Digital Insights

How to Measure the ROI from Your Content Marketing


Published: February 19, 2015

The John Deere Company introduced The Furrow magazine in 1895 as a means of promoting farming machinery sales through educational articles tailored to help farmers become more successful business owners. More than one hundred years later, the magazine is alive and well and continues to help build the John Deere brand.

Many thousands of businesses in every niche imaginable have followed in John Deere’s pioneering footsteps, adopting content marketing strategies that inform and educate prospective customers, generate business leads, and enhance SEO link building opportunities.

As with any marketing strategy, business owners need to be able to measure the success of their content marketing efforts. Determining return on investment (ROI) can be difficult to measure because content marketing typically takes more time to deliver ROI than many other forms of marketing – content may take weeks or even months to be discovered by your target audience. The key to successful content marketing ROI calculation is to carefully select the most appropriate metrics to measure your progress.

Content Consumption Metrics
This set of metrics helps you gauge how effective your content marketing efforts are at attracting an audience. Typical metrics that many content marketers track include:

  • Page views of website content
  • Visitor time on-site
  • Website bounce rate
  • Downloads of whitepapers and e-books
  • Document views of shared content through platforms such as SlideShare and Scribd

Content Sharing Indicators
The more relevant and informative your content, the more likely it is to be shared. While content sharing metrics don’t measure bottom-line numbers like gross sales revenue or net profit per lead, they are helpful in determining whether your content is relevant and share-worthy.

Commonly used metrics to measure content sharing include such social media indicators as likes, shares, tweets and retweets. The number of inbound links your content is generating is another excellent metric for determining the relevance and perceived value of your content.

Lead Generation Metrics
Lead generation metrics are an important indicator for measuring the ROI of content marketing because of the direct correlation between generating leads and sales conversions.

Completed contact forms on your website capture the visitor’s name and email address. You can gauge the effectiveness of your content by tracking the number of people who filled out your lead generation form after reading your content. If your company uses a telephone-based lead handling system, simply display a special number that can be tracked to determine the number of telephone inquiries that your content is generating.

The number of E-newsletter subscriptions and similar completed calls-to-action can be tracked to give you a measurement of your content’s value and ability to convert visitors.

An effective method of measuring the effectiveness of specific pieces of content is to install cookies on your site that enable you to track the various content pages that visitors read prior to completing your contact form.

Sales Indicators
If the majority of your sales occur offline, you’ll need to input the content consumption, sharing, and lead generation data collected into your customer relationship management (CRM) or sales software to be able to attribute value to the content that contributed to a sale.

Calculating Your Return
Calculate the total cost of creating and delivering your content. This would typically include such items as the direct salary costs of in-house content creators, outside writing help, expenses for content-related graphics, blog hosting expenses, and the cost of any content creation or publishing software.

Once you calculate the lifetime customer value for each sale, total your revenue for the reporting period and deduct your content creation and delivery expenses to determine the dollar amount of profit. Divide profit by the net revenue after direct content expenses to determine your ROI.