How to Measure Content Marketing ROI (with Tools and Examples)

Learn how to measure content marketing ROI with these essential tips, tools, and techniques to ensure your content strategy drives results.

Published on Jun 11, 2024

Most content marketers have a solid grasp on what makes content good; strong content feels worthwhile, insightful, and incisive.

Yet how do we measure when the content was successful?

It’s a simple question that requires a comprehensive answer.

The solution is measuring the ROI of your content. In this post, we’ll tackle measuring the ROI of your content marketing strategy from multiple angles, including:

  • Key metrics for content marketing ROI
  • Tools and software for tracking your content’s ROI
  • A step-by-step guide for measuring yours

What is Content Marketing ROI?

Content marketing ROI (return on investment) is the measuring stick that determines how much revenue your content generates. To calculate ROI, you run a simple formula: divide the profit of your investment by the cost of that investment.

If you spend $100 on a blog post and generate $200 in new business from that blog post, your profit is $100. Your ROI was 100%.

Why bother measuring? Because without solid numbers, content marketing is tricky:

  • It’s difficult to quantify which content is effective. A glance at your social media impressions tells you which posts found the biggest audience. But without measuring ROI, you won’t know what’s turning readers into customers.
  • You don’t know which metrics to track. Cost per lead acquisition? Social posts that gain new followers? If you choose the wrong metric, you’ll work harder on measuring your content…only for your efforts to produce no discernible results.
  • It’s tough to justify content marketing budgets to stakeholders. Why should you spend money on writing articles? Filming helpful videos? If you don’t show the direct financial impact of your content, it’s hard to answer those questions.

Yet knowing your content’s ROI can offer all sorts of practical benefits:

  • Budget allocation. If your SEO articles generate 23% ROI and your social posts only 7%, it might impact next quarter’s budget. Now you have hard data and know which content moves the needle.
  • Performance management. Let’s say you dive deeper into the data and discover lots of variance. Maybe one category of topics generates 56% ROI, and another generates 3%. Your budget might remain the same, but now you know how to change content strategy, too.
  • Reaching business goals. ROI helps you focus on what matters: driving revenue. Your Instagram posts may succeed when you glance at your follower count. But if a how-to video on YouTube drives the most sales, ROI will point that out.

What are the Key Metrics for Measuring Content Marketing ROI?

If you put a piece of wood in a blender, what happens? That question helped propel a video marketing campaign for Blendtec. Their series of “Will It Blend?” videos helped propel them to nearly 850,000 subscribers on YouTube.

That ROI would be enough if your goal is to grab more subscribers. But according to the company’s chief, Tom Dickson, the key was the “amazing impact” this video content had on blender sales. Only Blendtec knows the exact numbers.

YouTube subscribers are nice, but if they don’t help you sell blenders, then you’re just spinning your…blades. The question is: even if you achieve viral success, which metrics determine business success?

Conversion Rates

Conversion rates are your total conversions divided by the total ad interactions that drove those conversions. If you had 5 conversions on 100 possible interactions, you’ve got a healthy conversion rate of 5%.

If you track how much revenue those conversions created, you can run ROI comparisons between different types of content. But as it is, conversions are a simple test. A high conversion rate says you’re attracting more people who want to buy—not just achieving viral marketing success.

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is the total cost of acquiring each customer through a specific medium. Combine your CAC with each customer's average revenue, and you have a pretty good idea of which content drives the best ROI.

The key here is to track your total investment in producing your content. It’s easy to track advertising spending on your chosen advertising platform. But if you’re producing platform-native content (like Will It Blend? videos), you’ll have to factor in the time and production costs.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

Customer Lifetime Value is the total revenue a customer might generate throughout their relationship with your brand. 

Why should you factor this in? Maybe a popular Tweet goes viral and generates lots of short-term revenue. But if you have recurring revenue from a different content style—like informative blog posts—that tells you where you’re receiving the best ROI.

Tools and Software for Tracking Content Marketing ROI

According to Forbes, the two biggest challenges for content marketers are finding resources to create content and attracting more quality leads. The fastest way to cut through the noise is to use a software platform. 

Let’s look at a few options for your content marketing tools:

1. Google Analytics 4

This is the most recent iteration of Google Analytics. It’s a software suite designed to work well now that search engines can’t use cookies to track user activity.

GA4 is all about what happens once your content has attracted users to the page. It includes recording every interaction with your website—page hits, user session length, and social interactions.

Google Analytics also has an academy where you can learn to interpret these analytics to track your ROI. Input the value of an interaction (like a purchase), and Google Analytics will help you crunch the numbers.

2. HubSpot

HubSpot does a little of everything, but its content marketing software is most relevant here. 

HubSpot’s analytics and reporting tools are user-friendly. They’ll let you design custom dashboards, for example. Configure it with the appropriate purchase data, and you’ll have a quick view of the ROI-generating content you’ve published.

3. HockeyStack

What if you build in-depth content for B2B buyers? HockeyStack might be more your speed. Its web analytics will highlight which pages on your site are driving the most revenue.

HockeyStack can also track difficult-to-pin-down B2B ROI, such as average deal sizes and win rates. If the B2B leads from a specific piece of content have high traffic but low win rates, you know you have fool’s gold. But if low-traffic content generates massive interest, you’ll know it.

With HockeyStack, you’ll cut through the noise to learn what messaging really draws interest from other companies.

A Step-by-step Guide to Calculating Content Marketing ROI

Step 1: Define Your Objectives and KPI

When measuring ROI, you aim to turn a subjective quality (“how good my content is”) into a measurable number. So before you do anything else, define your objectives and core KPI:

  • Do you want to build long-term customer relationships? Then, your objective might be CLV, or customer lifetime value.
  • Do you want to determine which content messaging drives more customers to your site? You might want to track conversion rates on each piece of content or unique page.
  • Do you keep tabs on sales revenue and its origin, even if it’s not from content you necessarily planned on measuring?

Step 2: Build Content While Tracking Your Expenses 

You’ll have to track your content costs. Try to document all expenses in your content creation and distribution strategies. Producing them, designing them, promoting them, any tools you use to build out that content—track it all. 

You should also be conscious of what types of content you’re testing. Webinars vs. short blog posts? Video content vs. social media threads? It’s all a form of content in the end—and the beauty of tracking ROI is you’ll get a sense of which styles work best for your brand.

Step 3: Install Analytics and Track Your Success

Using one of the above tools, get your analytics up and running. Give it a quick trial period to ensure you’re tracking everything accurately. Then, once you’re sure you have your ROI trackers in place, you’re ready to launch the content.

Give your content some time to perform. If you’re tracking CLV, for example, you may need several months to know the true performance of your best content. A large sample size helps you get the most accurate ROI.

Step 4: Analyze the Results and Apply the Basic ROI Formula

If you recall, the basic ROI formula is this:

(Revenue from Content) - (Cost of Content) divided by (Cost of Content).

Multiply that by 100, and you will have your ROI percentage. 

You don’t have to track things this way, of course. But this basic formula will teach you all sorts of lessons about which content drives conversions and real customer interest—and which content isn’t having any real-world impact.

Examples of Successful Content Marketing ROI Calculations

SAP SE

Michael Brenner had recently joined SAP SE, a software company, as its Vice President of Content Marketing. Running SAP’s current search analytics, he discovered that many of the company’s“early-stage prospects were still asking big-picture questions like “What is big data?”

Brenner readjusted SAP’s content strategy to suit those big-picture questions. SAP built countless articles to rank high in organic searches, eventually landing nearly 1,000 leads for $750,000 in revenue. 

Brenner tracked only $100,000 in first-year content marketing expenses. Plug that into the ROI formula, and you will arrive at an ROI of 650%. They discovered investing in big-picture content was worth it, so they could commit even more money to the same strategy.

Capgemini 

Capgemini, a consulting company, struggled with a classic problem: low brand awareness. Finding any ROI is hard if no one values your content in the first place.

So, Capgemini built a storytelling website. The idea was to answer the questions many customers had about Capgemini’s expertise in big data and the cloud. 

Over a year, the new content garnered 100,000 followers on LinkedIn and generated $1 million in sales. Capgemini knew they had a winner on their hands and could invest even more in it, generating $5 million in its second year. These days, it reportedly helps draw $20 million in yearly revenue.

Finding the Content that Pays

Content marketing isn’t easy. You have to develop a content strategy that resonates with your customers (and you don’t always know what will resonate.)

The best way to learn your content’s ROI? Test a lot of content—and test it quickly.

Discover what types of content are more appealing to your customers by casting a wide net at first. To do that, you’ll need the help of AI. 

Read our Content Marketer’s Guide to Jasper to help build a content base to work from. Once there, you can implement the analytics and tools you need to see what types of content draws the most revenue. 

Meet The Author:

Kaleigh Moore

Kaleigh Moore

B2B Freelance Writer

Kaleigh Moore is a freelance writer for B2B SaaS companies.

Marketing Strategy

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