This One Lead Gen Metric Will Help You Show Marketing ROI

Here are a couple of embarrassing facts about myself:

1. I have a catalogued list of my favorite content marketing SlideShares.

2. There’s one that’s my most favorite, and I reference it all the time.

I’m talking about Why Content Marketing Fails, by Moz founder Rand Fishkin. It tackles the biggest content marketing mistakes with the help of clip art and some pretty bad fonts. (Also a bunch of pictures of Rand looking like a railroad baron.) There are two slides that I love in particular because they explain the biggest misconception in content marketing: that content is just another direct-response marketing tactic.

This One Lead Gen Metric Will Help You Show Marketing ROI

This One Lead Gen Metric Will Help You Show Marketing ROI

Preach! If you’re hoping that your content is going to directly lead to sales on a consistent basis, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. The consumer journey is just much more complicated than “click-read-buy.” And yet, content marketing does have a huge impact on the sales funnel. Per HubSpot, companies that publish content 16 times per month generate 4.5x more leads than those who publish less than four times per month, and 93 percent of B2B marketers say that content marketing generates more leads than traditional marketing strategies.

But for many marketers, demonstrating the long-term effect that content marketing has on lead generation and customer acquisition can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not a Marketo and Salesforce wizard.

While multi-touch attribution is the most accurate approach to demonstrating content marketing ROI, there’s a simpler metric that can get you started: leads influenced.

Time for a definition!

Leads influenced: The number of people who engaged with a piece of content and converted into a lead within the next 90 days.

Let’s look at an example. Say that I publish this post and 5,000 people read it. And amongst those 5,000 people, 65 become a lead for Contently in the next 90 days—they fill out a demo request form, ask to talk to a sales person, download an e-book, or some other conversion event. Then, that piece of content would have 65 leads influenced.

This metric is an easy way to show the impact that content has on the top of your funnel and can be tracked with a simple conversion pixel placed on various conversion event points, like the aforementioned demo request form or e-book download. It’s one of the metrics that we bake right into our analytics platform, and helps us optimize our distribution strategy to ensure that content pieces that generate a lot of leads get prioritized in both our paid and organic campaigns.

This One Lead Gen Metric Will Help You Show Marketing ROI

We also measure something called lead impact score, which pinpoints content pieces that influence or generate a lot of leads relative to the number of people who read the piece. So say that 100 people read a story, and 70 of them end up becoming leads: We’d give that piece a lead impact score of 70, and likely prioritize pushing it out in our distribution campaigns since it’s so effective.

Ultimately, there are a lot of reasons that content marketing fails. But having a good handle on how content impacts lead generation definitely isn’t one of them.

Image by Getty Images

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