8 Ways to Improve Your Content Marketing ROI

If you’re concerned about the performance of your content marketing, you’re not alone.

Only about a third of businesses think they’re doing a good job of demonstrating ROI from content marketing. 

This is understandable, as it is difficult to translate the value that content marketing generates into concrete business KPIs. 

On the other hand, content marketing takes significant bandwidth – the average base plan for content marketing agencies runs from $2500 to $10,000 a month

With that amount of investment, you want to know what your content marketing is contributing to your marketing efforts and bottom line. And, of course, you want to improve it too. There are several ways you can improve your content marketing ROI. But first, you need to know how to calculate your content marketing ROI.

How to Measure Content Marketing ROI

To calculate your content marketing ROI, plug your campaign figures in this standard ROI formula:

Content Marketing ROI (%) = ((Return – Investment)/Investment) x 100

For example, say you spent $2500 on a content marketing campaign in a particular three-month period, creating and promoting an e-book via an email blast and native advertising. Let’s also assume that these content marketing efforts generated $5000 in revenue via purchases during those three months. Your content marketing ROI would be: ((5000 – 2500)/2500) * 100 = A full 100%

That’s how the content marketing ROI formula works… But that’s not how content marketing ROI often works in the real world. A few considerations:

  • Sales cycles, especially for B2B products and services, have multiple “content touches.” In other words, leads typically read several blog posts, social posts, landing pages, and other content assets along their conversion journey. Attributing content marketing ROI to one particular piece of content is tricky. 
  • B2B sales cycles are long, too. The average B2B sales cycle in any industry can take a few weeks to a few months to close, depending on the deal size, product complexity, and the number of stakeholders involved. It is unlikely that leads will convert so quickly, as in the example above. Additionally, if you throw in a free trial, a common practice in B2B and SaaS sales, the conversions and revenue will look different in the interim.
  • Content can have (and often has) compounding returns. These content assets, even when you stop pumping money into promoting them, can keep generating and nurturing leads for you organically over a long time, adding to your content marketing ROI. 
  • LTV also needs to be factored in. For SaaS or subscription businesses, a long-term customer paying you a monthly fee will drive revenue beyond the reporting period, perhaps months or even years after, so the ROI of the content asset is much higher.
  • Some content marketing returns remain intangible. Content marketing campaigns also increase brand awareness and consideration, but these mid-funnel results are harder to quantify and attribute to content marketing ROI.

The actual impact of content marketing activities is challenging to measure, so content marketing ROI is typically expressed in terms of leads, conversions, and revenue. Before we see how you can increase these metrics in your content marketing efforts, a brief word about the average ROI for content marketing.

What is the Average ROI for Content Marketing?

Content marketing campaigns come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors. Furthermore, content performs differently in B2B vs B2C campaigns and different verticals. For example, fashion, automotive, and SaaS software content marketing campaigns will be very different in style and substance. 

Rather than wondering about the average ROI for content marketing (spoiler: there’s no such benchmark), it’s best to focus on what is generally considered good ROI in marketing. This brings us to the 5:1 rule of thumb. In other words: you should make five dollars for every dollar you spend on content marketing. 

Tactics to Increase the ROI of Content Marketing Campaigns

Facts on the table, there is no way to completely express your content marketing ROI mathematically. There are too many non-quantifiable factors at play. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t understand the ROI of content marketing campaigns and work towards improving them. After all, the goal of content marketing is to generate more value for your business from your investment in content. Here are eight ways, to go about it. 

1. Set clear objectives

One of the common challenges when calculating (and increasing) content marketing ROI is tying “content marketing goals” to business goals. It is important to do so, as this makes it easier to focus on the right metrics that can reflect any improvements. 

For example, content is a key tactic to grow your website traffic. A blog featuring well-written articles on topics that are relevant to your customers will drive traffic to your website. But this traffic doesn’t translate to business goals or any real content marketing ROI – at least not directly. 

Instead, measure your blog content ROI in terms of the following:

  • Leads generated, ie. clicks to registration forms from a blog page
  • Conversions attributed to the content, ie. people who converted after visiting a blog page
  • Assisted conversions that “touch” content served in the marketing funnel, ie. leads who visited a few blogs here are there during the pre-purchase journey

Tracking clicks is relatively simple, but tracking conversions requires an attribution model. Especially in the B2B space, leads tend to visit several blog posts or content assets before arriving at a pricing or purchase page. The last-touch attribution model will credit only the latest content piece they consumed before clicking the Buy button, which is usually not an accurate reflection.

Content influences user behaviors in many ways. That’s why a more complex attribution model is necessary for conversion tracking. With a multi-touch attribution model, you can track a user’s complete journey on your blog or website to know how your content worked at the different pre- and post-conversion stages of their journey. This is essential to measuring content ROI across the conversion funnel.

2. Create audience-centric content

Another way to improve your content marketing ROI is to work at the audience segment level. Instead of promoting the same content to your entire target audience, divide your audience into segments based on common characteristics and target them with content that is most appropriate and relevant for them.

For example, let’s say you are marketing a CRM software solution. Most businesses upwards of a certain size are your target audience. But instead of generalizing your content marketing, create different content that focuses on the needs of e-commerce businesses, hospitality businesses, customer service teams, and more, and target that content to businesses in those industries. What you are doing with your content marketing is positioning yourself as the CRM authority for these different segments. You get the idea. 

This tactic requires more resources as you will be creating more content to cover the key segments of your audiences. However, targeted and personalized content performs better. In this case, you can also measure your content marketing ROI by segment, giving you more data to inform your efforts.

3. Use strategic distribution channels

Sometimes, the problem with generating content marketing ROI lies not in the content but in its reach – or rather, low reach. Reach is a measure of how far and wide your content is distributed in terms of audience numbers. The higher the reach, the more people see your content and potentially interact with it. 

For example, if you produce a high-value content asset, you can promote it to your regular website visitors, social media followers, and email subscribers. This is known as “owned media”; in other words, content that is produced and distributed by you. However, the reach is limited to your existing audience.

This isn’t necessarily scalable unless the content asset gets “earned media” (for example, a mention in a top magazine, or a shoutout and share on social by a popular influencer) or goes viral.

Finally, there’s paid media. This includes PPC, paid social campaigns, as well as native advertising platforms like Outbrain. Paid campaigns enable you to promote ads that link to your content, and target the most relevant online audiences. Outbrain, for instance, partners with leading websites, such as Daily Mail and CNN, offering placements to advertisers to expand their reach and exposure among visitors to popular sites. 

Paid media of course demands an increased budget, however, if you get your targeting right, it can bring good quality leads. Paid influencer partnerships are another example of paid channels to increase your content reach and maximize the ROI of your content campaigns.

4. Optimize for SEO

Web traffic tends to generate leads at a rate of just under 1%. For every 100 visitors to your website, you can expect to gain one lead. The more visibility your blogs and web pages receive in search engine results pages (SERPs), the more traffic and leads you will achieve. 

Optimizing your blogs and content pages for SEO is a surefire tactic to improve your content marketing ROI in the long run. Remember, PPC is designed for quick wins, whereas SEO is a long game. If you can optimize successfully for SEO and gain good rankings on search engines over time, you will be extending the performance of your content and helping to improve your content marketing ROI too.

5. Recycle and repurpose existing content

Content marketing is a Sisyphean task. To stay in the game and relevant, you need to create and promote content regularly across your marketing funnel.

Creating all this content from scratch – blogs, webinars, videos, landing pages, lead magnets, e-books, and social media posts, to name a few – requires significant resources, not to mention creativity!

Here’s where content repurposing and recycling come into the picture. By “recycling” existing content for new campaigns or purposes, you can get more mileage out of existing assets at minimal effort and cost.

Did you recently host a successful webinar? Cut and edit some short clips and post them on social. Is there an older blog post that still resonates with the audience? Update and refresh it with new data points, perspectives, and images, and republish it with today’s date.

Content repurposing can significantly reduce the costs that go into content production, which helps improve your content marketing ROI. You can also use the extra time and budget for paid promotion or content optimization, boosting ROI even more.

6. Measure and analyze content performance

As discussed earlier in this article, it is difficult to quantify the impact of top-funnel metrics, such as web page visits or time on page, on content marketing ROI. A better way is to focus on bottom-funnel metrics, which are more easily measured and quantified. These include:

  • Downloads (and lead to conversion ratio)
  • Signups/purchases
  • Leads
  • Upsells
  • Cross-sells

Customer lifetime value (LTV) is also an important metric for content marketing ROI, but this data usually only reveals itself over a few years.

For B2C or D2C businesses, metrics to help understand content marketing ROI may include the number of sales, repeat sales, and average order value.

For service-based businesses, look out for bookings for consultations or demo requests.

You get the drift.

While these metrics do not specifically measure content performance, they offer a key to extrapolating insights about how customers interact with content, and how content may be impacting sales and revenue.

7. Optimize and iterate continuously

An important way to improve your content marketing ROI is to test your content and optimize it based on what those tests tell you. For example, you can try to increase your publishing frequency by uploading two blogs per week instead of one. How much extra traffic does it bring? Is there an increase in the overall conversion rate of the website?

Perhaps consider diversifying to different content distribution channels. Instead of focusing on display ads, try native ads and track the increase in clicks and conversions from your native content campaigns.

Test email subject lines, ad headlines and images, and landing page copy. Another optimization strategy is personalizing your emails or localizing your ad headlines, and tracking to see if there is a significant impact on clicks, conversions, or sales. 

Testing is an essential component of content marketing, enabling you to optimize and iterate new versions of your content that perform even better. While testing adds to your overall content ops investment, a successful testing strategy helps you know what works and what doesn’t, so you can optimize your content and boost your content marketing ROI over time.

8. Invest in quality and talent

There is no shortage of bad content on the internet, but it is the good content that performs well. Creating high-quality content demands creativity, effort, and a decent budget. There is no quick fix and no shortcut. Generative AI writing tools, like ChatGPT and Gemini, have so far not lived up to the hype of replacing writing talent. They can be helpful for many content-related tasks, such as research, brainstorming, or rephrasing, but if you want to improve your content marketing ROI, you have no choice but to recruit good-quality talent and tools.

The point isn’t to get stuck into the AI vs. human content writing debate but to underline that crucial content assets take investment. If you lose potential leads to lousy content, your content ROI will not thank you. 

Remember, investing in quality content will bring good returns in the long run. High-quality content helps you build authority and reputation, and ensures that readers are more likely to engage and interact with your content and business. So how to create content without breaking the budget? Here are some tips to optimize your content ops.

Channel Your Content to Success

When done right, your content assets are working 24/7 to generate awareness, engagement, and revenue for your business. But it takes investment upfront. It also takes patience to see a good return on that investment (especially for B2B businesses with longer sales cycles). Test and experiment to optimize your content quality and operations and improve your ROI. 

Now you know what to expect. So, be sure to note where you are today and see how your content marketing ROI looks in another three months and then in a year. The results may surprise you!

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