We’re going to guess that you are either spending a large amount of money or time on content marketing. There comes a time in every business owner’s life when they start to wonder, “Is all of this writing and content marketing worth my time?”
Usually, content marketing IS well worth the time or money spent, but it’s not enough to just speculate that it is working. You need proof. You need numbers. You have to make a strong business case for content marketing and prove its intrinsic value to your success; otherwise your efforts may be derailed by a skeptical stakeholder (or yourself) thinking of areas where your time/money may be better spent.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were some tool that would help you monitor your traffic before and after you posted a piece of content? Oh wait, there is!
In this short guide, we are going to talk about using Google Analytics (or any similar analytics) to monitor your ROI and see whether all this time and money spent really is improving your ranking and building your audience.
First thing’s first, select an analytics tool.
When discussing any facet of SEO, it is important to remember who we are trying to romance here. Google. Google is king, and we all try to appease the search engine king.
That is why when selecting an analytics service, my suggestion would be to go straight to the source and use Google Analytics. It is a logical conclusion that the world’s largest holder of data would also provides some of the best analytical information.
However, there are plenty of other reputable analytics services that are equally as acceptable. Clicky, Heap, Mixpanel or other services work well too. It may be helpful to use Google as your main analytics platform, and use one or two of these to double check your findings.
What is ROI in regards to content marketing?
ROI (Return on Investment) is a common term that can be found in all facets of business. Typically, ROI is measured in dollars. When discussing SEO or content marketing, ROI can be more than just monetary gain and is usually measured in traffic or engagements. And when executed properly, ROI on content marketing can be nearly four times that of PPC/PPV advertising.
Content marketing ROI is broken down into three criteria:
Cost: How much is content development costing you? Remember, your time is money. You need to consider the cost of paying yourself to create content when your time may be better spent working on other aspects of the project. Look into your accounting and see how much money (or time) is being spent on content development.
Come up with a list of averages so you can get a full idea of what you are actually spending. Try to come up with best and worst case averages. Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.
Utilization: How much content is being wasted? In the retail business, lost/stolen/defective product is called “shrink.” You need to be asking yourself, how much of your content is shrink. If you are paying a content developer $15/hr to develop content, and they are churning out one good piece of content every two hours, then you are paying $30 per every piece of solid content. Putting this sort of monetary value on content really puts into perspective what sort of returns this content should be bringing. If the money were put into PPV/PPC advertising, you could get an exact number of what sort of traffic $30 can bring you.
Remember our content developer who is churning out one good piece of solid content every two hours? Say they are writing one piece per hour. This means they are having a 50% success rate. Leaving 50% of the content to go to shrink. If this seems high, you might be shocked to find out that by some estimates, 70% of content produced goes unused.
The idea is to use as much content as you can, but don’t risk putting out sub-par content.
Don’t pull your hair out; if you are producing a medium to heavy volume of content, tracking shrink can be fairly difficult.
Performance: Tracking progress can be different depending what business you are in and what needs you are trying to fill. Usually performance of content marketing is measured with social shares, clicks, hits and page views. While getting the word out and raising awareness is important, awareness is not everything. It is important to remember why business exists in the first place: to generate sales and turn a profit.
Ideally, you want to try and figure out not only how many people are being directed to your content, but how many of those people are becoming customers/readers. It is hard to tie in a monetary value to page traffic, but the connection lies in the percentage of said page traffic becomes return readers and how many of those return readers actually buy your products or services.
While this sort of data can be hard to track down, there are things you can watch to give you an idea of how many people are being lured in by your content. Metrics like email list subscriptions, comments and post engagements can show you how many people are not simply landing on your page, but engaging with your content.
The last obvious metric of performance is sales. You certainly have records of your sales either through Quickbooks or your eCommerce platform. Look at sales in conjunction with when certain types of content or subject matter was posted. For example, if you see an upward trend in sales every time you post a “how to” blog, then it seems that posting “how to” blogs is working for you. Since sales depend on so many factors, this might not always equal a positive correlation, but it may give you some idea of the types of content that are prompting people to buy.
Making a case for content marketing.
The best way to build a case for content marketing is to prove that it works. This can be hard to do and still might not win over a skeptical client or co-worker. That is why it is imperative to be critical of yourself and evaluate like a skeptic.
Make a list of specific goals that your company or project strives to achieve. Traffic goals. Sales goals. Engagement goals. Then, the head SEO manager for the project needs to make a case and use analytics listed above to show how content marketing aids in achieving all of these goals. The case should use specific figures, and where applicable, cash returns.
Be real with your findings.
You may do a legitimate audit and find that you can scale back your content marketing, or that your time would be better spent elsewhere. That is just the nature of SEO task discrepancies from industry to industry. Don’t cling to content marketing just because it seems like the right thing to do. Make sure your efforts are actually paying off.
More times than not, though, you will find that well executed content marketing is your biggest generator of new traffic and return customers.