Evaluating Your Content Marketing ROI

By Roisin McGinn on 18 July 2017 at 15:51:57 BST


There’s something about setting goals that motivates people to take action. Normally if we want to see a different outcome to unsatisfactory circumstances we dedicate energy to bringing about meaningful change. 

Let’s explain this better with an analogy.

You’ve recently noticed you no longer need to wear a belt with your jeans. Stepping on the scales you decide it’s high time you lost some weight. You set yourself a goal of losing 2 pounds per week, with the overarching aim of dropping roughly 14 pounds. Why is setting goals like this more motivating than chiding yourself to lose ‘some’ weight?

Well, without measurable goals your willpower could slip. Before you know it, you’re alone in McDonald’s car-park pigging out on fries and strawberry milkshake (speaking from no previous experience, of course).

Success has a number

Content makes the web go round. At this stage in the evolution of marketing, everyone knows that content marketing ROI can be optimised with clear targets and goals in mind. However, many businesses are plagued by feelings of inadequacy, and without the backing of a sophisticated marketing department, how can your business do more content marketing and do it better?

In order to use the correct yardstick to measure content marketing success, you need to know what success looks like as a numerical value. 

Generally businesses cut adrift in the world of content marketing want to garner maximum returns for their efforts, but often they haven’t established the correct methods for measuring ROI. They tend to focus on actions rather than outcomes, but without a roadmap trying to reach a pinnacle in the distance can seem like an insurmountable challenge.

Luckily there are strategic steps you can take to get better at content marketing. Key to these is establishing what metrics you’ll use to judge your success.

According to marketing consultant and bestselling author Jay Baer there are four ways to track and evaluate the success of your content.

  • Consumption metrics

These are measured using tools like Google Analytics, traffic and open rates, and gives you estimates of how many people are seeing - or consuming - your content. They are straightforward to understand but form only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to evaluating how well you’re doing content marketing.

  • Sharing metrics

These include any ways that your audience takes it upon themselves to actively engage with your content, either through retweets, Facebook likes, emailing it to friends or posting it on their LinkedIn feed. However, content marketers are not publishers. As much as we like producing great content that’s informative and entertaining, action rather than eyeballs is the name of the game. Sure, you shared our content, but will you buy our product?

  • Lead metrics

These metrics are nearer and dearer to your bottom line. Positive results in lead generation means that your content is working toward your business objectives – at this point you know your content marketing ROI is more than an interesting story or piece of publicity. Knowing how often consumption of your content generates a lead is the point at which content marketing becomes really interesting.

  • Sales metrics

This is the pinnacle of your content marketing - all other metrics add up to this point. Your business objectives are always about growth and increasing margins of profitability and this is always achieved by selling more, and to the best possible calibre of customer who will come back again and again.

Content marketing takes time

These four metrics are interlocking cogs in the content marketing machine. While getting lots of likes on a Facebook post might be instantly gratifying, these alone don’t tell you enough about how your content is helping achieve your business goals.

Businesses are often surprised to learn that content marketing isn’t gratuitous, nor is it a quick fix solution to flagging sales and drop in lead generation. Building up a rapport and engaging prospective customers - as well as retaining current customers - is an important part of the process, and that takes time. So no, content marketing isn’t a quick fix solution, but yes, it’s absolutely worth dedicating resources to doing right.

Many companies have failed to appreciate the complexity of content marketing and the fact that lead generation and sales trump Facebook likes and LinkedIn shares. Afterall, what’s in a like if it doesn’t lead to a sale?

Depending on which evaluation metrics you use to judge success, the results of your content marketing ROI will vary. However, don’t dump your content marketing strategy before it has had the chance to work for you. Here's three things you can do today: 

  1. Accept that you need to treat each of these metrics separately and that they bring different types of value to your business – likes and shares help create brand awareness and generate positive PR

  2. Work out what you want from an individual piece of content and be realistic about the targets you set. Are these goals genuinely achievable at this stage in the client journey? 

  3. Design your content and your calls-to-action with specific goals in mind. Only by using the right metrics can you deliver on the grand goals that inspired your content marketing strategy in the first place. How will you use the relevant metrics to judge its success? For example, is the generation of even one lead a good ROI when pitted against the cost of producing a beautifully designed and throughly researched eBook? 

    Squaredot is a Gold Tier Certified Hubspot Partner Dublin Agency - we write the content and crunch the numbers so you don’t have to. For more great advice on becoming a next-level content marketing super-strategist, download your FREE eBook, The B2B Content Marketing Masterclass.