Content Marketing ROI

How might we get the attention of our prospects to convert them into customers?
How might we help our customers understand all that we have to offer to upsell?

These are the two most common questions businesses have, period. The goal of all businesses is to acquire new customers, retain existing customers and grow to make a profit. Seems basic, right? It is. The devil is always in the details of “How.”

I get sales emails and calls every day for lead generation businesses claiming they have the “How” secret sauce to net you more leads and prospects. Some are cold calling businesses that take on that not-so-fun sales task, so your sales team can follow-up on warm leads. Some are list sale businesses that send communications on your behalf to drive more traffic to your website. The truth is, they have a tactical offering designed to assist the sales process. But if an easy pill existed to grow your business, don’t you think everyone would be popping that pill?

All of these tactics are useless unless you have something, somewhere that will drive people to engage with your print or digital assets. This is where content comes in—because no one benefits by being driven to a blank page or to content that isn’t informative and useful to the reader. Content for that web page, case study, data collection form, or video is almost always an afterthought and not the starting point.

“Content should always be the starting point!”

So how do you create a compelling pro-content argument to your organization’s leadership? Show them the money! But before we get into the “How” of showing them said dollar signs, let’s first make sure you’re starting off on the right foot.

Start with the question, “What do you want people to know about you?” Then begin to build on that foundation by answering the following questions.

Content Marketing Building Blocks:

  • What is your goal?
  • What is your message?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • Where is your target audience?

Once you’ve answered those questions, your content can then be curated and finally marketed to reach your readers. The main goal of content is pretty basic—it is essentially to inform people before driving them somewhere to do something. Then, because we’re all in business to make a profit, the goal is to convert a prospect into a lead or convert a lead into a customer.

Let’s skip ahead to when your content is live and you are marketing that content. How do you measure return on investment (ROI) on that content? It’s a tricky question to answer because most marketers will tell you that it’s impossible to measure marketing ROI. They argue that it takes several touches, equating to several separate campaigns and channels, before a conversion event. I agree to a certain extent, but that doesn’t mean you ignore the metrics. Content marketing ROI is typically measured as the cost savings of organic traffic compared to paid traffic by boosting social posts or display/social advertising.

Now before we do any calculations, it’s important to know what metric you’re using for measurement. There are a few options:

  • Impressions (the number of times the content was served to someone)
  • Clicks (the number of times someone clicked through on a link in the content)
  • Likes (the number of times a unique person liked the article/status/post)
  • Comments (people commenting on your content either positively or negatively)
  • New website visitors (people that haven’t been to your website before, therefore new leads)
  • New sales (people that haven’t been to your website before and bought something from you)
  • Sales (people that have been to your website before or are a current customer that bought something else from you; or a combo of both new sales and sales from your base)

Impressions served don’t necessarily mean that a real human saw your ad when you factor in bot traffic or impressions served on a page but not visible to the viewer. This is not the best measurement of marketing success. Actual engagement by a web visitor, such as clicks, likes, comments and sales, are best.

If you’re marketing as a service provider, clicks are best to measure. If you’re a product provider or retailer, then sales are likely your main focus. Whatever metric you use, I recommend being consistent with your measurement unless there is a compelling reason to change. Until you have your own conversion rate averages measured over time, you can use industry benchmarks as a guide for your calculations:

  • Average rate of organic traffic-to-leads conversions – 16%
  • Average rate of SEO leads-to-sales conversions – 14.6% (Print ads and other outbound marketing tactics net a close rate of 1.7%.)

Organic Traffic

By plugging in traffic numbers to your campaign’s content, you can extract a prediction for sales forecasting. For this example, let’s say we did a campaign for a home services provider with a seasonal offer, and in a month we had 11,500 visitors to that offer’s landing page. Let’s plug that number into the following projection/forecasting formula for organic traffic:

  • Earned leads/month estimate: 11,500 (visitors) multiplied by 0.16 (average traffic-to-leads conversion rate) equals 1,840 leads.
  • Earned sales/month estimate: 1,840 (leads) multiplied by 0.14 (average lead-to-sale conversion rate) equals 258 redeemed offers/sales.

In this organic example, the ROI formula predicts nearly 1,840 leads and approximately 258 sales from organic traffic. If the investment of this content was $350 for an outside copywriter, this means that the investment of $350 will net you 1840 leads and 258 sales return on your investment.

Paid Traffic

If you’re boosting a social post, serving display ads to drive more traffic to your content, using pay per click (PPC), etc. this will increase your investment by that same dollar amount. It also will (hopefully) increase the traffic going to your content. The amount of traffic will vary based on how segmented you are with your paid traffic. Let’s say that you spent $450 to serve 30,000 impressions of your ad, it cost $525 to create the ad graphics and that resulted in 14,200 visits to your content.

  • Earned leads/month estimate: 14,200 (visitors) multiplied by 0.16 (average traffic-to-leads conversion rate) equals 2,272 leads.
  • Earned sales/month estimate: 2,272 (leads) multiplied by 0.14 (average lead-to-sale conversion rate) equals approximately 318 redeemed offers/sales.

In this organic example, the ROI formula predicts nearly 2,272 leads and approximately 318 sales from paid traffic. If the investment of this content was $350 for an outside copywriter, $450 to serve display ads, and $525 for creative, this means that the investment of $1,325 will net you 2,272 leads and 318 sales return on your investment.

If you’re comparing organic and paid results for comparable content pieces, the differences would be:

Paid traffic increased monthly website viewers by 2700 or 23%
Paid traffic increased the investment by $975 or 279%
Paid traffic increased leads by 432 or 23%
Paid traffic increased sales by 60 or 23%

If you’re trying to decide if paid traffic is worth it, do this exercise. If the value of leads or sales of your product is higher than the additional investment, then have at it! If not, stick with organic traffic and enjoy your new leads/sales.

Jenny Lassi • November 14, 2018

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