1) and multiple side headings (H2). All the text inside the headings and subheadings is in paragraph format.

Another critical factor is the backlinks. This is what determines your domain authority. The higher your domain authority is, the higher your content will rank on search engines. Did you know that 75% of people never scroll beyond the first page of search engines?

If you are on the first page of the search engines, you will enjoy better click-through rates and improved conversions. 

  • Track content cost and usage

Doesn't matter whether you are outsourcing your content production or doing it in-house. You need to diligently measure the cost of producing every content piece and how it has been used. Find out how much content you have paid for but haven’t published.

Having spent on the content but not utilising it is a crime and a waste of money. It is essential to have a powerful strategy and a solid publishing calendar to deliver content regularly. If you have several blogs left unpublished, they might not fit anywhere in the future and will be just a waste of time and effort. These blogs will only bring down your overall ROI. 

  • Focus on boosting your income

When you think about increasing your income, the first thing that comes to mind is to reduce your total costs. Well, it is not wrong. Reducing your costs will actually improve the ROI. This doesn’t mean you need to stop the investment. You can divert this money into other parts of the business which need improvement. Later, based on analysis, increase the content marketing investment when the time is ripe.

  • Know what you are looking for

The most difficult aspect of measuring the ROI in content marketing is to find the key metrics that are most valuable for your business. In the previous sections, we have discussed a few key metrics that are important for content marketing. All those metrics ultimately lead to one thing - website traffic. 

You can compare the metrics of your overall traffic and measure it with the organic traffic that you receive. Also, use the keywords based on which you have created the content and check where it shows up on the Google search. Then, understand people's searching behaviour. Find answers to questions like how are they searching for your brand, is it for one of your best selling products, or is it for your article, or are they looking for that one viral video you posted. 

Once you get this data, use tools like Google AdWords to know what is the revenue for that keyword.

Google Ads
Source: Google Ads

The organic traffic for those keywords will help you reach great heights without spending any money on AdWords. You will see your competitors spending thousands on Ads to rank for that keyword while you are comfortably at the top by producing SEO-friendly and wonderful content.

  • Experiment and Analyse

It is important to take risks, but they should be calculated ones. One method may not work for everyone. Luckily, there are various means to get leads and traffic in the online world. Making sure your audience is engaged and buying your products is important. So how will you market your new content to the audience?

There are myriads of ways you can try. Start by exploring various channels and find out the one that works best for you. Few of the popular channels to market your content include - 

  • Email Marketing
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • SMS
  • Digital Advertising
  • Include media

Do include Infographics, Images, and Videos on your content pieces. For example, videos are a great way to engage people. People tend to understand a topic better by watching a video (over a blog). But don’t forget to provide a CTA button and a share button next to your video. People also tend to share videos more often than blogs. More importantly, make sure the video is of high quality and the content is brief and awesome.

Videos can be used at many places in your content marketing campaign. You can create stand-alone video content and post it on your organisation’s social media pages. Facebook users watch more than 100 million hours of video content every day on Facebook. There is also a good chance that your video can go viral on one of the platforms and drive more traffic. 

  • Maintain a schedule for publishing

The content you create can be anything from images, infographics, blogs, videos. It’s not a good practice to dump all the content into your website once it's ready. There should be a schedule that has to be followed for posting each content. But strictly following a schedule is not as easy as it sounds; one has to manually post it in multiple channels exactly on the same day and time. This can lead to a lot of human errors.

To overcome this problem, you should use automation tools. Through these tools, you can schedule posts, articles, videos, and emails on multiple platforms simultaneously at a specific time. 

  • Try Influencer marketing

A popular content marketing technique that is taking the world by storm is influencer marketing. More and more people are getting recognised for their skills today (thanks to social media) and have a huge fan following. You can use the help of these people to widen your target audience. You can ask them to talk about your product or publish your content on their social media handles and promote it. 

Conclusion

Content creation is a significant tool for the growth of an organisation and to boost its sales. It also plays a vital role in driving initial traffic to your website. Posting high-quality content will help your customers learn more about your brand and attract those interested in similar topics.

At the same time, it is essential to measure the ROI of your content marketing effort. Measuring the ROI can be a little tricky but not impossible. Using the right metrics and the evaluation technique discussed in this post, one can effortlessly measure the content marketing ROI. Also, try incorporating the tips discussed in this article to improve your content marketing success and get more leads and sales. 

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