You finally caved in and said “Cody, you win. My business is going to start using content marketing. You keep telling me all the positives it’ll have on my business, and I have seen the light. Before I go down the pathway to telling the story of my brand, and adding value to the masses, I want to set up ways to measure my content marketing results. What is the best way to do that?”
Great question wise business owner. This is a great attitude to have before diving into the content marketing world. You don’t want to just set dollars on fire, and you want to eventually see that all your hard work is paying off and your business is growing because of it.
3 Ways to Measure Content Marketing ROI
You might be saying to yourself, “Why only 3 ways? There must be hundreds of ways to measure the effectiveness of my content marketing efforts.”
You are not wrong. However, these 3 tools for measuring the ROI of your content marketing campaigns encompass a wide range of metrics, audiences and platforms, to give you a very broad overview of your web traffic and analytics.
For the most part, especially when starting out, these are the only 3 tools you will really need to get a firm understanding of how content marketing effects your web traffic.
1. Google Analytics
I’m going to safely assume that anybody reading this article cares a lot about their business and their website. That being said, unless you literally created your website this morning, I really hope you already have Google Analytics set up. It is a 100% free tool from Google that lets you track all the traffic coming to your website and your conversion rates.
You can set up certain goals on your Analytics based on what you want customers to do on your website. I’ll give you a real world example of how I use Goals in my Google analytics.
Obviously I want my content to rank well and to reach as many viewers as possible. But on the business side of things, I want to track how many people are reaching out to me for help with their business.
So right here on my side there is a landing page with a contact form. Once you fill out the contact form you will be brought to a thank you page. I give a monetary value to how much it means to my business whenever somebody contact us for either help or just take the time to fill out the contact form itself.
So what I did was copy and paste the thank you page URL and added it to my Google analytics account under Goals section, and now anytime somebody reaches my thank you page it will get tracked and adds whatever monetary value was assigned to it. You can track any measurements that you think are valuable to your business, just make sure you’re tracking.
Google analytics is probably tied for my second favorite software, with something else that I will talk about in just a sec. But before that let me tell you about my favorite software on the Internet. And it’s also 100% free. If you guessed it was another google product ding ding ding. You are right. My favorite software is google search console.
2. Google Search Console
Search Console is as important to your businesses success as Google analytics. Let’s dig into it a bit and tell you some of the specific things that Google Search console does that makes it so valuable.
With Search Console, you can find out the exact search queries that people are typing in to find your website. So using this along with google analytics you will see oh my blog about cats got 200 visitors. Well that’s nice. But how did they get there?
Then you fire up search console and see that people typed in “why are cats so awesome” and you showed up in the results for it 1,000 times. This thousand times that you showed up for that result is called impressions. You will see that that search query resulted in 200 clicks to your blog about cats. Search Console calls this clicks. That is how you find click through rate. The number of clicks divided by the number of impressions gives you your CTR. For this example that is a 20% click through rate. (Amazing.)
With this new data you can either double down on the search queries that you are already performing well with, or you can say to yourself “what other searches can I try to rank for with this piece of content?” These tools are extremely powerful when used together and are a great way to measure the success of your content marketing campaigns.
Our role model and pinnacle of the content marketing industry, Neil Patel, says that it takes roughly 6 months to start seeing the results of a quality content marketing campaign. If you want to see a positive return on investment from content marketing, Neil says not to expect it before the 12 month mark.
Obviously there is no golden rule, and this will greatly range depending on your industry, your location, who you are competing with, and the quality of your content marketing campaign.
Getting ranked by Google does not happen overnight and is something that needs to be known before embarking on your marketing journey. Do not let the fact that you did not get 100 sales three months in deter you from doing what’s right for your business.
One thing to remember is that content marketing success runs on a bell curve. Once you are 10-15 or even 20 months into a campaign, you’ll see that you can actually put less work in and get more results back. This happens like a snowball effect. The longer you keep doing the right things for your customers, and the right things for the search engines, the more you will get rewarded for it down the line. Success begets success. It might be hard to get the train going at first, but see what happens once you start to pick up steam.
Now to come back to my other second favorite software on the Internet. If you are a marketer I’m sure you already have an account. This software is SEMrush. Sadly it’s not free, but it is probably the only one on this list that you could do without. Not that I personally would ever want to go back to not having SEMrush, but you definitely can still be successful without it.
There is so much you can get out of this software, but for the sake of this article we will only focus on their Traffic Cost section. SEMrush tracks how much your content is worth. They do this by tracking how much your competitors are spending for the keywords you are bringing in traffic from.
For example, Brian Dean of Backlinko has a Traffic Cost of 165k/mo. This means that were he to pay for the traffic with the use of ads to get the same amount of traffic that he does organically, it would cost him 165,000 per month in ads. This isn’t an exact science because it is using third-party data, but if you track it using this from the beginning you will still have a reliable benchmark to see the ups and downs and what is working and what is not.
What ROI Metrics Should I Be Tracking With My Content Marketing Efforts?
Great question! There are hundreds of factors to check on, and thousands of ways that they can interact with one another to have an overall impact on your traffic, conversions, and overall sales.
However, for the purposes of this article, here are a few content marketing ROI metrics you can easily keep an eye on and keep in mind moving forward that are directly related to the success and efficiency of your content marketing strategy.
Impressions can be tracked in Google Search Console. This metric simply represents the amount of times that your webpages have been displayed in Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Once you have this number, not only can you track the results of your content marketing efforts for your website and individual pages, you can also begin maximizing your SERPs clickthrough rate.
Keywords can also be tracked in Google Search Console. For this metric, you will see exactly how many keywords your website is ranking for, as well as keywords your individual pages are ranking for. This is a great way to track how your content marketing is helping Google and other search engines understand your content and then display it to users according to their perceived needs and wants from their searches. Over time, you want to develop content that is improving your long-tail and short-tail keywords, while still nailing your audiences needs and wants.
Impressions and Keywords are great, but how many clicks are you getting? This number can be tracked in both Google Analytics and Google Search Console in different ways. You can compare Clicks to impressions to find your CTR or clickthrough rate. This is an important metric when trying to rank higher on Google, as well as a great tool for tweaking your onpage SEO to better fit user’s needs so they click on your result more often.
4. Clickthrough Rate (CTR)
As explained above, CTR is simply the ratio of people who click over those who have seen your website in the search results. While this number can sometimes be skewed by the fact that you may appear 100th or more for some results, and more than 90% of search traffic never leaves the first page of Google SERPs, you can begin to piece together which pages are clicked on more often for their keywords and why, allowing you to optimize your content for SERPs to garner more clicks over time, which sends good signals to Google and is obviously great for your site.
5. Goals Completed
It’s important that while you are setting up your content marketing campaign that you think about your overall goals as a business moving forward. Obviously you want more people to your site and to rank better in SERPs, but what else are you looking to accomplish? You can create goal completions in Google Analytics which are very powerful and allow you to measure specific goals.
For example: you could measure the amount of people who came to your site from a Facebook Ad campaign, and then measure which of them signed up for an email newsletter, a free trial, webinar, filled out a contact form, et cetera…
This is an excellent way to make sure that your content marketing efforts are effective through each stage of the sales funnel and not just the top.
Measuring Your Content Marketing ROI – Wrapping it Up
To recap, the three things that any content marketer or business owner that is looking to determine the ROI of content marketing are:
- Google Analytics
- Search Console
Use these tools well to track how good your campaigns are running. Adjust accordingly and remember that it will take time to see the ROI, just stick with it.