Content Marketing ROI

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January 17, 2024


Content Marketing ROI

We cover how to measure and improve your content marketing ROI. Learn about important metrics and optimization techniques. Plus, find out how Warmly can help convert website traffic into leads and increase ROI.

Posted on

December 19, 2023

Alan Zhao

Head of Marketing

Content Marketing ROI

A quick note to readers: This article is actually part five in a five-part series on building your own content factory, with expert advice from Nate Matherson, the Co-founder and CEO of Positional

Read part 4/5 on how to get free backlinks.

Head here to jump back to the start.

A lot of marketers make a huge mistake when it comes to investing in content:

They don’t track the ROI (return on investment) from their efforts.

Or, perhaps more accurately, they don’t use the right content marketing metrics to understand how their content is performing or what they can do to improve results.

Hint: Measuring content marketing ROI is about more than just looking at monthly organic traffic.

If you’re looking to avoid making that same mistake, then you’ve landed in the right place. In this guide, we’re going to dive deep into measuring ROI from content marketing.

Specifically, we’re going to be talking about ROI in the context of SEO content (blogs, primarily). 

That’s because this article is the final step in the process of building a content factory, a five-part series we’ve published on that topic, featuring expert advice from Nate Matherson, the Co-founder and CEO of Positional.  

Haven’t been following along? Head here to jump back to the start.

How to Measure Content Marketing ROI: 9 Metrics 

First, let’s dive into some of the content metrics most commonly used by SEO experts and weigh up which of them are valuable to us and which we should just throw away.

1. Organic Traffic

Organic traffic is what the whole SEO game is about.

It’s the number of people reaching your website (measured on a monthly basis) through organic search.

Side note: Organic search means that someone has Googled something and found your site, rather than learning about you through a paid advertisement.

2. Search Impressions

Search impressions is a metric that refers to the number of times your content has shown up in search results (but doesn’t necessarily mean that it has been clicked).

For example, in the above Google search for, our blog post on Drift alternatives is winning search impressions because it shows up in position number two.

If someone clicks on our post to read it, then this will also count toward organic traffic. 

3. Keyword Rankings 

Rankings speak to the position each page holds in a given Google search.

In the above example, the page is ranking at position two for the target search term.

We can look at keyword rankings on a per-page basis, examine the average keyword ranking across all pages, or create filters to understand, for instance, the number of keywords for which we hold a top ten position.

4. Referring Domains

The referring domains content marketing metric tells us how many external websites are linking back to ours.

We can review this across the entire website or dig into each page’s referring domains.

Jump here to learn how to improve this key metric: Building A Content Factory (Part 4/5): How To Get Free Backlinks.

5. Domain Authority

Domain Authority is not an official metric used by search engines. Rather, it's a compound measurement created by the SEO tool Moz.

Best to let them explain it then:

“Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how likely a website is to rank in search engine result pages (SERPs). Domain Authority scores range from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater likelihood of ranking.”

(Quote Source)

While DA isn’t officially supported by search engines, many content strategists find it valuable as an SEO metric. 

6. Click-Through Rate

Click-through rate (CTR) is the percentage of impressions that turn into clicks.

For example, if for every 100 people who get served a given page of yours in their SERP (search engine results page), 20 click on the link, then you have a CTR of 20%.

7. Page Load Speed

Page load speed measures how long a page takes to load once clicked into, reported in seconds.

Faster is better. A slow load speed hurts user experience and causes people to leave.

8. Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who enter a given web page and then leave without taking any action (such as clicking or scrolling).

Lower is better. A high bounce rate tells you that a given page isn’t as valuable as expected, doesn’t contain the information the user needs, or perhaps has a loading error (like a slow page speed).

9. Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is the percentage of users who take a specified action on the page in question.

This metric is only as good as you make it, as you’ll be the one defining what a conversion actually is in Google Analytics (or your website analytics tool of choice).

Say, for example, that you set “click” as a conversion goal for a given blog post. This means that any click, whether it be to a conversion asset or to another landing page, is counted as a conversion.

If that’s your goal with blogging, that’s perfect. But if your goal is only to direct them to the conversion asset, then your conversion rate metric will be misleading.

What Content Marketing Metrics Actually Matter? 

The content marketing world is full of vanity metrics (metrics that sound good on paper but don’t actually relate to the pursuit of core business goals).

More than that, there are a ton of metrics that can be vanity metrics if not used correctly.

Bounce rate is a good example. Simply increasing it for the sake of increasing might not be a good idea. 

Lower bounce rates can be a signal that your content is serving search intent quickly. People are getting the information they came for and then moving on with their day. 

Side note: This isn’t always the case, and further investigation is always warranted when a page has a higher-than-desirable bounce rate.

So, what content marketing metrics really matter?

As you begin building your content engine—and, with it, your reporting and measurement strategy—we recommend you focus on three core measurements:

  1. Monthly Search Impressions 
  2. Monthly Search Traffic
  3. Keyword Rankings

P.S. These metrics should be tracked alongside the best practice of confirming each new page you publish is correctly indexed by search engines and rectifying this should that not be the case.

Monthly Search Impressions 

Nate recommends tracking search impressions as a core content marketing metric, as this is typically a leading indicator of search traffic.

The idea is pretty sound:

If your pages are getting impressions, it means that people are seeing your content and getting an opportunity to click through.

This should lead to traffic. And if it doesn’t, it means you’ve got some work to do on CTRs (more on that later).

Monthly Search Traffic 

This is the big metric for understanding whether your content strategy is paying off. 

Search traffic is the number of people who are coming to your website organically, which will primarily be through the blog posts and landing pages your content operations team has been hard at work creating.

Nate recommends tracking monthly search traffic in GSC (Google Search Console) and aiming for a month-on-month increase of 10-20% for a full year.

If you’re doing as well as that (or better), you can consider your content factory a success.

Goal-Specific Metrics 

Many SEO and content teams stop at search traffic.

Sure, this is a solid measurement of whether your SEO strategy is working, as it means you’re ranking for target keywords and converting impressions into clicks.

But what happens then?

Most organizations want to know that the money they’re spending on content production turns into revenue.

Larger companies can justify this expense with the basic heuristic:

More traffic = More conversions = More revenue.

This is largely true, assuming that your site itself is doing a good job from a conversion standpoint.

But startups and smaller organizations often need to be more revenue-oriented than that. They need to know how their content investment relates to new revenue creation.

If you’re in that bucket, then you’ll need to take your content measurement one step further and use a goal-specific metric.

Revenue as a metric is a little too far away from SEO content to be realistic, especially when there are so many other steps in the sales cycle between reading a blog post and closing a deal.

More realistic options here include:

  • Conversion rate (assuming you set the conversion goal in GA to a conversion asset like a downloadable guide or demo signup for every page)
  • Leads generated
  • Free plan signups

Optimizing Content To Improve ROI 

Measuring content marketing ROI isn’t just about knowing what fruits your previous content efforts have delivered.

It’s also an opportunity to optimize existing content pieces to improve search rankings, user experience, and conversions.

When optimizing the content you’ve already published, there are three important areas to pay attention to.

Title Tags and Meta Descriptions 

Say you’ve got a page that’s ranking in the top ten, but it's low in there (e.g., position seven or eight).

You can take this as a good signal that the content is valuable and considered highly relevant for the search term, and you’re likely getting search impressions for that page.

To lift the page into the top three or five, you’ll want to focus on clicks. 

Take our guide to 2023 marketing conferences. It’s sitting at position nine for the search term “marketing conventions 2023.”

When it comes to Google search, there are basically two levers to pull from a CTR standpoint:

  1. Title tag
  2. Meta description

Let’s start with the title tag: An Essential Guide to the Best Marketing Conferences …

The first problem is that our title is getting cut off. It’s too long. For this reason, it doesn’t include “2023,” which is clearly an important part of the search term.

Compare that to top-ranking results:

We could also look at adding some action-based words (attend seems to be popular, perhaps a synonym to differentiate) to boost motivation.

Next, we’ll turn our attention to the meta description.

Ours looks like it has been auto-generated by Google. Sometimes, they rewrite your meta if they don’t like what you gave them. If you didn’t specify a meta description, they’ll just auto-generate it.

This is an opportunity for us to give readers a sneak peek into what’s inside and double down on motivation. What makes our page unique?

Bizzabo’s article does a good job of this.

It’s important to bear in mind that this is a process of experimentation.

Set up your change, then come back in two weeks or a month and see what changes have occurred.

On-Page Analytics 

Next, we’ll turn our attention to the on-page analytics provided by Positional for the same article.

Our bounce rate is quite high (around 40-50% is a good spot to aim for), which could be a signal that our article isn’t providing as much value as a user would expect. 

Time on page is also super low (it says zero seconds, but what this really means is less than one second).

What’s strange about this is that we have a really high scroll depth. 0.88 means the average reader scrolls through 88% of the page.

So, the typical user clicks on the page, scrolls through basically the whole thing, and then leaves immediately. 

That might be because the piece is particularly short at a total of just over 400 words (compared to an average ~2800w across the top five).

Positional also gives us some useful insights about where on the page people are most commonly leaving.

For this article, more than half saw the write-up on the first event, MozCon, and then decided that this page wasn’t what they were looking for.

Diving into the page itself, it appears that we’ve got some work to do on increasing the usefulness of the piece and improving user experience.

User Experience 

User experience (UX) encompasses everything that happens on the page and how this relates to the experience of the person using it.

Metrics like bounce rate and page load speed relate to user experience (slow pages aren’t great for UX), as well as broader facets like visual comprehension (how easy it is to digest the information on the page).

Looking at the article discussed above, we can see that it's lacking from a visual standpoint:

There are no images or other visual tools to break up the wall of text, such as lists or tables.

Let’s compare that to the piece by Meltwater, which owns the top spot for this search term.

Screenshots, lists, short sentences, and design boxes are all features used by Meltwater to improve visual comprehension and enhance the user experience.

So, to improve the performance of this page overall, we should:

  • Add more content about each event
  • Include more events to up our usefulness and overall wordcount
  • Find images and screenshots to improve the visual experience
  • Use visual comprehension tools like lists and tables to make the content easier to digest 

Tracking Improvements In Content Marketing ROI 

As you start diving into the above performance metrics and begin optimizing content on a per-piece basis, you’ll want to pay close attention to position changes that arise as a result.

All SEO tools (Semrush, Ahrefs, Moz) have some form of keyword tracking solution built in.

Positional offers a helpful keyword-tracking dashboard where you can easily access all of your core metrics:

By filtering the bottom table by “Change,” we can dive into changes in positions for the keywords we’re tracking.

For example, if we apply the changes mentioned in the above section to our “Best Marketing Conferences of 2023” article, we can monitor how those optimizations impact how we rank for that target keyword.

Driving ROI From Content Marketing Efforts With Warmly 

Since many marketing teams stop at measuring traffic as the key success metric for content production, they often fail to link that investment back to the sales funnel (the part of your business that actually generates revenue).

Before we sign off, we want to show you how to make this connection and turn your content factory into a revenue-generating tool using Warmly.

What Is Warmly?

Warmly is an account-based orchestration platform designed to help sales and marketing teams convert website visitors into high-value leads.

Read more: Warmly: The Account Based Orchestration Platform.

Warmly isn’t an SEO or content tool, strictly speaking. But Warmly can help you deliver greater ROI from content efforts by turning traffic into leads.

De-Anonymizing Site Traffic

You’ve been working hard on driving traffic to your website, publishing 20 articles a month, and optimizing individual pieces to rank higher.

But who are those people who land on your website through a blog post?

That’s the first thing Warmly helps with. 

We de-anonymize site traffic and tell you 15% of contacts that visit your site and 60% of companies (without you doing anything). If you are sending outbound emails through Warmly with tracking links, we can drive these numbers even further.

Fuelling Content Planning

By de-anonymizing site traffic, Warmly helps you figure out who’s visiting your site and understand whether the people landing on it actually fit your ICP.

It helps you figure out what content is being consumed by your ICP (so you know where to invest more into), but also what new content you’re not writing but should be writing.

Converting Traffic Into Revenue

After identifying who that person is on your site and what company they work for, Warmly syncs all the visitors to your site back to your CRM with data on what pages they visited, how long they spent there, and so on. 

Then, Warmly can help you tailor specific outreach sequences to identified contacts based on the pages they’ve been interacting and engaging with.

Plus, with a quick Slack message (by way of a native integration), reps can be automatically notified when a target prospect is on your site, so they can initiate a conversation via live chat.

Scaling Your Content Factory: Where To Next?

In this five-part series on building a content factory, we’ve covered a lot of ground.

In part one, we explore Nate Matheson’s experience in building high-performing content teams and how content production played a huge role in creating marketing success at his previous organizations.

In our second installation, we dove deep into how to create a plan for website content production and followed that up with an extended guide to building out content operations in part three.

Our previous post (part four) looked at the importance of backlink building and how internal links also play an important part.

And in today’s lesson, we taught you how to measure the results of all of that hard work, and provided a few tips for optimizing existing content.

So, where to next?

Two places, simultaneously:

  1. Back to the top: Content strategy and planning are things you should engage in every 2-3 months so that you’re constantly re-integrating your learnings.
  2. Check out Warmly: Dead set on making sure your content not only drives traffic but converts visitors into revenue? Then, you’ll want to be using Warmly to de-anonymize visitors and add prospects to automated outreach cadences.

Discover how Warmly can transform your content strategy and turn traffic into revenue.