B2B Marketing Blog

Here's The Right Way To Measure Content Marketing ROI

By Andrew Nguyen
Apr 6, 2015
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The content marketer’s impact on revenue is undervalued. This is no surprise.

Marketers don’t get the credit they deserve because they aren’t good at measuring the revenue content marketing generates.

Measuring revenue is difficult because content marketing is a top-of-funnel activity. It attracts prospects in the discovery stage who are doing their own research. The sales cycle creates a problem of attribution in content marketing.

This problem creeps up when management decision have to be made.

If content marketers could accurately measure the revenue generated from their content efforts, they’d be better positioned to secure more budget.

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In this post we’ll show you how much your content marketing is being undervalued from a revenue perspective. And show you how to better measure content marketing’s impact on the bottom line.

Content Marketing ROI Mistake: Not Distributing Conversion Credit

Most marketing teams default to the measurement systems they know best: Google Analytics and their marketing automation system. However, if you’re relying on Google Analytics and your marketing automation system to measure content marketing ROI, you’re undervaluing your work.

Here’s why. Conversion credit is most often given to bottom-of-funnel activities like PPC and landing page conversions. Current web analytic tools measure events that happen during a single web session.
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For example, a prospect finds your blog post on social, lands on your website and starts doing research. They leave and then weeks later types your company’s name into a search engine and clicks on your ad. Then they either make a purchase or download an ebook and become a lead. Marketers would attribute the conversion to the PPC ad, and not the social ad and web content that drove the initial first click.

This is a huge problem. For management to understand whether content marketing links to revenue and profit outcomes, you need to track which content is driving the entire funnel -- from first-click web traffic to closed deals.

Content works, it begins the customer journey. You need the right metrics to measure exactly how much the revenue impact is. It’s how you justify spending, identify content that works and develop more engaging user experiences.

Content marketing ROI is a relay race. Reaching the finish lines requires multiple passes of the baton. You do not credit a win to individual racers. You distribute credit to the entire team.

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First Click and First Touch For Measuring Content Marketing ROI 

Marketers need to track first click interactions with content and connect this data with their customer relationship management (CRM) platform, or wherever revenue data is stored.

Tools like marketing automation and GA alone can’t track content marketing used for brand discovery. With these tools there are:

  • no web cookies for first touch reporting of marketing source

  • no first touch landing page (Content)

  • no first touch referring page (PR)

Using performance data from these tools alone will undervalue content marketing because it does not account for multiple touchpoints prior to prospects submitting their contact information and becoming a lead.

We analyzed our blog and found that using lead conversion click alone undervalues our content efforts by 33%.

Our content marketing strategy includes blogging and downloadable whitepapers. We track and cookie anonymous web visitors who engage with our blog. Then we connect content marketing to Salesforce to measure performance. Each month we report how many leads our blog generated, giving it credit when the blog is the visitor's very first landing page they visit.

We wanted to test how much we undervalue our content efforts if we only measure lead conversion clicks. In others words, we wanted to measure how many of our blog leads landed on a blog post, then submitted their lead information during the same session, and compare this to blog leads who landed on our blog but came back and submitted their lead information at a later date.

What we found surprised us.

Thirty three percent of our blog leads did not submit their contact information during the same session. Had we only measured lead conversion clicks (i.e. when they came back later to fill out a form), we would have undercounted the number of leads our blog generated.
This means we’d give our blog less revenue credit than it actually generated. Many marketers are doing this in error. 
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If you aren’t tracking first click then you’re undervaluing the business your content is generating by a third. And you need better B2B marketing attribution to help you.

The State of Revenue Generation Through Content Marketing

With the explosion of inbound marketing and the ever increasing distribution network of content (including PR), marketers face a challenge of properly valuing their efforts.

The Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs finds measuring content marketing effectiveness is a major area of focus in 2015. And for good reason. Only 21% of B2B marketers are able to track content marketing's success.

b2b_marketers_tracking_content_marketing_roi
This reflects the larger issue of aligning marketing with measurable business objectives, which senior level manager have been addressing for several years now.

After interviewing more than 600 CEO’s from large corporations and SMBs, The Fournaise Marketing Group found:

  • 73 percent believe that when marketers are asked to increase their marketing ROI, they tend to understand it as cost-cutting through better economies of scale or negotiations with their third-party partners and agencies, instead of top-line growth generation: more revenue, more sales, more prospects, more buyers.

Content marketing is shifting to address the challenge of linking traditional marketing metrics with measures of incremental sales and revenue.

Both the CMO and CFO want to see marketing investments deliver profitable results and therefore have mutual interests in measuring marketing.” says James Lenskold, author of Marketing ROI: The Path to Campaign, Customer, and Corporate Profitability.

Measuring marketing is an exercise in choosing the right metrics and using the right technology.

Unfortunately, this is the toughest exercise for marketers.

If you’re a content marketer then you’re already tracking lead-to-customer rates, CTR’s, cost per lead, and leads per blog post. If you aren’t, Hana Abaza, VP of Marketing at Uberflip wrote a terrific tip sheet on tracking content marketing ROI.

That's All For Now

Marketing and sales call them “wins” for a reason.

In baseball, you don’t give all the credit to the person to had the last at bat or the person who threw the last strike. That’s simply not how teams operate. Marketing teams are no different.

Companies are inaccurately measuring content marketing against business metrics by not connecting their first touch data to revenue data.

These inaccuracies devalue content marketing’s true impact.
Image credit to Esther Inglis-Arkell for Comics Alliance.
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Topics: content marketing, demand generation

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