Nailing down an exact dollar figure for Content Marketing ROI can be a little tricky at first, but once you have defined the metrics you want to track and begin to see the results coming in, you will see how cost-effective a strategy it can be, especially when compared with tactics such as banner ads, pay per click and sponsored links. In addition, the longer your engage in content marketing, the lower the cost becomes, as you benefit from ownership as opposed to renting. Your content continues to generate visitors and leads as long as it remains published on your website or blog, as opposed to advertising, which stops providing leads once you discontinue payment and suspend or end a campaign.
The first place to start is with monitoring visits to your website and to each of your content items. Increases in organic search traffic will signify that your SEO strategies are proving effective and that the keywords you have been targeting in your content creation are starting to raise your website up the search rankings. Another metric of success is increases in the shares of your content. This can be used to evaluate the appeal of your titles, the effectiveness of social media and sharing sites for promotion, hash-tags you are using for Twitter and Google+ and your overall social media reach.
Getting down to where it really matters, you need to monitor the increases in leads and the quality of these leads. Quality of leads can be analysed by monitoring the reduction in the sales cycle-the time it takes to convert your leads into paying customers. This should decrease the more you pursue a content marketing strategy, as you bring the sales conversation online and provide visitors to your website with content that addresses the objections prospective customers most frequently bring up. Having additional content on your website in the form of conversion pathways, addressed to the need of your target industries and they problems they are experience will also help to weed out the less promising leads, thus saving your salespeople from wasting their time on leads that will ultimately be unfruitful.
Your ROI comes down to the increases in sales and revenue that are achieved by using content marketing. This can be measured using micro-conversions within your content architecture, right up to finalized sales. By tracking each of the visitor to your website using industry analytics you can further determine how successful your content is at attracting your ideal customers, and providing them with content tailored to their needs that result in a conversion. Determining ROI from here involves a summation of all of the costs involved to create and promote your content, such as strategist wages, hosting, content marketing software, writers etc., divided into the revenue generated.
An example of this in action would be a SAAS software company who have recently decided to start creating a blog to connect with potential customers. They begin by identifying their ideal customers using buyer personasand writing about the different problems their target audience are experiencing, and how they would use their software to ease their pain and solve their problems. After publishing and promoting several content items to raise awareness with their audience and generating more traffic, they can move onto content that induces their visitor to take a trial of their product. This gets them in the door and trying out their product.
However, they still need to convince their new users to engage with the software, realize its benefits and appreciate the advantages to be gained from using it. This presents an opportunity to create tutorial videos, How to guides on their blog and lead nuturing emails than can be automatically forwarded to sign-ups. Once they have successfully achieved a sale the content process is far from over. They then need to provide their new customers with content that keeps them engaged with the software, ideally increasing their usage and recommending the software to their partners and associates.
Determining the ROI on content marketing for this company will take several months. They need to track visitors, shares, leads, conversions, sales and all of the costs associated with the content creation process. Having analytics that track all of these metrics are an absolute necessity if they are to extract actionable data that can be used for evaluating their strategy and implement continuous reforms to ensure optimization. Analyzing all of the costs involved and the return which they have generated will help with planning the content strategy going forward. Some of the tactics employed will have completely fallen flat, but with analytics which track the traffic to each of the content items the company will be able to identify what worked and what did not work. They can then devote more resources to producing the types of content which resonate with their target audience, and go back to rework the content which was less successful.