You invest in content marketing and are happy to see it’s driving traffic, but you could be going deeper to understand real return. Over half of marketers want to measure how much more likely people are to buy their products after reading or viewing content.

On the fifth day of the 12 Days of content, we asked Lead Strategist Colin Campbell to share how he shows clients the money with their content strategies. 

At first glance in Google Analytics and other measurement platforms, it might not be clear how content is influencing the buyer journey. With smart analysis of content marketing metrics, you can identify the way content is impacting your sales process. Here’s a breakdown of Colin’s top tips:

Get granular with content analytics data

One of the reasons marketers struggle to determine ROI is that they’re not sure how to dig deep into analytics reports. The 2015 Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report from the Content Marketing Institute offered a glimpse at just how much room marketers have to grow when it comes to tracking content ROI:

You have to get a little sophisticated with your reporting to calculate how content is influencing sales – especially if you have a longer buying cycle that requires multiple touches to drive conversions.

By setting up Advanced Segments in Google Analytics, you can filter out users who view blogs or other categories of content you publish, then compare that data to visitors who come to the site but don’t interact with the articles. Check which group has a higher conversion rate, longer dwell time and returning visitors rate. See how that value increases over time to determine how content influences actions over a longer period.

For more details about how this looks in a content strategy, review these additional resources

Define conversion values early

Many businesses invest in content without a clear idea of the bottom line return they seek.  Marketers  get excited about top-of-funnel metrics like traffic, and don’t ask questions about how it translates to monetary return until they’re under pressure to demonstrate ROI.

Consider web sales or lead goals early!

If you’re B2C:
If you’re an ecommerce company or a retailer selling directly to consumers, it’s fairly straightforward to define a conversion and track sales from your website. You set up ecommerce tracking in your analytics reports and calculate how much revenue comes from visitors who read web content.

If you’re B2B:
It’s not that simple for B2Bs that close deals over the phone or in person. You need to know what percent of your web leads become customers, and what the average deal size is to calculate the value of a new inbound lead who perused your content.

Here’s an example of how we helped one of our clients answer specific questions about who was converting on their site and what content was most effective: Content ROI – How to find out who’s converting on your site.

Understand the buying cycle has changed

Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal found that consumers are buying less on impulse and more on web research. The average American increasingly considers offerings and deals by reading articles, watching videos and reviewing graphics.

“The purchase process doesn’t start with sales anymore. It starts long before that when a person asks a friend, sees something funny on Facebook, or reads an article on your website.”

“The way people buy has fundamentally changed. The purchase process doesn’t start with sales anymore. It starts long before that when a person asks a friend, sees something funny on Facebook, or reads an article on your website,” said Colin. “We use Google Analytics to better understand that journey.”

More often than ever before, sales is the last stop after people have considered all their options and determined which features best suit their budget and needs.

Use content to educate empowered buyers

According to Colin, “The only way brands can control the purchase process, from the first inkling to the actual transaction, is to create content that educates them.”

Build a content marketing strategy that educates your buyers, and then track how resources influence their choices through smart use of analytics.

For more specifics on content strategies to fuel conversions:

Check back for more answers in our 12 Days of Content!

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.