Tracking Marketing ROI? Start With These 5 Questions


Ever tried to explain the ROI of your marketing to your CEO? Tricky, isn’t it? Tracking marketing ROI is hard.

For most businesses, proving the value of content marketing is even harder. With so many touch points, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which tweet, blog post, or ebook converted someone into a customer.

To break down marketing ROI, start by asking yourself these five questions.

What are your marketing goals?

Before you even think about analytics and tracking marketing ROI, you need to designate your goals. It’s plain and simple: you can’t prove what you don’t know how to measure.

Maybe you want to measure brand awareness to make sure more people hear about you. Perhaps you want to get into conversations with your customers. Or it could be that it’s all about making the sale.

One of the best ways to highlight and segment the value of content marketing is in this infographic from Brandpoint. It highlights three key areas for measuring the ROI of your marketing touch points: awareness, consideration (which you could also call engagement) and conversion.

Or you could think about it as answering three questions:

  • Who knows about you?
  • Who’s talking to you?
  • Who’s buying from you?

Let’s break down these three questions and walk through a few examples for each.

Who knows about your brand?

Let’s start with awareness, which is probably easy to track. All your blog posts, press releases, infographics, and social media updates are designed to keep you in the forefront of your audience’s mind.

It’s about getting attention with social media and other marketing campaigns.

By measuring brand awareness, you map to ROI by proving that more people know about your brand, product, or service. Before you can show this, you have to have a baseline. Use a traffic acquisition analysis report or competitor analysis report to see where you are at the start of the campaign.

Then you can use that same report to gauge the success of your digital marketing efforts by measuring:

  • Any increase in social media likes and shares;
  • Any increase in web traffic, especially from new visitors;
  • Any increase in inbound links from authority sites.

Who’s talking to you?

The next step is getting your audience to trust you more via deeper engagement. In-depth content on your blog, as well as videos, podcasts, white papers, email newsletters, and more will help with this process. You will know that your core audience is becoming engaged with your company when they:

  • Share your resources with their networks and recommend you to their friends;
  • Comment on your posts and social media updates;
  • Review your products and services;
  • Spend time looking at videos, listening to podcasts or reading blog posts and other resources.

Social analytics tools, analytics, and dashboards will be helpful to establish a benchmark, track growth, and measure your growing network.

You can also use the tools included in the main social media sites, such as Facebook analytics, for a deeper assessment of your brand impact.

Who’s buying from you?

The third part of the sales cycle is getting customers to complete the desired action, whether that’s signing up for your newsletter, or purchasing your product or service. You will easily be able to note any increase in conversions, but to link it to your content marketing campaign you will need to:

  • Set benchmarks before you start;
  • Use UTM parameters to identify which campaigns are successful;
  • Split-test different iterations of your campaign to see which ones convert best;
  • Use goals and campaigns within your analytics software.

If you know your usual conversion rates, and you can see a spike linked to a particular piece of content, then you can immediately see prove your impact. Track that over an entire campaign and you will have no difficulty demonstrating and reporting ROI.

What happens after the sale?

It’s not just important to track initial conversions, but also to see what happens next. In other words, does that customer stick around?

Long-term ROI results for a content marketing might include:

  • More requests for speaking engagements at industry networking events, showing increased awareness in your industry;
  • Customers returning to buy from you again and again;
  • A reduction in shopping cart abandonment;
  • A spike in engagement from key industry influencers;
  • The creation of a group of brand advocates who refer customers to you (whether that’s encouraging them to read your blog, sign up for your newsletter. or buy).

There’s more to measuring content marketing ROI than the three questions we just walked you through, of course. Another way is to take advantage of the tools in Google’s Universal Analytics and other tools that allow you to track the behavior of a single customer.

If you can identify one customer who matches your target profile and see how that person responds to your content marketing efforts, then you can extrapolate that information to work out the impact of you content marketing campaigns overall.

Luke Summerfield of Clickz suggests that creating this type of “closed loop” system — where all of your marketing touch points are integrated — is a key part of identifying and tracking marketing ROI:

“With a closed loop tracking system you will be able to track an individual throughout her entire buying lifecycle, from her initial interaction with your brand to the point that she becomes a brand evangelist.”

Tracking marketing ROI requires a commitment to measurement

To recap, tracking marketing ROI for content requires you to set goals and benchmarks before looking at the key areas where a campaign can make a difference. In the long run, a commitment to measurement will make it easy to spot opportunities to improve every step of the way.

Check out to learn more about proving the impact of your marketing.

This post was originally written by Chris Kilbourn and has been updated by Kara Burney.

Proving the value of social media and content is difficult — but not impossible. We created The Marketer’s Field Guide to Social and Content Marketing Attribution to show you how to prove your impact. Get your free copy now!

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