Thought Leadership
  • Content marketing

Forget soft metrics - content marketing can deliver measurable ROI

Stephen Hobbs
14th October 2021

Many content teams hide behind broad-brush metrics like ‘reach’ or ‘engagement’. But what do these numbers really mean?

This defensive mindset is born out of a fear of failure, which doesn’t allow for improvement. That’s why we encourage organisations to make the cultural leap to embracing failure as a crucial, educational step towards success. This unleashes the creativity of your entire organisation rather than being the burden of the few…

Giving every piece of content a purpose

Every piece of content that your brand produces should have a purpose (measured by its Context KPIs), and this should be designed to drive customer action. This provides a stepping-stone on the customer journey towards an outcome (Outcome KPIs), which aligns with your top-level business objectives. All of this should be defined and captured on your content brief before your creative minds set to work.

The purpose of individual pieces of content is to develop a deeper understanding of your audience – even if they never become a loyal customer.

For example, consider a seemingly inconsequential piece of content like a behind-the-scenes video clip on Facebook. If a user stops scrolling to watch, they are showing interest. They can be added into an audience segment and retargeted with bespoke messaging and a strong call to action; the broader objective doesn’t stop at engagement.

Building a measurement framework and dashboard

Once you understand the most relevant metrics for your content marketing, you need to work out how to gather insight from them. Create a measurement framework that maps content goals to stages of the customer journey for each customer segment, with macro-level Outcome KPIs and micro-Context KPIs. This relies on content marketers at the coalface closely examining analytics and consulting industry benchmarks. This can discern behavioural patterns that reveal barriers and opportunities within customer journeys.

But this level of granular detail will be of little use to the C-Suite. You will also need to create a dashboard that shows top- level trends and progress towards key business objectives. This will allow you to begin to demonstrate a return on investment for content marketing. It also gives leaders the confidence to pilot test tactics that may have the power to move the dial significantly.

Running growth experiments

An analytical approach to content marketing enables brands to identify problems on customer journeys that can be developed into hypotheses. These can be prioritised based on a simple cost/benefit calculation.

The next step is to form them into experiments. For example, using a landing page builder to display content about how to choose the right colour to a subset of your Pinterest traffic, monitoring whether it reduces the exit rate. Each experiment will uncover new opportunities, meaning even unsuccessful hypotheses will be valuable.

Experiments like this will not, on their own, lead to significant growth. But they provide important testing ground that will identify tactical changes – from messaging to user interface tweaks – that, together, can make a significant difference.

For example, we worked with European furniture retailer,, taking an experimental approach to digital marketing tactics with the aim of quickly increasing sales. Within two weeks of a discovery workshop and rapid data analysis, we were running experiment sprints to test our hypothesis. By making off and on-site content shoppable we successfully moved customers through the funnel, increasing product views, sample orders and sales.

Conversion rate increased 45% YoY, leading to a 73% rise in e-commerce revenues – and a successful sale of the business.

Attributing value to your content

As the changes from growth experiments are implemented into day-to-day activities, you’ll be able to measure their impact. Begin by combining first click, last click and assisted sales data to create a reporting dashboard.

As you proceed through experiments, you can plug in other data sources (such as Google Ads data) to understand each channel’s role in the funnel.

This allows you to begin to attribute value to different types of customers arriving from a variety of off-site content to your website, and you can adjust your spending to target the most effective channels.

We can help

A measurement framework to monitor ROI

Our four week programme will create a reporting framework for your content marketing, with KPIs that deliver actionable insights. Value will be assigned to every asset you create, measuring return of investment and aiding future planning. It includes:

• Interviews with key stakeholders

• Review of your current data collection

• Review of data platform use & set-up

• Review of current reports and dashboards

The final output – a bespoke measurement framework for your content marketing – will include stakeholder presentation, actionable measurement tool and reporting dashboard plus stakeholder training.

Call +44 (0)20 3176 2632 or email Stephen Hobbs to find out more.

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How content marketing helps brands to get under the skin of their customers

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