Content marketing is not free by any means. Even if you don’t incur the hard costs of external authoring or paid promotion, you need to account for the internal hours spent creating and managing your content marketing program. That means that tracking and analyzing return from your content marketing initiative is as important as any other marketing campaign.
But there are some challenges to really understanding ROI, as often a prospect is touched in several different ways, one of which may be a content piece. That argument can be made for any marketing initiative these days however, as it is rare that sales or even leads are really a result of only one touch. The effects of viral sharing of content compound the difficulty of coming to a hard ROI number for content marketing. That being said here are some things that you can and should track:
- Visits and leads by content piece – where you control the landing page and form, you can track Web visits and leads by incoming URL by appending unique campaign codes. Create these unique codes for each placement of the content that you would like to track, including paid search campaigns. These codes can be passed into a lead record database using hidden fields, along with a code for the content piece itself. Setup goal tracking in your Web analytics platform and you’ll be able to see visits and lead conversions by each source you’ve assigned a campaign code to. If your lead form is integrated with your CRM or marketing automation system, then those fields can be passed into that application, and depending on the system you should be able to run a report that gives lead status by campaign.
- Leads from content syndication – leads from these campaigns are easy to track as they are normally sent from the publisher in a spreadsheet. You just then need to assign unique campaign coding to those leads as they enter your CRM or marketing automation system.
- Social sharing statistics – adding a ‘share this’ widget to your content will give you insight as to how often your content is being shared, and to which platforms.
Even though in most cases you can’t just attribute a closed sale to one content piece, by following the tips above you at least get a good idea as to which pieces are creating the most interest and leads, and are making a contribution to sales.
Top content marketing metrics measured by B2B marketers (Source: 2011 study from CMI and MarketingProfs)