Content Marketing ROI: Measuring the Impact of Your Blog Posts in 2019
When the concept for measuring content marketing ROI was relatively new, I suggested to a colleague that we publish a blog post to promote a new product our tech company was releasing.
“We can’t just keep throwing things at the wall to see what sticks,” he said.
I had to hide my bafflement. That’s just how marketing works, I thought.
Since then, the field of marketing analytics has burgeoned. (I still maintain, however, that content marketing is not entirely science. It is part art. No one has an exact formula for virality. And, while we are free to make our best guesses, very few people actually know how Google ranks its results).
Even if you start out with the wall-sticking method, you can hone your efforts by using the metrics below. Analyze these numbers and apply the Pareto principle, which says that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your efforts—figure out what your 20 percent is and focus on what’s working.
Identify your goal to calculate your blog content marketing ROI
To measure return on investment (ROI), you must first to identify ‘R.’ What, in other words, is your goal? Do you want blog readers to make a purchase through your website? Download a white paper? Navigate to the ‘contact us’ page?
As you analyze the metrics measured below, always keep in mind this one. Look for any revealing correlations.
If you aren’t converting visitors immediately, your content may still be producing positive results. You may be creating strong brand recognition, which is extremely valuable, if difficult to measure with precision. This is especially true for business-to-business (B2B) marketing, which must account for a long buying cycle. More specific, low-level goals are helpful in such cases.
Pageviews per Session and Visit Path
Pageviews per session and the page-paths of visitors (both of which can be viewed and visualized in Google Analytics) are exponentially more important than outright pageviews. They go a long way toward indicating the quality of the traffic to your website and are likely to correlate highly with ROI.
- Where are visitors going after they view your content?
- How long do they stay on your domain?
- Do they go to your ‘About’ page to learn more or browse your merchandise?
- Is overall traffic to your website increasing after publication?
Time spent viewing and bounce rate
Quality of traffic, and therefore the effectiveness of your blogging, will depend largely on the quality of your content. Is it relevant to your product? Is it useful and/or interesting to your desired audience?
Or did you lure visitors using a misleading, click-baity headline that has little to do with your content and/or product? This will inevitably lead to a high bounce rate, not to mention growing resentment toward your brand. It will be counterproductive in the long-term, even if effective in the short-term. New York Magazine recently published a fascinating exploration of how such short-term tactics tainted Vice’s brand.
With that caveat, let us now give overall pageviews their due. Their sheer number can, and often does, matter.
Pageviews can be an important indication of your SEO status and your blog’s influence on brand awareness.
Short-term spikes versus evergreen content
Here is a good place to interject that the efficacy of your blog can be measured according to differing timescales. Don’t just focus on your most recent posts in your analysis—notice which older posts continue to draw visitors.
Longevity is a consideration that many so-called SEO experts are not talking about.
This might be controversial, but in my experience the number of comments on a blog post matters little.
Social sharing is important, though the degree of importance varies widely from one brand to another.
Again, keep your goal in mind. For instance, Vanity Fair’s blog posts, which are meant to increase magazine sales, eschew links, and actually discourage sharing, social activity will be meaningless.
For many brands though, the number of impressions on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn will be an important measure in judging the impact of your blog posts.