Content marketing is probably the first strategy that comes to mind when thinking about B2B digital marketing (and not only), and according to recent statistics 91 percent of B2B companies use the various means of this technique to generate more leads, loyalty customers, create a membership base and increase sales revenue. Yet it is not always possible to evaluate the success of the work, and indeed in many cases you do not pay attention to the results: this is how to effectively measure the ROI of content marketing with 7 useful and simple metrics.

The benefits of content marketing

Content marketing is a strategic marketing method that involves the creation and distribution of valuable, consistent and relevant content for a well-targeted audience.

The means available to attract and cultivate leads are wide, and include, for example, publications of white papers, email newsletters, videos, ebooks, webinars, tweets, guides and case studies, but the list could continue virtually indefinitely.

As mentioned, the main goals of content marketing are two:

  • attract and retain a well-defined audience;
  • encourage customer actions that are profitable for the company.

Il funnel dei contenuti

For most B2B marketers, such techniques help achieve top-of-funnel marketing goals, and indeed this image – originally published on Search Engine Watch – demonstrates the usefulness of content marketing tactics in the funnel process.

What is the content marketing ROI

Any company that uses this strategy invests a considerable amount of money (and time), so you must be able to assess the effects of such investments, or the ROI, initials that identifies precisely the return on investments.

In very simple terms, the ROI of content marketing is the revenue that a company generates from the various content marketing activities compared to the amount it spends. Expressed as a percentage, ROI is considered to be an important measure in determining whether marketing has positive effects as it is directly linked to revenues.

Little attention to the ROI

As companies invest money and resources in content marketing, one would expect them to always have their return on investment under control, but that’s not really the case: some studies show that only 43 percent of B2B companies measure the ROI of content marketing.

Even more dramatic are other numbers: 27 percent of B2B marketers say they do not know how to measure ROI, while 21 percent believe the analysis process takes too long.

The 7 metrics to assess the content marketing ROI

In fact, there are at least 7 important metrics that you can use to measure content marketing returns, and the aforementioned Sumeet Anand article lists them and accurately describes their operation.

These are the following:

  1. Web traffic
  2. Qualified leads
  3. Sales volume
  4. Percentage of clicks
  5. Shares on social media
  6. SEO aspects
  7. Engagement on the site.

Studying the site’s traffic

Website traffic is the easiest metric to control and measure, because you just need to look at the traffic flow on every page of the website. This monitoring allows us to know what content is really popular and visited, and there are various analysis software that offer such data.

The most widely used is undoubtedly Google Analytics, but we can explore other options: what matters, in measuring web traffic, is being able to evaluate several aspects, including:

  • Overall web traffic.
  • Traffic source (communication channels).
  • Views per page.
  • Average time spent on the page.
  • Referral traffic.
  • Popular landing pages.
  • Unique sessions.

This information is valuable to make decisions about what to do: for example, if the overall traffic of the site is low, it means that the first step should be to promote content, to do by using traffic source information to identify the communication channels that bring more users to the site, so as to take advantage of these channels in future content promotion campaigns.

Although web traffic can show the success of content marketing efforts, it has its limits and therefore cannot be used as a single benchmark: to simplify, site traffic may vary due to variables such as changes in SEO trends, website updates, promotional offers and holidays and so on.

Calculating acquired leads

The main reason why B2B companies engage in content marketing is to generate more contacts, and therefore the impact of this work can be determined by keeping an eye on the number of qualified leads generated, encouraging users to take actions that can be translated into sales.

The purpose of lead measurement is to answer two key questions: are we attracting potential customers? And those potential clients will probably buy from us?

And it is important that such leads are qualified, that is, that they are potential customers who show an interest in making a purchase. There are three main ways to measure these data:

  • Check call-to-action (CTA) clicks, for example by looking at the number of completed white paper request forms.
  • Keep track of the number of content downloads.
  • Look at the details of completed purchases.

Measure sales

When content marketing activities start to generate more leads, the next step is to measure sales.

This metric must be at the center of content marketing goals because, ultimately, we want to turn potential customers into actual customers.

Once you have acquired the leads, it is important to cultivate them by sharing the right content, so as to push (at least) some of them to make a purchase on the site. For e-commerce, this also implies the need to optimize the sales pages of the site to increase conversions.

Measuring the ROI of content marketing using the sales volume metric means examining several sales aspects, including:

  • Page value: data on sales performance that show which pages of the website generate the highest revenue.
  • Transactions: he number of purchases completed at a given time.
  • Conversion rates: the percentage of website visitors who actually make a purchase.
  • Time to purchase: the time data, or how many days it takes visitors to complete a purchase.

For e-commerce, these insights can be obtained by setting the appropriate monitoring on Google Analytics, which allows you to collect and analyze the data of purchases and transactions of the site and discover the sales revenues generated at a given time.

Analyzing the CTR

When we manage to drive traffic to the content pages, we also expect visitors to act and interact: a system to understand if this happens is to monitor the percentages of clicks or CTR, meaning the metric that indicates the number of visitors who click on specific links among all those who have visited the site, ad or email.

We can use the CTR to measure ROI for advertising campaigns launched on email, social media or websites, and calculating the figure is not complicated. For example, explains the article, if we post an online ad on Facebook and verify that 5,000 people have seen it, but only 500 have clicked, our relationship will be:

CTR = 5,000 / 500 = 10

and so our CTR is 10 percent.

Checking social shares

Verifying whether our content is generating social media shares is a practical way to understand if we are creating and distributing good quality material. Social media is becoming increasingly established as an important communication platform for both companies and customers, and controlling such shares gives us an idea of what content is well received by the target audience.

To measure social media engagement we can monitor:

  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Content sharing
  • Views for video campaigns
  • Increase in followers

It is interesting to note that each of these elements of social media has its place and its strategic sense: content sharing gives greater visibility to the brand and content to our audience. I like it and followers show us how popular the content is, while comments tell us how the audience interacts with the content and how it welcomes it.

Le motivazioni delle condivisioni social

For shares, then, there are specific studies that analyze the motivations of people, synthesized by this image.

 

Social media engagement is easy to measure and most platforms are equipped with integrated analytics systems, but there are also third-party tools that -can help generate detailed analytics for our content marketing campaigns.

Deepening the effects of the SEO

The SEO can also be useful to measure the success of content marketing, taking into consideration some key aspects of the work of site optimization to assess its effects. According to Sumeet Anand, the first step is to conduct a technical audit on your site, using the tools available – for example, add, our SEO Spider!

The elements to be taken care of to measure the ROI with the SEO are 3:

  • Authoritativeness of the site, which involves examining the improvements in the domain authority of the site. In addition to the numerical values (such as our Zoom Authority), we can check factors such as the increase in time that people spend on the site, the number of people linking to the site, improvements in page scores.
  • Keyword ranking, which requires you to examine the site’s keyword performance, focusing in particular on words that can offer the best opportunities for conversion or brand strengthening.
  • Backlinks, to analyze the authoritativeness of the site within the sector. Even if they may not generate conversions, it is always helpful to find out which incoming links connect to our content – also because we know that they have a weight on page rankings.

Monitoring the onsite engagement

To achieve good results with content marketing strategies, it is crucial that our audience is and remains involved.

The onsite engagement metric allows us to measure engagement by overcoming web traffic, to see how your visitors really interact with content. There are two aspects we can use to monitor these: bounce rate and time on the page.

In principle, a low bounce rate is positive (while a high bounce rate can be a symptom of SEO problems), because it signals that people do not stop at just one page and visit other parts of the site; but it is not an “absolute” metric, because there are some pages and content created specifically to generate a single session on a single page, and so in this case a high value is normal.

The “Time on page” focuses attention on how long visitors spend on specific pages, and allows us to identify pages that are not generating the desired attention, so as to improve them.

The easiest way to keep track of onsite engagement is to pay attention to the involvement data generated by the analysis software: for example, on Google Analytics these data can be found in the “Audience Overview” section.

The importance of measuring the ROI

Measuring the ROI is the only way to know how profitable and effective our content marketing efforts really are.

Even if our marketing campaigns can generate high web traffic, it does not necessarily mean they are generating revenue: we need to be able to look beyond traffic and evaluate metrics such as page involvement, the quality of leads and sales to really know if campaigns are effective.

The seven metrics presented can therefore help us in the analysis of campaigns and in the evaluation of the effects of content marketing on the company’s revenues.

 

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