Andy Crestodina, founder of Orbit Media, is an analytics wizard. I sat down to ask him a few questions in advance of our free webinar this Thursday where he is guest presenting: How to Measure (and Drive) Content Marketing ROI.

ROI is a tough topic for many marketers, especially when it comes to content marketing efforts. It’s also a topic we are all clamoring to find out more about. After all, those tangible numbers that give us insights into our failures and successes can sometime seem elusive. But what’s great about Andy is he is able to break down complex ideas into simple solutions, especially when it comes to analytics and measurement. Here are 6 questions we come across frequently and Andy’s insights that he will be covering more in depth on Thursday.

Question: Are there common misconceptions when it comes to measuring the ROI of content marketing?

Andy’s Answer: There are so many in this industry. Here are a few:

  • “Social media ROI is about quality traffic” …but that’s only half the picture. Social media ROI is also about networking, research and relationships. You won’t see that in your Analytics.
  • “Marketing automation is the best way to measure results” …but many businesses looking at automation don’t have enough marketing activity to begin to automate. Until you’ve got the content, i.e. the people and some leads flowing through your marketing, don’t automate.
  • “Keywords are dead” …search has changed, but not that much. Every marketer still needs to pick a phrase for the page and to indicate relevance for that page by using words and phrases.

Q: What are some secondary markers of ROI people should look out for that might not be in the same group as revenue, profits, etc? Do they matter? (Brand lift, social engagement, retention, etc)

A: A lot of the big picture, business metrics are the best indicators. What percentage of your customers would recommend you to a friend? Is your team happy or do you have a lot of turnover? The answer to these questions are tests of your word-of-mouth marketing, which is the most powerful marketing there is. Don’t forget to focus on people, service and love. Get this wrong and nothing else matters.

Q: Is design just as important for helping to improve conversions and ROI?

A: Yes, the web design and the content marketing combine to drive traffic and conversions.

  • Web design has a powerful effect on conversion rates
  • Content marketing has a powerful effect on total traffic

The website itself is the funnel and it affects every step in the lead generation process. Each page must include the elements that keep the visitor moving through the process, becoming more educated, trusting and confident.

All the traffic in the world means nothing if your conversion rate is 0.0%. And it’s the web design that affects conversions by reducing friction, distraction and doubt. It’s the web design that affects versions through social proof, color and clarity.

If the marketer is the driver, the web design is the car. And you’re not going to win any races in a clunker.

Q: One challenges many businesses face is being able to track ROI to specific content pieces since oftentimes the path to conversion isn’t linear. How would you approach this challenge?

A: Don’t over focus on the metrics. Just watch the basic indicators to see a specific piece of content is effective or not and then move on. There is a point of diminishing returns in Analytics and ROI. As you begin to look for answers through measurement, as yourself “what will I do differently once I measure this?” If knowing that metric won’t lead you do a decision, it’s a waste of time to look for it.

Analytics is a decision support tool. If measuring the ROI of a specific piece of content helps you make a decision about what to do differently, great. If not, it’s academic and not a good use of time.

Generally, you should know what content converts at what rate, but agonizing of social assists and specific attribution isn’t usually worth the energy.

What are the main data points that should be presented to the C-Level, boss or upper management to show content ROI?

If the manager is higher up, the metric should be bottom line.

The C-Suite cares about dollars, so focus on the bottom of the funnel. For most marketers, this means lead generation (only ecommerce marketers have the ability to generate revenue directly from websites) so these are the two most important metrics:

  • Conversion Rate
  • Total Leads

You could tell the CEO all about bounce rates and pages per visit, but they’ll likely glaze over as they wonder if you really understand how the business pays the bills. They see marketing as an expense, which has to earn it’s keep. They’re right. What results did the business get for what investment in marketing. What is the bottom line ROI?

The ROI of content marketing is actually calculated from two numbers:

Total Traffic x Conversion Rate = Leads

So a smart manager will want to keep an eye on both numbers. But it may take a lot of education (maybe watching a webinar) to get them to understand the inputs that affect these two numbers.

Q: If a company or marketer has never had a measurement plan in place before, where should they start?

A: Step one is to set up goals in Google Analytics. A lot of marketers haven’t finished this yet and it makes measuring ROI impossible. Remember, there are two numbers that matter: traffic and conversion rates. If you don’t have goals in place, you can’t measure conversions. You’re missing half of your data.

Once Analytics are all setup, get busy marketing. You need data to find insights, and you without a good amount of traffic, you won’t be able to make good decisions. Spend 90% of your time publishing and promoting content. Once you’ve got some visitors, shares, rankings and subscribers, turn around and take a look at your stats!

Join us on Thursday for a free Webinar

Andy will be diving into these topics more in depth in our 45 minute webinar this Thursday. Walk away with the understanding of of how content marketing ROI is measured and how to find the value of specific content pieces.

How to Measure (and Drive) Content Marketing ROI at March 12th, 11am PST / 2pm EST