The Importance of Content ROI

Image credit: © 2014 Matthew Inman, via The Oatmeal.

Quantify it. Forget about hunches, intuition or the “thud” factor. Forget how you feel about a headline, a piece of content, or what’s worked wonders in the past. You can even forget about the latest buzzwords like thought-leadership, brand-awareness and name-recognition. Just like political punditry was shown to be grossly inferior to data analytics in the most recent presidential election, when it comes to marketing strategy, anything short of quantitative metrics backed up by the data of how your tactics are performing is simply unacceptable in today’s economy.

But what, exactly, is it that you need? What should you be measuring, and how should you be measuring it? The simple key — believe it or not — is to track the engagement of everything you post or share, and to track how your audience is engaging with it.

Did you post a piece of content to Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn? Great! But how did it perform? Likes, retweets and recommendations are great, but did that “reach” actually accomplish anything?

Far more valuable is information like:

  • Clickthroughs/pageviews: how many people actually clicked through to the content item you wanted them to view?
  • Time spent reading: if you linked to a 2000-word piece and your typical reader left after 7 seconds, that isn’t exactly what you’d define as “success,” is it?
  • Interactions/engagement: did someone contact you after reading something you posted? Did you get a comment, a question, a lead or a conversion out of it? And if so, how many and how good were they?

The simplest thing you can do to get started is to track all of your URLs that you send out, whether through an automated or a manual process. If you can collect the data on where your traffic is coming from and how that audience is behaving, that can inform where the best ROI on your marketing efforts is going to come from. Once you have this information, you can decide where to concentrate your efforts, how to choose the best type of content and messaging to engage your audience, how to personalize and increase your odds of conversion, and use those tactics to help grow your business. It’s an iterative process, where you’re constantly refining your strategy as the world and market changes, and you’re adapting in real-time to meet the ever-changing needs of your customers.

Take those first steps:

    1. Define what metrics are important to you and your goals.
    2. Track all of your posts quantitatively for engagement and user behavior.
    3. Measure what the return on your investment is (and that return can come in many different forms, not just sales conversions).
    4. Then, use that information to inform your strategies moving forward.

Without doing those things, you’ll be stabbing in the dark. Sure, every once in a while you might hit something, but in today’s world, we have the technology to turn on the lights. And once everything becomes illuminated, you’ll never accept going back to the dark ages again.


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