Your publishing volume is up. Website sessions are trending upward in the right direction. People are even sharing a bunch of your articles on social media.
These initial signals are certainly positive, but before long, your boss, team, and/or clients will want an update as to how your content marketing efforts are translating to actual downstream impact; like conversions.
But, you’re not exactly sure.
Whether it’s attribution challenges, tracking issues, or a myriad of other things, content marketing can be one of the strategies that’s most difficult to measure.
Why is that?
Because while you’re attracting a bunch of new visitors to your website, 96% of them aren’t ready to purchase—no matter how awesome your content is.
But, you need answers. And most times, we tend to overcomplicate things.
You don’t need to fill your dashboards with dozens of metrics in order to measure the impact of your content marketing efforts. Nope, you can actually get started with 4 simple metrics that will help draw positive correlation between your efforts and conversions.
In this post, we’re going to cover 4 KPIs that’ll help you accurately measure content marketing ROI:
Let’s get started!
I know what you’re thinking: Why is conversions listed as one of the most important marketing KPIs when the vast majority of first-time visitors who visit your website aren’t ready to buy?
Well, conversions doesn’t just mean a sale, as James Pollard of The Advisor Coach explains: “For most content marketers, this will be opt-ins to an email list.” However, it can be any action that your reader takes—like following you on social media, or filling in a form.
Set up goals inside your Google Analytics account for whatever conversions you want to track. Then, navigate to Conversions > Goals > Overview to see which URLs those conversions take place on.
The bad news? This Google Analytics report will only show conversions based on the customers’ last-touch. (So although your customer might’ve read a blog post before visiting your pricing page, the pricing page will be credited for the sale.)
However, you can use the Conversions > Goals > Reverse Goal report to see the pages your audience visit pre-conversion. Take note of where—and how often—your blog posts slot in:
“At the end of the day, you can make yourself sleep [well] at night by focusing on vanity metrics, but if no one is converting through the pipeline, then you will dry up and your business will never grow,” Daniel Lynch of Empathy First Media summarizes.
Chances are, some pages on your website are more valuable than others. This might be due to their conversion rate; one has a higher number of conversions than any other.
Let’s say you’re working with these two, for example:
- What is a CRM? [0.5% conversion rate]
- Your CRM brand vs. a HubSpot [9% conversion rate]
Post #1 has a low conversion rate because they’re targeting people at the top of the funnel. But those reading post #2 are actively looking for a CRM. Therefore, they’re more valuable site visitors than the others. A little nudge can convince them to purchase.
Page values inside Google Analytics can help you to keep track of these—something usually given to form submissions that tell you how valuable a specific form is. However, Blog Hands’ Chris Hornak advises “not just applying a value to form submissions but a small value to product and service page views.”
This metric usually has a monetary value. For example: Post #1 in the examples above might be worth $1, whereas post #2 has a page value of $10.
Yet as Chris Mechanic of WebMechanix says, “don’t get hung up on a monetary value. Just so long as the relative values make sense, the actual numbers you use don’t matter.”
Earlier, we mentioned that conversions doesn’t just mean sales. It can mean other actions that people take when reading your content.
Arguably one of the most important is your blog’s subscriber conversion rate; the amount of people who opt-in to receive an email whenever you publish new content.
Ivan LaBianca of The Seventh Sense explains that it’s a “useful indicator of how exciting people find your content.” They’re the most-loyal people who genuinely enjoy what you’re posting—and once they’re on your list, you can nurture them towards a sale.
Again, you can use Goals inside your Google Analytics account to find your own blog subscriber conversion rate.
Your business’ average CLV tells you the dollar amount your average customer brings in.
(For example: If you sell a $30 dollar item to a customer once every year for five years, your CLV would be $150.)
One of a business’ main content marketing goals is to provide free value to potential customers in the hope that it builds trust. According to Taura Wolfe of The Wolfe Agency, “60% of content should be written to attract new visitors. […] However, 40% of content should be directed at keeping your current leads interested and involved in your brand.”
(We all know the statistics that show how cost-effective repeat customers are: A 5% increase in customer retention can lead to an increase in profits of between 25% and 95%.)
So, split your content and target two groups:
- New customers
- Existing customers
Customer lifetime value tells you whether the latter is working.
Using the $150 CLV example, you might deliver content to the same person—and they purchase a sixth time after adding another email to your sequence. Their CLV is now $180, demonstrating your content is actively bringing in more sales for your company.
Want to Understand the ROI of Content Marketing? Measure Correlation, not 100% Attribution.
These four metrics are a great starting point for measuring the ROI of your content marketing.
Track them regularly and see how they start to grow over time along with your more top-of-funnel metrics like organic traffic. Note any correlation, any strategies that seem to be working and influencing growth, and make adjustments as needed.
It’s also important to note that your content efforts are hard to track linearly. Things like social shares, newsletter inclusions, sharing in Slack and Facebook groups, word-of-mouth, etc., can all effectively drive engagement back to your brand.
You won’t always be able to measure with a straight line which piece of content is bringing in visitors. Therefore, it’s important to look for correlation between your efforts and any changes in signups and other downstream metrics like revenue, upgrades, etc.
Rising tides lift all ships. Make sure this is accounted for in your reporting.