Measuring content marketing ROI: Remember the full picture

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Using several different metrics is critical for marketers to develop a true understanding of their content marketing strategy's success.

In the ever growing digital world, whether your audience is B2B or B2C focused, content marketing has become a go-to strategy for many marketers. Content’s ability to drive brand awareness and consistently incite audience engagement creates a very alluring impression, yet many marketers still struggle to define what this means.

Brafton’s poll of content marketers found that measuring content results tied for first place as the leading content marketing challenge businesses face. More than two-thirds of marketers suggested they don’t know how to analyze and measure their content campaigns.

Content’s ability to drive brand awareness and consistently incite audience engagement creates a very alluring impression, yet many marketers still struggle to define what this means.

They’re left asking themselves “Where’s the ROI?” and, unfortunately, there’s not just one answer.

Measuring against clear conversion goals

A few months ago, I was prepping for a meeting and creating a six-month, year-over-year report. I didn’t have the slightest doubt that the client would be happy. We had set clearly defined lead generation goals and onsite transactions the client wanted content to foster for the site. I recommend this as a primary starting point to any content campaign – outline the ultimate results you want from human readers!

The only change in the client’s campaign was the Brafton content. Through proper content integration, daily news and blog content production, sharing on social networks and fresh headlines in email marketing, the client’s site had increased leads by 80.25 percent (326 leads), and the key purposes for content are leads, conversion and revenue growth.

I entered the meeting feeling confident and accomplished. I left the meeting frustrated and confused.

Identifying other marketing metrics content should support

Although traffic had increased and leads were on a persistent rise the client was not pleased. I was convinced he didn’t understand. I tried explaining, but it didn’t matter. He kept pointing to the keyword rankings. They were stagnant and had been for a couple of months. I certainly understood and appreciated his desire for stronger rankings, but how much did that matter when the content factored into generation of multiple leads a day?

While rankings are getting harder to accurately measure in the face of personalized search, the SEO wins were important to him (and that’s valid). Instead of looking at rankings, we started by looking at growth in organic traffic.

Clearly lead generation wasn’t the problem, and by re-exploring the data, we saw signs of the organic search wins he wanted. Plus, my dorky self always enjoys crafting or revising a new SEO strategy, so we went back to the drawing board.

But what struck me the most is that both of us were focusing on just one area of ROI.

I made a huge mistake thinking the client would be satisfied with just an increase in leads. What about bounce rate, pages per visit, new visitors, followers, Likes and inbound links … I could continue, but I’ll stop there.

Quality content improves several different things for companies: Brand awareness, SEO, social media, user experience and lead generation, among others. However, I made a huge mistake thinking the client would be satisfied with just an increase in leads. What about bounce rate, pages per visit, new visitors, followers, Likes and inbound links … I could continue, but I’ll stop there.

The point is ROI on content marketing comes in many forms. It’s important to prioritize the results that matter most for your company, but it’s a big picture marketing strategy and many areas need to be measured and included within your strategy.

Results don’t come overnight. Take your time at producing quality content, let the analytics work themselves out and make changes where they are necessary, but eventually your authority will grow, traffic will increase, users will engage and the business growth potential will put an end to your ROI doubts. Also, make sure someone on your in-house team or at your content agency is prepared to do the work of diving into your analytics, so you can explore all the benefits content marketing brings to your brand!

 

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Zach MichonskiZach Michonski is a Senior Content Marketing Consultant with Brafton. His creative, sophisticated, and tactical approach to content strategy and brand voice has helped many clients quickly see the true value in content marketing. Along with building and implementing content strategies Zach also spearheads and project manages Brafton’s consulting and development work around content user experience and CMS integration.
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  • KatherineT

    Thank you for sharing! Great article and reminder to all of us. What is most important to the client is the most important to the vendor. Need to learn to not just share what we want and think are achievements, but what matters to them.

    • ZachMichonski

      Thanks for commenting Katherine. You’re absolutely right. As marketing professionals it’s very easy to become consumed with the commercial success, but there are many ROI channels we need to keep an eye on.

  • http://twitter.com/MattC Matt Cooper

    Hey Zach, thanks for the article, its always great to see professionals in our industry talk about their missteps as well as their successes. I have one question for you. How has this experience changed how you approach the discovery phase of the engagement?

    Thanks in advance,
    Matt

    • ZachMichonski

      Hey Matt, thanks for reading. When measuring engagement I think it’s best to focus on the following 3 areas. 1.) Time on Page- Endless amounts of pageviews are great but if your audience isn’t taking the time to interact with the content then it means nothing 2.) Forward Navigation- Content should help engage and then influence next steps. If engaged properly traffic should want to navigate towards a service/product landing page, about us page, CTA, or additional blog content. 3.) Shared Content- If your regularly engaging your audience with creative quality content then your audience should want to share it with their social networks. Not every industry fits into social media, so if that’s the case then keep an eye on your inbound links. If your content is engaging then you should naturally be able to build links by others wanting to reference your content.