How to Measure Content ROI and Leverage Content Winners

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  • Measuring content ROI doesn’t just help you figure out where to go next, but also capitalize on past efforts.
  • To measure content ROI and identify content winners, set content-specific KPIs through Google Analytics.
  • Repurposing or refreshing existing content costs less and takes less time than producing new content.

As marketers, it’s critical to keep a close eye on ROI, and the end of the year is the perfect time for a content audit. Even if you’ve already done yours for the year, it doesn’t hurt to supplement your findings with a less formal content review.

You should come out of your content review knowing what kinds of content your audience liked best based on specific KPIs (more on that later). You might then set out to produce new pieces of content that will recreate those same levels of engagement.

But what about when producing new content isn’t your best move?

Redefining content development

Measuring content ROI doesn’t just help you figure out where to go next – it also provides an opportunity to look back on existing content and capitalize on past efforts. That’s priceless in a marketing environment where time and resources are tight, yet quality content is (still) king.

So in this blog, we’re not just covering how to measure content ROI, but also how to use those insights to leverage content successes.

Step 1: Measuring content ROI

The basic process for measuring content ROI is no different from any other type of ROI. You’ll need to:

    1. Set measurable goals. Do you want to increase blog traffic? Become a thought leader in your industry?
    2. Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These should be relevant to your goals.
    3. Gather data based on your KPIs. You’ll need data analytics tools.
    4. Calculate ROI. Your insights at this stage will inform your next steps.

However, content marketing doesn’t always translate to revenue as quickly or directly as, say, an email marketing or paid search campaign. Measuring the true value of your content comes down to choosing the right KPIs and tools.

Common content KPIs

Because content usually contributes to traffic and brand awareness rather than direct conversions (though this can vary!), set KPIs that will help you see how many people you’re reaching with your content and whether that content made an impression. These include:

  • Demographic KPIs, such as visits by country, gender, or age. What kinds of people are consuming or responding to your content?
  • Behavior KPIs, such as page visits, bounce rate, and time on page. What do people do with your content once they find it?
  • Performance KPIs, such as social media shares. Do any patterns emerge about certain topics or types of content?

Gathering data

You’ve set your goals and relevant KPIs – now how do you actually access the numbers? The go-to for many content marketers (us included) is Google Analytics.

When measuring content ROI, you’ll mostly be using Google Analytics’ Acquisition, Visitor, and Performance reports. These will show you who you’re reaching, how people are interacting with your content, and what types of content are performing the best.

For a more detailed guide to using Google Analytics for content development, check out our blog on the subject.

Step 2: Leveraging Content Winners

There’s no doubt that the insights from your content review will give you plenty of inspiration for new content in the year to come, and we absolutely encourage you to keep producing great content that excites and inspires your audience.

But creating quality content requires a lot of time and resources. You can do yourself a favor by spending some of that time squeezing more value out of existing content that you already know is doing well.

Repurpose, Refresh, Repeat

In their fantastic review of marketers’ top areas of improvement for 2020, Content Marketing Institute (CMI) highlighted existing content as a huge source of untapped potential. In other words, while marketers are savvier than ever about creating great content, we can do more to capitalize on its value after we hit “Publish.”

How can you do that? Check out some tried and true methods below:

Repurpose content winners

Your content audit or review should have shown you your top-performing pieces of content. Take a look at that mega popular blog post, infographic, or video. If it was such a hit, it means it provided value to your audience. There’s a good chance that the same information will still be valuable to them, especially dressed up in a fresh new package.

Think of ways you can re-package or repurpose your most successful content for a new platform or audience. Maybe you can turn your top-performing blog article into an infographic or video series, or compile all your best blogs about a certain topic into an ultimate guide. CMI calls this the “curation mindset,” and it can make your past efforts go that much farther in terms of ROI.

Refresh “Striking Distance” content

Though there is more than one way to refresh old content, we’ve found the Striking Distance method to be one of the most efficient and effective.

The Striking Distance method focuses on keywords that you’re within “striking distance” of ranking on page 1 of the SERPs. This means re-optimizing content that’s on page 2 or 3 of the Google search results for a given keyword by going back and adding that keyword to the meta tags and/or body of the piece. This can be one keyword or several for the same piece and is super fast and cost-effective compared to creating new content for those same keywords.

When you’re in striking distance of page 1, it means the page is already doing pretty well – all you have to do is nudge it over the edge with a few strategic keyword optimizations.

Read our blog on the Striking Distance method to learn more about how it works.

BONUS: Refresh stagnating content

Let’s say you find a piece of content that was once doing well but has since lost traffic. Maybe it’s a seasonal piece that could work as an evergreen piece with a few adjustments, or maybe the keywords targeted are no longer relevant or popular. Maybe it’s full of valuable information but doesn’t use good SEO practices.

If you have good reason to think the piece could be salvaged, it’s probably worth re-optimizing it in any of the following ways:

  • Add new keywords. These could be Striking Distance keywords, but they don’t have to be.
  • Add content. Sometimes making a piece longer and more thorough can help its rankings.
  • Refresh on- and off-page SEO. Is the piece making good use of H1s and H2s? Does it have high-quality images with small enough file sizes to keep your page loading quickly? Are the targeted keywords used in meta titles and tags? Do your images include alt-tags?

By looking past top winners, you may find you can rehabilitate content that hasn’t reached its full potential.

Putting it all together

Don’t let all the year’s hard work go to waste! Instead of spending all your resources trying to reinvent the content wheel, do what you can to make your existing content really shine. Here’s a recap of the steps you can take in leveraging content winners next year:

  • Measure ROI through a content audit or review.
  • Use findings to identify content winners.
  • Repurpose or refresh content to give winners a second life (and losers a second chance).

Have questions about content marketing? Get in touch with the RMG team to see how we can help!

Author avatar
Stephanie Fehrmann
Stephanie was an SEO content writer before transitioning to a management role. As the co-founder and Head of Content at RMG, she oversees everything from the development of content strategies and content creation to day-to-day office operations. She graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in Journalism, and enjoys showing clients the power and versatility of content.
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