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Content marketing metrics for measuring return on investment (ROI)

Content marketing metrics for measuring return on investment (ROI)


12 Content marketing metrics for measuring return on investment (ROI)

So you’ve decided to invest in content marketing. Yayer!


There’s a long journey ahead though – content marketing is a long-term investment of time, resource and energy – so you need to be ready to manage this investment, either with internal resources, a great agency/freelance partner, or a mix of both.

Before you can start to measure your content marketing ROI, you need to establish what your content marketing objectives are, so that you can decide the best way to measure the results.

Objectives really drive your content marketing activity. They’re functional, they have a purpose. They’re pretty much an action statement of what you want to achieve – and critical to your planning and evaluation.

How do you know if your content has been successful if you have no objectives to use as a yardstick to measure results?

What’s your primary content marketing objective?

Try not to have too many objectives. This can get messy and lead to ineffective planning and execution. Instead, focus on what matters most to your business.

If you’re a start-up, or are an established business launching a new product or service, you may want to focus on customer acquisition objectives: adding qualified leads to your pipeline. That is, real contacts in your database.

You’ll then want to have a customer retention objective to keep these leads engaged with your brand by supplying them with content of real value that continues to answer their problems and fulfils their needs.

Ultimately, your content marketing activity should help to attract, convert and retain your target audiences.

Need help with content marketing?

What to measure? 

As with your objectives, don’t try to measure too much. What you want to establish is whether your content marketing efforts are helping to achieve the objectives you set in the first place.

Tying revenue attribution into the ROI measurement can be tricky, unless you are an e-commerce business. For business-to-business organisations, especially those who sell through offline channels such as a direct sales force or via intermediaries, revenue attribution can be difficult due to the length and complexity of buying cycles – but it can be done. (We promise to show you how in our upcoming blogs)

Here are 12 key content marketing metrics you’ll want to track to see how well your content is achieving your objectives:

#1. Unique page visits.

One simple measure of your content success is the traffic it’s receiving. Take a look at your unique page visits to see how many people are visiting your page on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.


Downloads can give you even more insight into the popularity of your content, since they indicate an elevated level of interest (e.g. your reader probably had to fill out a form to download instead of skimming through a blog post).

#3. Time on page.

A page visit means one thing. But someone actually staying on your page long enough to read an entire article or fill out a form means something else entirely. This says that your content was high enough quality to merit additional attention.

#4. Inbound links

Are people linking to your site? This means that your content is improving your credibility. When other sites start viewing you as an authority, it can increase your site traffic and help you achieve a higher spot in search rankings.


While many consider “shares” to be somewhat of a vanity metric, they’re worth keeping track of so that you can see which channels your content is resonating on.

#6. Comments and interactions.

Comments on your content are great indications that you’re sparking conversation and making an impact on your readers.

#7. Cost per click (CPC)

If you’re promoting your content via pay per click ads or sponsored social postings, track your cost per click to see your return on investment for those campaigns.

#8. Cost per lead (CPL).

Similarly, cost per lead is another valuable metric you can start tracking to measure your content marketing ROI.

#9. Lead generation. (Number of leads generated per day/week/month etc)

For many companies, content marketing is primarily a lead generation tactic, used to acquire leads through forms and content downloads. Keep track of how many leads originate from a piece of marketing content, so that your content gets credit for that revenue if the deal closes.

#10. Influence.

Has your content served as a touch point for leads at any point during the sales process? If so, you can judge the number of leads, opportunities, or closed deals that have been “influenced” by your content.

#11. Conversion rates.

At ContentLabs, we advise clients to focus on measuring the following content marketing conversion rates:

  • Visitor-to-subscriber
  • Visitor-to-lead

You should then use your CRM system to monitor which of these leads are converting to sales qualified leads and ultimately, paying customers. Then you can attribute your content marketing activity to sales generated, with your content being the ‘original source’ of the enquiry.

When it comes to content marketing, you’ll want to make sure you’re optimising your conversion rates at every possible opportunity. If not, you risk losing valuable leads who would have converted, but decided not to for one reason or another.

#12. Followers and/or subscribers.


The number of followers and subscribers you have to your blog/enewsletter/social channels is a great indication of brand awareness. If increasing your brand awareness is one of the goals on your list, make sure you’re keeping track of these numbers.

How to do content marketing well

Publish regular, valuable content for your target audience. This should attract relevant, targeted traffic to your website. The goal here is to convert those visitors to contacts (leads) in your database. Many companies choose to outsource content creation, scheduling and management to a third party, such as a content marketing agency or freelance partner; to allow their internal teams to focus on their day jobs.

Utilise marketing automation tools such as Hubspot or Mailchimp (disclaimer: there are other providers available!), to encourage visitors to download content/sign up for something in exchange for their contact details, which are then added to mailing lists.

Lead magnets’ such as eBooks and Whitepapers, are a great way to increase the number of leads that are generated from content marketing. Here, the goal is to encourage visitors to leave their contact details in exchange for something of value to them – for example, a free guide that helps them do their job easier to address a specific challenge they are facing.

You can qualify your leads using specific questions/fields on your lead flows/enquiry forms, and by establishing lead scoring based on specific criteria, such as number of engagements/downloads/page views/email clicks etc. Here, we can assume that someone who has engaged with your content repeatedly, is interested in your company and what you have to offer, so their ‘score’ is higher.

Read more about Lead Scoring over on Hubspot’s blog.

(We’ll be covering the ‘How’ of content marketing in more detail in upcoming posts. Watch this space….)

Final thoughts

Remember to “Educate first, sell second”. You want to be the company that is solving your target customers’ problems, creating or meeting un-met needs in the market you operate in, and establishing a strong and credible brand.

When it comes to content marketing, it’s all down to growth. Considering that the majority of content discovered by your audience comes from 3 main channels: email, search and social (Source: Marketo); you’ll want to continuously measure your growth in the following key areas:

  • Subscribers (e.g. on social, or for a blog / email list)
  • Downloads
  • Page views
  • Traffic source (search, social, organic, referrals, direct etc) – you’ll want to establish where your visitors came from. If your organic reach is high then your content is working. If your paid search is sending the most traffic to your site – hurrah! – it’s working, and is money well spent)

Basically, anything that you can put a number on and measure the percent change over time!


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