Here's How to Really Measure the ROI of Your Content-Marketing Strategy
If you read the word "metrics" and feel a little intimidated, know that it's completely normal to do so. Anytime the word is mentioned, it's an indicator of a departure from the content creation mode, something that many people are more comfortable with than the numbers-side of the strategy. It's important to keep in mind that the numbers are the key to adapting the content marketing strategy to be more efficient, though, so it's probably a good idea to get comfortable with metrics.
Analyzing metrics cannot be done without the key performance indicators (KPI) defined in the infancy of a content marketing strategy. There are several types of metrics that need to be analyzed to get a broader picture of the campaign's reach.
The most basic of metrics, consumption metrics are used to look for data that can help determine how many times the content was consumed, and more importantly what path led the readers to the content. A few KPI metrics are total visits, unique visits, downloads, cost-per-visitor, bounce rate, and time-on-site. As Arnie Kuenn of The Content Marketing Institute pointed out, these metrics are, "…directly tied to the value of your investment."
Social mediaSocial media shares are closely-related with consumption metrics, in that they–in effect–promote the content. Of social media metrics, Kuenn notes that, "Social profiles provide value for customer relationship management, customer service, and customer engagement, among other purposes. The particular sharing metrics important for the ROI discussion depend on your chosen KPIs." What he means, is that given the KPIs you are looking at can be directly influenced by how consumers share the content, allowing you to better understand other metrics.
There are two prevailing ways that marketers can attribute leads to content, allowing them establish more than just basic metrics like unique visits or time-on-site. The first way involves Lead-capture forms. The effectiveness of this metric is tied to the way that the form is presented to the reader: some sites limit the what is visible until the form is filled-out. Of course, those choosing to use this method would be best-served by creating a form that is as easy as possible to fill-out. The second way of attributing a lead to a particular piece of content is by tracking the original source of the lead. Cookies allow the site to track visitors on the site, and indicate pages that any particular visitor viewed before filling out the form. What lead generation metrics allow the site to do is establish a lead-value price, or the amount of leads that need to be generated to meet the goals of a campaign. If a site spends $1,000 on content, and another $2,000 to promote the content, then you have invested a total of $3,000 on the content. If a lead has a value of $25, then the number of leads that the content has to generate would be 120.
SalesIf there was one key metric, it would be the sales metric. As Kuenn noted, "…sales metrics are the easiest aspect of the ROI equation to understand." Simply put, sales conversion rates are the best tool for establishing content marketing ROI, making for a clear-cut view of whether the marketing strategy is paying dividends.
The analysis of metrics acts as the final leg of a content marketing strategy–that is–before a company can re-enter the strategizing process once more. In the beginning, it was the goals that were defined. The content is developed to address these goals, and reviewing metrics based on this content means that content can be modified, or the goals can be tweaked, to meet the overarching purpose of the content marketing strategy.
It's vital to never lose focus of what content marketing really is, and that is it provides valuable information to the consumers. Though it is really only valuable to the company if it provides results, it is the integrity of the information being shared that really matters to those reading it.
This article was edited for brevity and clarity.
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