Content Marketing ROI: How to Measure Content Marketing Success [Free Calculator]

Writer:
Jeffrey Weishaupt
Editor:
Robert Stone
Published: May 18, 2022
Last Updated:
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Content marketing is a goldmine for online businesses. It's a way to connect with customers and create meaningful relationships that lead to conversions, sales, and long-term loyalty. Considering the content marketing ROI (return on investment), it's a must-have for every content marketing team.

The best part is that it doesn't have to be expensive. Even a small budget can go a long way if you're smart about your content strategy. For example, in a Semrush survey, 73% of the responding companies that spent anywhere from 10% to 70% of their overall marketing budget on content creation reported their efforts to be very successful.

But what exactly is the content ROI? How do you calculate it? This guide discusses some content marketing ROI statistics and explains how to measure content marketing performance for your particular business.

What Is Content Marketing ROI?

Content marketing ROI is the return you get on your investment regarding your various content marketing goals. These could be anything from brand awareness to website traffic to customer acquisition.

Typically, ROI or return on investment means the percentage of profit you make on an investment relative to the amount of money you spend on it. For example, if you spend $100 on a stock that increases in value and is sold for $105, your ROI would be 5%.

When it comes to content marketing, calculating ROI can be tricky because there are many different ways to measure it. It's not just about looking at the bottom line and seeing how much revenue your content has generated.

Basically, it's a measure of how effective your content marketing strategy is in achieving the objectives you've set for it. In 2021, 68% of marketers planned to spend more money on content marketing due to its ability to generate higher ROI. 

Why Is Content Marketing ROI Important?

Investing in content marketing without understanding its ROI is like throwing money into a black hole. You might see some results, but you won't know if they're worth the effort and money you're putting in.

The importance of calculating your content marketing's return on investment is evident in the fact that the most popular content marketing search on Google in 2020 was "content marketing strategy." 

Calculating ROI can help you understand whether your content marketing strategy is working and where you need to make changes. It can also help you more effectively allocate your resources and make better decisions about where to invest your time and money.

In short, calculating ROI will help you improve the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. It will also enable you to tweak your campaigns where necessary.

How to Calculate the ROI of Content Marketing?

Although the exact measure of return on investment (ROI) can be complex, the concept is simple:

You invest X, and you get back Y. 

If Y is more than X, then you have a positive ROI. If it's less, then you have a negative ROI. The ROI depends on your particular objectives. However, you can use a standard formula to calculate the return on investment for your campaign.

Return on Investment = (Return - Investment / Investment) x 100 

In this formula, the return is the value of the goal you achieved from your content marketing campaign. The investment is the total amount of money you spend on the campaign, including all costs related to creating, publishing, and promoting your content.

Suppose you spent $1,000 on a campaign. As a result, you acquired leads worth $2,000. Put these figures in the formula to calculate your content marketing ROI.

$2,000 (Return) – $1,000 (Investment) = $1,000

$1,000 / $1,000 = 1

1 x 100% = 100% (ROI)

Your return on investment is 100%. Remember that these are just hypothetical numbers to show you how the formula works.

Here's another example. Suppose you spent $10,000 on a content marketing campaign, and it generated $30,000 in revenue. In this case, your ROI would be 200%.

$30,000 – $10,000 = $20,000

$20,000 / $10,000 = 2

2 x 100% = 200% (ROI)

Even if you use an online content marketing ROI calculator, it will probably use the same formula. While this seems like an easy way to calculate ROI, it's not the most efficient method due to two reasons:

  • The formula takes the total investment into account and does not consider the cost of a single piece of content.
  • In content marketing, money isn't the only indicator of success.

That's where content marketing metrics come in. These parameters help you understand if your content is valuable without solely relying on numbers.

Assessing and Evaluating Your Content Marketing ROI

The reason you want to know your content marketing ROI is to make sure money allocated to content is being spent wisely and on the right kinds of materials. Additionally,  you need to know that your content is doing what it was designed to do, that is, raise awareness of your brand, secure interest, and generate sales.

As mentioned before, obtaining numbers from content marketing campaigns can be a slow process. It takes time to see the effects of the content on your audience, and because of this lag in time, it's not uncommon to see low or even negative numbers in the initial stages of rolling out new content.

But if your ROI continues to bring back low results (percentages lower than 1), take this opportunity to change tactics. Reevaluate your content, your distribution channels, or your strategy.

How to Track Content Marketing ROI

So, where do you get the data to plug into your equation?

Google Analytics

If you're running a business, you should already be familiar with Google Analytics.

This free and comprehensive analysis tool can provide you with essential information on your audience, as well as help you analyze, strategize, and gauge the success of your content. You can review information over a range of time or get real-time coverage too.

Here's a look at the Google Analytics dashboard, where you'll get an idea of the useful information available on the site.

Clearly presented data like this makes it easy to see how well your content is performing.

Social-Media Built-in Analytic Tools

Use these tools to measure engagement, reach, followers, and visitors. They can also provide detailed insights about your audience and help you gain a better understanding of them.

Tracking Tools

Various tracking tools like these come with a price but also give you more detailed information than you would get elsewhere.

These tracking tools, and others like them, allow you to gain access to a world of data and insights that would otherwise be unavailable to you. With analysis tools like these in your arsenal, you have a more than fair chance to improve your marketing content and thereby your content ROI.

Key Performance Indicators to Measure Content Marketing ROI

Instead of merely focusing on the monetary value of your content marketing ROI, it's essential to consider a variety of key performance indicators (KPIs) that give you a more holistic view of how well your strategies are working. Here are some KPIs to track.

Have a look at this table from the Content Marketing Institute, which shows key content marketing KPIs and the metrics used to measure them.

That's quite the list. Thankfully you don't need to measure all of those. I's wise to concentrate on at least a few for campaigns or content pieces you want to measure.

Web Traffic

The primary metric for any website is web traffic. It measures the number of people who visit your site, and it's a good indicator of how well your content resonates with your audience.

You can track web traffic using Google Analytics or another similar tool. For example, suppose you're looking at 30 days of traffic. In that case, you might follow the number of unique visitors, page views, average time on site, and bounce rate.

Keep in mind that web traffic doesn't only mean the number of people who read your blogs or articles. People watching your video content also count as web traffic. In fact, 84% of marketers say video content helps generate leads. 

Besides videos, other forms of visual content, such as images, also help generate more website traffic. Blog content with over seven images receive four times more visitors when compared to posts that only contain text. 

Backlinks

If your content marketing goal is to receive more traffic to your website, another metric to consider is backlinks. When you receive inbound links from a website with high domain authority, it leads to more traffic to your website. Not only does the link lead to direct traffic, but it also has the potential to improve search rankings for your content.

SEO

SEO (Search engine optimization ) is the practice of gaining website traffic through search engines. To achieve this goal, you have to get your content to rank for certain target keywords. There are other search engine features to capture great content as well, such as appearing in the "People Also Ask" sections, gaining a "Featured Snippet" or nesting high-ranking articles with other related content.

Implementing a content marketing strategy focusing on SEO requires both technical and on-page knowledge. Keyword research and content briefs play a major role in ensuring your content has the best chance to rank, but the results are well worth it. In many instances, a well-written, long-form article can rank for several keywords, driving traffic to your website regularly. This can continue for months and even years after the content was initially written.

Although there's no standard figure, for a good SEO ROI, the average is 300% or higher. Some industries, such as higher education, industrial IoT (Internet of Things), and financial services, have SEO ROIs of over 800%.

Your content marketing strategy should always include SEO since it ensures that your target audience can easily find your content on search engines.

Leads Generated

Another key metric to track is the number of leads generated from your content marketing efforts. A lead is a potential customer interested in your product or service.

You need to have calls to action (CTAs) in your content to generate leads. A CTA could be a form to fill out, a free trial sign-up, or anything that encourages the reader to take the next step in the buyer's journey. The number of leads generated can be tracked in Google Analytics or your CRM (Customer Relationship Management).

Sales

The ultimate goal of content marketing is to generate sales. A Demand Gen survey showed that customers consume about three to seven content pieces before they talk to a salesperson. 44% of the customers consume at least three pieces of content. Therefore, the quality of your content is associated with your sales. 

Of course, you can't directly attribute a sale to a specific piece of content. You can, however, track the number of sales that occur within a specific period after someone reads your content.

For example, let's say you have an e-book on your website. You could include a CTA to buy your product at the end of the book. Then, you could track how many people buy your product within 30 days of reading the e-book.

Google Analytics lets you check which pages on your website contribute highly to your revenue. Go to the Behavior tab of Google Analytics and then click on Site Content.

The All Pages section will show you which pages generate the most revenue. You can also click on Goal Set View to see which goals (such as sales) are being met by your content.

Cost Per Lead

Since content marketing requires time and effort, it's essential to track how much it costs you to generate each lead. The cost per lead can be anywhere from under $100 to over $1,000. It differs based on your industry. 

To calculate your cost per lead, divide your total content marketing costs by the number of leads generated.

For example, if you spent $500 on a blog post and generated ten leads, your cost per lead would be $50. This metric can help you determine whether your content marketing efforts are worth the investment.

How to Determine What KPIs to Measure Content ROI? 

As mentioned earlier, there are different metrics you can use to calculate your content marketing ROI. However, you don't necessarily have to use all these metrics.

Instead, you can focus on metrics important to your campaign. For instance, the B2B Content Marketing Report from the Content Marketing Institute showed that companies had different content marketing goals.

87% of the companies wanted to create brand awareness, while 81% used it to create trust. Likewise, 79% used it to educate their audience, 75% used it for generating leads, and 68% used it to build loyalty with their existing clients and customers.

In contrast, another report showed that 79% of marketers use content marketing to generate quality leads. In the same report, 83% of marketers said they measure their content's success based on the organic traffic to their website.

Meanwhile, 53% measured it by conversion rate, and 66% based their calculation on lead generation. As you can see, the criteria for measuring content marketing ROI will vary depending on the organization.

It all boils down to your goals and objectives for your content marketing strategy. For example, let's say you're in the business-to-business industry, and you use content marketing to generate leads.

You'll want to focus on conversion rate, organic traffic, and lead generation metrics. These are the criteria that will help you determine whether your content marketing strategy is effective or not.

Meanwhile, if you merely want to build brand awareness or educate your target audience, you can focus on metrics such as social media engagement, web traffic, and email subscribers.

The important point is to identify which metrics are important to your organization and use them to measure your content marketing ROI. 

Tips for Improving Your Content Marketing ROI 

As already established, content marketing can generate a high ROI when it's used right. Here are some tips to boost your content marketing ROI.

Outsource Content Creation Through Content Writing Services

If you cannot produce high-quality content in-house, it may be time to look into partnering with a firm providing content writing services. A good quality content writing service will produce well-written and engaging articles that are relevant to your target audience. As a result, it will increase organic search traffic to your website and improve your chances of conversion.

Think Quality Over Quantity

Quality should always take precedence over quantity when it comes to content marketing. There is no point in churning out low-quality articles just for the sake of it. Hubspot recommends posting a piece of content on your website four times a week if you're a small business. 

Meanwhile, if you're a larger company, you can post daily. Large organizations can even upload multiple posts per day. 

Make Use of Social Media Platforms

Social media is a powerful marketing tool that can help you reach a larger audience and boost your ROI. Post your content on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to generate more leads.

You can also use social media to build relationships with potential and current customers. For instance, you can respond to comments and questions left by customers on your social media pages. Doing this shows that you care about your customers and are willing to engage with them.

Free Content Marketing ROI Calculator

Now that we know what we want to measure, we can figure out how to measure content marketing ROI.

For your convenience, we've created a simple ROI calculator in spreadsheet form that you can save or download a copy of to determine your content strategy's ROI. Just input the amount you've invested in your content as well as your average returns—our free calculator will take care of the rest.

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Boost Your Digital Marketing ROI with High-Quality Content

If you want to increase your average ROI for digital marketing, it's about time you focus on content marketing since it helps generate leads, increase sales, and build brand awareness.

Now that you know how to measure content marketing performance, you can use the metrics explained in this guide to determine whether your content marketing strategy is a success or not. Measuring your content marketing ROI regularly also allows you to spot any weak spots in your strategy and improve it promptly to ensure higher success rates.

Need help developing and executing your content strategy? Compose.ly has you covered.
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