ROI is Everything: How to Know if Content Marketing is Bringing in Revenue

There’s one person that enterprise content marketing teams need to impress: the company’s chief bean-counter. The only problem? We’re creative types, not numbers people. How then, can content teams walk into that office with confidence? It’s simple. You need to learn how to know when revenue from content marketing activities occurs. We’ll show you how.

As Inc.’s Jeff Pruitt points out, studies show that most companies spend anywhere from 26 to 40 percent of their total digital marketing budget on content marketing. It’s a wise investment, so long as they do content marketing right.

Start with Your Business Goals

To set realistic goals for your content teams, you need to first meet with your company’s top executives to make sure that your goals align with your company’s overall business goals. Then, look at how your content marketing teams can help them realize those objectives.

At the departmental level, you need to set goals that not only align with that of your enterprise, but those goals should have clearly defined boundaries so that you have clear targets to hit. Goals need to be:

  • Quantifiable: If you can’t put your goals into numbers, content marketing will be a tough sell to the corporate executives. For example, if you’re measuring a non-quantifiable quality (such as loyalty), find quantifiable indicators (such as churn percentage, or upsell lift percentage) that correspond to loyalty.
  • Specific: Instead of just “increasing x,” state the actual number you want to hit. Whether it’s leads, conversions, or subscriptions, be crystal-clear. For example, if you want to increase subscriptions, state your goal as “increasing newsletter subscriptions by 1,000 by December.”
  • Timebound: Make sure you include the date at which you want to achieve each goal by. Having a deadline will help motivate your team to do everything they can to achieve your objectives.

Increasing revenue should always be a priority. Identify which bottom-line revenue metrics your content marketing activities can realistically drive. For B2B companies, leads – and eventual sales – are usually the gold standard. For B2C companies, it’s usually sales of products and services.

revenue from content marketing

However, there are a lot of preliminary metrics that go into producing those ultimate goals. They often differ by company and industry, so you need to sit down with your team and look at your numbers to see what metrics form the key drivers for your ultimate goals.

They might include:

  • Website visits (sessions)
  • Search engine ranking position
  • Clickthrough rates
  • Conversions, such as requests for ebooks, email subscriptions, or more information
  • Assisted conversions
  • Number of email subscribers

Next, start tracking the metrics that make the most impact on ROI. You’ll use this simple equation to calculate ROI:

roi formula

Back-track them, beginning with a year ago, and then list them at three-month intervals, ending with the current numbers. Track them at regular intervals going forward.

We recommend that companies measure the following metrics at a minimum:

  • How much content you publish within a given period
  • Your production costs
  • Website traffic
  • Conversion rate
  • Sales
  • Social media engagement

When you measure your production costs, be sure to cover all your bases. If your content teams share support or other personnel with other teams in your marketing department, calculate the portion of the time they spend on content marketing tasks.

Similarly, divide up the costs of other resources your team shares with others, such as website hosting, software tools, and office space. Don’t forget to include any fees you pay to promote your content on social media and paid search. Be sure to factor in seasonal employees, contract labor, and freelancer expenses. Keep a running tab of how your critical metrics fare against your expenses.

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If your company already has a robust content marketing program in place, you know it takes a while to see results. If your content marketing program is just getting off the ground, it will generally take about a year-and-a-half before you see tangible results, Pruitt points out.

Be sure to limit initial expectations with the C-suite early on so that they don’t expect content marketing to be a magic bullet. Like most long-term investments, the longer you leave your money in the market, the more it builds. As your audience grows, so will your content marketing numbers.

Next, Work Your Goals with an Eye on Your Target Customers’ Needs

Once you’ve clarified your goals and metrics, you need to focus on achieving them as soon as possible. Although content marketing is a long-term game plan, there are some things you can do to hit your goals sooner than you projected.

The first – and most critical – ingredient in content marketing success, is a laser focus on your target audience. What kinds of customers can your company help? What problems do they have? How can your company solve their problems?

Learn About Your Customers’ Problems

Take a deep dive into your current audience’s data to find out. Use social media analytics to look at your followers’ demographics, likes, and needs. Look at their social media and blog post comments to identify some of their challenges.

Step outside your departmental silo to explore the knowledge of your customer-facing teams. Sales and customer support teams hear what people are asking about your products and services, as well as the problems they face.

If their questions are outside the scope of your expertise, collaborate with your company’s subject matter experts to learn how your products and services can help prospects solve those problems. The more you put content collaboration to work for you, the more effective your content will be.

Create Content That Solves Those Problems

Then, create content that can help them solve their problems with targeted content planning. The more you can demonstrate your company’s expertise in helping them lead better lives or do business more efficiently, the more quickly your audience will grow – and with it, your company’s revenue.

Make it easy for your audience to share your content with like-minded friends and colleagues. When you remember that solving problems – not promoting your goods and services – is your goal, your content marketing will bear fruit.

No matter how large and well-known your company is, there are always more customers out there. Targeted content can help you find them, keep them, and grow their numbers.

In the 1980s and early 90s, legacy tech giant IBM struggled to keep the lights on. Instead of focusing on solving its customers’ problems, it focused on building its internal bureaucracy.

Now, it empowers its employees to create problem-solving content that continues to transform the once-struggling company into the tech industry’s leader worldwide.

To recreate this kind of success for your company, you’ll need a place where you can manage everything from research, to collaboration, to content analytics. Our content marketing platform provides you and your teams a single place where you can tackle all things content-related. Get in touch for your 14-day free trial today.