At its core, the goal of any content marketing effort is simple: you’re supposed to wind up with more money after you were done than you had when you started. But because so much of the marketing experience is intangible, tracking return on investment can be difficult on the best of days. Yes, you created a new campaign and yes, your sales went up. How confident are you that those two things are actually related and not just a coincidence?
Thankfully, examining the return on investment of your content marketing in an accurate, insightful way is a lot easier than you might be thinking. You just have to keep a few key things in mind.
Calculating Your Content Marketing ROI: What You Need to Know
If you really want to know what your return on investment is for your content marketing, it stands to reason that you first need to outline precisely what that “investment” was in the first place. Content marketing, in particular, is tricky because you’re not talking about only dollars and cents. Absolutely everything that goes into the creation, the distribution and the ultimate promotion of that content must be accounted for.
If you paid for sponsored posts on social media to help promote that collateral you created with a presentation maker like Visme (which I founded), you need to be able to account for that. If you built not only the content but also an entire channel for video collateral on a service like Uscreen, you need to keep all that in mind. Only after you have a good idea of how much effort when into your content will you be able to tell if it was all worth it in the end.
Next, you need to acknowledge that “success” isn’t going to be measured in terms of dollars and cents, either. Yes, everyone would like to spend time creating a survey results report that ultimately impacts your bottom line in a tangible way. But it isn’t always going to be that easy.
We’ve written at length in the past about how all of your collateral needs to be purpose-driven – you need to have some type of realistic goal that you’re trying to achieve before you even set out to get creative in the first place. Sometimes you want to increase conversions on your website, other times you’re looking to generate a nice boost in traffic.
These variables are why there is ultimately no “one size fits all” approach to measuring your ROI. You may have spent $500 creating a presentation and not have much in the way of sales to show for it. But if “sales” were never your goal in the first place, that hardly means your presentation was a failure.
Instead, go back to that original goal and figure out whether or not your content helped you accomplish it – or at the very least, whether it pushed you farther down the line towards the end zone.
If you wanted to create a steady stream of new leads, for example, try figuring out what each of those leads is actually worth to you in the long run.
Take the (potential) average customer lifetime value of each of those leads, then add them all together. Subtract the total amount you “invested” in the content in the first place. The number you’re left with is the ultimate return on investment you can reasonably expect to make with that content.
Now, keep in mind that you’re not going to get to that number overnight. Oftentimes content marketing success is slow, but it is also steady. This is why you should never put all of your eggs in one basket and rely too heavily on any one piece of content to get the job done. When you spend time, day after day, creating compelling content designed to strike a chord with your target audience, you’ll worry less about how any one particular piece is doing.
But if at the end of all this, you created a presentation or an Infographic designed to increase leads and it never actually did that, you know all you need to know about your return on investment. From there, the only thing left to do is ask yourself “why?” What did you do wrong, or what did your audience not connect with? What can you do differently in the future to make sure that doesn’t happen again?
Once you have that information, you may not have the ROI you were looking for… but you have even more actionable insight than ever that you can use to empower your efforts next time. It’s not quite as good, but from a certain perspective, it’s definitely close.
About the Author
Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience, and web app development.
Examining the Return on Investment of Your Content Marketing