ROI series: How to Measure Content Marketing ROI?

ROI series: How to Measure Content Marketing ROI?

Measure content marketing ROI by defining KPIs aligning with your content goals & objectives; monitor, track, and analyze them to quantify the returns

By: Mussarat Nosheen | 7 mins read
Published: Oct 26, 2023 1:34:40 AM | Updated: May 22, 2024 02:50:52 AM

57% of B2B chief marketing officers believe proving ROI is one of their top three challenges.

It gets even more tricky when they try to measure content marketing ROI

Why so? Content marketing is great at creating awareness, driving traffic, customer engagement, and building brand loyalty. 

However, putting a dollar value on these non-financial gains can be difficult. 

At the same time, content marketing influences customer behavior and interaction as they move down the funnel.

The solution is a balanced approach and a holistic take on content marketing ROI measurement. 

Dig in to find out how you achieve it.  

What is Content Market ROI?

Content Marketing Return on Investment (ROI) measures the success of a marketing campaign by evaluating the costs of a marketing campaign against the generated revenue. 

The paramount purpose of creating marketing campaigns and content is to generate revenue.

Content marketing ROI tells you if those efforts are worth the dime by linking tangible content marketing activities to the revenue they generate. 

The formula for calculating content marketing ROI is as follows:

Content Marketing ROI = (Revenue - Costs)/ Costs ✕ 100

Revenue is the defining metric for judging content marketing efforts. 

However, several other parameters involving the various customer touchpoints go into accounting for a content marketing strategy. 

Remember that even conversion could mean different things depending on the business and its short and long-term goals. 

Let us help you to find out more about the process of measuring content marketing ROI.

How to Calculate Content Marketing ROI?

Since all businesses are different in scope, size, and goals, a one-size-fits-all solution would not do. 

Below, we offer a breakdown of the broad aspects of calculating the content marketing ROI you can adapt to your needs. 

Establish Clear Goals

This stage comes way earlier in the lifecycle of content marketing strategy. 

Before calculating content marketing ROI, have a clear set of goals to evaluate against. 

Is your goal for content marketing to enhance lead generation? Or is your intention to create your brand awareness?  

Or do you wish to drive more sales?

Your content marketing ROI measurement process centers upon the goals for which you are carrying out the exercise. 

For example, your goal is to increase lead generation by 30% in the next quarter. 

When you get down to calculating content marketing ROI, you begin by listing the specific goals and measuring the efficacy of content marketing strategy for each. 

Setting SMART Objectives

Goals are relatively broader statements; objectives provide actionable ways to achieve them. 

Defining the objectives of content marketing is a tangible way to say how you will achieve what you intend to achieve.

SMART, short for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound is one method of creating well-defined, quantifiable, and easy-to-comprehend objectives. 

For example, if your goal was to enhance lead generation, you set up goals like;

  • Generate and promote two detailed e-books on specific topics in the next two months 
  • Publish five blogs a week 
  • Publish one white paper in the middle of the current quarter

Defining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

As the name suggests, key performance indicators (KPIs) help quantify the progress toward the goals and their objectives

You measure the performance of your content marketing efforts by comparing your performance against each KPI

Next, you create context by comparing these stats with a benchmark or previous performance.

Identifying Essential Metrics

First, identify the KPIs closely related to your goals and objectives. 

These essential metrics will serve as a measure of the success of your content in achieving your goals. 

For example, if your goal is to increase lead generation, your essential metrics could include

  • Number of new leads generated
  • Increase in conversion rate on the landing pages
  • Increase in click-through rates
  • Increase in revenue generated by the campaign

Once established, these KPIs are tracked and measured by tools like Google Analytics 4, content management systems, and content marketing platforms like Ahref and SEMRush

Metrics Beyond Financial Gains

Revenue generation is indeed the end goal of content marketing. But before that, there are several user touchpoints along the conversion funnel.

Businesses address those touchpoints by creating content for each stage, creating brand awareness. 

Non-financial metrics are then employed to assess the performance of content marketing in generating engagement and increasing brand visibility.   

Examples of non-financial metrics include;

  • Page views
  • Session duration
  • Engagement rate
  • Social Media shares
  • Bounce Rate
  • Email open rates

The Holistic Approach to ROI Calculation

A holistic approach to ROI calculation takes into account all costs and benefits. 

These include taking measures of the costs incurred in creating and promoting the content and involving both direct and non-direct returns. 

Examples of direct returns of a content marketing strategy include;

  • Revenue generated (directly from content)
  • Cost savings from paid marketing

Whereas examples of indirect returns include;

  • Improvement in search engine ranking
  • Increased brand reputation
  • Increased customer lifetime value (CLV)

Employing the holistic approach helps elaborate the role of content marketing in terms of financial returns and long-term benefits like organic traffic and customer loyalty.  

Tracking and Analyzing Content Performance 

With your KPIs down, it is time to track their performance, conduct analysis, and share your findings to inform the future content strategy and resource allocation. 

Let us go through the stages one by one. 

Content Audit to Measure Content Marketing ROI

With so much ROI measurement focused on metrics, it is easy to forget the content. 

But content audit remains one of the key steps to measuring content marketing ROI

A content audit is a data-driven process of systematically analyzing your content’s performance, quality, and relevance. 

The exercise eventually leads to content strategists identifying the pieces of content performing well, those needing improvement or retirement. 

To conduct a content audit;

  • Create an inventory of your content. 
    • Articles 
    • Blogs
    • Videos
    • Downloadable resources
  • Evaluate content quality and relevance for each piece of content against your goals and target audience
  • Determine content performance by analyzing KPIs 
  • Use audit findings to identify gaps and opportunities

Analytics Tools to Measure Content Marketing ROI

You can only quantify the impact of your content marketing and advertising efforts if you have the right tools to monitor the right metrics. 

Tools like Google Analytics 4 and content management systems offer valuable insights to help businesses track the performance of their content. 

Integrate your website domain into these tools and use them to;

  • Track user behavior such as page view, session duration, and engagement rate.
  • Follow all the user touchpoints during the customer journey.
  • Identify trends and patterns emerging in terms of content engagement.
  • Set up goals within analytics tools to track ROI-specific actions like form submission and purchase.

Use Attribution Models to Measure Content Marketing ROI

Attribution models facilitate ROI measurement by allocating credit to various touch points during the customer journey.

They help understand customer behavior, including interaction with content during customer journeys.

Businesses can also use them to measure the content's impact by considering all interactions leading to a conversion.

Types of the attribution model include;

  • First touch model - assigns credit to the first piece of content the user interacted with before conversion.
  • Last touch model - gives credit to the piece of content the user interacted last with before conversion.
  • Linear model - all pieces of content get equal credit.
  • Time decay model - interactions with content closer to conversion get credit.
  • Position-based model - first and last content users interact with are allocated the most credit while the rest is distributed equally among the touch points. 

These attribution models can also help you give dollar value to the impact of the content you are pushing. 

Calculate Content Marketing ROI

Now that you have the data for your essential KPIs and for allocating credit to specific content and campaigns, it is time to tackle the financial aspect of ROI

We will refer here to the same ROI formula;

Content Marketing ROI = (Revenue - Costs)/ Costs ✕ 100

To calculate content marketing ROI, take all expenses involved in content creation and marketing into account, such as

  • Payment to content creators
  • Software subscriptions
  • Content management tools
  • Social media management tools
  • Internal costs

Interpreting Results

With the content marketing ROI measurement complete, it is time to make sense of the results.

Setting Benchmarks 

Benchmarking is when you use industry standards as a benchmark to measure your performance. 

Using industry benchmarks helps you evaluate the usefulness of your content in the cost-benefit context.

All you need to do is look for industry-relevant standards in your industry-specific studies or reports.

Then, evaluate your ROI against the benchmark to see whether yours is performing up to the mark or if it needs work. 

While benchmarking, remember the most important standard to compare yourselves with your competitor. 

Identifying Successful Campaigns

You have created a context by comparing your ROI findings with the industry benchmarks (and where relevant with your past performance). 

It is time to find out the content marketing efforts that bore the most fruit regarding ROI

You can identify the successful marketing content by;

  • Analyze the performance of each type of content (blog, social media, email)
    • Lead generation
    • Conversion rate
    • Revenue generated
  • Run a similar analysis with campaigns (including different types of content).
  • Identify the content and the campaigns generating the most revenue for the least time and resources.
  • Replicate the strategies of the outperforming content. 

Areas for Improvement

Besides finding out what works, the ROI measurement exercise helps identify the gaps in the content strategy and execution. 

Thoroughly analyze the pieces of content underperforming from an ROI point of view and identify the ones with lower ROI

Look for the aspects of content, including channels, strategy, and execution,  that result in lower ROI

Implement the lessons learned from the successful content with higher ROI

Optimize Content Strategy

Once you measure the content marketing return on investment (ROI), it is time to implement the lessons learned and optimize the content strategy. 

Here are some of the ways to do so. 

Reallocate Resources for Content Optimization

Redistribute the budget and resources to focus on content marketing activities with the highest returns.

Similarly, re-evaluate your preferences and strategies, even consider diverting resources from the content underperforming in terms of ROI.

Doing so will ensure the resources and efforts redirect to initiatives most closely contributing to your business goals. 

Continuous Improvement 

Implement an ongoing content marketing evaluation and content-optimizing strategy to maximize return on investment. 

A continual improvement approach ensures the timely identification of trends, opportunities, and areas of improvement. 

The content marketing strategy thus adapts and responds to market changes and customer interests. It keeps the content fresh, relevant, and suitable for increasing ROI

Scalability and Future Planning

Scalability and future planning of a content marketing strategy refers to the ability of a content strategy to adapt to a larger scale when and if the demand or scope increases. 

It means creating a blueprint for industry-specific content strategies that can withstand the growth and evolution of your business goals and ensure profitability. 

You could do so by;

  • Assessing the scalability of your content marketing efforts
  • Creating a future roadmap for content marketing initiatives for a growing business and evolving goals

Conclusion

Content marketing ROI refers to evaluating the revenue generated from content marketing versus the costs involved in creating and promoting it.

To measure content marketing ROI, one needs to have well-defined goals and objectives for content marketing in the first place. 

Select key performance indicators (KPIs) that best represent the goals and objectives of the content. 

Remember to take a holistic approach to KPIs and consider financial and non-financial metrics.

Use analytics tools like Google Analytics 4, content management systems, and content marketing platforms to monitor and track these KPIs

Analyze the collected data by comparing it against industry and competitor benchmarks. 

You will end up with successful content with a great ROI, gaps, and content with areas of improvement. 

Use this information to optimize your content strategy by reallocating resources to what is generating higher ROI.

Interested in learning more about ROI, read our blogs here.