Content is going to be a crucial part of any digital marketer’s long-term plan. While it’s been over 20 years since Bill Gates asserted that Content is King, the statement rings true to today.
Content, both the kind you create and the kind created about you, is what informs search engines on the quality and reputation of your business. Content is what generates the context people need to make the decision to support your business. Content is online word-of-mouth, at an infinitely larger scale than one-on-one.
But there’s a big difference between good content and bad content, and there’s an even greater difference between good content leveraged properly, and good content gone underused. Let’s take a look at what it means to invest in content marketing, and how to begin measuring the return on those investments.
What’s the Point of Content Marketing ROI?
The return on investment is one of the most basic principles of business management, and it’s probably the most important formula for anyone starting a business of their own. You need to be able to determine that you’re getting more out of what you’re putting into your business to survive.
If you put $100 into a stock one year and take it out the next at a value of $154, you’ve made a substantial return on your initial investment, even after accounting for inflation and transactional fees. If you pay $500 for an ad banner and run a pay-per-click ad campaign for several weeks, and the money generated from sales created by that banner is less than what you’ve put into it, then you’ve got a poor return on investment.
Things can get a little more complicated when we’re talking about content marketing, however. It can be difficult to quantify the return on investment for a blog post, press release, or article, without affiliate products or a call-to-action to a specific service. If you created a piece of content to promote the launch of a new service, then you can try to attribute at least some of the sales of that new service to the buzz generated by the content you’ve dedicated to it.
But most content is not going to revolve solely around product promotion. Good content is as much about proving your authority and value as a resource to readers, as much as it is about generating leads and creating a loyal customer base. You want people to come back to you for more information, and perhaps a sale or two. And you know that, given the way most people browse the internet, they may take more than one visit to one page to become a converted lead.
So, what’s the point in quantifying the return on your investment in content marketing when not every single piece of content will track linearly to an increase in leads and clicks to products from that content?
The answer is simple: even if it’s hard to quantify the value of the content you’re putting out there, you must quantify it anyway. That’s the only way you know you’re putting out the right kind of content, or in the very least, are utilizing your content marketing budget properly.
Measuring Your Content Marketing ROI
So, we know that it’s important to get a grasp of what returns you’re receiving on your content marketing. But how do we measure those returns?
We start by identifying key metrics that either lead to direct sales, or contribute to more sales, such as improved search rankings (more traffic, more potential leads, more sales), improved domain authority and reputation (customer trust is paramount), and visitor retention (more time spent on your content is good news).
The Path to Conversion
The job of data analysis is to gleam useful information from mountains of data generated by every event, action, or use of a page. The job of an analytical tool is to make these tasks much easier. While tools like Google Analytics help you identify your most popular pieces of content and track lead generation, it doesn’t always tell you the full picture.
There are other content analysis tools that help you figure out what pages a user might have visited before they made their decision to purchase, or recognize a trend materializing in your most recent sales, one you might be able to profit off.
For example, if more people tend to access a certain type of your content during a certain season of the year, it might be a good idea to invest in producing more of that content around that time of year, as well as promoting existing content of that type.
Figure out what paths to conversion most of your leads take and what type of content tends to bring users into your lead generation funnel the most effectively.
Content Marketing, SEO, and Authority
Not all content needs to be linked directly to conversions to be a worthwhile investment. You need to consider the impact your content has on backlink generation and search optimization, as well.
For example: a certain article might not be getting the most associated leads, but it has contributed to an improvement in your overall domain authority due to being linked to by multiple other high-ranking websites. This is a valuable piece of content! Authority is important, because it’s one of these metrics that search engines like Google use to rank content on the internet for any given keyword phrase or search term. Increase your keyword reach!
Money and Time
What content does your audience engage with the most? If you have a piece of content with a great title, but the content might be outdated, you might get good traffic on it but with a high bounce rate.
People quickly realize that it isn’t what they’re looking for. Conversely, you might have another piece of content that keeps readers engaged, but doesn’t have the most effective title, causing lower visitor numbers.
Optimize and revisit your existing content to update old information, expand and improve on successful or thriving content, and make the most of something that has already started snowballing, versus just sheer quantity.
Google Analytics and Other Tools
Tools are a human’s best friend, but you need the right ones for the job. Google Analytics is an important tool in the repertoire of any online marketer, and it is vital for SEO relevant data. But when it comes to figuring out the ROI on your content marketing, it helps to broaden your horizon.
In addition to utilizing Google Analytics to track your website’s improvements in terms of traffic, keyword growth, as well as bounce rates, utilizing other tracking tools will help you form a more complete picture of how any given piece of content is helping you improve traffic, get long-term visitors, generate leads, and finally garner sales. Tested and proven tools include those developed by HubSpot, SEMrush, Buffer, Parse.ly, and Moz.
Having a team of experts to work with is an immense boon as well. An experienced team of content marketers and SEO professionals can help you utilize your full budget in pinpoint fashion, cutting your losses and improving your return on investment.
Got questions about making the most of your content marketing strategy? Give us a call.