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Julia Spence-McCoy

How To Track The ROI Of Your Web Content

Julia Spence-McCoy
How To Track The ROI Of Your Web Content

It’s no secret that marketing has evolved a great deal over the past few years.

Five years ago, demanding a thorough justification for marketing budgets was almost as ludicrous as asking a 12-year-old to prove that intelligent forms of alien life exist.

Fortunately, times have changed and now brands are actually able to see where their money goes at the end of a campaign. These days, you don’t have to visit a fortune teller to find out whether or not a certain content marketing strategy will fill your pockets in the near future.

As a matter of fact, there are quite a few excellent free and almost free tools that you can use to estimate the return on investment delivered by your content.

Therefore, feel free to ditch crystal ball readings and explore the best methods to track your content ROI. But first, let’s focus on the following pressing question:

Is it a good idea to put a price tag on your content right upfront?

Does money drive the content, or is it the other way around? In other words, should you write articles, on-site content and blogs with money on your mind? According to Contently, a single content piece can rarely be considered the decisive factor behind a sale; instead, it can mark the beginning of a fruitful relationship with a larger category of potential buyers. As a matter of fact, one of the main reasons why content marketing fails (highlighted by Rand Fishkin from Moz in a highly creative manner) is a dangerous money-centered approach to copywriting:

Inexperienced marketers think their entire activity can be described in three easy steps, following the model below.

  1. I make content.
  2. Clients click.
  3. They buy. I (finally) get money.

Those who have already spent a fair amount of time trying to measure the effectiveness of their campaign already know that this approach is dreamy and unrealistic, to say the least. So how does it actually work? How can you estimate content ROI in an accurate manner and prove that your strategies have been successful before covering yourself with glory?

7 Foolproof Ways to Track Your ROI

Now that you know the road from content creation to recognition and endless piles of gold is long and sometimes bumpy, you should know that assessing the performance of your content and implicitly its ROI is doable. Here are 7 easy ways to track your ROI efficiently and painlessly.

  1. Measure Content Performance via Brand Lift. Brand lift enables you to measure the effectiveness of your content by analyzing the relationship that it has helped you create with your audience. Brand lift can be measured by partnering with a top-rated survey provider; like Vizu for example. For instance, a survey could reveal that users who have been exposed to your content think that your brand understands them and addresses their basic needs. In this case, this particular survey would be a good indicator of your success, proving that you’ve managed to stay on the same page with your readers through your writing. Assuming that your marketing goal was to boost brand affinity, you can reach the conclusion that your content pieces have delivered a significant return on investment.
  1. It’s Simple, and Genius: Use Chat ToolsZopim Chat (on our own site) gives you real time visitor data. Not only that, but it also ensures a way to talk to them! You can see who is viewing what page and initiate a chat box on that specific web page. It actually gets better: you can talk to them EXACTLY about what they're reading! Now this cool chat tool may bring you and your visitors close to a Big Brother-like experience, but you do have to admit that it also offers you arguably the best opportunity to get in touch with your readers and get feedback from them in real-time. What better way to weigh the weak and strong points of your content?
  2. Use Consumption Metrics. Web analytics delivered by programs such as Google Analytics are everything that you could ever ask for when it comes to monitoring and evaluating your content efforts. KPI metrics comprise several important aspects, like for instance bounce rate, time-on-site, unique visits, total visits and downloads. This type of measurable data can help you find out how your visitors actually interact with your writing and adjust your content accordingly to increase its ROI. Remember to check out this type of data on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis to draw the right conclusions.
  1. Lead-generation Metrics. Marketers can also use content pieces as bait to close a lead. A visitor landed on your page and wanted to watch your new video. In order to do that, he had to fill out your lead-capture form. In this situation, your content served its original purpose: it was consumed by your visitor while also producing a new lead. Here’s how it works: your website must be set up with the right goals to be able to measure leads. Cookies also track the actions of your users on your website and can help you identify the pages that your readers checked out before filling out your lead-capturing form. So, at the end of the day, where’s the money? Content Marketing Institute does the math for you: if you spent $4,000 promoting content pieces that cost $3,000 to craft, this means that you may be in a $7,000 hole at this point. Assuming that one lead is worth $70, you would need your content to produce at least 100 different leads just to break even.
  2. Sharing Metrics. Should you pay any attention to sharing metrics when it comes to evaluating your content ROI? The truth is that social media metrics are not easy to quantify when you’re trying to put a dollar value on your web content. This actually makes sense if you think about it for a second: How can you measure the value of a “+1″ that your content may get on Google+, or the return on investment of your content based strictly on the number of “likes” that you get on Facebook? Sharing metrics won’t help you count your pennies, per se, but they can still be relevant in the ROI discussion, depending on the KPIs you choose to use. For example, you could pay attention to conversions and referral traffic on your website, or you could simply get to understand how your visitors actually share your content pieces. These actions provide real value in other departments. Therefore, when it comes to evaluating the performance and ROI of your content, it is advisable to take sharing metrics into consideration, without overestimating their importance.
  3. Sales Metrics. Perhaps the most relevant aids that you can rely on when calculating your content ROI, sales metrics can give you the chance to count the dollars that your content marketing is helping you make. Sales conversion rates are the elements that actually tell you whether or not potential buyers that click on your links and digest your content are turned into valuable paying customers. Your CRM system should report the sales conversion rates, allowing you to track the actions of your guests from inception to the closed sale. Your system should also enable you to identify the paths that your prospects took to get on a specific page and fill out your lead-capture form.

This step is extremely important, as it lets you figure out what type of content is more palatable, useful and relevant in the eyes of your readers. Not all content pieces are created equally; therefore, two different pieces will perform differently and will most likely have distinctive dollar values.

For instance, certain types of premium content, such as video tutorials, white papers or reviews that add value to the overall reading experience may do a better job at addressing the needs and demands of your prospects and stimulating your sales. By counting on sales metrics, you can identify the content pieces that have helped you close a sale and observe and follow their pattern to come up with new ones that are more likely to determine your prospects to spend their hard-earned cash on your products and services.

  1. Other Popular Analytic Tools That You Need to Start Using. In a world driven by bigger and bolder marketing and monetary goals, you can hardly say that you already use all the tools in the online toolbox to perfect your content and make it deliver a superior ROI. Here are a few handy tools that could make you feel like you’ve died and ended up in the content marketers’ heaven.
  • Google Analytics. One simply cannot talk about the rise of content-based analytic tools without mentioning Google Analytics. This aid offers key insight enabling companies to determine how their mobile apps are performing and improve them if needed, boost sales, re-engage your visitors in accordance with their specific on-site actions and more.
  • Unbounce is one of the hottest tools that you should start using today. This little helper actually lets you build a high-converting page, publish it and test and optimize it to perfection without involving your IT specialist in this process. Using Unbounce you can create user-friendly, mobile-responsive web pages in a matter of a few hours, not weeks! The landing pages you create through this method are very flexible and can be customized to fit your brand, campaign or marketing needs to a tee.
  • SEMrush. This tool was designed for professional digital marketers. By collecting an enormous amount of SERP data, they can help you keep an eye on your competitors at all times and uncover their secret strategies revolving around organic search, advertising research, display advertising, backlinks and product listing ads. SEMrush is also useful when it comes to conducting keyword research to develop your very own PPC and SEO campaigns.
  • To track social media metrics you can find use a plethora of helpful platform-specific tools, including Facebook Insights, TwitSprout, Twitalyzer and Twitter Counter, Pingraphy and YouTube Insight.

Reevaluating the Most Obvious Signs of Smashing Content Success

Is it really advisable to place a certain monetary value on your content pieces from the very beginning? Can a powerful content ROI obsession become responsible for the failure of content marketers who always seem to have their eyes on the cash prize? According to a blog post published by Hubspot, entitled “Content ROI Is a Myth,” the real value of a content piece depends solely on its quality and how you plan to promote and distribute it to reach your audience and your marketing goals.

In this context, what are the real certainties that premium copy can actually ensure and what are the content quality standards that one should always follow in order to become successful in this industry?

5 Basic Pillars That Should Guide Your Writing

  1. Original writing is a must that will never go out of fashion
  2. Longer content pieces are better than short ones
  3. Quality writing revolves around well-written ideas and highly researched topics
  4. A higher level of specialization and technical know-how is always needed, especially when crafting content pieces for a relatively small niche requiring a special terminology (tech companies, for instance)
  5. Proper optimization strategies enable you to make your articles, blogs and on-site content more attractive for both search engines and clients

Your Content Must Serve a Purpose

At the end of the day, content that serves no purpose whatsoever is a mere waste of resources.

There are several effective ways in which you can determine the return on investment associated with your content marketing tactics, but this doesn’t mean that you should put a specific dollar value on each piece that you craft and get ready to introduce to the public.

Instead, focus on your readers’ experience, their feedback and the way in which your contact manages to impact every aspect of their daily routine.

By delivering first-class content on a regular basis you can establish yourself as a thought leader and succeed in influencing the behavior and, implicitly, the buying decisions of your readers. This is the moment when you put your pen down and realize that you’ve struck gold.

Image credit: iStock & Canva

Julia McCoy's life career happened when she left medical school to follow her passion in copywriting and SEO at 19 years old. A solely self-taught entrepreneur, she built an online copywriting agency a year later in 2011, Express Writers, which has grown to include more than 60 talented copywriters and editors with hundreds of clients around the world. Follow Julia's blog for all things copywriting & SEO.

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