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The ROI of content marketing

How to measure and prove the success of your content marketing efforts


What is content marketing ROI?

Modern customers have an insatiable appetite for digital experiences, but is content marketing delivering results and driving the business forward in ways that make it worth the investment? Surprisingly few companies can answer this question with confidence. According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 42% of B2B marketers say they are challenged to develop consistency with measuring content marketing ROI and require a better way to track performance of content marketing, both as a whole across their B2B companies and individual content pieces.

Yet, as business leaders push for more precise and measurable strategies for reaching target audiences, marketing teams must now be able to show a meaningful return on investment (ROI) for their content marketing strategies and marketing budget spend. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the “why” of content marketing ROI, how to calculate this measurement with accuracy, aligning content strategies with marketing goals, and leveraging content management solutions to maximize your digital marketing investment.

Why you should measure content marketing ROI

If you’re going to invest in content, you need to know if – and to what extent – it’s generating revenue for the business. These days, simply increasing website traffic and engagement may not be sufficient to justify ongoing spend. For ecommerce brands, it’s critical to show that content marketing is moving the needle on conversions of visitors to buyers, so reporting on specific metrics that measure content performance is essential.

Content marketing ROI assesses the impact of programs and campaigns that center around targeted content delivery and performance of specific content assets such as blogs, email newsletters, and social media campaigns. Although it’s usually rolled up into a specific financial metric, content marketing ROI can encompass both qualitative and quantitative results. For example, customer loyalty, lead generation, and brand awareness are some factors to consider including in your calculation.

There are several good reasons for setting up a process to measure your content marketing ROI. With this “proof” at the ready, you’ll be able to:

  • Report on the true impact of content marketing efforts and determine the number of leads generated by marketing campaigns and qualified leads identified by sales teams thereafter
  • Make informed decisions about which content types and channels to support based on how they help the company to achieve bottom line targets
  • Justify future budget allocation

Chapter 2

How to measure the ROI of content marketing

Simply put, content marketing ROI is a ratio that quantifies how much revenue you’ve earned from your content marketing activities compared to the amount you’ve invested. For a basic content marketing ROI formula, subtract the total investment from the return, divide it by the investment, and express the result as a percentage. Remember, the total investment isn't just the cost of one piece of content but encompasses all overhead costs to create, distribute, and reuse content assets.

While the math is straightforward, it does take some thought and planning to be sure you’re capturing an accurate picture of the ROI of your content marketing. To get started, ask these questions:

  1. Do you have the right tools in place to follow the path from specific channels and content assets to the results they produce?
  2. Have you identified the appropriate KPIs that support your business goals?
  3. Are you considering all the hidden costs of content marketing operations – from content production to content distribution and optimization?
  4. Do you understand the various paths and touchpoints a customer takes when engaging with the business? Content may play an indirect role in starting the customer journey, even if the conversion happens later in the buying cycle.

Chapter 3

Measuring content ROI for content assets

While an overall metric is useful for assessing impact, you may also want to see a more granular view of how well specific content assets motivate action. By tracking user behavior and the effectiveness of different channels, you can pinpoint which pieces of content are bringing in the most value. But you’ll need to put the right analytics in place to get the full picture.

For website content such as blogs, it’s important to capture the detailed path of each session. For example, if a user starts with a blog post or article, then clicks through to download a gated asset such as a webinar or case study, you want to see those details and attribute credit to the original post that engaged the visitor, even if the conversion didn’t happen right away.

Using analytics tools, it’s possible to gain a clear picture of your website visitors, organic traffic, referrals from email marketing campaigns, page views, how much time users spend on a specific landing page, bounce rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates for different types of content.

This information is not only useful for informing content creation, but is also crucial for identifying areas that could benefit from investment in automation tools. It also indicates where you need to make improvements to your content and content management processes to engage existing and potential customers.

Likewise, the content you publish on social media channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter can have a powerful impact on web traffic and your business overall if you consider the ways it contributes to customer care, reaching new audiences, and building partnerships. Make sure all the relevant metrics are included in your ROI calculation for social content.

Calculating ROI of SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a key driver of content marketing success. But, to benefit from SEO, businesses need to invest time, effort, and choose effective keyword research and analytics tools. While keyword tracking can help you identify the most popular search terms in your market, keeping track of improvements in your page ranking is a crucial KPI for determining the ROI of your SEO efforts.

Other key performance indicators include your website’s domain authority (DA). This indicates how trusted your content is and how well it will rank in search engines. Quality backlinks from high traffic, trusted, and reliable websites will positively impact your DA score.

It is important to note that when reporting on the ROI of your SEO, you will need to compare your performance across different periods of time and take into consideration outside factors such as changes to algorithms, as well as changes within your own business, or marketplace.

Chapter 4

What is the average ROI for B2B content marketing efforts?

FirstPageSage recently analyzed its proprietary dataset, comprising B2B businesses that engaged in content marketing campaigns with the firm from 2016-2021 and found that average ROI ranged from 317% to 1389% depending on the industry analyzed. Across all industries, the average return was 748%, assuming consistent weekly publication, consideration of search intent, and production of high-quality content.

For a more general benchmark, WebStrategies reports that a marketing ROI of 5:1 or 500% is considered strong, while anything below 2:1 or 200% indicates poor performance and may be operating at a loss, depending on other factors.

Chapter 5

How to improve content marketing ROI

One way that marketers can increase ROI is by owning the entire content management lifecycle, from concept and creation to distribution and reuse. When you can manage assets from a central location, enable easy collaboration across teams, and publish assets efficiently for cross-channel experiences, you’ll save significant time and resources.

Measuring content marketing ROI can be a game-changer for any business. It will reveal the true success of your current strategies, guide future investment decisions, and help secure stakeholder buy-in.

Sitecore solutions deliver exceptional ROI for today’s biggest content management challenges, including findability, brand consistency, campaign management, collaboration, user rights management, and scalability. Take the first step to content marketing success today by learning more about our content management solutions.

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