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ROI or Die: How to Master Content Marketing ROI

Date published: September 20, 2023
Last updated: March 7, 2024

A content marketing strategy is an important part of growing your business. High quality content increases your authority and demonstrates to consumers and industry leaders alike that you know your stuff. It can also boost your visibility and brand awareness through good search engine optimization practices.

Investing in a content marketing strategy may be a good digital marketing move …but how do you know it’s working? Content doesn’t perform the same way that pay-per-click (PPC) ads or affiliate marketing does. You can’t see each click or sale as it comes through. It takes weeks for a blog post or white paper to show up on Google and months for it to move its way up the SERPs.

So, how do you know that your content marketing campaign is working? Here are a few of the best metrics to measure content marketing ROI.

Measurable Metrics for Content Marketing

In order to see content marketing success, there needs to be a lot of moving parts. Before you start the content creation process, you need to study your target audience, conduct keyword research, brainstorm topics, and come up with outlines. Even after it's created, you need to optimize, publish, and track your content. These metrics are crucial to measuring ROI of your content marketing efforts.

With so much going on, what should you watch to make sure your content performs over time? Here are four unique areas marketers should keep an eye on, along with tips to measure each metric.

Keep in mind as you go along that these are general recommendations for metric tracking. If you want to be more specific with the numbers, you’ll need to conduct competitor research or find industry standards. These are areas where working with a growth marketing agency can make things much easier.

Alright, on to the metrics…

1. Growing Traffic

One of the top priorities of a content strategy is to increase your website traffic. PPC ads are expensive and are only helpful in securing traffic as long as they are running. And while the initial payoff can seem attractive, these metrics will only last as long as you're investing in them. That makes organic traffic (i.e., traffic that comes without a direct payment on your part) an attractive alternative.

Yes, it may take longer to get your content live and organic rankings up, but it will secure traffic continually, as long as your rankings can stay up.

High-quality content can do this if it accomplishes two things. It must answer a customer’s pain point and must be optimized so that search engines understand its value and offer it as a search result. When that happens, your content will start to attract organic traffic.

This doesn’t always have to be by providing detailed white papers or lengthy breakdowns, either. At Relevance, we’ve found that many clients rank in SERP features due to their question/answer sections in their blog post.

Whatever the reason, you can see if your organic traffic is working by using a data analytics tool. Most website builders have limited versions of these tools built into their systems. However, if you want comprehensive coverage, it’s best to use a quality tool like Google Analytics. Install this on your site and look for growth in organic traffic over time.

2. Keyword Performance

Another way to measure the performance of each content piece is through keywords. Each blog post that you create should center around certain keywords. The idea is that when people search for these terms, your content shows up high in the list of results (something referred to as your keyword “rank”).

Google Search Console allows marketers to see the average position and CTR (click-through rate) for your content. The higher that number is, the better. In fact, higher-ranked keywords are exponentially more effective for your marketing strategy.

The more keywords you rank for and the higher you rank for those means more traffic to your site. Be particular about what keywords you optimize your content for and you’ll get solid quality traffic to your site.

3. Engagement Time

The amount of time a person spends on a page or is another one of the most important ROI aspects to observe. This is another content marketing metric available in Google Analytics. If people spend several minutes perusing your content, that’s a sign that it is doing well.

If that number is lower, it indicates that people aren’t finding what they need. This could be because they either were misled by the search results or the answer isn’t clear enough in your content. The former requires cleaner SEO practices. You can address the latter through reader-oriented content creation.

Either way, dwell time is a good indicator. It reveals if people who find your site are engaging with your content, which is the critical first step in getting them into your sales funnel.

4. Bounce Rate

When it comes to measuring content marketing ROI, you have to be tracking your bounce rate. Bounce rate is a term that Google refers to as “engaged sessions.” The search engine giant defines these as “An engaged session is a session that lasted longer than 10 seconds, had a conversion event, or had at least 2 pageviews or screen views.”

Engaged sessions are visible within Google Analytics’ dashboard. The number of overall sessions subtracted from your engaged sessions is roughly equivalent to the traditional concept of a bounce rate. In essence, it’s the number of people that chose to leave before truly engaging with your content.

There’s an argument for a high bounce rate (especially coupled with a significant time spent on page) being a positive sign. It could indicate that your content is so comprehensive people don’t need to click anywhere else to get their full answer.

In most cases, though, a low bounce rate is preferable. It shows that people are clicking from one piece of content to another across your site. This shows trust and the potential for lead generation.

Other Metrics to Keep an Eye On

Things like traffic, keywords, and bounce rates are easy to track to see if your content efforts are working. They’re mathematical and formulaic.

However, there are some items that are harder to measure — but still important to watch. Here are a few additional metrics that should help you track your marketing ROI as your content strategy plays out.

  • Industry authority: While hard to quantify, it’s worth evaluating your content to make sure you’re building authority and brand awareness in important areas that indicate you’re a thought leader and a go-to resource in your industry. Consider how comprehensive and valuable your content is in the eyes of consumers.
  • Third-party mentions: If other sites are willing to mention or link to your content, it builds credibility. Marketers can measure this via backlinks or searching for brand mentions online.
  • A source for answers: This could also double as “engagement.” How often are customers going to your site or social channels when they have questions? This indicates that they see value in your brand.

While these are vague concepts, it’s well worth the effort to get an idea of how well you’re doing with each one.

Maximizing Your Content Marketing ROI

If you want your content marketing strategy to meet your business goal and return a positive ROI, you need to do more than develop it well - you need to track it. It’s only through properly identifying the right metrics, tracking them over time, and partnering with the right content strategy team that you can tell if you have achieved a positive content marketing ROI or if you need to tweak some things to make that happen.

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