How to measure content marketing ROI and applying it to B2B Digital PR
A guide to calculating success of your content
In this blog we’re going to move away from Digital PR for a moment and focus on content marketing. Why? Because there are tried and tested methods of measurement in content marketing that determine ROI which can be applied to Digital PR.
However, it’s important to understand these measurement tactics in their true environment - content marketing - before applying them to Digital PR.
Marketing has long since moved on from a “hit and hope” approach. Today campaigns are often meticulously targeted, carefully planned, and diligently tracked…and so should your Digital PR campaigns.
But many marketers aren’t confident about how to measure the success of their hard work on their business's bottom line. A 2023 CMO Survey found that more than half 65% of marketers can’t quantitatively demonstrate the real impact of their marketing. Crazy to think, right? I dread to think what the result is for demonstrating the impact of digital PR?
Let’s be honest, for all businesses, return of investment (ROI) is often seens as the most important measure of successful campaigns, because it is tied directly to business revenue.
What is ROI in marketing?
Put simply, ROI is the measurement of the money your company spends on marketing campaigns against the revenue those campaigns generate.
The goal being that for every pound spent on a marketing campaign, the revenue from the campaign is more.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing has the potential to generate three times as many leads as traditional, outbound marketing, such as paid advertising. Not only that, content marketing costs approximately 62% less.
In a world where purchase decisions increasingly start with a Google search, having high-quality content is fundamentally essential to ensure your business can be found online, is able to engage with interested prospects, and can generate sales enquiries.
Being in a position where you can clearly see the ROI of your content activity – down to the individual pieces of content that have driven the most conversions – will enable you to create more quality content around the topics your audience are most interested in.
With the tools and technology that exist today, this is entirely achievable for your business when it comes to measuring the impact of Digital PR; you just need to ensure you are measuring your campaigns effectively!
Where do you start with measuring content ROI?
The Content Marketing Institute says that determining ROI has felt like a mystery to marketers for decades.
So, let’s get the magnifying glass out and solve this mystery together!
First things first, and as much as this may sound incredibly basic, you need to agree on your goals and understand exactly what success looks like for your business.
It’s easy to state broad goals but you need to break them down into SMART campaign objectives that are tied to growing business revenue.
For example, X times more leads - knowing your conversion rates - Y times more new customers and then, knowing the value of a new customer acquisition, Z times more revenue.
Following this, you need the tools to monitor activity on your website and capture data. Your C-Level execs will want sales and revenue metrics above all, so you will need to have web analytics in place, a CRM database (of course), and something which will provide tracking of user behaviour and interaction across the website and through the sales cycle – that's probably a marketing automation platform.
If you can get yourself into a position where you can readily track the following:
- Page views
- Form submissions
- Email response rates
- New contacts
All generated as a result of your content and how many of those contacts then become customers, you will be able to clearly demonstrate content marketing ROI!
Once this is in place, further up the funnel, you should be looking at referral traffic and identifying which media channels are generating referrals. You can also review where your media placements are generating backlinks to your website. There is more information on how to meausre Digital PR here.
How to Calculate Content ROI
In order to calculate the ROI of your content activity, try using the following formula:
You calculate the total revenue generated from the campaign and divide this by all your costs (including everything from creating the content to promoting it).
For example, using the above formula, if you generate £100,000 revenue from your content marketing campaign and it costs you £20,000 to produce that campaign, you divide your total campaign revenue by your total campaign cost (as shown below).
The result is then 5.0. To make your ROI a percentage, you then multiply 5.0 by 100.
In this example.
= 5.0 x 100 = 500% ROI
The calculation itself is quite simple. Usually, the difficult bit is assessing all of your costs down to the fine detail of what you are paying out. Once you have achieved it once, this calculation can become a habit. The benefits to marketing and communications teams here are unsurprisingly huge!
Once you have achieved the first calculation, then successfully built your case to validate the activity with your Marketing Director or CMO or CEO, they should be able to clearly see the impact the activity has generated as a whole. This may take one or two recalculations and involvement of the FD or CFO for full verification! Don’t be put off, this is the buy-in that you need! If they are asking questions it shows that they are interested to know more.
This might be the first time they (the C-suite) have seen a clear calculation of the mathematical validity of the marketing/ digital PR function – suddenly your CMO has the means to ask for more budget and argue it as a necessity with a clear financial benefit, not just because this book, or podcast, or influencer says that it should be X% of revenue!
Measuring the ROI of your content activity is entirely achievable. With the tools that exist today, there is every reason to be able to do it.
Empower your marketing, PR, communications and sales teams with the tools they need to assess the performance of the content campaigns that they produce – and understand what it is that their audience wants to see.
This kind of insight is invaluable and will enable your team to really demonstrate true value!