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How do you measure the ROI of content?

As the industry becomes more and more performance-based, there is an ever-increasing pressure on marketing departments to demonstrate their return on investment (ROI). Yet 40% of marketing departments still rate proving ROI as their biggest challenge.

With content marketing becoming a greater part of the overall mix, showing the value of these assets – whether they’re web pages, blogs, brochures or whitepapers – is crucial. This article discusses the different approaches you can use to evaluate the overall effectiveness of your content, and help you decide on the ones that fit best with your business.

The bigger picture

Businesses that report ROI from their content marketing have demonstrated that the return is higher than the average, costing 62% less than traditional marketing. But, how do we measure these figures?

As we know, content plays a vital role across different touchpoints of the customer journey. It also ultimately influences later purchase decisions. For example, research by Nielsen showed that people engage with 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchase. This number will, of course, vary from business to business.

Reporting on your website visitors’ behaviours as they engage with content on your site is now easier than ever using packages like Google Analytics and similar tools.


When attempting to determine your true ROI though, it’s important to go beyond these simple reports, such as ROI Analysis or Cost Analysis. These look at marketing spend versus conversion values but will neglect some important figures. For example, it’s important to consider all of the potential costs that were involved in producing and promoting your content, such as the cost of editing and advertising it and writers’ salaries.

Other metrics that Analytics provides, such as social likes and shares, can be too simplistic for true ROI reporting if generating sales and revenue is your goal. While they can make a campaign look successful, they won’t tell you much about whether people are buying from you.

Assessing long-term value

The customer decision-making process is not strictly linear. A prospective buyer might interact with a blog post, posts on your social media page, or download a guide from the FAQs area of your website. It may not have been the first touchpoint or the last touchpoint in their journey that was the ultimate deciding factor for them in choosing whether or not to buy something.

This is where attribution modelling can be incredibly powerful when used in the right way for your business. For more on attribution modelling, here’s a good overview. And to see whether your blog content is contributing to sales, look at this great guide to creating a custom channel.

online content

Whether you use an in-house CRM, Analytics software, or a combination of several data sources, tools like these are indispensable when it comes to making your job of reporting simpler. And they’re always improving as technology advances. So will too, your understanding of your customers.
Great results though in the end rely on quality content. Squeeze all of the value that you can out of your tools and focus on your customers to create better content that they find useful.

Key takeaways

  • Use Analytics and remember to tailor your data and reporting to your unique business model
  • Calculate a baseline ROI figure across all of your marketing activities and set realistic benchmarks
  • Don’t ignore the future value of your content and its potential to build lasting relationships – embed your CLTV analysis and understanding of your customers’ typical buying cycles
  • Take into account attribution – this is all about applying the right amount of credit to your content relative to other channels
  • Give your content marketing the time to mature – tangible results may not be immediate and not necessarily obvious in isolation from other activities
  • Culture and process are important – make it everyone’s role to keep open lines of communication to get the best results from your content marketing
  • Keep up with trends and tools that make your job easier

If you’re looking for a content marketing agency that can provide measurable results, get in touch.