Many companies these days see the benefits of content marketing.

But, although content marketing's popularity (and necessity) continue to increase in the eyes of B2B marketers, 47% of them say they do not measure their content marketing ROI.

Of those who don't measure the returns of their content marketing efforts, 38% reported that "there is no formal justification required" to do so, 38% said they needed an easier way to measure ROI, 27% admitted to not knowing how to do so, and 21% found the process too time-consuming.

Here, we'll touch on why measuring ROI is integral to B2B content marketing campaigns, what the most important measurement factors are, and how to go about measuring content marketing ROI.

Why You Need to Measure ROI

With the rapid, continual developments in digital marketing, it's easy to see why marketers can often get too caught up with implementing new tactics and trends, while sacrificing the crucial element of measuring ROI. But tracking and measuring content marketing ROI justifies why you're asking for all those marketing dollars, and it will show exactly how that money is being spent.

Measuring ROI also helps you...

  • Understand what's working and what isn't. If you don't measure the ROI of your efforts, it is doubly difficult to determine which priorities or campaigns are working. If you spent cash optimizing your website but aren't generating enough traffic, what's the point? You could pay top dollar for the most engaging content, but if nobody's seeing it (or if it's not your target audience that sees it), then it won't lead to the results you want.
  • Calculate client acquisition. Another benefit of measuring data related to ROI is that you can take seemingly abstract concepts and turn them into evidence-based information. By tracking ROI, you'll be able to get a clear idea of how much you spent on content marketing and how many new clients were generated as result. There are various insights to be gleaned from tracking ROI-related data, such as which channels are resulting in new leads and whether you're spending enough on a particular marketing strategy. But how much you're making on a per-client basis is one of the more straightforward ones for assessing the bottom line.
  • Prepare for the future. When you set out to track marketing ROI, you come across an ocean of data that, if used correctly, can help you make informed decisions in the future based on personalized marketing trends. Making mistakes is part of the game, but with the availability of ample data, making them time and time again is inexcusable.

A Simple Guide to Measuring ROI

Determine the costs

Depending on the scale of your content marketing campaign, there can be numerous factors involved in determining the cost, including...

  • Production costs: for writers, artists, and photos
  • Distribution costs: for PPC advertising, paid social
  • Cost of special tools: for producing or distributing content

Set the metrics

To effectively measure your content marketing's ROI, you need to determine what your specific goals and objectives are. Are you looking to increase brand awareness or generate qualified leads? Or are you trying to establish your brand as an expert by providing in-depth 10x content?

Once you've determined those goals or objectives, you need to set the metrics that you're going to be measuring. Here are some key metrics you can focus on if you're just starting to measure your ROI.

Demographics and Behavior

Ask yourself the following questions: Who are the members of your audience? What channels to do they use? How often do they engage with your content? As noted by Search Engine People, Google Analytics is an excellent base for measuring demographic and behavior metrics, including...

  • Demographics
  • Pageviews
  • Unique visitors
  • Average time on page
  • Bounce rate

You should track the progression of each metric over time, which will also allow you to get insights on which types of content resonate with your audience.

Social and Sharing

The most basic elements to monitor for social media content are the following:

  • Shares. Share counts indicate how much your audience thinks your content is valuable. Platforms such as Hootsuite enable you to track social shares, schedule posts, and find relevant followers.
  • Comments. Don't be too affected by negative comments (although you have to obviously address what might be causing them). The important thing is that your post evokes emotion. So whether it elicits disagreements or compliments, as is the case with publicity... any kind of comment is usually a good thing (unless it comes from a bot).
  • Follower growth. Because content marketing ROI progresses over time, follower growth rate is often more important than simply the number of followers. If you find that your followers increased during a period when you published more content, that's a good indicator of your content's effectiveness.

Those metrics give you an idea of which content pieces are being shared, who is sharing them, how they are being shared, and how often.

Lead Generation and Nurturing

Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) consist of those who have expressed interest in what you're selling by engaging with your content in some form (downloading e-books, consuming product demo videos, filling out contact forms, etc.).

Once you've identified your MQLs, you can then move on to measuring subcategories, such as...

  • MQLs per channel. This can give you a better idea of where to focus your content marketing efforts (e.g., email, paid social, and website materials).
  • Email open rates. Tools such as MailChimp and Pardot allow you to monitor email open rates. If you find that your open rates are low, you can make the copy more appealing, change the subject line, or adjust frequency.
  • Clickthrough rate (CTR). CTR shows whether your content captured your audience's attention and whether it was compelling enough that they positively responded to your CTA.

The Math

The simplest way to measure what really matters to businesses (revenue) is with this basic formula:

If the ratio is greater than one, your content was profitable from a sales perspective. The formula can be scaled for an entire campaign or for all content marketing activities.

But it's not always that simple. Depending on your parameters, it can also be tweaked to:

Example: ROI = ($5,000 worth of MQLs - $1,000 content production and distribution costs) / $1,000

You can measure various factors (traffic, conversions, brand awareness, etc.), which require attaching a dollar value to the respective element you want to measure. Determining your parameters from the onset allows you to focus on which ones to measure.

How Often Should You Should Measure Content Marketing ROI

Although measuring your content marketing ROI may be overwhelming at first, it is imperative to integrate the process within your company's or your team's routine.

According to Shopify, incorporating data into your company's routine can directly impact your team performance. So, if possible, have weekly checkups to identify your bottlenecks at the start of the week and prioritize your actions for the following days, and then have another checkup the following week to point out whether your numbers have improved.

* * *

Revenue is every company's ultimate goal, but there are other vital elements that may not be as easy to quantify financially. It's important to view content marketing as a long-term game.

Finding that you have a negative ROI at the onset of a campaign is natural. Trust the progress, and continually tweak your content as the data suggests, and you'll put yourself in a position to have an enduring and effective content marketing campaign.

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How to Measure the ROI of Your B2B Content Marketing Campaigns

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image of Jolina Landicho

Jolina Landicho is a digital marketing consultant and strategist. She works with several startups and websites in the US, UK, and Australia.

LinkedIn: Jolina Landicho