Measuring Content Marketing ROI: What Is Your Content Worth?
What’s more important to a content marketer than success? Replicating success! Whether you distribute dozens or thousands of content assets, measuring content marketing ROI and how they stack up against one another identifies what’s worth doing again.
But how will the 91 percent of B2C marketers whose companies are committed to content marketing succeed when 63 percent aren’t expecting a budget increase? How will they know if they fail or succeed when 57 percent don’t measure or don’t know if they measure ROI? (opens as a PDF) The good news is that 70 percent say they prioritize delivering quality content over quantity — which is the first step to maximizing content marketing ROI.
What Is Quality Content?
Quality supersedes volume in priority because both shoppers and search engines scrutinize brand behavior for authenticity. Differentiating content as high quality versus low quality seems intuitive, but it’s worth reiterating: Content must meet the purpose of connecting with customers. So before you hit the publish button, ask yourself:
- Question 1: What is my audience learning?
Be useful and informative
- Question 2: Did I express myself better than my competitors?
Clearly provide unique value and a unique point of view.
- Question 3: Did I demonstrate authority on the topic?
Tout testimonials; be a reliable resource.
- Question 4: Am I winning trust?
Fact-check; avoid typos; be consistent.
- Question 5: Am I engaging?
Use high-res media: integrate interactivity.
Or consolidate these questions into one: “So what?” Use the “so what” test to establish relevance.
Let’s try it on three flat social media posts, for example:
- “We’ve launched a new product!” — So what?
- “Check out this article on recycling!” — So what?
- “Families waste 10% of groceries!” — So what?
Replace them with the answers to “so what” for more valuable posts:
- “Get portrait lighting without a professional camera”
- “3 easy lifestyle changes that reduce your carbon footprint”
- “How to save $2K on your groceries a year”
What Is It Worth?
Although freshness and frequency do matter in content marketing and search engine optimization, don’t create content it if it’s not worth it.
How do you know what it’s worth? You can place a value on the worth of any piece of content by simply calculating its conversion rate.
takes 100 page views to lead to a transaction
takes 10 page views to lead to a transaction
|1% conversion rate||10% conversion rate|
Not all content is valued equally. In this example, Content B is 900 percent more valuable than Content A.
What’s not so simple is attributing how your content influences purchase decisions. Analytics tools such as Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics paired with marketing automation solutions such as Marketo or Pardot — where you can enter your program costs — provide a complete picture of all the touchpoints, channels, programs, campaigns and behaviors that lead to a conversion.
After all, you’ve already gone through the effort of mapping your content to the customer journey and creating content for every buyer stage and persona. Content marketing is only effective when you measure success along the customer journey and make optimization decisions based on those KPIs (key performance indicators).
Is Your Content Measuring Up?
Content KPI myth: The content that sticks has the most clicks. Not necessarily. Content is not valued equally, and neither are KPIs.
Ultimately, you want to identify the content that leads to greater sales or reduces cost. Consider these primary KPIs:
- CPL (cost per lead)
- CPA (cost per acquisition)
- AOV (average order value)
- CLV (customer lifetime value)
- Time to close
Additional KPIs, such as views and clicks, provide insight into brand engagement. Not just how often but where shoppers are engaging in their decision journey is also key because it reveals buyer intent. For example, someone reading recipes on your blog isn’t as likely to buy as someone reading ingredients on your product detail page.
Track relevant secondary KPIs that measure marketing’s influence on a consumer’s decision to buy:
- Page views
- Time on page
- Bounce rate
- Video views
- Inbound links
- Social shares
- Subscribers • Media placements
- CPM (cost per thousand impressions)
- CPC (cost per click)
- Brand lift
- Number of touchpoints
Higher conversion rates mean greater ROI. It’s a lot of work to keep track of all the different indicators that assist sales conversions, but the outcome of your analysis kicks off the critical process of growing content marketing ROI. That process is known as CRO (conversion rate optimization), and it’s where the fun stuff happens for digital marketers.
Knowing the value of content helps you prioritize where to focus your dollars, efforts and topics. This feedback loop potentially impacts product development. It helps you identify irrelevant content that you should archive and highlights the high-performing content to optimize.
Not only are our time and budgets precious, so are our egos. Gut instinct is a good place to start with content creation, but A/B split testing takes your intuition to the next level: optimization. This testing applies to all the content components across every stage of the content marketing funnel, such as email subject lines, landing pages, social media posts and ads.
Have you ever heard a voice in your head whisper, “If you build it, they will buy”? You proudly came up with brilliant copy or a clever meme that you were sure would go viral, only to hear the misguided voice silenced by crickets rather than applause? You were so confident in proving your hypothesis; but poof — your ego gets deflated when you see the results point the other way? While this all sounds very dramatic, it’s actually quite common.
How do you survive the bruised ego? By putting on your big marketer pants and rallying around the winner. Point that passion toward testing and retesting. Successful content marketers are obsessed with optimization.
Some stubborn marketers may still stick to their guns even when their ad or content page loses with statistical significance. They try tweaking it and testing it again. Let it go. Stop trying to make Content X happen.
Optimization does not mean trying to resuscitate the lower-performing variant. You must invest further with the winning variant and create even more winners out of it. Build more variants with the clear winner as your new control group, and then see if any of those tweaks deliver incremental boosts.
Don’t stop there. Keep iterating and testing as part of your ongoing optimization plan. Don’t stop there either. Apply the takeaways and trends that surface from the process to the rest of your content.
Marketers may take off as creatives, but they land as analysts. [pull quote]
Beat a dead horse
Optimize the winner
Content Types to Invest In
You might be prepared for the most common content marketing investments in people, promotions and technology. But marketers also want to learn more about emerging technology such as Facebook Messenger, virtual reality, 360 video and AI.
For ideas on high-performing content, consider what B2C marketers say they’re focusing on (opens as a PDF):
- 54% use social media to gain thought leadership
- 72% find Facebook to be their most important social media platform
- 61% are likely to blog
- 45% say visual content is most important
- 76% are interested in learning about video
- 30% are likely to use live video
A valuation methodology will help you narrow your investment to focus on your most impactful content. But about half of the B2C marketers who don’t measure ROI say they need an easier way to do it. Start with measuring a handful of KPIs and calculating conversion rates on small segments before scaling to your entire audience. You’ll be fascinated and motivated by the data — perhaps even optimization-obsessed.
With 15 years in marketing and product development, Yvette Quintanar, Marketing Manager, at SGK, has followed the evolution of content — from strategy and marketing to operations. To connect with customers, she creates interactive, responsive content; using engagement platforms to execute and measure programs on a global scale. http://www.sgkinc.com