Did They Read It?

Andrew Stark

April 14, 2018

Content marketing has gradually earned a dominating role in the world of marketing, replacing the traditional hard-selling tactics of years past. Now, the majority of organizations are creating consistent, useful, and relevant content, and are distributing it to attract and drive action from their prospects and customers. However, while seeing overall business growth due to content marketing, many are finding it difficult to measure their return on investment.

In 2017, 65% of B2B marketers and 57% of B2C marketers reported that they either do not measure content marketing ROI or are unsure if they do or not. Why aren’t companies measuring their returns? The top reasons include a lack of “know-how” and the need for an easier method. Companies know content marketing is important but can’t prove exactly why or how, which limits their ability to optimize.

Why can’t marketers use traditional ad metrics?

While most marketers are highly experienced with measuring traditional advertising ROI, you can’t use the same metrics and fully understand the value produced by content marketing. To see why, let’s look at what traditional metrics measure:

  • Clicks: The amount of users who click on an advertisement.
  • Cost-per-click: The cost every time a user clicks on an advertisement.
  • Impressions: The number of users who see an advertisement.
  • Cost-per-impression: The cost every time a user sees an advertisement.
  • Click-through rate (CTR): The ratio of users who click on a specific link to the number of total users who view an advertisement.
  • Conversion: A user who completes a defined goal.
  • Conversion rate: The number of conversions divided by the number of clicks on an ad.
  • Cost per conversion: The cost per sale or lead from a campaign.

While these metrics are helpful, they don’t tell the whole story. By measuring clicks and impressions, you can find out if your users are seeing and clicking your ads. Further, by measuring conversions, you can find out if users are taking the specific actions you want (i.e., buying a product, filling out a form, etc.). The problem is, you don’t know what happens in between.

Often, content marketing does not drive immediate conversions. Instead, it increases brand awareness, builds trust, and “plants seeds.” Sure, some customers do click calls to action, but many consume content as a step in their research and consideration process. Thus, to get an accurate understanding of ROI, marketers need to know how users are engaging with the content itself.

Clarify content marketing ROI with engagement metrics

The primary goal of modern content marketing is to get users to consume the entire piece of content whether that be a blog, infographic, video, or another type.

If users land on a piece of content and click away within a few seconds, they are not receiving the message. Hence, that content will have a low ROI. However, if they spend a few minutes with it, then it’s likely that they are successfully engaged and will receive the message, which means a higher ROI.

Being so, you need to track the following on-page metrics to find out what is happening between the click and the conversion:

  • Scroll depth: How far down the page a visitor scrolls.
  • Scroll velocity: How fast a visitor scrolls down the page.
  • Average time per visit: How long a visitor stays on the page.
  • Total time in view: Total time a user spends with the content.
  • Social actions: If the visitor took action (share, like, tweet, etc.) on a social media platform.
  • Page views: How many times the page was viewed.
  • Video views: How many times a video was viewed.

Engagement metrics go beyond the click, impression, and conversion, by clarifying on-page audience behavior. With these insights, a new level of content optimization becomes possible. You can track the content that gets the most user engagement and invest in the types that are most effective. Further, learn not only what content performs best, but which distribution channels are most effective.

By combining the insights from engagement and traditional ad metrics, you will gain deeper insights into your content’s performance, enabling you to see your returns and optimize for a higher content marketing ROI.

Andrew Stark is EVP of Revenue for PulsePoint’s Healthcare Marketing Technology group, helping brands and agencies leverage the power of programmatic and content marketing to reach and engage physicians and consumers. Previously, Andrew was  SVP, Content Solutions at PulsePoint, where he rant the company's content solutions business, which unites unique content programs, high-impact native ad solutions, and powerful audience insights for brands.

Prior to PulsePoint, Andrew was VP, Sales and Marketing for Examiner Media Group, and held executive positions at Metro Boston and Boston Now, 365 Media USA. Early in his career, Andrew served as CEO & Publisher at The SUNPOST, where he provided strategic leadership and shifted the publication's readership profile and perception, growing a small community weekly paper into a large regional player.

Andrew holds an MBA from the University of Miami.