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Four effective ways to show content marketing ROI

Posted by: Luke Cope on 17 June 2019

Showing return on investment (ROI) from content marketing can be tough. It’s an area that’s seen big investment from many companies over the past decade or so but understanding its impact on sales has always been seen as tricky, sometimes leading to this integral task being ignored. To help, here are four ways you can display ROI from your content marketing that you may not have thought of.

Tracking assisted conversions

Assisted conversions are a clear way of tracking the impact your content has on your bottom line. Why? Well, users will rarely land on a piece of your site’s content for the first time and convert into a customer straight away. They are much more likely to consume the content, leave your site and come back to convert later after engaging with your brand’s other touch points.

There’s a way of measuring this in Google analytics (with up to a 90-day tracking period):

  1. Login to Google analytics, go to Conversions
  2. Click on Multi-Channel Funnels and then Assisted Conversions
  3. Under MCF Channel Grouping, select the Secondary dimension dropdown menu
Four interesting ways to show the ROI of your content marketing
  1. Within this dropdown, click Acquisition, then Landing Page URL
  2. Click on Advanced, insert your content’s current landing page, then click Apply.
Four interesting ways to show the ROI of your content marketing

You should then be able to see the impact the piece content has had on assisted conversions by channel. From here, you can analyse further by what referral traffic or which social platform has performed best in terms of assisted conversions.

Inbound links and their impact on rankings

Bear with me here – I know this one can be difficult to directly attribute to your bottom line, but there is a logical way of measuring ROI from inbound links. It’s just important to understand that, to work, link building activity will need to work in conjunction with your technical SEO from the off.

If all your technical SEO is spot on, then you need to focus on building quality inbound links to improve your site’s authority versus the sites you are competing with for your key terms. The common mistake with using content for link building is trying to measure content on direct conversions. You won’t achieve any links if you approach this activity from a direct sales point of view. You need to create something that publishers and their audiences will love, a story that’s rich in data and visuals. Think how someone in Digital PR thinks when trying to achieve coverage, knowing fully that inbound links will be a by-product of their coverage.

Let’s say you run three content campaigns and achieve seven links a piece, all from high-quality national press or industry-specific sites. You should see your rankings rise for at least your long-tail key terms and probably your core key terms too.

Four interesting ways to show the ROI of your content marketing

In analytics, you then measure this additional traffic and sales that your site has achieved from organic since the rise in rankings versus the period where rankings were lower. ROI is then measured on the cost of content campaigns against the rise in revenue since organic traffic improved. Search is the channel that gets the sale and the credit, content was the key to the vital inbound links that bolstered your site’s strength.

Measure sales from retargeting

As explained in our first method, a small percentage of visitors will engage with a content piece, return later and then convert. The rest, however, may well just forget about you, particularly if that was their first visit to your site.

Retargeting is a useful way of ensuring you are front of mind when these visitors do eventually come to a buying decision. It involves inserting tracking pixels from Google and Facebook within your content and then retargeting these users with an advert on those platforms.

Your ad doesn’t necessarily have to be product or service led, of course; it could be the next logical piece of content in the user’s journey after the initial content piece.

This activity solves two problems:

  • It’s more effective than targeting people with an ad who have never heard of you or engaged with your brand before.
  • It doesn’t spoil the awareness phase piece of content you have created to bring customers into your site. This means your content pieces can be plug-free and exist to simply entertain, educate or inspire your potential audiences – whatever will bring in most relevant traffic to the piece. You can then start thinking of sales later down the line, without souring the initial traffic driver.

The idea behind this is that someone is more likely to convert after already engaging with your brand via a content campaign. Therefore, you’ll be getting more content ROI out of your media spend.

Influencers and UTMs

Working with influencers can be an effective way of getting your content in front of receptive audiences, on social profiles and sites they follow and admire. This method of measuring ROI from your content promotion is simple. Give each of your influencers a UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) for them to use when promoting your campaign, then track the effectiveness of each influencer within Google Analytics. Again, it’s best to wait a couple of months and start tracking assisted conversions too, in order to give this more realistic user journey a chance to bear fruit.

You can track your campaigns under Acquisition and Campaigns in Google Analytics.

Four interesting ways to show the ROI of your content marketing

If it’s a paid relationship you have with your influencers, understanding ROI is merely a case of charting the their sales and measuring these against their fee. It’s a useful way of knowing which to work with on an ongoing basis by tracking the quality of traffic and engagement they are driving to your site.

 

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