If you’re reading this, you probably have already realized that there is value in content marketing.
But now, like many other businesses joining the content marketing movement, you need to know how to tell if your content is working.
We tell you to create valuable content, be consistent, and put the customer first, and you’ll see amazing results if you stick with it. But, we can’t blame you for being skeptical about the ROI of your content marketing efforts. After all, seeing is believing.
We’ll show you how to effectively measure the return-on-investment (ROI) of your content marketing strategy, so you can march on with confidence.
Why measure content performance?
There are many important reasons to measure the performance of your content:
Figure out what works
Sometimes, you start off not knowing what types of content resonate with your audience. You can do research, talk to customers, and do some educated guesswork, but you won’t know for sure until you try. By measuring how well (or not well) your content is performing, you can keep the same strategy, or adjust based on the results you find.
Provide the most value
The point of content marketing is to create valuable content that resonates with your audience and influences their behavior over time. You should never be creating content for the sake of having more content. Each piece should be intentional and valuable. Always think: quality over quantity.
That being said, performing an audit of the content you already have, diving deep into the metrics using a tool like Google Analytics, and determining what has performed best historically, can help guide you with what to create next.
Repurpose the good stuff
If you can measure your content performance, you can bottle what is working, and reuse it over and over. For example, say you published a blog post that essentially “broke the internet,” in terms of popularity. You can take that content, and turn it into an incentive tool for capturing leads, like an infographic or SlideShare that people receive after signing up for your email newsletter.
When it comes to content, think smarter not harder, and reuse what’s already working. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
How to measure your content performance
Measuring content performance can be as easy or as complicated as you choose to make it. Choose easy.
Content marketing, when done well, provides your audience with the answers they’re searching for online. When your customer types in a question to a search engine such as Google, and they click your content that pops up, this is considered an “organic” visit. Organic traffic is free, meaning you don’t pay for it like you do other means of web traffic, like pay-per-click advertising.
In other words, by providing valuable content, you can bring your customers and prospects to your website for free, or organically.
The simplest way to think about content performance, is by measuring how much organic website visits you’re getting, and comparing it to how much those visits would have cost if you had paid for them.
So, essentially, your ROI is how much money you’re saving your business by bringing in free visitors through your content marketing campaign.
How to put a number value on organic traffic
Not paying for those customers shows that your content strategy is working, and essentially paying for itself.
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But how do you know how much those pay-per-click (PPC) ads would have cost? You need to figure out what is called the “cost-per-click” or CPC. You can do this by cross referencing the data you see in your website performance tool, like Google Adwords, on how much organic traffic went to a specific piece of content, and then seeing how much it would have cost to get that traffic with PPC. You can find that out by using a tool like SpyFu.
Technically, any amount of free traffic is better than none, but after you find out your CPC, compare it with the rest of your industry via the chart to see how you’re doing. Don’t see your industry? WordStream has a free CPC calculator that can help.
In it for the long game
One last thing you should know about measuring content performance is that you will not see huge results overnight. Building valuable relationships with your audience is a long term strategy.
In fact, the Content Marketing Institute found its average clients see a 200% (or more) return on investment from the same content, when looking at the value of organic traffic over 36 months. The reward is amazing if you’re willing to stay consistent, put in the effort needed to achieve your goals, and keep your eyes on the prize.
However, if you’re in need of instant gratification, there are certainly other ways you can measure content performance. For example, one of the most important content marketing metrics is “engagement.”
How to measure content engagement
Measuring content engagement does not require any calculations, and can be a good indicator of whether or not your content is resonating with your audience.
Here is a list of ways you can measure content engagement:
Measuring “shares” usually comes into play when you post your content on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Most social media platforms provide some sort of reporting on shares, likes, and even “reach,” in some instances. These indicators of engagement show how your content is resonating with your social followers.
Depending on your website capabilities, sometimes you can track who is downloading your content from your website. For example, an eBook, guide, or industry report are types of content that your target audience may want to have on hand for future use. Downloads are great indicators that your content is really providing value to your audience – not to mention that you are enhancing your brand’s lead generation efforts at the same time.
Comments on your social posts, blog, or web forum show that people are interested in what you have to say, and that they may even consider your brand to be a “thought leader” within your industry. Building that level of conversation and trust with your audience means your content is doing its job.
Speaking of trust, asking customers to sign up for your email list or blog to receive content on a continual basis is an example of how content can turn trust into a relationship. How do you do this with email?
Pick a high performing piece of content, put a twist on it, like turning a blog into a video, and use it as an incentive for people to sign up for your email list or blog. The amount of new subscribers you get from this one peice of content will prove its value.
Email click-through rates
Among the many reports you can pull on the performance of your email marketing campaigns, click-through-rate may be one of the most telling marketing metrics out there. Click-through-rate, or CTR, shows how many subscribers opened your email and then clicked the link in that email, which took them to your website. When using email marketing to link to valuable content, the CTR on those emails lets you know how well your content is resonating with your subscriber list.
Another type of content could be a guest article or story pitch to your local media. Media can be both in print and online. An indicator of how well that content is performing is how many media outlets pick up and publish your content in their publications. You can figure this out by Googling the title of your article and seeing if it lives on any other sites.
Stay focused and reap the results
If you’re not already measuring your content marketing ROI and performance, it’s easy to get started! The value that comes along with knowing how well your message is resonating with your audience helps guide your future content creation. Pretty soon, you will have it down to a science. So stay consistent with the value you provide to your audience and start reaping the rewards of your marketing efforts.
Remember, you’re the expert in your industry, so that value is already inside you. It’s time to share it with the world.