March 20, 2018 By Heather Serdoz,

We’re completely inundated with content on a more than regular basis. Every content marketing company out there is telling you what kind of content to make, how to make it, where to post it, how to share it… but how on earth do you measure it? How do you determine success from a higher level? How do you know your content strategy is working for you? How do you tell the C-levels the dollars you’d like to put towards content marketing will be worth it in the end?

Great Qs.

In order to answer these questions, we’re honing in on three important factors below.

  1. What actually counts as content marketing return on investment (ROI)?
  2. How do you measure content marketing ROI?
  3. What are the primary content marketing metrics you should be tracking?
Calculating Content Marketing ROI
What actually counts as content marketing ROI?

As you’ve probably already guessed, content marketing ROI is how much revenue you gained from content marketing efforts in comparison to how much you spent on creating and distributing that content.

On the business side of things, that number or percentage is one of the most important measurements of success because it is directly tied to revenue. However, money is not the only indicator of success when it comes to your content marketing strategy. The truth is, if your content isn’t being reposted, shared, commented on, or liked, then it’s most likely not driving much revenue.

Now that we burst that bubble, we’ll take a closer look at measuring content marketing ROI.

How do you measure content marketing ROI?

There’s a very basic formula to figure out exactly what your content marketing efforts are costing you versus how much revenue you’re getting in return. I’ll share it with you in four brief steps below.

First, you need to calculate how much it cost to produce the content. Even if you’re producing it in-house, there’s still a cost attached. For example, let’s say it’s costing Digital Operative (DO) $25 a hour to write this article. It’s taking two hours for research, another two hours to write the article, so it’s officially cost DO $100 in total. Don’t forget that the cost of photo and video production should be added into this cost as well.

Next you’ll have to figure out how much it cost to distribute the content. Again, you don’t want to forget those in-house costs. Include paid promotions like pay-per-click (PPC) and paid social, as well as any additional promotions through other media channels, like retargeting or programmatic. Are there any particular tools or software involved? Yup, add those in too.

The next action you’ll need to take is to work out the dollar amount for what you gained. If your content strategy is paying off, you’ll start to see leads that turn into sales. Sometimes there is a clear link between content and revenue, while other times the process takes a bit longer to come to fruition. And later, we’ll look at some of the less obvious content marketing metrics so you’re better prepared when the relationship between content and sales isn’t as directly correlated.

Finally, it’s time to calculate your content marketing ROI. Convince and Convert break it down beautifully for us:

“Return minus investment, divided by investment, expressed as a percentage”. Here’s an example of how that works. If you spend $500 creating a piece of content, and you get leads worth $2,000, then your ROI is 300%:

  • $2,000-$500 = $1,500
  • $1,500/$500 = 3
  • 3 x 100% = 300%

Now that we’ve covered how to measure your content marketing ROI, let’s take a look at some of the metrics that can really help you understand and report on that ROI more efficiently.

What are the primary content marketing metrics you should be tracking?

There are seven trackable content marketing metrics, and I’ll briefly run through each of them below.

1) Lead Quality:

Good content can attract an audience, and a good audience can generate leads. But how do you tell the good from the bad? Well...

  • Check to see if your visitors take a peek at related resources that are a part of your sales funnel.
  • Check to see if your visitors are taking direct action and contacting your sales team.
2) Sales:

Now is a great time to see if any of those leads converted into sales. You’ll want to tap into Google Analytics to get this info, but first, make sure you’ve set up goals and conversion tracking correctly. You need to understand the most valuable actions users can take on your site and ensure that they are being tracked thoroughly. Check out this article for help creating, editing, and sharing your goals.

Once everything is set up, start by checking out these pathways in Google Analytics:

  • Behavior >> Site Content >> All Pages, then look at the Page Value. This will show you the average value for any given page, blogs included.
  • Conversions >> Multi-Channel Funnels >> Assisted Conversions. This will help you track those potential customers who may not have converted the first time around, but continue to show interest in what you’re offering.
3) Web Traffic:

This is the foundation of content marketing success, because without traffic, there is no revenue. Again, you’ll want to use Google Analytics to see how much traffic a piece of content is generating for you. Here’s how:

  • Behavior >> Site Content >> Landing Pages. This report will show you which pages your website visitors are first landing on.

Beyond looking strictly at raw traffic numbers, you can also assess how your traffic has grown over time by comparing time periods.

It might be helpful to know where your traffic is coming from as well, since this will allow you to see what part of your content strategy is driving visitors so that you can hone in and optimize those efforts even more. This will also allow you to fix, update, and/or test what isn’t working elsewhere.

Here’s how you get that info:

  • Behavior >> Site Content >> Landing Pages, then click the Secondary Dimension button and click on Acquisition >> Source / Medium.
4) Onsite Engagement:

Like we said before, content marketing isn’t always about money, and it isn’t about just getting people to your site either. Once you get them there, your goals shift to keeping them there.

Looking for a quick way to see whether or not your website content is attracting quality leads? Take a look at your engagement metrics.

  • For a quick overview of your engagement metrics, log into Google Analytics and go to Audience >> Overview.

At the same time, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on your bounce rate.

  • To find the bounce rate for an individual piece of content, head over to Google Analytics and go to Behavior >> Site Content >> All Pages. Then browse the list of URLs to find the specific page you’re looking for.
5) Social Media Engagement:

Offsite engagement is also important when assessing content marketing ROI. Remember that social media engagement and referral traffic are both important to track because many purchase decisions are influenced by peer recommendations. Here are a couple of ways to track social engagement in Google Analytics:

  • To see how much traffic you’re getting from individual social platforms, take a look at Acquisition >> Social >> Network Referrals.
  • Looking for specific revenue? Then go to Acquisition >> Social >> Overview.
6) Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Success:

Content marketing and SEO go hand-in-hand. If you’re measuring content marketing ROI, then another important metric to keep track of is how well your content performs in search.

To gauge SEO performance, you’ll need to make sure:

  • Your content ranks well for your target keywords
  • You’re appearing in answer boxes for relevant terms
  • Your domain authority is high
  • You’re getting more inbound links
7) Exposure and Authority:

The majority of the metrics we have touched on so far have been online content performance metrics, but exposure and authority happen BOTH on and offline.

Authenticity is key here; the more people that see you as a credible source, the more they’ll want to share and link to your content. This increases your reach exponentially. So how do you measure this? To be honest, it’s a little difficult to measure in hard numbers, but you can see if your site is a go-to authority on any topic.

To do this you’ll want to search for a topic keyword. For example, if I search “SEO,” Search Engine Land has the top spot on Google.


Now that we’ve run through all seven content marketing metrics, remember that you do not necessarily HAVE to be tracking all of these. Instead, look at your content strategy and goals and choose the ones that will help you create the best case for your content marketing efforts.

In order to determine your content marketing ROI, it always helps to plan ahead, set specific goals, and choose just a few meaningful metrics to track. As a full-service digital agency, we take pride in our ability to produce successful content marketing campaigns and ongoing content marketing projects. If you’re looking to elevate your content marketing efforts, check out some of our digital marketing services or contact us to set up a time to chat.

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