Content Marketing Mysteries – How to Find Your ROI Yeti!

Content Marketing


Marketers at all kinds of companies – B2B and consumer-facing, old and new, big and small – are turning to content marketing as a top strategy, for driving thought leadership, establishing relationships with buyers, and fueling their inbound marketing.

Marketers are dedicating more and more technology, headcount, and budget to content marketing. But as these investments grow, the question arises: What’s the best way to measure that investment? The ROI of your content marketing can feel as elusive as the mysterious Yeti – you might even doubt that it exists.

Marketers struggle to find their content’s ROI for two reasons:

1)     They don’t think about measurement upfront (during content creation) and then fail to create the right structure/framework to measure results.

2)     They aren’t aligned on the metrics that matter with key stakeholders. For example, if you have to show ROI from a whitepaper to a CMO, you should probably focus on the number of opportunities, pipeline, and revenue – rather than metrics like shares or views. Your marketing team, on the other hand, might be very interested in the metrics your CMO disregards.

If you’re ready find your own content marketing ROI,  here are a few tips to help you track that “Yeti” down:

1. Define your content goals.

Before you do anything, you need to clearly define the goals of your content initiatives. Will the content be used to build brand awareness, or to drive leads? Establish goals and ROI estimates upfront – otherwise, how can you know that expectations have been met?

In many cases, you’ll have several objectives for your content, but you should prioritize them and make sure everyone is clear on the order. Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs recently polled B2B and consumer-facing marketers on their various content goals – here’s what they found:

organizational goals for content marketing

Which of these content marketing goals align with your own?

2. Decide HOW you will measure results.

Once you’ve defined your goals, you need to decide which metrics will indicate success. Will you be measuring reach, engagement, time on your website, likes, shares, PR mentions, or leads and revenue?

Here is an example of a chart I created, aligning high-level goals to related metrics – steal this and create one for your own team!

content marketing goals

3. Align key stakeholders.

Whether you’re measuring early stage metrics (ex: sharing, likes), or late-stage metrics (like leads and revenue), no one will be happy if your key stakeholders wanted you to measure something else! I recommend covering your bases by measuring early stage metrics, and then tying these back to pipeline and revenue.Your CFO/CEO/CMO probably won’t care about early stage metrics (although they are good for your team to track!).

4. Design your content programs to be measureable.

It is really hard to go back in time – in fact, last time I checked, you can’t. This is particularly true when it comes to measurement, which is why it’s so critical that your content programs are designed to be measurable.

Here is an example of a Facebook campaign in Marketo, which shows the components we designed the campaign to measure – new names, and form fill-outs.

facebook campaign in Marketo

5. Focus on decisions that improve ROI.

There is such a thing as measuring too much – you’ll self-explode if you try to cover everything. So don’t do it! Instead, focus on the metrics and data that will actually help you make decisions, and that will improve your ROI.

Now for a *Real Example*

Let’s look at Let’s Get Visual! Visual!, a recent asset Marketo created about visual content marketing. Here are some ways we can examine the content performance for this piece:

Early Stage Metrics: We published the asset in late February, and since then the asset has gotten 14,000 views, 142 shares, and 4,844 downloads from the website. It’s also been viewed 6,287 times on SlideShare. These are good initial indicators for engagement and overall interest in the content asset.

let's get visual stats

Later Stage Metrics: Now that we know the views and shares, let’s ask some deeper questions.

This asset was used in several marketing programs, but were there any opportunities or pipeline created? To find out, I ran an analysis in Marketo, looking at a specific email send that included the asset as an offer. As you can see, the email campaign is associated with three multi-touch opportunities and $92K in multi-touch pipeline. By “multi-touch,” we mean that it was one of multiple marketing touches that led to an opportunity or to pipeline.

let's get visual pipeline creation

To check out another example, let’s look at an ongoing email campaign. In this campaign, we tested different content assets and asked: Which content asset performed best for pipeline creation?

email programs pipeline creation

As you can see above, the Content Marketing Cheat Sheet was the winner for bringing in new names to our database, but the Definitive Guide to Marketing Metrics was the better choice – it was associated with the most pipeline (and it had the second-highest number of new names).

Some questions to consider when measuring content:

  1. Which content assets work best for you at early, mid, and late stages of your buying cycle?
  2. Which content assets perform best for a particular vendor and/or channel?
  3. Which assets are good for bringing in qualified leads?
  4. Which assets are good for opportunity creation?
  5. What content works best in nurturing?
  6. What blog post topics have the best engagement?

Of course, there are many ways to measure your content marketing’s ROI, but following these tactics should help you find that elusive Yeti once and for all!

Using a different tactic to track down your content ROI? Leave us a note in the comments below!