Seven metrics to measure the ROI of content marketing

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Content marketing continues to be one of the most effective techniques for reaching and engaging target audiences, and certainly one of the most popular: according to some statistics, for example, 73 percent of marketers for B2B companies and 70 percent of marketers for B2C companies use it regularly as part of their broader marketing strategy, believing it to be useful for generating more leads, building customer loyalty, creating a subscriber base, and increasing sales revenue. However, without accurate return-on-investment measurement, even the most brilliant campaign could turn out to be a washout.It’s not always easy to be able to gauge the success of the work, and even today, people still do not pay enough attention to the results. That is why we are going to find out how to measure the ROI of content marketing with 7 useful and simple metrics, which will offer us crucial indicators on the effectiveness of our marketing strategy and make us understand whether we are investing our resources in the right way.

The features and benefits of content marketing

Content marketing is a strategic marketing method that involves the creation and distribution of valuable, consistent and relevant content for a well-targeted audience, thus suitable for driving “profitable actions” by customers.

The means available to attract and cultivate leads are wide, and include, for example, publications of white papers, email newsletters, videos, ebooks, webinars, tweets, guides and case studies, but the list could continue virtually indefinitely. Much also depends on the platform chosen for content distribution: for example, there has been a sharp increase in recent years in the use of short-form video content such as TikTok and Instagram Reel, which are considered the most effective type of communication on social media.

As mentioned, the main goals of content marketing are two:

  • attract and retain a well-defined audience;
  • encourage customer actions that are profitable for the company, such as conversions, material downloads, sign-ups, leads.

Il funnel dei contenuti

For most B2B marketers, such techniques help achieve top-of-funnel marketing goals, and indeed this image – originally published on Search Engine Watch – demonstrates the usefulness of content marketing tactics in the funnel process.

What is the content marketing ROI

Any company that uses this strategy invests a considerable amount of money (and time), so you must be able to assess the effects of such investments, or the ROI, initials that identifies precisely the return on investments.

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In very simple terms, the ROI of content marketing is the revenue that a company generates from the various content marketing activities compared to the amount it spends. Expressed as a percentage, ROI is considered to be an important measure in determining whether marketing has positive effects as it is directly linked to revenues and economic performance, elements that are precisely quantifiable and measurable.

In other words, it tells us how much value we are generating versus how much we are spending, looking at the different forms in which this value can manifest itself, such as increased sales, growth in website traffic, improved search engine rankings or increased engagement on social media.

How to calculate content marketing ROI: the formula and measurements

Calculating the ROI of content marketing may seem like a daunting task, but it actually boils down to a simple formula:

(Revenue generated from the investment in content marketing – Cost of the investment in content marketing) / Cost of the investment in content marketing.

The result, multiplied by 100, will give us a percentage that represents our ROI.

To get accurate data, it is essential to track all expenses, including the costs of content production, distribution and promotion, as well as revenues that can be directly attributed to our content marketing strategy.

More specifically, when we calculate ROI we need to include the total investment rather than the cost of the individual piece of content itself: this could include labor costs, advertising expenses, software or any other financial impact from the content.

What is a good ROI and what are the average values

Establishing what constitutes a “good ROI” in content marketing is practically impossible because no single metric, indicator or value can be taken as a reference: the assessment varies widely depending on multiple factors, including the industry to which it belongs, the nature of the marketing strategy adopted and the channels through which the content is distributed.

For some companies, for example, a positive ROI translates into simply exceeding the break-even threshold, that is, earning more than was invested in content production. In practical terms, if the investment in content marketing generates sales that exceed the costs of production and distribution, the investment can be considered profitable. However, the concept of “good ROI” may be much more ambitious for other companies, which may be aiming for significantly higher returns.

A pragmatic approach to establishing an ROI benchmark is to analyze the results obtained from previous content marketing campaigns and compare them with current sales performance. This method makes it possible to set realistic, customized ROI goals based on historical and contextual company data, rather than arbitrary figures or industry averages.

In terms of averages, therefore, there is no universal figure that can be applied to all content marketing strategies. To put it another way, talking about an average ROI in content marketing can be misleading, as it precisely varies greatly by industry, goals, and tactics. However, industry studies have shown that content marketing can generate significantly higher ROI than other forms of traditional marketing: specifically, according to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing costs 62 percent less and generates about three times more leads per dollar spent than traditional marketing. These data underscore the effectiveness of content marketing as a business growth tool, but it is essential to remember that success depends on the ability to correctly measure and interpret ROI for one’s specific circumstances.

In this regard, it is useful to cite research from a few years ago conducted by the lead generation experts at First Page Sage who attempted to rationalize the process by analyzing their proprietary dataset and the performance of B2B companies that undertook content marketing campaigns with them from 2016 to 2021.

In these tables we can then see engagement and performance metrics across all sectors, as well as average investment time, cost, time to break-even, and ROI.

Tabella riepilogativa dei valori medi di ROI nel B2B

Among the most relevant parameters are certainly the monthly increase in organic web traffic (estimated at an average of 10.5 percent and expected after about 8 months of constant production of high-quality content); the break-even point, i.e., break-even on investment (estimated at 10 months, on average); and the effective ROI (as high as 748 percent, to be achieved through constant weekly publication, consideration of search intent, and high quality content).

La media del ROI per settore di attività

In terms of “spending,” however, the study reveals that the weekly investment in order of time is 2 hours (outsourced) and 8 hours (with in-house processing), assuming 2 articles or other content are published each week; the monthly cost of the activity is estimated at $9,150 (by outsourcing the work and expecting 2 new pages to be published each week) or $11,120 (by outsourcing it to in-house implementation and including taxes, benefits and training).

Little attention to ROI

Since companies invest money and resources in content marketing, one would expect them to always have their return on investment under control, but in fact they do not: studies show that only 43 percent of B2B companies measure the ROI of content marketing.

Even more dramatic are other numbers: 27 percent of B2B marketers say they do not know how to measure ROI, while 21 percent believe the analysis process takes too long. And even in “virtuous” cases, more than 60 percent of marketers measure the success of their content marketing strategy only through sales data.

Metrics to evaluate content marketing ROI

Complicating matters (and measurements) is the fact that, as mentioned, calculating content marketing ROI is based on a relatively simple formula, but the specific metrics to be considered can vary depending on business goals and context.

Going back to the formula provided earlier –

ROI (%) = (Guadagno ottenuto dall'investimento - Costo dell'investimento) / Costo dell'investimento × 100

– we must first identify and measure the “return on investment,” that is, the revenue generated directly from content marketing activities, which may include direct sales, qualified leads, or other specific financial goals.

Immediately after that, we need to identify the “cost of investment,” which includes all costs associated with content creation, distribution, and promotion and, for example, may include personnel costs, production costs, hosting costs, advertising costs, and any other direct costs.

At this point, however, we need to determine which metrics are most relevant for demonstrating the return on investment of our content, either by taking the values of some of the “classic” KPIs as a reference or by setting up different measurements tailored to our needs.

Going back to the SEW article mentioned earlier, according to expert Sumeet Anand there are at least 7 crucial metrics that we cannot overlook to measure content marketing returns, and this is the analytical description of how they work and how to use them for our calculations.

They are:

  1. Web traffic
  2. Qualified leads
  3. Sales volume
  4. Percentage of clicks
  5. Shares on social media
  6. SEO aspects
  7. Engagement on the site.

Studying the site’s traffic

Website traffic is the easiest metric to control and measure, because you just need to look at the traffic flow on every page of the website. This monitoring allows us to know what content is really popular and visited, and there are various analysis software that offer such data.

The most widely used is undoubtedly Google Analytics, but we can explore other options: what matters, in measuring web traffic, is being able to evaluate several aspects, including:

  • Overall web traffic.
  • Traffic source (communication channels).
  • Views per page.
  • Average time spent on the page.
  • Referral traffic.
  • Popular landing pages.
  • Unique sessions.

These information are valuable to make decisions about what to do: for example, if the overall traffic of the site is low, it means that the first step should be to promote content, to do by using traffic source information to identify the communication channels that bring more users to the site, so as to take advantage of these channels in future content promotion campaigns.


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Although web traffic can show the success of content marketing efforts, it has its limits and therefore cannot be used as a single benchmark: to simplify, site traffic may vary due to variables such as changes in SEO trends, website updates, promotional offers and holidays and so on.

Calculating acquired leads

The main reason why B2B companies engage in content marketing is to generate more contacts, and therefore the impact of this work can be determined by keeping an eye on the number of qualified leads generated, encouraging users to take actions that can be translated into sales.

The purpose of lead measurement is to answer two key questions: are we attracting potential customers? And those potential clients will probably buy from us?

And it is important that such leads are qualified, that is, that they are potential customers who show an interest in making a purchase. There are three main ways to measure these data:

  • Check call-to-action (CTA) clicks, for example by looking at the number of completed white paper request forms.
  • Keep track of the number of content downloads.
  • Look at the details of completed purchases.

Measuring sales

When content marketing activities start to generate more leads, the next step is to measure sales.

This metric must be at the center of content marketing goals because, ultimately, we want to turn potential customers into actual customers.

Once you have acquired the leads, it is important to cultivate them by sharing the right content, so as to push (at least) some of them to make a purchase on the site. For e-commerce, this also implies the need to optimize the sales pages of the site to increase conversions.

Measuring the ROI of content marketing using the sales volume metric means examining several sales aspects, including:

  • Page value: data on sales performance that show which pages of the website generate the highest revenue.
  • Transactions: he number of purchases completed at a given time.
  • Conversion rates: the percentage of website visitors who actually make a purchase.
  • Time to purchase: the time data, or how many days it takes visitors to complete a purchase.

For e-commerce, these insights can be obtained by setting the appropriate monitoring on Google Analytics, which allows you to collect and analyze the data of purchases and transactions of the site and discover the sales revenues generated at a given time.

Analyzing the CTR

When we manage to drive traffic to the content pages, we also expect visitors to act and interact: a system to understand if this happens is to monitor the percentages of clicks or CTR, meaning the metric that indicates the number of visitors who click on specific links among all those who have visited the site, ad or email.

We can use the CTR to measure ROI for advertising campaigns launched on email, social media or websites, and calculating the figure is not complicated. For example, explains the article, if we post an online ad on Facebook and verify that 5,000 people have seen it, but only 500 have clicked, our relationship will be:

CTR = 5,000 / 500 = 10

and so our CTR is 10 percent.

Checking social shares

Verifying whether our content is generating social media shares is a practical way to understand if we are creating and distributing good quality material. Social media is becoming increasingly established as an important communication platform for both companies and customers, and controlling such shares gives us an idea of what content is well received by the target audience.

To measure social media engagement we can monitor:

  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Content sharing
  • Views for video campaigns
  • Increase in followers

It is interesting to note that each of these elements of social media has its place and its strategic sense: content sharing gives greater visibility to the brand and content to our audience. I like it and followers show us how popular the content is, while comments tell us how the audience interacts with the content and how it welcomes it.

Le motivazioni delle condivisioni social

For shares, then, there are specific studies that analyze people’s motivations, summarized by this image.

Social media engagement is easy to measure, and most platforms have built-in analytical systems, but there are also third-party tools that can help generate detailed analysis for our content marketing campaigns.

Deepening the effects of the SEO

The SEO can also be useful to measure the success of content marketing, taking into consideration some key aspects of the work of site optimization to assess its effects. According to Sumeet Anand, the first step is to conduct a technical audit on your site, using the tools available – for example, add, our SEO Spider!

The elements to be taken care of to measure the ROI with the SEO are 3:

  • Authoritativeness of the site, which involves examining the improvements in the domain authority of the site. In addition to the numerical values (such as our Zoom Authority), we can check factors such as the increase in time that people spend on the site, the number of people linking to the site, improvements in page scores.
  • Keyword ranking, which requires you to examine the site’s keyword performance, focusing in particular on words that can offer the best opportunities for conversion or brand strengthening.
  • Backlinks, to analyze the authoritativeness of the site within the sector. Even if they may not generate conversions, it is always helpful to find out which incoming links connect to our content – also because we know that they have a weight on page rankings.

Monitoring the onsite engagement

To achieve good results with content marketing strategies, it is crucial that our audience is and remains involved.

The onsite engagement metric allows us to measure engagement by overcoming web traffic, to see how your visitors really interact with content. There are two aspects we can use to monitor these: bounce rate and time on the page.

In principle, a low bounce rate is positive (while a high bounce rate can be a symptom of SEO problems), because it signals that people do not stop at just one page and visit other parts of the site; but it is not an “absolute” metric, because there are some pages and content created specifically to generate a single session on a single page, and so in this case a high value is normal.

The “Time on page” focuses attention on how long visitors spend on specific pages, and allows us to identify pages that are not generating the desired attention, so as to improve them.

The easiest way to keep track of onsite engagement is to pay attention to the involvement data generated by the analysis software: for example, on Google Analytics these data can be found in the “Audience Overview” section.

Why it is important to measure the ROI of content marketing

Data and statistics confirm that content marketing is a crucial aspect of any digital marketing strategy, whether you run a small local business or a large multinational site. After all, content unquestionably remains the lifeblood upon which the Web and social media are based.

Calculating content marketing ROI is therefore not a purely theoretical exercise, but the only way to know how profitable and effective our content marketing efforts really are.

This metric provides us with valuable insights into what is working and what is not, allowing us to optimize our resources and justify our investments in front of client principals and stakeholders. Without a clear understanding of ROI, we risk navigating by sight, without a compass to guide us toward informed strategic decisions.

Even if our marketing campaigns can generate high web traffic, it does not necessarily mean they are generating revenue: we need to be able to look beyond traffic and evaluate metrics such as page involvement, the quality of leads and sales to really know if campaigns are effective.

The seven metrics presented can therefore help us in the analysis of campaigns and in the evaluation of the effects of content marketing on the company’s revenues. What ultimately matters is that we choose and analyze metrics that are aligned with the specific goals of the content marketing strategy and that we have the ability to track these metrics reliably so that we can calculate a meaningful ROI.

That is, to understand whether our content is generating value relative to the money and time we spent to produce it.

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