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They Ask, You Answer
They Ask, You Answer

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8 Unconventional Formulas for Measuring Your Content Marketing ROI

8 Unconventional Formulas for Measuring Your Content Marketing ROI Blog Feature

Ramona Sukhraj

Associate Director of Content, Strategized Initiatives That Increased IMPACT’s Website Traffic From ~45K to ~400K

October 10th, 2016 min read

I think it’s safe to say that the debate is over.

Inbound marketing is undoubtedly the most cost-effective approach available and it’s here to stay, but there’s still one burning question on the mind of marketers everywhere:

“What is the ROI of my content marketing?”

Michael Brenner and Liz Bedor, authors of The Content Formula: Calculate the ROI of Content Marketing and Never Waste Money Again, estimate that wasted and unused content costs B2B marketers $50 billion a year in potential revenue, but in their book, the duo sets out to not only help them calculate the ROI of their content marketing, but remedy it.

Brenner, with a background in sales and marketing, has held head roles in digital marketing at several companies before becoming the CEO of Marketing Insider Group.

Bedor, on the other hand, has a background in sales and training, starting her career in sales enablement at Salesforce, before moving on to managing training programs and eventually brand marketing for Salesforce University. Today, at NewsCred, she helps businesses develop content marketing strategies to reach their marketing objectives while staying firmly within their marketing budgets.

Together, Brenner and Bedor create an invaluable endless well of knowledge for modern marketers. The Content Formula is a book for content marketers, written by content marketers, with step-by-step formulas for generating a positive ROI on your various Inbound Marketing tasks.

Below, I’ve shared 8 unconventional, but reliable, metrics from the work that can help you get a better idea of your content marketing ROI and provide the insight you need to improve it.

8 Unconventional Formulas for Measuring Your Content Marketing ROI

What I like about Brenner and Bedor is that they believe in data-driven marketing.

As marketers, we shouldn’t have to guess or leave the success of our campaigns up to chance – especially when we have access to tools that make it so easy to measure our effectiveness.

More often than not, it really comes down to marketers being numbers-averse or simply being lazy. It’s time to face the facts and start seeing exactly what your marketing efforts are producing, and what they aren’t with these eight metrics.

1. Cost of Unused Content

Current Content Production Costs - Amount that Gets Used = How Much Your Organization is Wasting on Unused Content

On the Content Formula blog, the team teaches you how to calculate the cost of unused content as follows:

First, we need to have a solid understanding of your organization’s current content costs and utilization. Let’s start with calculating costs.

Step 1: Conduct an audit for a sample of the content your organization produces.

Step 2: Apply the average costs in order to gain a sense for the size of the problem. When calculating this, keep in mind to include the costs of freelancers, salaries, technologies, etc.

For this example, let’s say your organization is creating 1200 pieces of content per year with an average cost of $200 each. Therefore, your organization is spending $240,000 on content every year.

Next, we need to understand how much of your organization’s content actually gets used. On average, 60-70% of content goes completely unused; and remember, content that gets created, but never used is 100% waste.

Based on this information, we can take the organization's current production costs and subtract the amount the amount that gets used to find how much money your organization is wasting on unused content. Then for this example, your organization is wasting between $144,00 and $168,000 on unused content each year.

A planned content marketing strategy would provide a platform to share that unused content, reuse and repurpose it in different ways, extending its shelf-life and putting it to use.

Unused content is a waste of money that eats into your content marketing ROI. Instead of letting that unused content go to waste, repurpose it!

This goes for content that is underperforming or has been lost deep in the archives as well. Take your existing content and transform it into a new medium or update it and publish it as new.  

Here are a few resources to help you explore how to repurpose your content:

2. Value of Organic Search

The Value of Organic Search = (Paid Search Budget x Organic Search Traffic) / Paid Search Traffic

We all know that organic search is valuable because of the tremendous amount of web traffic that goes through search engines. However, you might not realize that organic search actually has a real monetary value.

You can calculate the value of your organic search traffic by comparing it to the value of the equivalent paid search traffic. In other words, how much it would cost your business to buy the same traffic volume for the same keywords.

3. Share of Voice

Share of Voice = (Online Share of Organic Search / Market Share) x 100

Don’t let the naysayers fool you. Keywords are just as important as they ever were.

With this particular formula, Brenner and Bedor show you how to accurately measure how well you rank for relevant keywords compared to your competitors. You’ll also learn how to find the keywords you need to be targeting, but aren’t targeting yet.

In this article, the folks over at Moz break down the process step-by-step.

4. Time on Site

Time on site is a metric that measures how long people are engaging with your content on average. While this might not sound very important, Brenner and Bedor make a strong case for why you should put more emphasis on improving your time on site.

The longer people are on your website, the more they are being exposed to your content and marketing messages – which provides more opportunities to increase ROI.

You can easily find your Time on Site (or Page) with Google Analytics.

5. Subscriber Value

No matter who you ask in inbound, they’ll say that email marketing is still the most valuable tactic you have.

That being said, one you’ve created lead nurturing campaigns and built out your marketing funnel, you’ll want to calculate average subscriber value. It is important because with it you will have a concrete number that you know each new email subscriber is worth, helping you better understand how much you can spend to acquire new subscribers.

The simplest way to calculate this is:

Revenue earned from email list / number of subscribers  = revenue per subscriber


$50,000 in revenue earned from email marketing in July / 6,000 email subscribers = $8.33 (the value of each email subscriber per month)

It is, however, also important to take into account your overhead costs and time frame, among other things. This article from act-on explains in-depth how you can calculate your email subscriber value.

6. Social Share Value

Social shares are great, but not all social shares are created equal.

In this presentation, Brenner and Bedor offer a simple formula to see if your social shares correlate with your social followers to figure out if your content resonates with your Buyer Personas:

Amount spent on social distribution / number of viewers reached

“Let’s say you spend $1000 on paid social distribution and reached 5000 viewers.

For this campaign, each view was worth $0.20 ($1000/5000).

Now let’s say a social post was shared organically by your followers and reached 500 viewers.

Based on the value of each view from our paid distribution, we can also value our 500 organic views at $0.20 each, or $100 total.”

7. Conversions

This one kind of goes without saying, but if you aren’t tracking conversions, you have no idea how your marketing campaigns are performing and you are severely limiting your potential ROI.

Conversions rates might be the single most important metric for marketers to measure, and Brenner and Bedor show you how to do it.

8. Cost Per Lead

Since you now know how much each lead or email subscriber is worth, you should know how much you can spend to acquire each lead.

Combining all of these formulas, you’ll be able to measure the effect of your content marketing from end to end and you’ll no longer have to guess what tactics are working for your business.

No matter what type of business you’re running, you need to have a firm grasp on the ROI from your marketing efforts to ensure you have a sustainable system for growth.

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4 steps to creating content that makes money…every single time
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