Content Marketing ROI: How to measure the return of content marketing

As a business owner or marketer you want to know that the time, effort and resource you put into any business growth activity is going to have a return on your investment (ROI).

Content marketing ROI should be treated no differently.

There are a few likely reasons why you’re looking for more information on the ROI of content marketing. They are:

  1. People have been telling you that content marketing is what you need to do, but you’re not sold on it yet. You need some proof that it works.
  2. You have been doing content marketing for a while now, but you’re not seeing expected results.
  3. You are struggling to convert your content marketing traffic into leads and sales.
  4. You are trying to prove to someone (boss/team/board) that content marketing works.
  5. You want to know how to measure the content marketing ROI and if it’s really worth it.

I get it…you want to feel confident that content marketing leads to £’s or $’s in the bank. At the end of the day, we are in business to make a profit.

However, you and I both know that not everything we do to grow our business can be measured in a spreadsheet.

We also have to be prepared to try something new before we’re able to see the full return on investment, which might be in the distant future.

In order to be successful with content marketing, you will need:

  1. Belief in the process
  2. To measure quantitive metrics to help you see progress and know how to improve
  3. To track qualitative signals to help you understand that what you’re doing is worth it

On the topic of content marketing ROI, I want to help you understand:

  1. The importance of measurement
  2. What metrics to measure, and when to measure them
  3. The ROI of content marketing using case studies from real businesses
  4. How to make a strong start with content marketing, avoid mistakes and get results quickly

Sound cool? OK, let’s get started…

How to calculate content marketing ROI


Let’s keep it short and simple to start with 😉

ROI is the difference between the amount of:

  • Effort
  • Time
  • Money

that you put into an activity, and the outcome/results of said activity.

For example: if you are creating blogs, videos and podcasts for your business you should be measuring how much resource you are investing and the results of that activity.

However, with content marketing it can sometimes feel like this:

  • I’m worth more (Year 1) – You are putting in a lot of effort and resource for what seems like little return
  • I’m worth it (Year 2) – You are getting good results for the resource you are investing
  • I’m not worth it (Year 3+) – Your efforts are now having a compounding effect and you are starting to see accelerated growth for your efforts

Just like everything in life: you start off by putting in the effort, and even though you may get quick results, the real results are further down the road.

Kind of like going to the gym. You start off by going 4 or 5 times per week, and you see very little change for the first few months for your efforts and it may not feel worth it. After a year you see a dramatic change, and then it becomes your way of life.

OK, with that out of the way, let’s dig a little deeper into content marketing ROI.

Prefer to listen? In this audio session I cover the ROI of content marketing – the importance of measurement and what metrics to measure and when.

Listen and subscribe on: iTunes | Stitcher | Soundcloud

How to measure the content marketing ROI

Don’t skip this section…here’s why you need to read this part first:

  1. Some people don’t get started with content marketing because they’ve been told that it can take a long time to see any results.
  2. People often give up on content marketing because they aren’t measuring the right metrics at the right time.
  3. And sometimes people put a lot of effort into content marketing and measuring nothing. They never truly know if it’s adding value and growing their business.

It’s no wonder that the majority of businesses lose faith in content marketing, give up, and then say “content marketing is a waste of time”.

Let’s get smarter.

Why do we measure stuff?

Look at your personal life, what kind of things are you measuring on a daily basis?

Probably things like:

  • Bank balance
  • Sleep
  • Heart rate
  • Steps
  • Weight
  • Time
  • Water
  • Calories
  • Distance

You measure dozens of things every single day.

And why do you measure these things?

Firstly, you measure specific activities because they are important to you.

Also:

  1. You want to know if you’re making progress
  2. You want to know if something is working or not
  3. You want to get the results you’re looking for

But most of all, you measure these things to help you improve.

For example:

  • If you want to get to your meetings on time, or get more done in the day, you measure your time closely
  • If you want more money in the bank, you start to measure income and expenses every day
  • If you want to consume more water, or eat less food, you start to measure your intake
  • If you want to lose weight, you get on the scales on a daily basis
  • If you want to get fit, you measure the distance you are walking or running each day

We all know and agree that in order for anything to improve we have to measure it.

So why do we have such a hard time measuring when it comes to marketing?

Perhaps you:

  • don’t know where to start?
  • don’t know what to measure?
  • don’t know how to measure?

What I don’t get is this: Why do you insist on knowing the ROI of content marketing if you aren’t prepared to:

  1. Commit to performing specific activities consistently for an extended period of time?
  2. Embrace that you might not know everything?
  3. Measure the right metrics to help you improve?

If you want content marketing to be a commercial and strategic business growth activity for your business, then measuring must become a priority.

  • Do you believe it’s important for you to measure?
  • Is it possible for you to set aside some time to measure the success of your marketing?

OK…let’s talk about what we should be measuring, and when.

Measuring the right metrics at the right time

In a previous article I outlined 5 simple steps in the sales process:

  1. Search – Strangers find you in search results
  2. Traffic – Strangers click and become visitors
  3. Leads – Those visitors take an action and become a lead/prospect
  4. Sales – You then take action and turn leads into sales
  5. Profits – …and ultimately turn those sales into profits

With there being different steps in the sales process, it should be obvious that we have to measure specific quantitative and qualitative metrics at each stage of the journey.

Content marketing ROI isn’t just about £’s and $’s.

The biggest myth in content marketing is:

  1. You write and publish a blog article
  2. Someone reads your article
  3. They fill in a form/call you
  4. They buy from you

You already know that it doesn’t work like that.

You write, publish, write, publish, write, publish, and over time your prospects read many pages on your website over a period of time. Then they fill in the form and make an enquiry.

That’s why we need to measure at different stages of the journey, and both quantitative and qualitative metrics.

Marketing has always been this way. You don’t just do your marketing when you need sales. Marketing is a consistent activity in every successful business.

Let ‘s make it easy by breaking content marketing ROI down into stages and map out exactly what to measure to determine success at each stage of the sales process.

Ready?


Related content: 

What to measure to determine content marketing ROI

Prefer to listen? In this audio session I cover the ROI of content marketing – the importance of measurement and what metrics to measure and when.

Listen and subscribe on: iTunes | Stitcher | Soundcloud

Step 1- Is anyone consuming our content?

Ask yourself:

  • Are there signals that people care about our content?
  • Are people finding us in Google?

Example metrics:

  • Search position
  • Traffic
  • Page views
  • Pages viewed per visit
  • Traffic/Visitors
  • Video views

Make sure you have Google Analytics installed (it’s free!). It will help you to understand how your website is performing.

Related content:

Case study 1: Clinic Mastery (B2B)

Clinic Mastery is a membership organisation based in Australia. They work with clinicians to help them grow their practice.

After only 3 months of consistently publishing blog articles they increased their visitors, traffic, pages views by over 5x.

Clinic Mastery October 2017:

Content Marketing ROI - Clinic Mastery Oct 2017

Clinic Mastery January 2018:

Content Marketing ROI - Clinic Mastery Jan 2018

This is from publishing 1-2 blogs per week on ‘Big 5’ content and answering FAQs.

Sales?

[1st Feb 2018] Back in October 2017 Clinic Mastery had 2 pre-sales, and for their intake in March they have 12 pre-sales (4x leads)

They have also 3x’d their usual one-off high-ticket course sales.

Who said you can’t get fast results with content marketing?

Case study 2: Espirian Technical Writing Services (B2B)

John Espirian provides technical writing services. He started blogging consistently in 2015. Since then he has grown his annual page views from 5822 in 2015 to 53,580 in 2017. That’s just shy of a 10x increase in page views in 2 years.

Also, his current year’s earnings are 46% higher than his average earnings over the past 8 years of being in business.

Pretty neat, eh?

John Espirian Page views

Related content:

Step 2 – Is our content creating conversations?

Ask yourself:

  • Are people engaging with our content?
  • Are we building a relationship with our audience?

Example metrics:

  • Likes, shares, retweets
  • Comments and replies
  • Email forwards
  • Blog & video comments
  • Blog/Video Subscribers

Case study 3: Pixels Ink (B2B)

Col Gray, Head Honcho at Pixels Ink, has been building his YouTube channel since June 2016. He has created and published video content consistently for over 18 months and recently celebrated his 5000th subscriber. Take a look at the chart below:

What you are seeing here is a compound effect of Col’s consistent commitment to publishing videos content for his channel.

  • 1 year to get first 1000 subscribers
  • 2 months to get next 1000 subscribers
  • 1 month to go from 4000 to 5000 subscribers

Col has received enquires and secured new business because of his YouTube channel.

His videos have also featured on other websites in other countries and regularly receives emails, and even people stopping him the street, to commend him on his great work.

Case study 4: Pension Craft (B2C)

Ramin is a Co-Founder at PensionCraft and since he started publishing high quality blogs and videos in 2017, his email subscribers have grown steadily and continue to do so.

PensionCraft ConvertKit Subscribers

Step 3 – Are we generating leads through our content?

Ask yourself:

  • Is our traffic converting into enquiries?
  • Are we getting more enquiries now than before?
  • Is the quality of our prospects improving?

Example metrics:

  • Downloads
  • Contact form submissions
  • Email subscriptions
  • Enquires
  • Prospects

Case study 5: Anne Johnston Photography (B2C)

In February 2018 Anne ran a marketing campaign using content marketing, social media and email marketing to sell her spring-time photography tuition services.

Within 2 weeks she completely sold out her capacity for clients.

Her recent success has given her belief in her content marketing skills and the confidence to run larger marketing campaigns in the future.

Step 4 – Are we generating sales through our content?

Ask yourself:

  • Is content helping to convert leads into sales?
  • Have our enquires increased?
  • Is selling getting easier?
  • Is our sales process quicker?
  • Are we getting a better quality of customer?

Example metrics:

  • Appointments booked
  • Products sold
  • Deposits paid
  • Service contracts agreed
  • Total sales & revenue
  • Total profit

Case study 6: Eagle Leisure (B2C)

Debbie Ekins, Marketing Manager at Eagle Leisure, has seen a big difference since publishing both blog articles and videos on a regular basis since 2017. Again, we’re seeing very quick ROI here.

Eagle Leisure Traffic

  • Traffic has increased by 627%
  • Hot tubs sales are up 280% last year on the year before
  • Sauna/steam rooms sales have increased
  • Turnover and profit has increased

Content marketing sales stories from Debbie:

At the end of 2017 Debbie sold 2 hot tubs and 1 steam room in a week (approx. £35,000 of total sales). Each new customer mentioned to Debbie that they directly found/decided to buy based on a blog or video. All very easy and quick sales.

One customer was prepared to buy a Hydropool (the world’s only “self-cleaning” hot tub). She googled ‘self-cleaning hot tub’ and after clicking on this article, she was persuaded to buy a hot tub from Eagle Leisure instead.

The other hot tub customer watched Debbie’s ‘hot tub cost video‘ and therefore came in knowing he was going to spend more than average. Spoke to Debbie, then phoned back the next day and secured his purchase with a deposit.

The steamroom customer watched Debbie’s ‘steamroom cost video‘. Went on to request a quote and bought.

Case study 7: Gillies and Mackay (B2C)

Cara Mackay, Managing Director at Gillies and Mackay, started publishing blogs and videos consistently in 2015. Prior to enrolling with the CMA Masterclass, Cara like most businesses was experimenting with Social Media and traditional, paid advertising.

After successfully completing the Masterclass in October of 2015 Cara moved her entire marketing efforts to the principles of Content Marketing and since then has experienced huge growth in sales over the past few years.

Content marketing up-sell story

Nicole Johnstone [July 2017]

“Hi Cara,
Well here’s the thing, I really want to get a summerhouse and I have fallen in love with your website…”

Nicole had done her research, she had spent time reading through all the relevant blogs and watching the videos which were specific to her initial thoughts of a Summerhouse but as she learned more, Nicola began to understand the added benefits of what Gillies and Mackay had to offer to ensure her Summerhouse could be used all year round.

“However your blogs have opened my eyes to the possibility of a bit of a Shedlife!”

Nicola’s intended purchase was a 9′ x 9′ Corsie Summerhouse retailing at £2981.00. After considering the optional extras, exploring the pro’s and con’s through the content the Cara had created, Nicola added an additional £3,505.00 to her purchase buy completely upgrading her building to a fully insulated and lined Summerhouse.

An increase of 118% driven directly from Cara’s Content Marketing.

Content marketing oversubscribed story

Pamela Cameron [January 2018]
“This e-mail states that there are five available spaces; is that still the case? If so, and if you’re free on Saturday, would I be able to place an order for February, if we like the Brid (can’t think that I wouldn’t like it)?

I look forward to hearing from you and I loved the funny wee comments peppered throughout your website.

Best wishes

Pam”

The email Pam is referring to is Cara’s ‘The Brid’ (home office) waiting list sequence sign up. This is a simple strategy whereby Cara makes these specific models in batches and only releases a small number at any one time. Customers can sign up to be informed exactly as an when the next batch will be released, at which point they can order.

This allows Cara to forecast certainty for this particular model, which is new to the market and needed a controlled introduction while still in the R&D phase.

Pam had never made contact with Cara or Gillies and Mackay prior to this one email.

Pam ordered her Brid that Saturday for a total of £9,500.00.

Cara whole heartedly believes that Content Marketing is the only way to go to market and is in no doubt her business will reach exponential growth within 5 years.

How are they getting these results?

They all have one thing in common – they are all members of CMA.

This means that they are committed to growing their business with content marketing.

In turn this means that they are consistently and frequently creating content, and as a result are improving professional and personally on a daily basis.

Here at CMA we teach entrepreneurs and marketers how to increase revenue and profits with content marketing. We do that through:

  • Content Success Formula – 12 step content marketing programme
  • Personal and professional development
  • Support, advice and coaching
  • Live training
  • Thriving community of forward thinking entrepreneurs and marketers

Related content: 

5 things you need to remember about content marketing ROI before you leave…

Prefer to listen? In this audio session I discuss the 10 most common reasons why content marketing fails…

Listen and subscribe on: iTunes | Stitcher | Soundcloud

1. Content marketing is your sales process

A lot of marketers and entrepreneurs think that content marketing is only one part of marketing. It’s only the ‘visual’ part of marketing, or just the ‘content’.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding out there about what content marketing is. This misunderstanding then leads to miseducation, which in turn leads to mismanagement, and ultimately leads to a lack of results.

Content marketing can and should be a major part of your whole sales process and sales strategy.

To be clear: Content marketing is sales.

Content marketing makes your sales process better, easier, faster, slicker and in the end creates a better quality of customer.

After reading this far it should be clear that with a great content marketing strategy, you will increase your traffic, leads, sales and profits.

Related content:

2. Measure everything of significance

I know you can’t measure everything, but you should certainly be measuring the most important metrics.

What’s most important? The metrics that align with your business goals and objectives.

If you want to start off on the right foot with content marketing, start with understanding the business goals, and use your content marketing strategy to help you achieve those goals.

Content marketing should be a strategic part of your business, not an after thought.

3. You don’t have to wait years to see ROI from content marketing

It’s no wonder that most don’t get started if they think they have to wait 3 years before they see any ROI for their content marketing efforts.

From the case studies I’ve shared with you, hopefully you can see that you don’t have to wait for years to get results.

By measuring different metrics at each stage of the sales process, you are able to understand how your content is performing throughout the process, which gives you the motivation, confidence and belief to continue.

Don’t expect to measure £’s and $’s from the the first day, but also don’t expect to have no idea what’s working and what’s not.

4. Sometimes content marketing doesn’t work the way you want it to

That’s just life. Manage your expectations.

Not every piece of content is going to be a major hit, and sometimes it takes years for a blog or video to gain serious traction.

Don’t forget that at each stage there will be a mix of quantitative and qualitative metrics.

Content marketing ROI isn’t always clear cut, and there isn’t always a number to pop in a spreadsheet. Get over that and don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your marketing/sales team to justify every single piece of content.

You are going to have to live with not knowing everything, or not having everything in black and white.

Be patient.

As long as you are trying to do the best you can, and you are continually improving, then that’s the best you can do.

5. Avoid the single biggest mistake that negatively impacts ROI

The biggest challenge that most entrepreneurs and marketers have with measuring the content marketing ROI is converting traffic into leads.

The main reason for this is that they are not writing content for their prospects. This is a big mistake.

Typically people fall into writing content for their peers, and whilst that gets the traffic and page views, your peers do not put money in your bank..

If you aren’t writing content for your prospects, the people that end up on your website will never buy from you. Therefore, turning that traffic into sales becomes a major challenge and may well lead you to thinking that content marketing doesn’t work.

The very first to improve content marketing ROI is to spend time planning out what the right content will be for your prospects and driving relevant traffic that have the ability and willingness to buy from you.

What we want is highly targeted content for our prospects that helps them to make an educated buying decision.

Don’t create content for your peers…create content for your prospects 🙂

Conclusion

Up until now you may have thought that content marketing isn’t for you.

People may have told you that content marketing takes a long time to get results, and it’s a ‘long haul’.

Perhaps people have been telling you should be embracing content marketing but you’ve never really figured out how that could possibly grow your business.

My hope is this article deals with these challenges for you and you now feel ready to jump right in.

  • Content marketing is a sales process and therefore works for businesses of all kind, shapes and sizes. You’re business is no different.
  • You can get results quickly if you are measuring the right metrics.
  • Content marketing is a strategic and commercial activity and is not exclusive to marketing people.

As we wrap things up, I’d like you to think about how content marketing will grow our business.

How do you think your business will benefit from embracing content marketing?

If you are thinking:

  • Increase traffic, leads, sales and profit
  • Better quality of customers
  • Save you time with customer enquiries
  • Grow your email list
  • Differentiate you from your competition
  • Help you to become a thought leader in your industry
  • Create more awareness of your brand

Then you’d be right. There’s really is only upside to embracing content marketing as the way you grow your business.

My hope is that you get started today.

Prefer to listen? In this audio session I cover the ROI of content marketing – the importance of measurement and what metrics to measure and when.

Listen and subscribe on: iTunes | Stitcher | Soundcloud

Your turn

  • What’s your biggest challenge with understanding or measuring content marketing ROI?
  • Are you still skeptical about content marketing? If so, what stopping you from moving forward?
  • Have you got a great success story to share about your content marketing ROI?

Jump into the comments section with your thoughts, ideas and questions.

DFTBA!

Chris.

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About Chris Marr

Chris is the leading voice of the growing Content Marketing movement in the UK. His pioneering work has helped countless organisations grow through content marketing. His drive comes from a desire to help people break free from the world of interruption marketing.