By Joe Pulizzi published May 26, 2011

Reporting Content Marketing ROI to the C-Level

Listened to a fantastic presentation from my friend and CMI consultant Jason Falls last week on social media measurement. Much of what Jason reviewed is applicable to content marketing measurement and ROI, especially when communicating content creation and distribution to the C-Level.

What the C-Level Wants to Know about Content Marketing

content marketing ROIPlease don’t show an analytics report to your CXO.  They don’t care, and probably will end up asking questions that will simply waste your time.  Your CXO only cares about three things when it comes to your content marketing measurement and ROI:

  1. Is the content driving sales for us?
  2. Is the content saving costs for us?
  3. Is the content making our customers happier, thus helping with retention?

The reports you show to your CXO need to answer these types of questions, or why show them anything at all?  Content marketing is all about developing content that maintains or changes a behavior, so that is the focus.

Return on Objective

All content initiatives need to have a goal, and those goals can be measured in a few ways.

Primary Content Indicators

Primary indicators are the types of measurements that the CXO wants to know about.

  • Sales
  • Cost Savings
  • Customer Retention Rates (i.e., does engagement with the content keep customers longer versus those that don’t engage in the content?)

Secondary Content Indicators

Secondary indicators are the types of measurements that help us make the case for primary indicators.  These can be:

  • Increase in lead quality
  • Increase in lead quantity
  • Shorter sales cycles
  • Increase in customer awareness
  • Market share indicators
  • Increase in cross-selling opportunities
  • Qualitative customer feedback on the content

Our B2B Content Marketing Study reports the following measurements used by corporate marketers.

content marketing measuring User Indicators

These are the types of measurements that the content “doers” need to look at to help drive the secondary indicators.  These are things like:

  • Web traffic increases
  • Increase in page views
  • Decrease in bounce rates
  • Tweets or Facebook shares
  • Search engine rankings

Bringing the Measurement Plan Together

When you are putting your plan together, the best way to go about making sense of all the numbers is to use these three indicators in conjunction.

  1. What is the goal of the content initiative?
  2. What are the user indicators (i.e., web traffic or SEO rankings) that will drive secondary indicators (i.e., leads, shorter sales cycles)?
  3. How can we develop a report for the CXO that shows the content making an impact on sales, cost savings or customer retention?

This, by the way, is not easy and there is no silver bullet, but by using this simplified framework, you can start to show that your content marketing is having an impact on the business.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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