Content marketing is now an accepted way of improving your online business and driving traffic to your site through the production of useful, educational and/or entertaining content. It’s so popular that 63% of brands now have a budget that’s dedicated to content production and distribution. A recent survey found that 43% of companies that produce content say that it’s a priority for the board.
However, the same survey found that only a third of content marketers believe that their company understands the content needs of its audience. This can make it difficult to really get to grips with content marketing ROI, so today we’ll be looking at how you can prove value, as well as what makes great content.
- Allows the ‘personality’ of your company to shine through, allowing customers and site visitors to feel that they are getting to know your brand through the interactions that they have with the content you produce
- Builds trust and loyalty by providing useful information that informs or entertains your audience and addresses a need or problem that they have
- Attracts visitors and search engines by again being highly useful and well optimised. Excellent content will drive traffic and rise to the top of search engine results pages
- Builds authority in your industry niche by offering information that others don’t and displaying a sound understanding and expertise around the industry that you’re in
One of the biggest problems that a content marketer faces is the fact that there’s no instant metric that becomes available once content has been produced and distributed. Unlike many other marketing techniques, it can take weeks or months for content to prove its worth and it’s this that makes the job of a content marketer that little bit more difficult.
In order to come up with something that’s presentable to the board, it’s necessary to look at the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you’re likely to present. These can be broken down as follows:
- How effective is the content in exposing new prospects to the business/brand
- How much engagement does the content receive
- Does the content inspire others to want to do business with you
- Is the content effective in driving revenue
- Can you tie content in with brand awareness, page visits, search rankings etc and prove that it’s increased leads, sales and revenue
The following framework, courtesy of Newscred, is a great starting point to help you “connect the dots” when it comes to how you can relate content to measurable metrics. In order to get a good overview of how your content is performing, it will also be necessary to use business intelligence tools such as Google Analytics and social analytics. You can then set up goals and check bounce rates etc. in order to be able to produce a report that makes sense to company executives.
The key is to find the data that’s measurable that will help you to understand how your content is consumed and what action it prompts. For example, a visitor may find you on social media through a video post that a friend has shared. From there, they go to your site to watch the video or to check out other content as they enjoyed the video. Then they may decide to have a look around at what you do and go on to make contact. This may or may not result in a sale, but it is still a lead which has been produced by your content.
Google Analytics data is highly useful for measuring ROI if it’s set up correctly and this is where you will look at KPI metrics such as:
- Total visits
- Unique & returning visits
- Bounce rate
- Time spent on site
- Content drilldown
- Visitor paths and drop-offs
You will need to look at these metrics for various time periods too; weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually, if you’re going to get an accurate representation of ROI.
A quick note on bounce rates: in Analytics, the bounce rate is not always indicative of how engaging the content is due to the way that time on site is measured. There is a simple script that you can apply to fix this, which is available here.
Create Lead Capture Forms
Another way to measure is leads is to create capture forms, which you can do using various techniques:
- Content request forms for white papers, presentations, case studies, videos, ‘cheat sheets’, brochures and price lists
- Special landing pages containing a form which people are directed to from an event such as a webinar
- Special offer pages that ask people to sign up to access a price reduction or voucher
- Newsletter forms with a lead in such as ‘to access more great content, sign up for our newsletter’
The best way to go about this is to make sure that the form is short and optimised for mobile. Asking for lots of information such as job title, address etc. often leads to such forms being abandoned, so do keep it simple and ensure that it contains fields that are large enough to allow mobile visitors to easily enter information.
Simple, effective sign-up forms work the best
You can even optimise these by applying colour psychology to the buttons etc. and using A/B testing to see which performs the best.
The best thing about creating these forms is that there’s no room for doubt in what the visitor was looking for and that’s your content. You can then demonstrate how these are turned into leads and how these convert into sales – that’s your metric.
For example, say you’ve produced a white paper that cost £2000 to produce and a further £2000 to distribute and promote. If each lead that the content produce has a value of £50, then you will need to generate 80 leads to break even. Anything over that demonstrates a return on your investment so it’s important that you determine your lead value in the first instance.
From here you can also get a figure on how many of these leads have been converted to sales and work out the true ROI to the business, which is after all, the bottom line.
Remember too that often content is capturing a lead later in the cycle than they might ordinarily find you. This means that you can also include in your report the cost of acquiring those leads through other means such as print advertising.
Social Media ROI
Don’t forget too that content marketing includes social media and the content that you produce for it. Of course, social is a great way to distribute existing and new content for your site too, but it’s likely that that’s not your only social activity.
Again, you can set up goals in Analytics to measure referral traffic and other metrics from social media.
You should also measure:
- Number of followers that you attract and if they have been obtained organically or through a paid campaign (you should set up the latter in Analytics)
- Cost per lead
- Cost per acquisition
Look at how people are engaging too: does the content drive them to the site and if so, what kind of content performs the best. You will need to measure this for a while before you notice trends that have actual value, but once you’ve learned to read it, you can put a value on your followers. This can help you to forecast sales too in the future if you have noted that you get say one sale per 1000 followers.
Content Marketing ROI Points to Remember
- All metrics should be tailored specifically towards your business’s goals
- You should be able to demonstrate that content is driving down acquisition costs whilst at the same time increasing long term customer value
- You should be able to connect metrics with sales and ultimately, revenue
Content marketing is a very swiftly growing industry which was worth $44 billion by the end of last year and it shows no sign of letting up. However, in order to retain a budget for content marketing, it has to have proven ROI and this is something that’s highly achievable using a free tool such as Google Analytics.
It’s also a form of marketing/advertising that consumers actually like, proven by the fact that we’re now consuming much more content than ever before. It’s a ‘soft’ way of selling something, so consumers feel as if they are not being pushed and that they are in some way a part of something. They come to understand your brand better, it promotes trust and loyalty in such a way that traditional advertising and sales methods never have. Consumers are getting used to the fact that they are now in the driving seat and content marketing is something that compliments this.
However, if you don’t prove the business case for it then to the boss, it has very little value, so get to know how to use Analytics to set up goals and measure everything in such a way that you can prove its worth beyond question.