Tressa Sloane

Hits! Clicks! Organic traffic! Keyword rankings!

These metrics are valuable for marketers when analyzing the performance of their content marketing strategies. But how do marketing buzzwords prove ROI for your business? There’s a simple answer: They don’t.

For example, what happens when you say “My KPI is to improve keyword rankings,” and you succeed, but your business doesn’t see any positive impact to its bottom line?

This marketing jargon has severely stunted the understanding of ROI.

As you can see from that Tweet, it’s rampant in the industry – and it drives us crazy!

Buzzwords killed your understanding of digital marketing


The reliance on marketing buzzwords

In the infancy of digital marketing 10 to 15 years ago, hits, clicks, organic traffic and the like were the earliest indicators of how well content was performing, and they quickly were ingrained within the industry as definitive proof of ROI.

Even though it has evolved significantly since its early days, digital marketing is still fairly new, and how to accurately prove ROI is not common knowledge throughout the industry. Compare it to a production plant: These factories have been around since the Industrial Revolution and can now quantify the daily efficiency of a new machine down to the penny. Digital marketing is just not at that point yet.

Marketing buzzwords aren't helping you improve your ROI.

One reason that these buzzwords are still used as KPIs today is that many companies are outsourcing to SEO agencies, and they rely on these partners to provide them with proof that their content strategies are successful. The agencies help their clients set goals, such as higher keyword rankings or an increase in organic traffic, which are beneficial in the short term – and nice to see. But clients then believe these efforts are bringing in ROI, when most of the time they are not. In fact, they are relying completely on faith when it comes to defining the metrics that are important to their objectives.

Brafton’s Director of Digital Marketing Strategy, Jeff Baker, said to think of it in terms of car repair.

“If I take my car in for an oil change, and the repairman says the brakes were fried, so they went ahead and fixed them, I’m going to take their word for it because I know nothing about cars,” Jeff explained.

For digital marketing, using buzzwords as KPIs leaves the market rife for SEO companies to continue exploiting their customers. It’s an intentional gray area that’s too often taken advantage of because most middle marketing managers just don’t understand this.

Use buzzwords as indicators, not end-alls

So should you throw away those clicks, organic traffic, keyword rankings and other content marketing jargon? No, you certainly shouldn’t. But instead of looking at these buzzwords as the “end-all, be-all” for your marketing strategies, use them as indicators for how well your content is performing, and how they boost your ultimate KPI of improving ROI for your business.

Use buzzwords as indicators, not the end-all be-all, for the success of your marketing strategy.

“Your metrics can improve, but then ask yourself if you are seeing tangible ROI from it,” Baker said.

For example, determine what your website is for. Is it for generating more leads? Track the analytics of your lead generation methods, and set up goals that translate to ROI, such as when someone submits contact information. Just don’t assume that a growth in leads automatically means more money is coming in.

What if you’re looking for a boost in organic traffic? Does this equate to more conversions, which in turn adds up to more business? If so, you’ve increased ROI, which should be your main KPI. However, if you’ve improved your organic traffic efforts but aren’t seeing more business as a result, you’ve got to revisit your strategy and analytics to diagnose the issue.

Your use of marketing buzzwords should only make sense in the context of conversions and definite ROI. Use these terms to measure how your content is helping you move forward to the final solution: better ROI for your business.