Around 86% of marketers say they use content marketing to boost the promotion of their businesses.
Yet, 66% have no idea how to effectively measure their marketing metrics.
So, what’s the problem?
Essentially, measuring content marketing effectiveness isn’t as simple as it seems. Content is naturally nebulous, and the way that your customers respond to each blog, video, or social media post is inherently unpredictable. You simply can’t know for certain how people are going to behave. All you can know for certain is that content marketing works.
- 82% of customers feel more positive about a brand after reading content.
- 70% of consumers say content makes them feel closer to the company.
- 68% of people spend time reading content from the businesses they’re interested in.
Fortunately, while you can’t accurately predict all human behaviour, you can take some of the stress out of content marketing metrics. By examining your audience, knowing which actions to track, and analysing the right information, you can get a rough estimate of how well your content is working.
The more information you gather, the easier it will be to create content that not only resonates with your audience but gives you the best possible return on your investment.
So, how do you decide which metrics matter?
Measuring content marketing effectiveness: Metrics that matter
Customer affinity, better brand awareness, and a multitude of other benefits associated with content marketing all look great on paper, but they might not do much to impress your shareholders and C-Suite.
Leaders in the business world want to see evidence that their marketing budget is going towards something lucrative. In other words, they want content marketing ROI.
Assuming you implement the right strategy and stick by it for long enough (that could mean several years), you will begin to see a higher profit from your efforts than you’d see from any other advertising and marketing strategy. Content marketing is inherently lucrative because it allows you to build your brand’s reputation, create new relationships, and most importantly – maintain connections with your customers. Here are some of the reasons why content has a high ROI:
- It’s a long-term plan: While the long-term nature of content marketing can be frustrating for those who want to see results straight away, it also means that you build long-term solutions for success. The right content develops a reputation that leads to repeat custom and protects you from potential crises. What’s more, your content can continue to bring you value for as long as it remains on the internet.
- Minimal costs: If like most companies, you don’t have the time to create content yourself, you’ll need to outsource your investment. While this does mean that content incurs a cost, it’s often much cheaper than other marketing investments. Unlike traditional ad campaigns, you don’t spend through the nose for every placement.
- Compounding impact: The more you spend on content marketing, the bigger your audience becomes. The larger, and more committed your audience is, the more of an impact your content has. In fact, you may even begin to turn customers into brand ambassadors who will share and support your content for free.
A common mistake that companies make when looking at marketing analytics is that they focus almost exclusively on direct leads and sales. However, the benefits of content marketing spread a lot further than you’d thinking. Content marketing ROI can appear in everything from the advocacy-ready relationships you have with customers, to a reduced rate of buyer churn.
Unfortunately, when your content performance metrics go beyond sales figures and numbers, it can be a lot harder to track your success. The good news? Just because it’s tough, doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
How to track marketing metrics: Starting your content analytics strategy
Countless companies spend money every month on content for their websites, social media pages, podcasts, and video channels. In fact, 91% of B2B marketers alone are using content marketing to reach their customers.
As complicated as measuring content marketing effectiveness might seem, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be as stressful as it seems. The following three steps will help to set you up for success:
1. Know your marketing objectives
First things first, it’s impossible to track your success for any marketing strategy unless you’ve already determined what success looks like for you.
Before you start any content marketing campaign, make sure that you understand its purpose. Content doesn’t achieve its full potential when it’s simply there to fill up your website or give you something to say on social media. Make sure you’re ready to measure content marketing ROI by choosing a specific goal. For instance, you might want to:
- Attract new traffic to your website.
- Improve customer retention.
- Enhance engagement.
- Boost brand awareness.
- Support a new product release/launch.
Some goals will naturally have a financial ROI assigned to them, while others will focus on less tangible ambitions.
2. Make sure you’re set up to measure performance
Worried that you don’t know how to track marketing metrics successfully? The good news is that you don’t have to do it manually anymore. There are plenty of tools out there that can help you keep track of your conversions, all the way from Google analytics, to in-built social media resources. Let’s look at some of the best marketing analytics tools you can start with:
Built-in social media tools
Social media is a big part of the content marketing conversion these days. The good news is that most social media networks come with in-built content analytics tools to help you learn more about your performance on each channel. Whether you prefer the inbuilt options or a third-party social tool that helps you track all platforms at once, the aim should be to:
- Measure social exposure and engagement: Look at the likes you get, the page visits from new and existing customers, and the reach as you develop your following.
- Understand your fans: Measuring your performance on different social channels will help you to find out which platforms give you the most traffic, and which content your audience likes the most.
- Drive brand awareness: Social media is a great way to generate new attention for your company through everything from influencer marketing, to the use of branded hashtags.
Another common resource in any marketing analytics tool-belt, Google Analytics is probably the most popular solution for anyone who wants to learn more about their website’s performance. It’s easy to use, completely free, and it can provide you with lots of useful information like:
- Traffic metrics: Traffic is one of the most important content performance metrics, as it helps you to see how many potential customers your posts are driving to your website or product pages.
- Content engagement metrics: You can track things like time spent on page and bounce rate to see whether people are staying to read your content or leaving straight away.
- Conversion rates: Google Analytics can even help you to understand your content marketing ROI, to help you figure out which content and which campaigns are getting you the most conversions. Conversions can include anything from an email subscription to a purchase.
External tracking tools
Aside from Google and inbuilt social media services, there’s a bunch of marketing analytics tools out there that come with their own specific specialties and functions. For instance, something like Sprout Social can help you to track your social media performance and automate messages, while Ahrefs helps you to see how your pages are performing in terms of keyword rankings and backlinks.
The right marketing analytics tools for you will depend on the goals you’ve established above. You might need something that can help you research competitor performance, or you may simply need a tool that allows you to create more targeted content.
3. Calculate your content marketing ROI
Many companies assume that measuring content marketing ROI is difficult. However, the truth is that it’s actually figuring out which metrics contribute to your ROI that’s the hard part. Figuring out how much you’re spending on your content, and how much you’re getting in return is a simple math equation. The best formula we’ve found comes from Convince and Convert, and it looks like this:
Return (Profit) – Investment (How much you spent) % by investment x 100
If math isn’t your strong point, don’t worry. Here’s an example.
Say you spend £400 on an article, then £100 on editing and promoting that article across your social media and website pages. Your “investment” would be £500. If you put a tracked call to action at the bottom of your article, you can see how many people click through to your product page and convert. Say after a year you make £5,000 in sales:
- £5,000 – £500 = £4,500
- £4,500 % 500 = 9
- 9 x 100 = 900
Your content marketing ROI would be an impressive 900%. If you generate more in sales than the content costs to produce, then it’s well worth your time.
Measuring the costs of content: Content performance metrics
As mentioned above, content marketing generally comes with a good ROI.
Not only does content cost 62% less than standard outbound marketing efforts, but it can generate over three times as many leads too. The problem for most companies is that they don’t know how to measure success when it doesn’t come with a £ or $ sign attached.
The following content marketing metrics will help you to understand how your campaigns are contributing to your end goals.
Brand awareness metrics
Every time you produce a new piece of content, you’re offering a juicy morsel to your customers and inviting them to come and take a bite. The better your marketing reach, the more chances you’ll have for engagement and conversion. Your content can’t do much unless people see it. Just because you’re putting articles or videos out there, doesn’t mean that people are reading and watching them. So, how do you measure consumption?
- Use a tool like Google Analytics to check things like page views, traffic numbers, and bounce rate. This will help you to see how many potential customers you have on your website each day.
- Keep an eye on how many people follow you on social media, and whether those numbers start to grow.
- Keep track of how many people search for your website, or brand on Google and similar engines.
Content engagement metrics
Awareness metrics like traffic and visits are great, but you can have thousands of people visiting your website, and still not experience a great ROI. If you want your content to really make an impact on your brand awareness campaigns, or your ability to build customer loyalty, then you’ll need to track customer engagement metrics. Here are some of the ways you can measure engagement in your audience:
- Follow click-through rates: Look at the click-through rates on your website call-to-action buttons and email marketing links. If people are regularly moving to the next step in your buyer journey, then this indicates good engagement.
- Track customer interactions: How many people are commenting on your blog posts or videos on YouTube? How often do you get people talking to your company on social media? You can also track likes and shares on social media.
- Monitor engagement: Use Google Analytics or a similar platform to look at session durations – the longer people spend on your website, the more likely they are to be engaged.
Speaking of sharing – when you watch the content your audience shares and links back to the most, you can start to develop a better understanding of your buyer personas. Additionally, sharing metrics also help you to evaluate how strong your relationship with your customers is so that you can assess less tangible things like brand loyalty. There are plenty of ways to measure content performance metrics around sharing, such as:
- Use social media tools: As mentioned above, most social media platforms will give you some opportunities to track how many people are retweeting your posts or using your branded hashtags.
- Mentions: Track brand mentions across the web – including on other websites, forums, and social media pages. You can also measure your number of backlinks.
- Using referral links: Track the number of customers actively sending people back to your company with special referral links that reward your customer. This will help you to see whether there are opportunities out there for ambassador marketing.
Lead and conversion metrics
Lead, and conversion metrics are often the first thing that company leaders focus on when they’re measuring content marketing effectiveness. Without conversions, content creation and marketing methods have no value – but your conversions can come in many different formats. Here are some of the ways you can track your conversion rate:
- Look at the number of leads you’re generating from each platform—Google Analytics and other tools allow you to see where most of your inbound traffic comes from—whether it’s a social link or an organic search page.
- Track newsletter and eBook downloads, as well as any micro conversions throughout your website. For instance, someone signing up for your email newsletter might not be your ultimate conversion goal, but it gives you a chance to nurture your leads and therefore moves them further along the sales funnel.
- Calculate the financial value of each conversion after publishing content that links to a specific service or product.
Finally, content marketing metrics don’t have to focus entirely on the new customers you attract to your business. It can be just as valuable—if not more so —to use your content in retaining clients and reducing churn. After all, 61% of SMBs say that more than half of their revenue comes from repeat customers. At the same time, loyal customers can be worth as much as ten times their initial purchase. So, how do you measure retention?
- Use marketing analytics tools to look at how many returning visitors you have, and how often they consume your content. Bounce rates can be useful here too.
- Track the number of followers you have on social media, and how long they spend consuming your content or interacting with you.
- Your email list can also be a good indicator of whether your content marketing ROI is on the right track. Watch out for every user who unsubscribes or ‘opts out’ of your email marketing strategy.
How to increase your content marketing ROI
Measuring your content marketing metrics gives you the insights you need improve revenue, increase customer retention, and boost brand awareness.
Without your marketing analytics, you would have no idea which parts of your content strategy were having the right impact. That means that you could spend years throwing money into a plan that simply doesn’t work for your business.
The best content marketing campaigns are those that respond to the specific needs of a customer’s target audience. Evaluating your marketing metrics will help you to increase your profits while cutting down your marketing spend. While the right strategy will differ for everyone, here are a few great ways to keep ROI high:
1. Create evergreen content, and repurpose it
There are many different types of content available for companies to choose from when they’re building their online presence. While trending content is a great way to take advantage of a topic’s viral nature – long-term value comes from content that can stand the test of time.
Instead of jumping on every bandwagon that breezes through your industry, create evergreen content that will continue to attract customers for years to come. Once you’ve created that content, you can re-visit it as often as you like to inspire new developments for your brand. For instance, you could write a follow-up piece to one of your most popular posts or turn a blog into a podcast.
2. Let customers create content for you
Loyal customers are worth their weight in gold. Not only do they keep coming back to your website to make purchases, but they can also refer new business your way too. In the right circumstances, a customer can even contribute to your content marketing strategy, so you can reduce some of the money you would spend on new pieces. For instance, you could:
- Interview a customer about their experiences with your brand.
- Create a user-driven forum that allows customers to answer each other’s questions and develop your community.
- Open a spot for guest-posting on your blog which allows anyone to have their say (provided they follow the rules).
- Create a case study about a previous client with quotes and insightful statistics.
3. Always optimise your content
Finally, there’s a reason why “SEO” is one of the most commonly-used terms in digital marketing. In a world where people instantly turn to search engines for answers to their most pressing questions, it pays to ensure that your content is well-optimised to appear at the top of the results pages. This means using keywords throughout your blog posts, improving your meta descriptions, and writing engaging headlines.
Of course, you don’t just need to optimise your content for the search engines. You’ll need to ensure that it’s designed to appeal to the right audience too. Focusing on writing content that appeals to your audience’s interests, and even presenting that content in unique formats like videos and infographics, can help your business to grow.
Making the most of your marketing metrics
Finding and tracking the right content marketing metrics for your company might be complicated – but it’s also a crucial strategy for success. A marketing company can provide assistance here if needed.
Without your marketing analytics to guide you, you’re simply guessing at what your customers want to see. This means that every time you post a piece of content, you’re crossing your fingers and hoping that it will bring you some value in return. As any business-owner knows, that’s not exactly the best way to make a profit.
Even after you’ve identified the marketing metrics that you need to measure, you’re not entirely done. Your organisation will change in the years to come, and you’ll find that you need to constantly adjust your content performance metrics to suit new campaigns and goals.
The good news is that if you put the time and effort in, the rewards are astronomical. From better customer relationships, to enhanced brand awareness and even bigger profits – there’s no end to the potential hidden within your content marketing metrics. All you need to do is turn your metrics into a map for marketing success.
If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy these too:
—Sowing the seeds of success through evergreen content
—Sensational SEO: How to leverage long tail keywords
—Your secret formula for search engine copywriting