How To Measure Content Marketing ROI

Before getting into the gist of performance tracking and result measurements, we need to understand what content marketing is and what the role of content marketing strategies are. In this article, we'll be teaching you what content marketing ROI is and how to measure content marketing ROI, as well as introduce you to some metrics you need to track your content marketing ROI.

We'll also make sure you know the difference between content marketing KPIs and the measuring metrics. It's important to remember that everything you do to grow your business should have a specific and measurable goal. This is the only way you'll know if you're on the right track. Especially in marketing, you need metrics to make sure your initiatives are contributing to business growth.

published: May 29, 2021
updated: June 25, 2021

What is content marketing?

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as the creation and distribution of relevant and consistent information, with the essential purpose of driving profitable customer actions.

Simply put, content is what distinguishes your brand from the vast majority of competitors. A well-crafted brand narrative is required to give flavour to marketing actions, this is where content marketing comes into play. In a challenging market, quality content marketing is essential in gaining a competitive edge and buy-in from consumers.

Content adds body and feel to marketing initiatives, without this substance, the essence of marketing is lost. Important to remember is that marketing reaches the consumers, content makes them want to learn more about your brand and keeps them returning to you.

In order to retain customers, coherence in content should be considered a valuable area of focus. It will also add to the validity of your brand’s trustworthiness when content presents a united front and voice across the brand.

The brand’s value is found within its content, it relays a story with the goal of resonating with consumers. That’s why content marketing strategies are essential in creating an esteemed brand reputation, with the purpose of cultivating a loyal brand following and to support continuous business growth.

Content marketing also helps you to become a valuable source of information to consumers and creates a level of trustworthiness for you in the media. Your content helps to shape thought leadership pieces and can enhance your brand reputation, through providing the industry with valuable research and information.

Content is what sets you apart from others, by creating a distinctive voice for your brand in a competitive market space. More importantly, quality content engages consumers and acts as a trustworthy source of information, building brand reputation.

The effectiveness of content marketing strategies

For marketing content to be effective, it needs to be valued by the target audience. When considering the brand’s content, the planning thereof can be thought about as a blueprint for future marketing messages.

These messages need to be structured in such a way to ultimately create a content pattern that conveys the company’s key essence and tone of voice. Through this, the brand can be established as a thought leader in its respective field.

A well planned strategy will also help you to stay consistent against market trends, as well as to stay relevant to the target audience’s expectations. Additionally, content marketing strategies allow you to respond to possible questions consumers have.

Effectively, content marketing strategies aid the holistic brand strategy and helps you stay on track with your overall marketing objectives and helps you meet your overall marketing goal.

Essentially, the content marketing strategy delivers a unified brand message across platforms and media channels, ensuring that a consistent brand image is achieved. This is due to the nature of this strategic process being effective in developing integrated brand messaging, whilst avoiding “sameness” on different platforms.

This creates audience engagement, trust and compels the audience to act. The advantages of a content marketing strategy are that consumers can relate to your brand, can be inspired by your brand, and ultimately feel motivated to become involved with your brand.

This involvement could be purchases, social media interactions, joining loyalty programs, or generally advocating your brand to others. In this, we can see that content marketing strategies help shape the brand personality and its storytelling abilities.

These strategies develop content in unison, according to each respective media platform’s unique characteristics and tailored to the present audiences’ media consumption preferences.

The content carries the promise and secures a coveted market position for the brand. However, content marketing doesn’t end here. Follow-ups and documenting content performance is equally, if not more, important than the strategy.

Creating consistent content with a content marketing strategy will carry the brand personality. This will establish unison across brand messaging and marketing platforms, making it easier for consumers to interact with your brand.

Measuring the ROI of content marketing

After putting a secure content marketing strategy in place, we need to consider how to evaluate content marketing performance. Measuring the aftermath of content marketing is essential in gaining valuable data which can be used to improve future campaigns and strategies.

Keeping up-to-date with campaign performances can lead to insight generation, guides informed decision making about “the next move” and generates intel about the brand’s market performance.

What is content marketing ROI?

Content marketing ROI is a percentage that shows how much revenue you gained from your content marketing initiatives, in comparison to what you spent on the production and publication thereof.

In business, ROI is valued as one of the most important measures of successful content marketing, since it is directly tied to revenue.

How to measure content marketing ROI?

When considering how to measure content marketing results, think of these four steps when measuring the ROI:

Remember: Content marketing ROI is a percentage that shows how much revenue you gained from the content marketing, in comparison to that you spent. ROI on any marketing campaign is important to note as it is directly tied to revenue.

  • Calculate the total content creation and production spendings
  • Calculate the distribution costs
  • Calculate the content marketing ROI
Formula to measure content marketing ROI (as percentage)

To calculate your final content marketing ROI, we like to use the simple content marketing ROI formula, from Convince and Convert: “Return minus investment, divided by investment, expressed as a percentage”.

In some cases, you’ll be able to see a clear link between content and revenue. For example, when people read a piece of content and then click on your call to action to perform a specific task.

On the other hand, some links between content and revenue aren’t as clear and it takes longer to identify the relationship between content and sales. When you are able to see the clear links, add up all the sales that resulted from a piece of content, you’ll know what your return is.

Seven key ROI content marketing metrics that matter:

  • Lead quality
  • Sales
  • Web traffic
  • Onsite engagement
  • Social Media ROI
  • SEO success
  • Exposure and authority

Tracking content marketing ROI is vital in gaining valuable data which can help you to improve future campaigning and to tracking consistency. Hereby you will gain insight into how to improve your next campaign initiatives.

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Content marketing examples

For example, a monthly newsletter being forwarded to a client in the fintech industry doesn’t need to explain stocks and investment reports. Rather, the newsletter aims to educate the reader on relevant investment tips and industry trends. This way the newsletter becomes a valuable source of research for the reader to use when considering investments they make.


Example: HubSpot

A common misconception is that your company needs to pour millions into content development. For example, when HubSpot was still in their startup phase, they used free content marketing to generate leads. Now, over 75% of their generated leads come from content.

The company managed to gain this by offering free white papers, case studies, eBooks, and webinars, and hiding them behind a sign-up form. HubSpots visitors could unlock these free contents in return for their personal details, thus becoming a lead.

Next to this, each of HubSpot’s blogs had a specific call to action at the bottom of every blog post. This generated three times the amount of leads gained from their blog, according to HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe.

This example shows that content doesn’t have to be expensive in order to create business growth. As a new startup, it is important to remember that media engagement and interaction is just as important as media reach.

Content marketing tools:

  • Trello: Collaborate with your team
  • Canva: Design infographics, newsletters, etc.
  • SEMRush: Get insights into all things search marketing
  • MailChimp: Manage your email marketing
  • HootSuite: Manage social media posts ahead of time
  • Grammarly: Correct spelling and grammar
  • WordPress: Host and build websites
  • Yoast: Write SEO focused content
  • Google Analytics: Track your business metrics

With a low budget, you could start an online publication that’s relevant to the industry you operate in. This can either be made available to the public or only your business partners, the focus should just be to generate profitable leads for your brand.

Thought leadership is one of the best examples of how PR and content marketing merges to create powerful market authority for your brand. At the same time, content marketing is what assists you in becoming a thought leader.

For example, publishing industry reviews or expert commentary. Remember, thought leadership is not only a type of content, but also an approach to creating brand content. In this case, we can see how brand authority, public relations and content marketing works together in ensuring a distinctive brand voice.

Content marketing does not stop with the tools used to spread communications (e.g. newsletters). It also extends to fostering emotional brand connections within the content piece itself. That’s how thought leaders are born, through publishing insightful and compelling content.



Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of enhancing your site traffic, through securing higher rankings for your web pages in search engine results. To measure SEO performance, you will have to consider rank against target keywords; your domain authority, as well as if you’re getting more inbound links.

If these factors are positive, your reach will extend to a larger audience. As a result, more leads and sales can be generated. SEO success should be an important area of focus, when measuring content marketing results, as content relates to raking performance.

Page rankings are not fixed, they tend to fluctuate a little. When tracking your ranking over time, you want to see it either static - meaning you’re in a good position already, or see that your ranks are improving. A positive ranking indicates that you’re gaining trust and authority.

Quality content relates to raking performance, which can help secure more leads and sales. Note that SEO success relies on well-developed key words, domain authority and inbound linking.


Exposure and authority

Exposure and authority speaks to both of your brand’s online and offline performance. The more consumers see your brand as an authority figure, the more likely they are to engage with and share your content.

This increases your brand’s reach, through impactful content marketing. With this, improved potential to generate leads and sales will occur. In order to measure the ROI of exposure and authority, consider the coverage your brand is receiving from media outlets and media mentions.

Exposure and authority metrics present your content to a wider audience, sending more visitors to your site, this is why they shouldn’t be overlooked as markers of content marketing success.

When people start recognizing your brand and seeing you as an authority figure, you can expect an increase in business referrals, leads and sales, all which improve content marketing ROI.

The ROI of exposure and authority is measured through the level of coverage your brand is receiving, referrals, leads and sales, plus the amount of media mentions.


Customer retention

At the end of all marketing efforts, we want to see customer retention and have as many customers as possible return. A smart investment would be to focus on existing customers, as it is more expensive to attract a new market.

For this, content marketing strategies plays an important role in ensuring that brand relevancy is maintained. Focusing on existing customers also assists in measuring the capital gained back by the brand through customer transactions, revenue customers are generating, session duration and uncover other helpful insights into consumer behavior.

Keeping track of returning visitors will likely highlight other areas of ROI, such as social referral channels and show which content pieces are generating the most revenue. The impact of returning visitors can be long-lasting, not only resulting in ROI, but also in meaningful customer connection.

Each content marketing strategy will contain its own unique set of measurements. However, a smart investment would be to track why customers return, this will likely uncover other valuable areas of ROI to consider.

Content marketing metrics

As there are multiple metrics to choose from, it’s important to identify the key content marketing metrics for your end-goals. Think of the areas where you want to gain insights and keep in mind that not all metrics absolutely have to be tracked.

Each content marketing strategy will contain its own unique features, this means that a unique set of measurements will also need to be compiled for tracking and documentation purposes. We’ve identified the following seven metrics that matter:


Lead quality

When your content is of a high quality, it attracts an audience. In turn, an audience can generate leads. Lead quality can be measured in a few different ways. For example, if your site visitors exchange their contact details for an incentive on offer (e.g. free downloadable content). This shows that the visitors are interested in your content and could possibly do business with you.

Actions performed by site visitors are good indicators of user behavior, from the type of action you can see if your content is generating qualified leads. For example, a qualified visitor will visit important pages on your site, like service deliveries or product packages and pricing. Google Analytics is widely popular to use when tracking which pieces of content help generate leads.

Lead generation activities are essential in calculating ROI. Actions performed on site are good indicators of user behaviour, from this you can see if your content is generating qualified leads.


Sales volume

Ideally, leads should turn into sales. When you have qualified leads and tend to them with the proper content, sales should follow. The value of these sales should be considered.

Remember, content marketing is not a linear process. This means that following how a consumer went from being a site visitor to being a sale is a multitiered process. To analyse which channels are assisting in creating sales, it is possible to calculate the direct and indirect income being generated from a specific channel.

Keep in mind, current content performance should be compared to performance over time. This will show which content pieces are relevant in sales creation and which are declining in relevancy. With this, decide which content pieces should become part of your sales funnel and which should be discarded or changed. Keeping record of this in the ROI report will assist in developing future content pieces to grow sales.

Tracking which channels and content pieces are contributing to sales will show what content is still relevant to consumers and what content may be declining in relevancy. This is important as relevancy impacts sales, influencing your ROI.



Although engagement takes more time to translate into revenue, it is still valuable to track if you want the holistic picture of your content marketing ROI. Engagement, that results from a piece of content, can be followed through looking at website traffic.

Remember to not only look at your raw traffic numbers, but also at how traffic is changing over time. Comparing engagements during different time periods is effective in showing consumer trends, such as when they’re most likely to interact with promotional content. Following up on where site traffic is coming from is essential in measuring the success of channel-based marketing.

Known as referral traffic, the source of your traffic can assist in deciding which part of the content marketing strategy is driving traffic with the potential to convert and which parts should be discarded.

Looking at site traffic is valuable in gaining a holistic picture of your content marketing ROI. Patterns and changes in traffic numbers can uncover consumer engagement trends.


Social sharing

Effective content will give rise to offsite engagements. These are also important to take into consideration when assessing content marketing ROI. When your content makes an impression on a consumer, they are likely to share that piece of information with others on social media. Social sharing and referral traffic are important factors to document as a lot of consumers’ purchase decisions are influenced by peer recommendations and other social proof.

When your content is of a high quality, it attracts an audience. In turn, an audience can generate leads. Lead quality can be measured in a few different ways. For example, if your site visitors exchange their contact details for an incentive on offer (e.g. free downloadable content).

This shows that the visitors are interested in your content and could possibly do business with you. Actions performed by site visitors are good indicators of user behaviour, from the type of action you can see if your content is generating qualified leads.

For example, a qualified visitor will visit important pages on your site, like service deliveries or product packages and pricing. Google Analytics is widely popular to use when tracking which pieces of content help generate leads.

Social sharing contributes to your ROI as offsite engagement wins you market coverage and notability. When content makes a valuable impression on consumers, they are likely to share the content piece on social media, possibly opening a new revenue stream for you.

Content marketing KPIs by type

In marketing and PR, you have to create your own scoring system. Identifying the KPIs that matter most to you is critical.

KPIs and PR metrics are not the same thing!

  • KPIs: Indicates if you’re hitting your goals, the specific targets, with quantifiable data.
  • Metrics: Records the status of an ongoing project, the specific process.

It sounds like a logical thing to do, however, only around 65% of marketers have decided to implement the content marketing success metrics, or KPIs that they will use to determine success.

Your unique marketing and communication initiatives will determine which content marketing KPIs hold the most value.

Set benchmarks

Remember that success is relative. You need to stay aware of your progress throughout the duration of your content marketing efforts. Continuous tracking and measuring your performance will help you see if you are improving or accumulating losses.

Setting benchmarks will help you see changes over time in mestrics, such as subscribers, sales, social mentions, etc.

Although your benchmarks will be unique to your own initiatives, there are some similarities between marketing strategies. Sales, leads and revenue are constantly present in marketing. For example, if sales and revenue are your main focus points, you need to track the customer journey to purchase.

Having a set benchmark will help you track your performance over time. Benchmarks will also help you identify your shortcomings quicker so that you can correct them. You can also stay up to date with your sales, leads and revenue gains.


Hopefully this article helped you to gain a better perspective on what content marketing is, the effectiveness of content marketing strategies and how to measure content marketing ROI. We know that choosing the right measurements for your content marketing strategy can be difficult.

But, you don’t need to worry, consider the metrics, then ask if a particular measurement will support your key goals and enable you to act or not. Eventually you will arrive at your specific actionable metrics, these will assist you to optimize your content marketing activities over time. Same as your metrics, the content marketing KIPs will have to be tailored according to your unique content marketing strategy.

May 29, 2021
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Jacolene Jonker
Jacolene Jonker
Content writer at PRLab
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