For digital marketing that drives revenue in your company, content is the key. Powerful, personalised content taps into the heart of what your ideal customers wants — and turns them into buyers and brand advocates.
The numbers show us again and again how profitable content can be:
Effective content marketing generates three times as many leads as a paid search campaign.
Content marketing costs over 60% less than outbound marketing while generating three times the number of leads.
However, validating the ROI of content marketing continues to prove challenging. This is a shared experience of marketers worldwide.
Often it’s the long-term focus of content that can cloud the vision of short-term focused stakeholders.
That’s why this article is exploring the marketing ROI benchmarks, techniques and formulas to cement your success. Content marketing delivers more leads at a lower cost than other strategies — and you’re ready to prove it.
Winning the right support can help you to see your work through to its conclusion and maybe even get a bigger budget. Dive in below to start making and proving big impact with your content marketing.
How to calculate ROI in 4 steps
1. Figure Out What a Conversion Means for You
You need to know the goal of your campaign.
What are your measures for success? More importantly, what are the measures of success for your stakeholders?
Aligning the two early on will set the foundation for long term wins.
Often, it’s not always as simple as getting more sales.
You need to establish clear benchmarks related to market-qualified leads (MQL). After all, that’s what your boss measures. They want to see how much money you’re pumping into the campaign and how many MQLs it generates. In other words, how much opportunity are you pouring into the funnel?
Your first step is always to establish what a conversion means for your campaign. Are you trying to show a dollar figure for the amount of sales you’ve achieved?
You need to know so you can tell your boss what the campaign should achieve. Otherwise, you’ll end up showing off a big increase in traffic when your boss really wants to know how much money you’ve made.
2. Set Up Tracking
Once you know the goal, it’s time to track the results of your campaign. After all, how can you improve something without measuring it first?
The value of data goes further. Stakeholders will always have opinions on how your campaigns are performing, but hard evidence is undeniable.
If you can show clear data demonstrating success, you’re in a far better position to build momentum.
There are all sorts of ways to do this, including:
Google AdWords tracking
Let’s look at each individually.
Google AdWords Tracking
The key priority for marketers is setting up AdWords Tracking so that it measures performance effectively.
On the basic level, you need your Cost Per Click (CPC) and Click-Thru Rate (CTR) stats:
These stats are the starting point, demonstrate how much you’re spending to deliver a certain amount of qualified traffic. It’s crucial to remind your team, more traffic doesn’t always mean better. The more targeted you are, the more often you’re reaching ready-to-buy customers.
The next steps are to set up conversion tracking that provides more tangible figures. First, head to the “Measurements” section of your AdWords account:
The “Conversions” tab allows you to select all of the actions that count as a conversion for your campaign. That means you can keep tabs on more than just website enquiries.
For example, if you have a call-based extension on your AdWords ads, you can use this section to keep track of that.
Picking your options gives you access to a Page Loading tag that you need to paste into the code of your landing page.
Proper placement of this tag is the key. If you put it on the landing page code, you’re just getting a number for how many people visited the page.
AdWords already shows you that.
Instead, put it in the post-conversion page. For example, you can put it in the thank-you page that you serve to visitors after they fill in your form.
That’s how you get an accurate measure of who converts using AdWords. Divide that number by the number of impressions and multiply the result by 100 to get your conversion rate.
This allows you to come up with a solid figure for the success of your content marketing campaign. You can show how many people converted based solely on your landing page copy.
Approximately 60% of Australians have a Facebook account. Naturally, you want to use Facebook Ads to capture that audience.
Your Facebook Pixel allows you to keep track of the success of those ads.
Head to Your Facebook Ad Manager and click on the “Pixel” option in the “Assets” menu.
You’ll hit a screen like this:
After that, it’s just a case of grabbing the code and pasting it into your website code.
Your Facebook Pixel lets you keep track of five key events:
ViewContent – The number of people who viewed your ad
BuyItNow – The number of people who clicked your “Buy it Now” button (assuming you have one)
AddToCart – How many people have added an item to their shopping cart.
Initiate Checkout – The number of people who clicked the “Checkout” button on your page.
Purchase – A flat number for the amount of people who completed a purchase.
Compare the Purchase number to the ViewContent number to get your conversion rate. Better yet, you can use the other stats to influence your retargeting efforts.
You’ll get a lot of the same info from your Analytics account as you get from your AdWords account.
The key difference is that Analytics also tracks organic conversions.
You can use it to show how many people convert on your website organically, as well as how many people convert due to AdWords ads.
It’s easy to do as well. Just head into your Analytics account and enter your website URL. You’ll get a tracking code that you paste into your website code.
After an hour or two, you’ll start to receive tracking data that you can use to highlight the success of your campaigns.
This lets you track your SEO efforts as well as your PPC results.
There are still plenty of people who prefer picking up the phone over filling in an online form. In fact, there are several industries where the consumers prefer to talk over the phone. These include:
Home services, such as plumbing.
Your ideal buyer persona also has an effect. You may target a demographic that’s more comfortable discussing matters directly than they are with filling out an online form. They want the experience of talking to another human about their queries.
For specific personas, phone tracking will become an essential. If you don’t have it, you’re missing part of the picture.
To do this, you’re going to need a third-party app too. One option out there is CallRail.
The tool allows you to create keyword pools that allow you to track each individual visitor to your website. It also uses Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI) to ensure each visitor sees a unique phone number.
When they call, they get patched through to your regular business number. However, the DNI tells you that call only came because of your campaign.
This is a must if you have a campaign that prompts people to call in. If your conversions revolve around setting up appointments and speaking to consultants, you need to track phone calls.
Technique #3 – Set Up Attribution Reports
With your data in hand, attribution is your next step.
Attribution reports allow you to map the influence that each of your marketing channels has on a customer’s journey. These reports also help you to add a dollar value to your content marketing efforts.
There are five attribution models that you can choose from.
This model attributes much of the credit for the customer’s journey to their first touchpoint. However, it doesn’t track the entire customer journey.
As a result, you don’t get an idea of how other content or marketing efforts influence the customer as they proceed through the funnel. That means it’s not suitable for more complex buying journeys where customers engage with multiple content pieces.
This is a “top of funnel” model that focus on the content that actively converts somebody into an engaged customer. 100% of the revenue generated gets attributed to the customer’s last touchpoint.
This has similar drawbacks to the first-touch model. It doesn’t track every customer touchpoint along the journey. As a result, you can’t use it to show the effectiveness of content aimed at “bottom of the funnel” people.
First-and-Last Touch Attribution
This combines the above two models to create a slightly more accurate impression of a customer’s journey. It works best for tracking the performance of bottom and top of funnel content. However, it ignores the role the rest of your content plays in moving somebody through your marketing funnel.
The Linear Attribution Model
This model allows you to assign an equal value to every point the customer touches during their journey. It counters complaints of unfair attribution as it assigns equal importance to every stage of the journey.
It also meshes well with how customers act in the current market. They look at lots of pieces of content before making decisions. This attribution model allows you to account for that.
The Time Decay Attribution Model
This model attributes your last point with most of the credit before working backwards. This means it does account for every touchpoint on the customer’s journey. However, it does a poor job of showing the effectiveness of content marketing. It undervalues the influence of “bottom of funnel” content in regards to the customer’s journey.
Each of these attribution models allow you to assign a dollar value to the effectiveness of your content. However, you need to choose which best demonstrates the value of a piece of content based on its place in your marketing funnel.
4. Compare Conversion Rates Across Multiple Channels
You can track conversion rates for various points of your sales funnel. Ideally, your reports should highlight conversion rates for the following:
Number of visitors to the site
Number of leads generated due to those visits.
The number of those leads that became customers.
As importantly, you need to figure out the cost and conversion rates for each across each individual channel.
Search Engine Land’s reporting table does a great job of this:
Add in your visitor stats and CPC figures from the tracking methods and you have the perfect report.
This table highlights the channel used and the total budget assigned to that channel. If you include your visitor stats, you can show how much it cost to attract an individual visitor to your website.
From there, the “Leads” columns allow you to track the number of leads generated for that budget. Just use the formulas in the table to work out the figures.
In this case, “Opportunities” means “Conversions”. Use these two columns to track how many people converted for that particular channel.
Finally, figure out the total revenue for that channel.
Repeat this for every channel to figure out how well each performs.
You then have a set of reports that you can present to your boss to prove the ROI of your campaigns. Better yet, you also have reports that show you how well different channels perform. This will influence your future content marketing strategies.
The Final Word
Validating your content marketing budget comes down to four things:
Understanding what you’re aiming to achieve with each campaign.
Setting up the right tracking tools to measure all of the data you need.
Creating attribution reports that ensure the right channel gets the credit.
Presenting your data for each channel in a simple report that highlights ROI
Combining these techniques helps you to create a strong argument for the success of your strategy. It also gives you useful data to steer future campaigns. You can see what works and what doesn’t, which helps you determine where to invest the most marketing spend.
If revenue-driving digital marketing is your goal, then this guide is for you.