Return on investment. It’s the defining factor for nearly every marketing campaign, especially when it comes to content marketing. That’s why it’s critical to understand the proper tools and concepts to gain the most accurate ROI.
In the following article, we’ll explore how an editorial calendar can help track a blog’s performance by:
Explaining how to calculate content marketing ROI
Detailing how to track a blog’s performance
Highlighting examples of an Editorial Calendar optimized to increase ROI
One of the greatest challenges for marketers often involves gaining buy-in from stakeholders. Sure, your marketing department’s ideas may be worthy of the time and effort needed to gain the desired results, but others may not initially agree.
That’s because in the modern world of business, especially considering the difficulties of navigating the Covid-19 pandemic, stakeholders want to know bottom line numbers.
For example, it’s likely you’ve heard some variation of the following questions when pitching content marketing ideas such as:
- Will this idea generate revenue?
- If so, how long will it take to produce results?
- What will this cost us?
Essentially, these questions stem from the simple question: Is this idea worth it?
To answer that question—and the others that will no doubt follow—you’ll need to demonstrate the ROI of your content marketing efforts.
How do you calculate ROI?
To calculate ROI, simply subtract your costs from the revenue your content generated. Then, divide that number by your costs and multiply by 100 (see below).
For example, let’s say that your content for the month generated $2,000. Your costs (including tools, man hours, etc.) was $1,200. Using the equation above, you can see that the ROI from your content marketing efforts was roughly 67%.
What if you’re creating content for the first time?
If your company has experienced successful content marketing campaigns before, it’s relatively easy to follow-up with management to gain buy-in for future content ideas.
Maximize your Content with our FREE Editorial Calendar Template
But what if you’re tasked with creating content for the first time?
Fortunately, there are a few techniques first-time content creators can use to develop a successful content strategy. Most notably, a competitor analysis is a great place to start.
Begin by making a list of 3-4 competitors actively blogging for their websites. This list will help highlight areas of success, or identify any gaps that could influence your own content efforts. Some tools you can use to analyze a competitor’s blog include:
- Google Search Console
- SEM Rush
These tools are great for gaining insights into a blog’s performance, but what about your blog? Once you have buy-in from stakeholders: How do you accurately track performance with real-time analytics and results?
- How To Create An SEO-Driven Editorial Calendar For Your Blog [PLUS FREE TEMPLATE]
- 9 KPIs that every Content Marketer Needs to Track
How to Track Your Blog’s Performance
1. Define your goals.
Goal setting initiatives are critical to mapping out a campaign’s success. Previously in another post, we highlighted the 5 goals every organization should include in their content marketing efforts, but to review, those goals are:
- Search Engine Optimization
- Brand Awareness
- Retention and Brand Loyalty
While it’s true each organization will have their own unique goals and objectives for their content marketing efforts, these 5 goals offer a launching point for a variety of commonly used themes associated with content marketing campaigns.
Goal setting is essential because it maps the process for your content campaign. But when it comes to tracking the metrics needed for an accurate ROI, look no further than key performance indicators.
2. Determine the proper KPIs.
Key performance metrics, or KPIs, are quantifiable measurements that gauge your performance against your goals.
They go hand-in-hand with goal setting initiatives for content marketing campaigns by acting as checkpoints to help meet business goals. And, when it comes to publishing a blog, these are the KPIs your content marketing team should include in their research.
Page visits simply refers to the number of visitors that land on a specific website page. For blogging, this KPI helps you identify which posts are more successful than others.
A solid method to breaking down page visits includes a thorough view of website sessions, which identifies the total number of visits to your website, including new and repeat visits.
It’s important to factor in the total number of published blog pages into your website sessions as well.
Hubspot’s Topic Cluster Report is a great tool to use for page visits because it creates a report showing the total number of website sessions for a selected group of blog posts within a campaign.
Users can view up-to-date analytics for selected dates, which is also available with a graph tracking progress as well.
Time on Page
Web sessions are important, but factoring the amount of time users spend on a page is also critical in calculating ROI. That’s because an increase in time on page proves your blog is providing meaningful information for users.
Conversely, a decrease in time on page is a good indicator that your content should be optimized to better meet the needs of your visitors.
An important KPI to factor in time on page includes bounce rate, which represents the percentage of website visitors who enter your site and promptly leave instead of visiting other pages.
The audience overview report from Google Analytics is a great tool to determine your bounce rate. Much like Hubspot’s topic cluster report, users can review analytics over a selected date range with a graph tracking progress.
Conversion rate is a critical component to tracking ROI because it refers to the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action. For content marketers, the desired action is usually a download or form submission, such as a newsletter or content offer download.
This helps determine the real value of your content. For example, if users visit your page, but aren’t converting, it probably means your landing pages, content offers, and blog aren’t as valuable as they need to be.
In that case, a thorough review, or optimization should be the next step to boost content.
To calculate this essential KPI, check out the formula below:
Visitor to lead conversion rate can show how many visitors become known leads within a database (through newsletter signup or content offer downloads, for example).
3. Gain feedback through social media engagement
Social media is a great way to answer the question: What are people talking about? Fortunately for marketers looking to gain insights into their blog’s social media metrics, there are several free tools available.
Some of these include:
- Facebook Analytics
- Twitter Analytics
- Instagram Insights
- LinkedIn Page Analytics
These free tools provide an excellent overview of your blog’s success on a social level. Also, by placing links to your blog’s social media channels at the footer of each blog post, you can help keep the conversation moving with your audience.
4. Conduct a backlink audit
Link building is a key term for marketers and SEO strategists alike. That’s because a strong list of backlinks can significantly strengthen the search engine rankings for a website page.
When it comes to analyzing links for a web page, ahrefs backlink profile provides a thorough report with metrics, such as new links, external/internal links, and daily changes in link totals.
The process of attracting links to your content from other websites and domains can be hard, but one possible solution includes identifying influencers or other sites who might be willing to link to your content once it’s published.
Getting other reputable websites or social influencers to link back to your content or share with their own audiences can be a great way to rank faster, while attracting new readers through the influencer’s own audience along the way.
Some excellent tools for identifying outreach opportunities include:
- Moz’s Open Site Explorer
5. Review Keyword Rankings
Keyword rankings are critical because they shed light on the simple question: Is your content providing answers to the questions users are asking?
Essentially, this concept is the core component of the inbound methodology itself. Your blog helps guide users along their journey to selecting a product or service, which is why a strong list of keywords is critical for success.
There are several tools available (both paid and free) for researching the best possible keywords for a blog, however, when it comes to tracking a blog’s keyword performance, SEM Rush’s position tracker is particularly helpful.
This tool allows your content team to track keyword rankings over time for a specific website. With a visual display of success, or areas of needed growth, the position tracker is an excellent analytics tool to determine how your blog is performing with organic traffic.
6. Update your Editorial Calendar with the Proper Metrics
So now that you have a list of KPIs to account for in your marketing efforts along with the proper tools to find the most accurate metrics, it’s important to ask: How do I bring this all together?
The simple solution is to create an editorial calendar and keep it updated throughout each campaign. We recommend creating a calendar through Google Sheets, but any spreadsheet-style document works well.
And when it comes to evaluating the metrics associated with content marketing ROI, the more information the better. That’s because content marketing ROI involves a balancing act between what has, or hasn’t been working.
Maximizing your Content Marketing ROI
An editorial calendar provides the framework for the metrics involved with content marketing ROI, but it’s equally important to understand how these metrics impact your campaign overall.
A great place to start evaluating your blog’s performance is to create an SEO-driven editorial calendar that tracks all of your metrics under a shared document.
Need help getting started? Download our free editorial template or contact us to start tracking your blog’s performance and generate the highest possible ROI!