Allison Thomas
Allison Thomas

Today’s content marketing is a complicated beast. Companies pour billions into rich, highly-targeted campaigns that deliver incredible, personalized value and convince, convert, and nurture prospects at scale. Yet, despite companies investing heavily into martech and creating incredibly intelligent and analytically-dense campaigns, a full 65% of marketers can’t quantify their marketing ROI. It’s a big problem.

Here’s where things get strange: 80 percent of B2B brands measure KPIs for campaign performance, but 57% don’t actively measure ROI on those campaigns. Something isn’t working. Obviously, measuring KPI isn’t easy. Intangible marketing factors like “branding” are notoriously difficult to track — since they often involve layers of qualitative metrics and measurements. But it’s not impossible.

Today, we want to explore how businesses can measure their B2B content marketing ROI effectively and discuss exactly how difficult measuring ROI is in the real world.

Why Measure Your Marketing ROI?

To save money. Well… that was simple. Alright. So it’s a little more complicated than that. You need to know your ROI for each campaign to help you understand your overall campaign effectiveness. Low-ROI campaigns aren’t only costing you more money, but they’re actively producing less leads-per-dollar than high-ROI campaigns. So, not only are you bleeding capital that could be allocated to sales, R&D, M&A, and other business ventures, but you’re reducing your pipeline density and quality.

Here’s the problem: a mere 35% of marketers say that measuring and understanding their campaign ROI is “important” or “very important.” Want to know why? Because they’re not expected to measure it. Pesky intangibles and qualitative metrics force business owners to abandon their content ROI-driven dreams. But failing to track and measure your content ROI can quickly put you in a tricky position, and turning a blind eye to your bottom-line content marketing revenue and costs can quickly inhibit growth.

How to Measure Your Content ROI

The actual content ROI equation is super simple. ROI = (Return – Investment)/Investment x100. So, if you spend $1,000 on content and you get $2,000 worth of value out of that content, your ROI is:

  • $2,000 (return) – $1,000 (investment) = $1,000
  • $1,000 (sum of step 1)/$1,000 (investment) = 1
  • 1 X 100 = 100
  • Can I measure ROI on my ad campaigns & other marketing efforts?

That’s a 100% return on investment. Not bad!

But here’s the problem. How do you measure return? Investment is easy. You simply calculate costs. But your return can be tricky. You need to converge a variety of ROI-centric metrics to help you measure the impact of your content strategy across a variety of sources. To be honest, this is a little too complicated to break down broadly.

Every business is different. For example, web traffic may be valuable to a newer business looking to build out its SEO and content strategy. Measuring traffic may need to be directly incorporated into ROI, since boosting traffic may help you drive successful conversions due to lack of traffic alone. But, larger businesses may be more concerned with MQLs generated through each content piece. Traffic may be a poor indicator for a business that already generates a ton of traffic. After all, traffic generated by a piece of content may be a result of their already strong SEO presence, so measuring that traffic really tells them nothing about that content’s overall value.

In other words, measuring ROI is entirely possible. But it requires intense collaboration between sales, marketing, and any outsourced agency. You need to a deep-dive into your marketing needs and requirements and leverage them effectively. Again, metrics will vary from business-to-business.

Factoring in Intangibles

We’ve established that measuring ROI involves plenty of metrics and equations. But what about all of the things you can’t actually measure? How do you measure the impact of a piece on branding? How would you possibly measure whether a piece of content inspired a customer to do outside research and come back ready-to-purchase in two months? The world of content marketing is jam-packed with intangibles. In fact, there are FAR more intangibles than tangibles. So how do you incorporate them into your ROI?

You don’t! At least, not directly. The easiest ways to measure intangibles is to look at your content marketing strategy holistically. As a whole, are things working well? If they are, you’re probably nailing some of those intangibles. If they’re not, you may have an issue with those intangibles. This is the hardest part of content ROI. You have to think both granularly and broadly, and you need to incorporate both metrics and qualitative thinking.

TAM Can Help

The truth is: measuring content ROI is difficult. It isn’t (and never will be) a straightforward task. You may need help. At TAM, we are a highly specialized team of experts with a proven strategy to increase revenue for B2B/SaaS organizations and achieve other goals like new client acquisition. Talk to us about how to create an effective content strategy and measure it.