The Art and Science of Content Marketing ROI
Across the globe, many marketers are sabotaging their annual content marketing programs already. Their crime: failing to set goals.
It’s nearly impossible to prove content marketing ROI if you don’t outline clear goals at the beginning of the year. Sure, you may be able to cherry-pick some numbers in December, throw them into a Powerpoint, and make a tenuous case to your boss. But you’ll be playing a dangerous game for two reasons:
1. The most impactful KPIs aren’t just magically measured by Google Analytics. You need to properly setup your marketing stack (GA, Pardot, Salesforce, SEMRush, Facebook Business Manager, etc.) to track the behaviors that matter most.
2. If you’re not creating and distributing content with a clear purpose, you’re basically banking on a happy accident to keep your job.
So where do you start? To prove ROI, your content goals should ladder up to the things your CEO cares about: new business (revenue generated by new clients), customer retention, and loyalty (getting your existing clients to keep spending more money with you).
This doesn’t mean your content should be full of product plugs. Far from it. It’s much more effective to build trust with your audience through helpful content than to inundate them with sales messages. They’ll be more likely to buy something from you in the long run.
But you do need to tie content to revenue. There are a couple of easy places to start.
If you’re B2B, most of your inbound business comes from demo requests or people looking to talk to sales. Track how many people first visit your site by reading or watching a piece of content before subsequently filling out a demo/sales request. Then see if those leads convert to deals at a higher rate.
If you’re B2C, track whether people who consume your content convert into customers at a higher rate, and if they spend more money. Walmart, for instance, found that people who read their content had 7% larger orders—a big overall KPI for the retailer.
Then, measure the key drivers that attract the right audience to your content. After all, you need to build an audience and inspire people to engage with your content if you want it to have an impact on revenue.
SEO: Measure gains in search traffic and ranking improvements for target keywords. (For instance, we really want to attract people searching for terms like “content strategy” and “content marketing platforms.”)
Newsletter sign-ups and Engagement: Since newsletters are the most consistent way to build an owned audience, growing that list is key. But also track your open rate, click rate, and overall percentage of engaged subscribers.
Social Engagement: How are followers engaging with content across channels? Look to metrics like video views, engagement rate, reach, social referral traffic, and comments.
Backlinks and earned media: The most effective SEO strategy today is to create content with such great original research and reporting that it earns backlinks and press. It’s super valuable to organically introduce your brand to new audiences.
The science here comes from setting achievable goals in each of these categories. The art comes in interpreting the data, figuring out which metrics are most impactful for your business, and teaching your team how to create and distribute content with these goals in mind.
This is far from an exhaustive list—I’m working on a content marketing ROI mega-post that goes into much greater detail. But we’re almost a month into the year. If you haven’t set goals already, you need to get started. Your content marketing program depends on it.