Guest blog by Mark Houlding, CEO of Rostrum Communications:

Content marketing campaigns require a different approach to measuring ROI than other marketing disciplines, and it is worth investing the time to select which measurement tools and techniques you plan to use for a new campaign before you start the campaign. Needless to say, your team – including agency partners, if you’re using them – need to understand the measurement criteria also.

The basic tenets of content marketing ROI are almost always the same – you’re looking for engagement from the visitors who interact with the campaign and the subsequent conversion rates from those visitors. But beyond these core principles, there are a number of different ways of looking at content marketing in term of ROI.

There are five principles of content marketing ROI:

1. Lead generation

The single most important factor for most content marketing campaigns is lead generation. How many people registered on your microsite? How many downloads did the white paper generate? Marketing will probably get judged on the success of the follow-up, so even if your head says “that’s Sales’s job” it’s worth checking its being done right.

2. Visitors

If no one sees the content, your campaign hasn’t achieved its objectives. Measuring visitor numbers over a relevant time frame (usually 4-6 weeks) is key and you need to look at the number of visitors coming via mobile (so as to plan future campaigns) and the time they’re spending. Most analytics platforms including Google Analytics will let you review the bounce rates etc from your campaign so you can tweak the content strategy accordingly.

3. PR material

Your PR team/agency should be all over your content marketing campaigns… it’s all fuel for their fires. If your white paper is re-quoted in mainstream media, if a respected analyst mentions your campaign or if your infographic gets used in a blog post, you’re on to something (and with luck you’ll get some SEO-rich backlinks from highly-regarded sites).

4. User experience and interaction

What the content journey looks and feels like and how much interaction it generates should be a key metric. Review how long people are spending interacting with your various content pieces, what they’re commenting on and what they’re sharing – and revise/plan your next campaign accordingly. However much you loved the webinar idea, if no one listened in, it can’t be deemed a success.

5. Longevity

Great content lasts. You might not be trying for the Collected Works of Shakespeare, but you should be trying to generate something that can be re-referenced, archived online and which, if picked up in 12-24 months’ time and dusted off, wouldn’t seem hopelessly outdated. The content marketing environment online is a dynamic medium, so ensure that your campaign can stand the test of time, can be updated, reworked or re-used in future.

If your content marketing campaign achieves some or all of these objectives, you should be in a good position to deliver more effective, bigger budget campaigns in future.


Mark Houlding is CEO of Rostrum Communications. This blog originally appeared on the Rostrum website in October 2013.