Content marketing plays an important role in any business: helping to grow your brand, supercharge your sales process, and ultimately, convert more customers. But to many people––marketers included––calculating the value of content marketing can seem a little soft and fuzzy.
How do you calculate the Return On Investment (ROI) of content marketing? Some (bad) marketers might tell you it’s intangible: you’ll never know the true impact content has on your business, but it’s an important investment in building your brand regardless. Sure, there will be extra impressions and clicks, but when it comes to the extra dollars added to your bottom line, it’s a black box.
Other (good) marketers will tell you that that’s not the case. At Hire a Writer, we like to think we fall in that camp. If your content marketing strategy isn’t delivering a positive ROI, you’re not doing it right. And if you don’t even have a tangible way to measure your ROI, it’s time to start thinking about reframing the role of content marketing in your business model.
With that in mind, how do you measure the ROI of content marketing? Well, it depends. There’s a few stages that you’ll need to think through as you calculate this. Let’s explore them:
How Much Does Content Cost to Produce?
Content, especially meaningful, high-quality content, requires upfront investment.
Now, you could buy some cheap content from an SEO content mill, but if we’re honest, it’s not going to be very good. There’s no point producing bad content as it completely undermines your credibility: anyone that reads it will instantly disregard your business on the basis that it looks like you have no idea what you’re talking about.
If you’re committed to creating high-quality content that actually provides value to the people that consume it, you’ll need a partner. Recruit a writer with the capacity to build relationships with your team, understand the nuances of your business, and connect with your audience on a meaningful level. Those people can be unicorns, but thankfully, we’ve got a stable of them here at Hire a Writer, and you’re free to work with any of them.
In addition to actually writing the content, be prepared for other investments. It’s important to wrap a nice design around your content, with helpful supporting visuals and an easy to navigate website. You’ll also need to consider how to distribute the content: will you build an email list, post it on social media, or run paid traffic to it?
As you consider these questions, here’s something to keep in mind:
Unlike many other forms of digital marketing, content marketing is not ephemeral. If you pay for a click on Google, or a bunch of impressions on Facebook, it’s a one-time hit.
Content, on the other hand, is enduring: people can consume it for years, and you can use it in all kinds of ways, from driving organic traffic to connecting with your email subscribers. In our view, it’s possible to get a lot more mileage from investing in content than from paid acquisition channels.
Embrace a Sophisticated Marketing Attribution Model
It’s impossible to effectively measure the impact of a content marketing strategy without a sophisticated marketing attribution model in place.
The easy, and lazy, way of doing marketing attribution is to use a last click attribution model – where all of the credit for a sale goes to the last touchpoint a customer interacts with. But think about it: when was the last time you only interacted with an online business once, and then bought from it right away?
Yep, never. This is especially true for a lot of the areas where a content marketing strategy works best, like sophisticated B2B products and services. There can be many, many touchpoints in these non-linear sales processes, and it’s important that your marketing tech stack is set up to accurately quantify the impact of each of them.
Without this, it’s impossible to quantify the ROI of any of your marketing, never mind your content marketing strategy. You can build these types of attribution models yourself in Google Analytics and Google Search Console, but there’s a whole suite of more advanced tools out there that you could choose: which one is best will depend on your business.
Align on Your North Star
Alright, so you’ve invested in content marketing, and are all set up to measure it.
But what exactly do you measure?
Well, it depends. But one thing is clear: you need to agree on a North Star: one key metric, or set of metrics, that makes sense for your business.
For many, that’s revenue. Sometimes, the relationship between content and revenue can be pretty linear: a lead magnet, or an email series packed with calls to action. If that’s the case, then the calculus is pretty straightforward.
But often, it’s not that simple. Content might be a traffic driver at the top of your funnel, in which case you’ll care about keyword rankings, organic traffic, and time on page. Or it could be that you use content to help stay in touch with prospects throughout a longer sales cycle. In that scenario, you might focus on email replies, open rates, or discovery calls booked.
Regardless of the metrics that you choose, make sure everyone is on the same page and has a shared definition of what success looks like. Establish goals and set performance benchmarks that will help you understand your progression. If things aren’t working, consider tweaking your strategy, but bear in mind that it does take some time for a content strategy to bear fruit.
Get Started with Content Marketing
From an ROI perspective, the best time to start content marketing was years ago. The next best time? Today.
Measuring the effectiveness of content marketing isn’t always straightforward, but done right, content marketing is an enduring investment that will pay off in multiples, and will provide dividends for your business over long time horizons.
Not sure where to start? The team at Hire a Writer is here to help. Schedule a call with us today to learn more about building a content marketing strategy for your business.