A few weeks ago, I wrote about how to calculate the true cost of a B2B Tech blog post. I compared the cost per blog post when using an internal marketing team and a group of freelancers versus a specialized inbound marketing agency. (If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend reading it as this article is based on it.)
While it is very important to know what to budget for when looking to create high-quality content, it is maybe even more important to understand what value you get in return. Today, I want to take the cost argument I made a few weeks ago much further and have a closer look at how
The performance of blog posts is usually measured (if at all)
The return-on-investment of a blog post could be calculated, and
You can set yourself up to measure it within HubSpot (for automatic reporting).
But before we dive into that, let's have a look at why it is important to measure the ROI of your blog posts.
Why Is The ROI of A Blog Post Important?
Long gone are the days of seemingly bottomless marketing funds. Today's Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and Marketing Directors have to clearly justify to their management where their marketing budget goes, how it was used, and what results were achieved. Ultimately, your boss needs to know exactly how you are contributing to the company's bottom line.
In fact, according to HubSpot, 42% of marketers say that "proving ROI" is their top marketing priority, while 39% say that it is their biggest marketing challenge! On the other hand, HubSpot has also found that marketers who prioritize blogging see a 13x higher marketing ROI.
So, how can you show the value of your content marketing efforts?
Number of Views
The easiest and probably most often used metric to measure a blog post's performance is the number of views per month the article receives. But without the proper context and laser-focused targeting, this can easily be misleading.
For example, one of my best performing blog posts, "How To Get 365 Blog Topics for Interior Designers In 1 Hour", is an article I wrote when I briefly considered doing inbound marketing for interior designers. It has received thousands of views since its creation, and while I am glad that I am helping people, it is filling my contact database with lots of unqualified leads!
Number of Shares/Comments
The second way to quickly measure performance is to consider the general engagement with the content through social media shares and commenting. While this is a "good-to-know", I recommend de-prioritizing this metric as most comments today are spam, and social media shares often lead to no further interaction.
Stickiness of Content
Ultimately, the goal of content marketing is to become the most helpful resource out there that people will keep coming back to. You want people to read your article, bookmark it, and refer back to it in the future as their go-to resource. When done right, evergreen content will not only drive views, submissions, and engagement for years to come, but will also help you build long-term relationships with your audience and loyalty with your customers.
Only 45% of B2B content marketers were successful in building subscribed audiences,
53% were able to generate more sales/revenue through their content marketing efforts, and
63% built loyalty with existing clients or customers.
But what is really remarkable about these numbers is that the top performers (marketers that were extremely or very successful with content marketing) far outranked their peers in these long-lasting, relationship-building goals.
You can measure the stickiness of your content by keeping track of your "returning vs. new visitors", the open and click rates of your blog RSS emails, and performance over time, e.g., do people recommend it in industry forums as a helpful resource?
Number of Submissions / CTA Clicks
If you are hosting your blog on a marketing automation solution like HubSpot, you can track exactly how many submissions or clicks on your call-to-action buttons each blog post generates. This is a direct indication of how many leads your content is generating. While this still isn't a clear indication of how much revenue your work directly influences, it is a very useful metric for your management.
If you have clear buyer personas defined and you either ask them to identify themselves on the forms or you supplement this information after the submission through your own research, you can analyze the quality of your leads in terms of fit. Also, you can run reports on how many of those leads tuned into customers.
Number of Deals/Revenue Influenced
Finally, the by far best way to measure the performance of your blog posts (and other marketing activities) is to know how many deals they have influenced and, therefore, how much revenue can be attributed to them directly. However, getting this level of insight required, until now, huge investments in marketing automation software, like Marketo, and a good grasp on data analytics.
Now, HubSpot allows its Marketing Enterprise customers to quickly see with a click of a button how many deals and contacts the blog post has influenced and how much revenue can be attributed to it. For example, a blog post we wrote for a client has been able to generate more than $300,000 in revenue by influencing interactions of associated contacts when deals are closed.
How detailed your ROI reporting needs to be will greatly depend on your unique situation and your requirements. But no matter where you are in your marketing journey, it always pays to know how your content performs. This way you know where to focus your efforts in the future to increase your content marketing results.