Last year, 46 percent of B2C marketers reported that measuring the ROI of a content marketing program was one of the top challenges facing their brand, with 50 percent citing measuring content effectiveness as another top concern. There are so many metrics and peripheral benefits to keep track of, and many marketers find it overwhelming to quantify the value of content marketing.
Besides keeping up with the sheer volume of metrics, the complexity of how they intertwine can be as intimidating as an unsolved Rubik's Cube at first glance. However, there’s no doubt the long-term returns from investing in content marketing are much more valuable than nearly any other form of marketing.
Importance of Understanding and Tracking Key Performance Indicators
It’s more than likely that your other marketing strategies are set to meet certain baselines, like cost-per-click. Content marketing is no different; like cost-per-click and other strategies, metrics exist to attribute value to your content marketing efforts, just through different (and arguably a lot more) key performance indicators (KPIs).
It’s also worth mentioning the volume of benefits helps reduce the risk that comes with your investment – it’s better to spread out your luck than place all of your bets (or your entire budget) on a single marketing effort, like PPC or native advertisements.
We previously identified four categories of key performance indicators, including traffic, visibility, engagement, and conversion as well as a list of KPIs for each category specific to content marketing. Choosing the right metrics to guide your strategy and measure success is crucial for realizing how content marketing works for your bottom line.
Measuring Content Marketing ROI Based on Objectives
Consistently producing high-quality content and promoting it across various channels, like social networks or media outlets, helps to grow your audience organically and keep them engaged. Moreover, since your audience is actively looking for the content you’re producing, they are naturally more likely to engage with your content, move faster through the sales funnel, and remain loyal to your brand.
Follower growth and post engagement are common KPIs, but it can be difficult to explain the direct correlation between your Facebook page’s following and your bottom line. To choose the right KPIs to determine that correlation, you must first set objectives.
Because of the long data trail leading to conversions and sales, it’s important to know what to look for based on your content marketing goals. Content marketing objectives typically fall under education and awareness, conversion, and retention – each with their own benefits to your brand and metrics for gauging success.
Education and Awareness: Brand Recognition and Thought Leadership
By establishing your brand as a credible authority within your industry, audiences seeking content (often for education or even entertainment) will recognize your brand as a trustworthy resource. Don’t think this only applies to B2C marketing – our B2B client Alexa met their goal of increasing brand awareness and recognition after just four Fractl campaigns with the help of authoritative industry coverage.
Both brand awareness and thought leadership are long-term objectives, which means it may initially take some time to see the supporting metrics and compounding benefits. Visibility and social engagement KPIs are important for measuring education and awareness success; without them, you have no idea if that stellar content you’re producing is being seen.
Conversion: Lead Generation and Nurturing
As your brand builds awareness and credibility, traffic to your site – and eventually – lead generation will follow. Traffic and will conversion KPIs help connect your content marketing to your leads and their movement through the sales funnel.
Tracking the first touch attribution of a lead will help you pinpoint which channels are seeing the most success in referring leads. Peripheral benefits, such as SEO, that tie back to lead generation are best tracked through search traffic and rankings.
Retention: Customer Loyalty and Client Relations
Content marketing doesn’t end once a sale is closed. Retention and relations is another objective marketers prioritize because returning customers and client renewals are much more cost effective than finding new ones. Luckily, the peripheral benefits of content marketing include building customer and client relationships.
Consistently producing valuable content doesn’t just attract new leads; it also keeps your brand at the front of the minds of your current customers. Often, an established audience will follow your brand on more than one channel, like email subscriptions and social media networks, so be sure to measure their effectiveness.
Metrics are plentiful and therefore understandably overwhelming, so without a proper understanding of how each works with one another and how they impact your final revenue and profit figures, it can be confusing to prove an ROI.
Having your objectives, goals, and corresponding metrics determined before even starting your first campaign will help you organize and tailor your efforts. Some content marketing approaches are better suited for achieving lead generation, for example, than general brand awareness.
Realizing how your content marketing efforts drive visibility and engagement through social media and earned media coverage – which in turn generates traffic, leads, and conversions – is crucial for helping to prove and quantify its value. Further, understanding and accurately measuring those metrics helps connect the dots along that long data trail that concludes in the ultimate end goal: more sales.
Curious how we use these metrics and tracking strategies to measure the value of our content marketing campaigns? Read through this collection of 10 Case Studies That Show the Real Impact of Content Marketing.