Content marketing outreach is far more sophisticated than conventional ads. It relies on creating a big spider’s web of content, with your eCommerce website sitting cosily in the middle. As a result, measuring the success or failure of a content marketing campaign can be tricky.
With banner ads, it’s easy to check click-through rate using Google Analytics. If an advert leads to 1,000 extra visits to your website, five of which turn into sales, you’ve got a 0.5% hit rate. You can then work out how much you paid per sale and calculate your return on investment (ROI).
When it comes to figuring out the ROI on content marketing, things are a bit different…
ROI on content marketing is complicated
The aim of a good content marketing strategy is to create leads, but it’s also to generate a positive public image for your eCommerce business. That means you can figure out a literal return on investment for guest posts and sponsored content, but you should also factor in the less tangible benefits.
What’s more, the ROI on content marketing can difficult to figure out because it’s hard to figure out what exactly is causing your website to climb the rankings. If content marketing is the only bit of SEO you’re investing in, it’s easy to pin it down to that.
However, in order for SEO to be effective, you should also be investing time in on-site SEO. Both of those things could and should be helping your ranking to improve. Yet, it can be difficult to figure out which one is doing the best job.
Don’t be disheartened, though! You can measure the ROI on content marketing. It’s just a little bit more difficult.
What’s your time worth?
Before you work out your ROI, you need to calculate what your outreach efforts costed you. For a guest post that you haven’t paid for, your only expenditure is your time — also known as your opportunity cost. If you know your rough hourly rate, use this to figure out how much each article set you back (if you don’t have an official wage, a rough estimate will do). For sponsored content or other paid outreach work, add the cost to your hourly rate to give you a total cost.
To figure out your ROI on content marketing, check these five variables…
1. Your Google ranking
The aim of SEO is to improve your website’s position on search engine results pages. This doesn’t mean that it’s the only benefit of SEO or of content marketing, but it’s the first thing people think of. It’s why we named our best-selling book How to Get to The Top of Google and not The ROI of Digital Marketing Is Hard to Measure.
As mentioned above, however, the ranking increase of one keyword over one week can be hard to attribute to one activity. As such, you need to gather as much data as you can and try to be as focused as you can. Invest in a content marketing strategy for six months for a selection of keywords. Track the change month-on-month in the rankings of these keywords.
As well as this, track the amount of time you spend on content marketing versus other kinds of SEO for each month. Figure out the cost of content marketing versus other kinds of SEO in each month, too.
Do both kinds of SEO produce similar results? Does investing more in one produce better results than the other? Do both kinds of SEO cost the same relative to the improvements in rankings? The more data you have, the easier it will be to answer these questions.
2. Referral traffic
Improving your Google ranking while increasing your traffic which, hopefully, will also increase your sales. However, you should never overlook what website links do for an end-user: they direct you to another website.
That backlink from your industry’s top trade publication might be a solid time investment because of the link juice it’s passing on, but it’s also a portal to your website. If someone clicks through to it, that’s a referral. If that referral buys something from your website, you have that content marketing campaign to thank.
All of this is why measuring referral traffic is so important. While an overall increase in traffic could be down to a myriad of factors, referral traffic from one particular website is entirely down to that particular guest post or sponsored post on that particular website.
3. Social media engagement
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Reddit are all link farms. However, the reason these link farms aren’t giving companies all over the world massive penalties is because that pretty much every single link from those websites is a no-follow link.
So, does that mean those links have no value? Of course not! If the most influential person in your industry tweeted about your product or service as a direct result of a content marketing campaign and linked back to your website in the tweet, would you care whether that link was follow or no-follow?
Social media posts can generate sales and — as with everything else — using Google analytics can help you to track which sales are coming from which tweets.
4. Leads and sales
A lead or sale could be attributed to any part of a content marketing campaign, and this is why all of that data is so important. If someone buys something because of a tweet a blogger sent, a referral link from a guest post, or because of an increase traffic for a certain keyword, you need to know about it.
5. Online profile and public image
This is the one that can’t be measured by numbers. Content marketing is about making sure that when someone searches for your business on Google, they only see good things.
Your online profile and public image will be boosted if you write useful, engaging content all over the web. If you contribute to lots of publications, giving handy hints about your industry, you’ll start building a reputation. In the long run, this means people will respect and trust you. Be the tortoise, not the hare.
If you want to figure out the ROI of your current digital marketing efforts, contact Exposure Ninja today for a FREE website review and we’ll let you know!