As data analytics grows in sophistication, measuring the results of your marketing efforts becomes even more critical to your company’s success. So why, then, do 44% of all B2B companies not even bother to measure their content marketing ROI?
And, even more puzzling, why do 13% of them not know whether they measure it? After all, what’s the ultimate goal of content marketing?
Converting browsers to buyers, of course. Yes, it is true that we use content marketing to:
- Help our target audience solve problems
- Provide information our audience can’t find elsewhere
- Build trust in our brand and its expertise
Granted, those factors make content marketing a long-term investment. Often, it takes months to see a positive change in your metrics. But if it doesn’t increase your company’s bottom line, in the long run, it’s a poor investment of time and money.
Content marketers, therefore, need to get proactive about measuring the ROI for their efforts.
- Too many content marketers still don’t measure their content’s ROI.
- Remember, even though we use information and advice to build trust, our ultimate goal is to bring value to our business.
- Measuring content ROI is the best way to learn how much value we bring to the table.
- Learn how to measure ROI easily with targeted metrics.
Measuring ROI Is the Quickest Route to Executive Buy-In
If you don’t measure your Marketing ROI, you’re not likely to get buy-in for the budget increase you want. Executives don’t care if you’re a “thought leader” in your field.
They want to see a rise in their bottom line. So, show them the money.
“But how?” you ask. Start with a metaphor.
Use a Metaphor to Illustrate How Content Drives ROI
As a content marketer, you’re used to the world of words. A metaphor can help you frame what you need to measure in terms you can easily relate to.
We can use metaphors to highlight increases in website traffic, such as with your content as your vehicle, and your content marketing strategy as the vehicle’s engine.
How you do that depends on whether you have an existing content marketing program. If you haven’t gotten your content marketing program off the ground yet, you won’t have any metrics to show yet.
In that case, you’ll need to provide your company’s decision-makers with a reasonable estimate of your likely ROI. Here are several ways to calculate your estimated ROI.
How to Estimate the ROI for a Prospective Content Marketing Program
Use Case Studies of Similar Companies
Spend some time in online research to find case studies of B2B or B2C companies that have implemented a content marketing program. The more similar those companies are to yours, the better the estimate.
You might need to do a little digging beyond the cursory treatment these case studies receive online to find the numbers for their actual ROI. Getting the go-ahead from your executive team for content marketing, however, will be well worth your time.
Look at Surveys of Groups of Companies to Get a Ballpark Figure
Let’s say you can’t find a case study about what content marketing has done for ROI in a company similar to yours. You can still get a good estimate of the potential of content marketing with numbers from surveys conducted with a wide range of companies.
Marketing Sherpa and HubSpot have done extensive surveys, both of which report average rates of conversions in key metrics. These content marketing metrics range from simple form completion (top-of-the-funnel leads) to multiple-item forms to qualify prospects to actual sales.
The Marketing Sherpa survey also breaks down the expected conversion rates along with industry types. Those numbers can give you a reasonable expectation of what percentage of your blog visitors will convert.
Since conversions are the “rest stops” along a prospect’s journey toward becoming a customer, they’re valuable indicators of how content marketing can drive sales. Combine those percentages with your estimated traffic for the period you want to measure, and you’ll have a good idea of what revenue you could expect.
Estimate Your Costs
Planning your expenses should come early in the process. If you don’t have the resources in-house to create your content, you’ll need to outsource to a content marketing agency.
Research various options thoroughly. Don’t only look at the cost of outsourcing or hiring in-house. Look at the results each agency has achieved, as well as what industries they specialize in.
If you’re a startup, your marketing budget might be strapped for cash. Consider using quality freelance writers, designers, and videographers until you’re doing enough business to cover an agency’s costs.
If you plan to distribute your content through email subscriptions as well as on your company’s blog (and we recommend you do), you’ll need to include your email provider’s costs as well.
We also recommend that you use a comprehensive content marketing platform if your budget allows. Here, we use DivvyHQ.
We’ve found that having one place to plan, collaborate, create, publish, and distribute your content allows you to accomplish a lot more in less time. Be sure to count the cost of this or any other technology you’ll need to accomplish your goals.
Combine all your likely expenses and balance those against your expected results. This number gives you a reasonable estimate of your expected ROI. With that number in hand, you can stride into the C-suite confidently, knowing that you’ve given the numbers team what they need to say yes.
How to Calculate Your Existing Content Program’s ROI
While we’d certainly champion the cause of content that builds awareness, new views aren’t the metric you need to lead with when presenting to your boardroom. Start with what grows your company’s revenue. Once they’re on board with what you need, you can sell them on the nuances of building your audience with thought leadership.
Start with Your Current Numbers
Since conversions are the major driver for harvesting qualified leads, they need to take center stage in your calculations, as should sales. Also, include all the factors that impact conversions, such as your content’s traffic, clickthrough and bounce rates, social and email shares, and its ranking in search results.
Once you have those data, you can measure their increase as you adjust your strategy to publish more of what works to drive those numbers.
But that’s just half of the ROI equation. You’ll also need to take a deep dive into the costs of producing content. Look for places where increased efficiency could save time and money going forward.
Are there areas in which you could automate tasks your team usually does manually? Is there an area in which your content consistently underperforms? Are you taking advantage of the expertise of all your teams, not only your content team?
Mark these areas for change. Cutting costs through more effective use of your team’s time and money can also help you grow your ROI.
Move Forward with Your Bottom Line Squarely in Your Sights
To grow your content marketing program, you need a budget that supports all the changes you need to make to thrive in today’s competitive arena. That means you have to start being a “numbers person.”
No, I don’t mean that you should create sales content. Quite the opposite. You need to create content that builds trust by solving the problems that keep potential customers up at night.
But you need to measure the money it brings in. These three metrics can give you a spot-on view of the value your content brings to your company.
- Conversions: Look at how each piece of content moves your audience further down the sales funnel. From their initial newsletter subscription to their request for an in-person consultation, conversions are a good sign that someone will move forward in their relationship with your company. On the other hand, identifying where and why people fail to convert can help you adjust your content to boost conversions, and eventually, sales.
- Percentage of closed leads: The point at which a lead that you’ve nurtured with targeted, personalized content becomes a customer has traditionally fallen under the purview of the sales team. Once a lead requests a meeting, that’s usually the last the marketing team hears from them. Use your content analytics to identify those people who have met with your sales team. Follow up with the salespeople who met with them to see if they closed the lead. If they didn’t, your content team could help drive sales at this point by providing decision-makers with personalized information that addresses their individual concerns.
- Percentage of sales: For B2C companies, customers often buy your products or services without a sales team’s intervention. Keep track of those customers who arrived at their buying decision in the “vehicle” your content provided them. Determine what percentage of those people who consumed your content converted into a sale.
Depending on whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, multiply your percentage of closed leads or sales by your average customer value. Use both current and lifetime customer value. Then, divide each of those numbers by your content program’s costs to determine both your short-term and long-term ROI.
And it all starts with traffic. If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content published consistently, check out our Content Builder Service.
Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today, and generate more traffic and leads for your business.