Some numbers-oriented executives consider marketing and advertising to be a kind of black box. They know they need to market, and they know it drives sales, but they think that there is no way to confidently measure the return they are getting on their investment.

But that isn’t true! You absolutely can determine your ROI on content marketing efforts. What you have to keep in mind, though, is that the metrics you want to pay attention to when determining the “return” part of your ROI will change depending on where your content is in your sales funnel. Mapping your content to your buyer’s journey or sales funnel is an important step to knowing your ROI because the metric you’ll be using to calculate it will change depending on what stage it is in.

Top funnel content has the most metrics to track because top-level content is meant to grab attention and generate interest. Middle and bottom-level content is meant to keep the attention of people already interested and push them along the funnel further.

ROI Metrics for Top of Funnel Content 

  • Bounce time. How long are people staying on your site? Good content will make people want to stick around a bit longer.
  • Exit pages. Where are people going to after they visit your site?
  • Referring sources in. How are people getting to your content? How are they finding you?
  • Which content pieces are getting the most views/downloads?
  • Which social media sites have the highest interaction level with your content?

Content in the Middle and Bottom on your Funnel 

  • Lead generation. Did you get their info?
  • Conversion rate. Did you convince them to take an action to buy?
  • How much money did you get?

The middle of the funnel metrics can have some bleed-over with the top funnel metrics depending on the shape of your funnel. But the bottom of the funnel is all about getting the lead, the conversion, or the purchase.

Thus, when you’re measuring ROI for content marketing, you should classify your content into levels and set goals for each one. If you expect to get an additional 50,000 visitors per month and increase revenue by 10% from a strategy, you can take the costs for the top level and the bottom level content over the campaign and compare it to the goals. Did that $3500 content marketing campaign get your visitors up to the level you wanted? Did the downloadable product generate the revenue?

In fact, it’s a pretty good idea to divide your content marketing budget up between your different sales funnel layers and consider them separate campaigns. It’s much easier to determine the ROI for each layer and then extrapolate an overall ROI than it is to try and use the same metrics across all pieces. This approach can make things much clearer to the C-suite because they’re used to this division. Top funnel content is like traditional promotion. Middle funnel is marketing. Bottom funnel is sales.

Only with accurate ROI calculations can you see what’s working and what isn’t and make smart decisions for the future, decisions that will grow your company and make you more money for your investment.

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