A Simple Plan to Measure Marketing Content Effectiveness
A step-by-step guide to understanding content success and measuring content performance
Say you’ve just finished and distributed a masterful piece of sales enablement content to your reps. You breathe a sigh of relief as you close all your browser tabs and finally check the project off your list. Time to move on to the next one.
Unfortunately, that’s the problem. Many organizations neglect the most crucial step in the sales content lifecycle — analysis.
But how do you know what to analyze? The technology platforms most sales teams use collect enough data to fill a hundred hard drives. What do we focus on to determine the efficacy of our content?
In this post, we’re going to do a deep dive into how to understand sales enablement ROI, how to measure your content marketing effectiveness, and specific KPIs and metrics you should be tracking as part of your marketing strategy.
What Is Marketing Content Success?
Content marketing is one of the best marketing tactics around. It helps draw in organic searchers from Google, builds trust with your audience, and helps you sell your products and services.
Good content marketing isn’t spammy or salesly, but full of relevant and valuable insights for your target audience. But how will you know that your marketing content is a success?
A simple plan for measuring the marketing effectiveness of content is to collect marketing analytics.
Some companies do this through online platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn. For instance, your likes, shares, and followers are among the most common measurement of digital content marketing effectiveness through social media.
But this doesn’t mean these data are relevant to your measurement plan for a content strategy.
Instead, define your key performance indicators early on. Through these metrics, you’ll be able to assess which specific data you should collect.
Some key examples of actionable metrics you can measure are:
- Ad clicks
- Email engagements (opens and clicks)
- Website viewing time
- Bounce rate
- Goal completions (such as filling out a form or clicking a button)
Calculating ROI – the most important content performance metric
Content marketing ROI is the ratio of net profit to the cost of investment in a particular piece of content.
It’s often presented as a dollar amount and reveals how much net revenue a piece of content generated over a set period of time.
It’s safe to say that ROI is the most important metric to track. If a piece of content succeeds in every other metric but produces a negative ROI, it fails (from a revenue standpoint, at least).
Thankfully, that’s usually not the case. Success in other KPIs like engagement, conversion, or traffic often predicts a positive ROI. We’ll get to those other KPIs later in this post. For now, let’s talk about how to calculate the ROI on a piece of sales content.
It seems feasible to tie a monetary value into a bottom-of-funnel piece of content. After all, the goal of content in that stage is to close deals. But how do you tie value into something as abstract as an education blog post or downloadable eBook?
This three-step process will help you calculate the ROI of any piece of content, regardless of funnel location or type.
Find the cost of the asset
The first step in any ROI calculation is to determine the investment amount. In the case of content marketing, that amount is the total cost of what it took to produce and distribute a particular asset.
The following four categories will usually cover all expenses in the content creation process. I’d recommend starting a spreadsheet and logging each of these amounts for organization:
● Personnel cost
It goes without saying that the most valuable (and expensive) asset you have in content creation is your people. To discern the personnel cost of content creation, divide each contributing employee’s yearly salary by the amount of time it took them to create the content.
Admittedly, this technique isn’t 100% foolproof as employees are likely working on other things in tandem with the asset at hand, but it’s a great place to start.
If you want to be precise, you can coach your content creators to use a free time-tracking service like Toggl to better understand how much time each piece of content demands from your team.
The cost of any contracted help you’ve hired to create or consult on the content should be noted here as well.
● Software cost
Everything from your team’s graphic design programs to any marketing automation or distribution software costs should be listed here. If your software is utilized on a subscription basis, divide the yearly cost by the time spent creating the content for a more accurate cost estimate.
● Ad spend cost
Any social ads, PPC campaigns, or paid promotion should be noted in this category.
Calculate your lead-to-customer rate
Your lead-to-customer rate is what percentage of generated leads become closed deals. This can be challenging to calculate if you don’t have a decent sample size of leads that have made their way through the sales cycle.
Most CRMs like SalesForce will have features that allow you to export this number as a report. Another way is to export a CSV of all closed deals over the past month, quarter, or year (the more time, the better) and divide that by the total number of leads collected over that same timeframe.
For example, if you collected 2500 leads in 2019 and 150 of them became customers, your lead-to-customer rate would be .06, or 6%.
Determine your average sales price
Unless you’re selling one fixed-price product, you’ll likely have variance in your deal costs. Use your CRM’s completed sales data to determine the average price of a closed deal.
Tally contribution to closed revenue
Your contribution considers three things — your revenue, direct cost, and fixed costs. But how can you get your actual contribution?
The direct cost is the cost of goods sold (COGS). It consists of costs that directly contribute to the production of your products. So you’d have to subtract this value from your revenue to get your total contributions.
But in any business, you’ll also have to consider your fixed costs. You’ll usually pay for them from your contributions. So your excess contribution becomes the total profit of your business.
Plug the numbers into this ROI formula
Once you’re confident you’ve got all the requisite data, you can plug them into this formula suggested by HubSpot:
[((number of leads x lead-to-customer rate x average deal cost) – cost or ad spend) ÷ cost or ad spend] x 100
If you’re not a math person, this will probably seem overwhelming. It’s not so bad if you take each part of the equation step-by-step. Let’s break it down with a real-world example.
Content ROI example
Say you’re the head of a marketing department for a guitar manufacturer. You’ve just published a well-researched and polished eBook on how to get started playing guitar.
You plan to use this asset as a top-of-funnel lead generation tool to collect email addresses and nurture leads to hopefully purchase one of your guitars.
The personnel cost of the employees who created the content was $4,000, your lead-to-customer rate is 14%, and the average cost of a sale is $1,000. You spend a total of $500 on PPC ads, social ads, and various promotions.
After six weeks, the asset has generated 350 leads. Utilizing the above formula, your equation would look like this:
[((350 x .14 x 1,000) – 4,500) ÷ 4,500] x 100 = $988
So over the past six weeks, the asset has generated roughly $988 in net revenue for your guitar manufacturing business. Of course, your lead-to-customer rate is always in flux, and there are a number of variables that will affect revenue. This is a ballpark figure, but still much more informative than no data at all.
Also keep in mind that the longer the asset performs, the more leads it will collect. Over time, the ROI will continue to grow.
So how do you know if this is a good ROI? Well, until you have other content to compare it against, you don’t. Consider this content your new benchmark.
For your next campaign, let’s say you take the content in the eBook and repurpose it into a short video course for beginner guitarists.
At the end of the day, the cost of producing the course is $9,000. But over the same six week period, the asset has generated a whopping 2,500 leads. Using the same formula above, the new ROI equation would look something like this:
[((2,500 x .14 x 1,000) – 9,000) ÷ 9,000] x 100 = $3,788
Clearly, budding guitar players respond better to video content. You now have a clear roadmap for what you need to be focusing on
Some simple retroactive analysis on your content marketing efforts can save your organization from spinning its wheel on ineffective tactics. It takes some legwork to get an accurate picture of your content marketing ROI, but once you have a clear picture of what works and what doesn’t, the revenue-generating potential is significant.
Conduct this calculation often, especially after the content has been performing for a significant amount of time in the marketplace. The longer the time frame, the more accurate your ROI calculation will be.
4 Tips to take your marketing content plan to the next level
Having a robust marketing and sales team is the backbone of any company. But without a solid marketing content plan, they won’t know how to identify and engage with leads.
So the answer to how to generate more deals with your prospects is by setting up a measurement plan for content marketing.
With this, you’ll have more time finding qualified leads who will buy your products. Below is a four-step guide to take your marketing content plan to the next level.
Track all buyer and seller engagements automatically
Measuring content marketing effectiveness can give you valuable data for your marketing plan.
You can use information from your CRM to assess where your prospects are in the buying cycle.
You wouldn’t want your reps to document every interaction and lead they have on their own. It’s time-consuming and can also lead to data inaccuracies and expensive mistakes.
Instead, you can use automated tools to make your documentation quicker and more reliable. They can also capture more data that CRMs can’t handle.
Collect actionable metrics
Finding a lead is the most challenging part you’ll encounter in your marketing content plan. Regardless of how long you’ve been in the industry, this will always be your primary goal. But collecting particular actionable metrics can help your team overcome this problem.
So what exactly are these actionable metrics?
You can treat your buyers’ intent data as your actionable metrics. This is powerful information that can influence your actions and decisions. You’ll also usually get them from your CRM, website data, and social media engagements.
In particular, a buyers’ intent data is a set of signals that let you understand your buyers’ behaviors. It’s a powerful tool that can tell you how close they are to buying your product. It can also show you the type of content they want.
From such data, you’ll be able to tailor your posts, emails, and the like, using these metrics. A more personalized pitch to your leads will guarantee more successful returns.
There are three key indicators to look out for in your buyers’ intent data. These include your buyers’ time investment, engagement, and communication habits. Below is an overview of these specific parameters:
- Buyers’ Time Investment – The first valuable indicator in a buyers’ intent data is how fast you can reach out to your prospects. Remember that it’s easier to close a deal when a buyer has recently viewed your product. Waiting for weeks or months before contacting them won’t be of much help to you. They may have already made a buying decision or forgotten all about you. So to close more deals, you’d have to incorporate this valuable data into your marketing content plan.
- Buyers’ Engagement – A simple plan for measuring the marketing effectiveness of content is your buyers’ engagement. You should be looking at topics and materials that keep your audience hooked. For instance, a lead that clicks on your post may mean they’re viewing your products and services. You can take it as an indicator that it’s time to reach out to them. They’re likely to be in the buying cycle at the moment.
- Buyers’ Communication Habits – Finally, assessing your buyers’ communication habits can give you an edge over your competitors. Communication is vital in a successful marketing content plan. Understanding your lead’s wants will help you secure more deals. Their responses can also help create a more personalized approach when reaching out to them. You can empower them through tailored email lists or a reliable chatbox on your website.
Analyzing these three indicators is key to having accurate buyers’ intent data. It can change how you prospect and reach out to your leads and thus, influence how many deals you can close. It’s also effective in identifying short-, mid-, and long-term buyers. So you can engage with them with a more tailored content and approach.
Talk to and learn from industry peers
No two businesses are exactly alike in the industry. You’ll always have varying levels of expertise in different areas.
So one of the biggest mistakes with any marketing content plan is labeling competitors as competition. Instead, you need to understand the value of forging partnerships.
Through these relationships, you can learn about others’ successes and failures. You’ll also be able to come up with possible solutions to problems you’ve encountered. You may even learn more approaches on how to measure content marketing effectiveness.
Be ready to adapt
Content marketing analytics measure the effectiveness of your marketing content plan. Generally, getting these metrics is the exciting part. But it’s not enough to collect these insights alone. You’ll need to be ready to change your operations and systems.
You’ll find this step difficult, but it’s vital. You need to get out of your comfort zone and acknowledge your failures and room for improvement.
Think of it as improving the current systems you have in place to secure more deals.
Content marketing metrics by funnel location
At the beginning of this post, we talked about how the definition of content success changes drastically as you move between funnel stages. It’s unproductive to judge an asset in the bottom of the funnel by criteria for top-of-funnel content.
The lines between the funnel stages can get blurry when scrutinized closely, but generally speaking, the following are KPIs most often tied to funnel location:
Top of funnel metrics
- Web traffic
- Email list conversions
Middle of funnel metrics
- Demo or free trial requests
- Qualified leads
- Buyer Energy
Bottom of funnel metrics
- Up-sells or cross-sells
KPIs by content type
The reason email lists are such powerful assets for your organization is because it’s one of the few things you actually own. Almost all other databases of prospects are held captive by either a social media platform or some form of software. Therefore, having a direct line to your audience via marketing emails isn’t something to be overlooked.
Writing effective marketing emails is both an art and a science. People are increasingly wearied by marketing emails inundating their inbox, but if you’re offering truly valuable content, email is still a valid content marketing strategy.
Here are some of the email marketing terms you’ll want to dive into if you want to be effective:
- Opens – How many people (or what percentage of your recipients) opened your email. A high open rate is often indicative of a great subject line
- Clicks – How many people clicked any link in your email
- CTR (click-through rate) – How many people both opened and clicked through the call-to-action in your email. The true sign of a great marketing email lies in this metric
- Unsubscribes – How many people opted out of receiving your emails. Many email marketing platforms have exit surveys that users can take to give more insight into their reason for leaving
- Bounces – How many emails were unsuccessfully received by users in the database. A high bounce rate is a telltale sign of “dirty data.”
Web traffic doesn’t directly generate revenue, but it is the first step to conversions, which turn into leads, which turn into sales. Therefore, it shouldn’t be overlooked.
Simply put, web traffic is attention. What you do with that attention once it’s on the page is another topic altogether. In our low-attention-span instant-gratification world, getting people to pay any amount of attention to your content should be considered a win.
Web traffic is most easily discerned by Google Analytics or similar web analytics tools. Some terms you’ll want to familiarize yourself with as you dig deeper into your traffic are:
- Traffic sources – this represents where on the web your traffic is arriving from. Common sources are social media platforms, search engines, direct from the browser, ads, or referrals (backlinks from other sites)
- Session – The period of time a user is active on your site
- Bounce rate – A single-page session on your site, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests. Bounce rate is single-page sessions divided by all sessions. A high bounce rate often indicates unengaging content or mismatched intent
- Pageview – A pageview is an instance of a page being loaded (or reloaded) in a browser. A high pageview count within one session means the user is engaging with other pages on your site.
These metrics are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to web tracking and all that a tool like Google Analytics can do, but they’re a great place to start.
YouTube is the second most-used search engine in the world right now. By 2021, the average person will spend 100 minutes every day watching online videos (a 19% increase from 2019).
93% of companies claim they got a new customer because of video content.
It’s safe to say that video marketing is here to stay. If you’re going to dive into the world of video marketing, here are the most important metrics to track:
- Likes or positive reactions
- Dislikes or negative reactions
- Watch time
Webinars are excellent marketing channels for a few reasons:
- It’s a great way to engage live with your audience and answer questions
- Most of the content can be repurposed into other forms of content with little effort
- You can offer real-time calls-to-action on the webinar and convert multiple leads simultaneously
- Most webinar platforms offer in-depth metrics that help you understand how well your content is resonating with audiences.
These metrics include:
- Registrations – Most webinar registrations come with a promise of value or in exchange for a piece of content. The key to a high sign-up rate is a captivating webinar landing page with a clear path to register and how the webinar will enrich the lives of the attenders.
- Attendees – The amount of people who actually attended the webinar. Anything about 50-60% would generally be considered a success, but these numbers fluctuate based on audience size and industry.
- Attention – Many webinar tools like GotoMeeting come with built-in analytics that will determine how long the webinar window is in focus on the attendee’s screen. Meaning, if they’re minimizing your content, navigating away from the webinar, or just letting it play in the background, the dashboard will reflect that. You can even drill down into specific parts of the webinar that didn’t hold the attendees’ attention for ideas on what to cut or improve for next time.
- Survey results – Just about every webinar platform offers some sort of survey functionality. Not only are audience surveys a great way to break the ice before the webinar content begins, but depending on what questions you ask, you can also get some illuminating content ideas for the future.
- Conversions – Every webinar should have some sort of call-to-action, generally placed at the end of the content. It doesn’t need to be an aggressive hard-sell. It can be a nudge to download a specific asset or a free trial offer. Whatever your “lead magnet” is, you should set up a custom, trackable URL in Google Analytics to isolate the traffic coming from the webinar. Create a redirect link that’s specific to this call-to-action and send all traffic there as part of your offer. That way, you’ll be able to cross-reference any traffic or conversions to that page against your webinar registrations and better understand how the content performed.
eBook or other downloadable
Most assets like eBooks, one-pagers, or white papers are PDFs and therefore impossible to track engagement on after they’re initially downloaded. In essence, you’re flying blind.
With a tool like Accent Connect, you can set up microsites that allow you to not only track how a prospect engages with downloadable content, but even send over specifically relevant pieces of that content (like a page of an eBook, for example). Metrics on how long the prospect reads the piece are tracked and tied to their lead record in your CRM.
Automate your analysis
Tracking content marketing success is just the beginning of the sales cycle. How do you take that data gathered from your analysis and use it to make decisions and close more deals?
Look for AI-driven sales and marketing platforms that gather your CRM data and visualize how your content effectiveness is driving your deals forward. Eliminates the busy work of trying to correlate content success with real revenue and helps your sales reps get back to actual selling.
To learn more about how Accent Technologies can help you not only optimize and distribute your content but also give your sales reps intelligent insights at a glance, contact our team today.
Accent Technologies is the first and only SaaS company to bring together Sales AI and Content Management in a true revenue enablement platform. We provide both sales and marketing with better visibility into the performance of their teams. This drives revenue through intelligent recommendations for complex sales scenarios, and provides the data for rich analytics that calculate buyer energy and power better coaching and forecasting for sales management. Learn more about our solutions or request a LIVE DEMO to see it in action.
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