When a manufacturer invests in a new piece of equipment or technology, the business’s owner expects to make money by realizing efficiencies or new capabilities. It’s a straightforward equation: Buy equipment, produce more widgets faster, sell them in greater quantities and increase revenue.
It doesn’t work like that when a company shells out cash to a professional content writer who pens blogs, social media posts, press releases and other tools of the content marketing trade.
As with more traditional print media and television advertising, the financial return on a content marketing investment is vague at best. That’s because marketing communications is about influencing customers’ feelings about a brand through various touch points. And determining how much influence any sort of campaign has accomplished is murky at best.
Here’s a scenario to consider.
A cosmetic dentist pays a professional writer to maintain a blog with advice for people who are interested in porcelain veneers. Does the information contained in the blog impact a patient’s willingness to call the office and schedule a consultation? Did some aspect of the blog prompt the customer select this particular dentist? Or would the patient have called anyway?
Without asking each individual patient why he or she chose the particular practice, the dentist may never be able to quantify a content marketing campaign’s results. Even so, there are metrics that can show a content marketing campaign has been impactful. Consider these:
Call Tracking Tools
This analytical tool allows businesses to embed a trackable phone number in content that’s delivered in email blasts, associated with mobile content and other digital efforts. Call tracking allows a business to determine exactly where the call originated, so it’s easier to determine which content was most effective.
Not only will examining the number of times content has been liked, pinned or retweeted give an estimate of content marketing’s influence, but it will also provide insight into the type of content that works best for a specific audience. After accessing this data, businesses can decide to adopt a more laid-back writing style if that seems to work well, or create more videos or infographics if they’re shared more frequently than other types of content.
The granddaddy of all efforts to quantify digital marketing efforts, Google Analytics can’t be overlooked when determining return on investment in content marketing. Bounce rate, time on page, page views and other metrics are each important to determining what type of content works what doesn’t. A business can tell which pages are common exit points and decide how to improve content so it’s seen by more eyes.
If a reader takes the time to comment on a blog, he or she has probably experienced an emotional reaction to the content. And while it’s ideal, comments don’t have to be positive to prove a piece was effective. Negative feedback on a particular blog still counts are interaction.
Determining return on investment in content marketing isn’t always a clear-cut endeavor, but some metrics allow businesses to gage the effectiveness of campaigns. Doing so will also identify the types of content that work best with audiences.
Chelsea A is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.