If there’s one buzzword that frustrates marketers more than any other, it’s ROI. Ever since digital marketing popped its head up years ago, marketers have struggled to measure the return on investment of things like email marketing, social media, and content marketing.

Measuring content marketing

Measuring content marketing can be frustrating, but is possible!

Some of these are easier to measure than others, naturally. But content marketing? It’s challenging to determine what kind of return you get, simply because people who read your blog may not make a straight line to buy from your site.

Brand recognition and loyalty play a large role here, just like they do with any marketing component that doesn’t result in immediate sales. Simply being known as a thought leader in your industry has tremendous value, even if you can’t assign a dollar value to it.

Still, you can measure your content marketing ROI with these steps.

Step 1: Determine the Cost of Your Content

Every piece of content you create has a cost, even if you develop it in-house and consider it “free.” If that’s the case, you can break down how long it took an employee to develop it and multiply that against her hourly rate.

If you outsource content, you’ll know exactly what it cost to create it. But don’t overlook other costs, such as those for stock photos added to the post, or the time it takes to upload the post to WordPress.

As an example, let’s say it costs you $100 to create a blog post. Now let’s move on to the next step.

Step 2: Decide What You Want to Measure

The issue in this step is that everyone assumes that “new customers” is the obvious thing you’d want to measure, but as I said before: there’s often not a straight path from your content to a sale. So consider other useful metrics like engagement. What does engagement look like?

  • How many social media shares a given post gets
  • How many comments the post itself receives
  • How many social media likes or hearts it gets
  • How many clicks from social media a post receives
  • How many people signed up for your email list

You can actually assign a dollar value to engagement, if you want to. You could research how much it would cost you to run a social media ad campaign, then use that as your dollar value for a click to your blog post.

Step 3: Set Goals

content marketing goals

Establishing goals helps you measure results.

Once you know what you want to measure, determine what you hope to achieve. Being specific can help you use Key Performance Indicators as a baseline to measure results against. So if currently, you’re seeing about 100 people sharing the average blog post on Twitter and you want to triple that number, you now have a goal to work toward.

Step 4: Figure Out the Cost to Acquire a New Customer

You will want to understand if content marketing continues to drive value for your brand’s marketing strategy, so looking at customer acquisition costs can come in handy. Now, this number is a little fuzzy, because we can’t necessarily decide that all the new customers from your blog became customers solely because of your blog. They could have first found you on social media, or through word of mouth.

Still, having a sense of the new sales you’re generating, measured against your content marketing costs, can give you a sense of where you stand with ROI.

Let’s say in an average month, you get five new customers.

We decided your blog posts cost you $100 to create, and you publish three a month. So $300 a month.

If we take that $300 content marketing budget and divide it by those five new customers, you get $60 as the cost to acquire a new customer. And the longer each one stays a customer, the lower that cost.

Yes, you can determine the return on investment of your content marketing efforts, but the more important thing is to constantly monitor how people respond to your content. When you see a drop-off in traffic or engagement, you need to assess the topics you’re delivering, as well as the quality of the writing. More important than having a killer ROI is simply providing your audience with amazing and useful content.

Not sure how well your content marketing strategy is at reaching your audience? Request a free content marketing assessment from us!