Across the board, marketers are turning to content marketing as the go-to strategy to generate leads, establish thought leadership and connect with their target prospects. In doing so, marketing professionals are finding that they’re investing of their budget more than ever before in the technology that supports their marketing efforts. And as more money is dedicated to the budget, one common question is raised: How do you measure your content marketing investment? If you’re like many other marketers, you struggle to quantify ROI for two reasons:

  1. You don’t think about measuring during content creation, which leads you challenges with formulating a structure for analyzing results; and,
  2. You don’t see eye-to-eye with stakeholders on what metrics matter.

Fortunately, there are a few tips to help you effectively calculate the ever-elusive ROI.

  1. Start by defining your content goals. Before you embark on any content marketing strategy, you need to outline what you intend to achieve. Are you trying to build your brand, generate leads or accomplish some other objective? You’ll never know whether you’ve found success unless you establish your goals and estimated ROI in advance. Because you probably have multiple objectives, you’ll need to set priorities as well.
  1. Determine how you’ll measure success. A certain set of metrics will tell you how well you’re performing, while others won’t be as essential to measure. You’ll know which numbers you should be analyzing by looking back at the content goals you’ve set; in some cases, you’ll be evaluating time on your website, shares on social media. To determine other ROI factors, you might look to revenue or new leads you’ve accumulated.
  1. Obtain buy-in from stakeholders. Another factor that should weigh into choosing the right metrics to measure ROI is getting stakeholders on board. You might find certain early stage numbers (sharing, likes, etc.) to be more important than late-stage figures (sales, revenue) – but you need input from stakeholders to make sure you’re putting the focus where it belongs.
  1. Develop your content marketing efforts around measurement. Typically, marketers dedicate their efforts to developing buyer personas, producing videos, creating blogs and other tasks. But these programs must be designed to deliver measureable results: You must develop your content assets to be measurable in order to properly evaluate ROI.
  1. Focus on the right ROI-based decisions. There are metrics that provide useful insight – and then there are those that don’t help you analyze ROI at all. If you want to drive revenue, the number of times one particular blog post is shared isn’t very helpful. Concentrate on the data that helps you make decisions if you want to improve ROI.

ROI doesn’t have to be complicated when you have a framework around which you can successfully build your content marketing efforts. These five tips are a best practices guide to developing a marketing strategy that includes ROI analysis, instead of viewing it as an after-thought. When you take into account your marketing investment at each step along the way of content creation, ROI becomes less elusive and can actually drive performance.