ROI is always on a business’s mind. But when it comes to a long-term concept like content marketing, how do you measure it’s success? How do you know that what you’re doing is actually paying off?

If you’ve hired a content marketer, either in-house or freelance, what metrics and you use to monitor the success of the content they’ve created?

Too often, content is created in a silo without any thought about how it affects the business.

The real purpose of content is to guide people down the funnel and to the conversion stage. This can only happen if there’s a clear content strategy.

Without this, not only is it harder to measure the success of content marketing, but it’s also hard to know what to write about, and harder for your prospects to know what you’re trying to help them with.

Track engagement metrics

These are a really great starting point when it comes to tracking your content’s success. It’s not just about how high you rank on search engines (a hollow metric that too many businesses obsessive over, if you ask me—ranking #1 for something no one is searching for is worse than ranking #3 for something that’s super popular), it’s if you’re bringing more people to your site and—more importantly—they’re spending longer on your site. The longer they spend on your site, the more engaged they are and the more likely they are to have found your content useful.

Some other key metrics to include are:

  • Time on page
  • Time on site
  • Bounce rate
  • Number of social shares

All these things can be tracked using Google Analytics. If you want to get into the nitty gritty of your social shares, it’s always worth having accounts on each platform—even if you don’t use them—so that you can use each platform’s statistics. Most social scheduling tools like SocialBee or HootSuite also offer statistics for you to dive into.

And there’s also BuzzSumo, which is the most advanced way to track your site’s engagement. It’s a really great tool that you can try for free, so if you’re interested in seeing how much your content is shared on social media, or how many backlinks it has, it’s worth trying the free version.

Look at your email list sign ups

If you have an email list, the number of sign ups you get is a sign that your content is working. After all, they wouldn’t sign up if they didn’t want to hear more from you!

Having a lead magnet here really helps, so long as the lead magnet is tied into the content that your business is offering. There’s no point in offering a lead magnet about the best types of chocolate if you run a marketing related site, for example.

The lead magnet you offer doesn’t have to be anything fancy—it could even be a downloadable version of a post for them to refer back to. The key is that it taps into a problem that your prospect needs solving, just like your content does.

Use a tool like HubSpot

In HubSpot, you can track just about everything a user does on your site. This means that you can see exactly what page they landed on, how many pages they read until they converted, how long that conversion took, and how much money they spent.

All of these things help you to know if your content is working. They also point you in the direction of the best content for your audience so that you can double down on what really works.

HubSpot can be expensive and have a steep learning curve, so I’d hold off on using this until you’re more advanced or comfortable with the amount of money you’re generating. It takes a while to setup and get used to, but it’s worth it for the in-depth statistics that you can get. These stats can benefit both your marketing and your sales teams.

Monitor your funnels

The real goal for content is for it to have an impact on funnels, so monitoring them is a surefire way to know if what you’re doing is working.

Have your funnels seen an influx in people moving through them?

Are people more engaged in certain steps than others?

Are you getting more leads, mailing list sign ups, and conversions?

All these things help you to discern if the content you’re creating is serving your business’s goals.

It can help to have a spreadsheet setup where you can track all these things and compare the difference each month. This gives you a real perspective on what’s working and what’s not, and allows you to compare and contrast each month clearly. It can also be reassuring to see that your hard work is paying off!

if you discover it isn’t making a difference, or your engagement is going down, think back to the problem your business solves for your prospects. Is the content you publish in line with that? Is your content creating an emotional reaction in your audience, one which compels them to share? That last question is the hardest one, but it’s a discussion for another time…

Remember: it’s a long-term game

The more content you have—and the higher the quality of that content—the better and faster it will guide people down your funnel.

Some people will always take a while to convert, though. That isn’t a reflection on you or the quality of what you do—it’s a reflection on them and their business. You can’t force them to move down the funnel or read more of your content.

The best way to improve your content’s ROI is to monitor what’s working and double down on it. The more you do this, the more successful your approach will be.

What are your top tips for measuring the ROI of content marketing? Let me know in the comments!

How do you measure the ROI of content marketing?