Skip to content

Measure Your Content Marketing ROI with Call Tracking

call tracking-graphsBusinesses today continue to spend more on content marketing. If you’re a content marketer, that may be reason to cheer, but it should also be reason for apprehension. Increased spending almost always means increased scrutiny from executives, and if you haven’t been asked to defend your content marketing budget yet, you probably will soon. You need to be prepared.

When it comes to proving content marketing ROI, marketers often try to drown executives in a sea of metrics, hoping the cumulative effect will either dazzle or confuse them into buying in. But most CEOs don’t want to hear about site visits, video views, blog subscribers, retweets, and “likes.” Those are good metrics to have to help you shape your content marketing strategy, but they rarely impress C-level executives.

CEOs care about the financial bottom line. That’s why the best way to prove content marketing ROI is to show how your content impacts lead generation, followed by how those leads are translating to revenue. If you can do that, you can defend the content marketing budget you have now — and even make a compelling case for an increase.

Going beyond web lead tracking

Any regular reader of the Content Marketing Institute blog knows that content marketers should be tracking how their work generates web leads and revenue. In a nutshell:

  • Your content should include calls to action that drive potential leads to visit a special landing page to either fill out a web form or, depending on the nature of your business, make an immediate purchase.
  • The lead or purchase should be tagged as belonging to the appropriate content marketing source.
  • If the lead did not make a purchase, they should be either passed to sales for follow up or entered into a nurturing program until they are sales-ready.
  • The lead should be tracked through the sales process to see if it eventually turns into revenue. (If you aren’t doing this already, integrating marketing automation tools like Marketo or Eloqua with a CRM system like is a good way to get started.)
  • This data should then be presented regularly to your executive team to demonstrate content marketing’s impact on the business.

If your content is effective, tracking web leads and online sales makes a strong statement about the value of content marketing. But it still only tells half the story. What if instead of visiting your web page or filling out your form, the lead picks up the phone and calls you? Can you tell exactly what piece of content drove that call? Can you tell if the call even came from content marketing at all?

If you aren’t tracking phone leads back to your content and through to revenue, you aren’t doing your work justice. Not only are you almost certainly underreporting lead volumes to execs, but you also aren’t getting proper credit for the revenue those calls will bring in. And since inbound calls to sales usually turn into revenue at a higher rate than web leads, this could be a significant gap in your reporting of content marketing ROI.

How to add call tracking to your sales toolbox

When I speak to content marketers about lead attribution reporting, the most common reason they give for not tracking phone leads is that they simply don’t know how — the means of doing it aren’t as well understood as web lead tracking.

The main requirement in the process is the use of call tracking software. Here’s how it works:

Call tracking software enables you to assign a unique, trackable phone number to each individual piece of content you publish. You would then use the software to designate a sales contact for calls that come in from each number — i.e., you can send them to your regular sales line or main business line, to a specific sales agent or group of agents, etc.

When a call comes in, the software tracks it back to the specific piece of content it originated from. With this behind-the-scenes process, your sales and marketing teams receive additional insight on your prospects’ needs and interests, yet the additional layer of information doesn’t impact or overburden the callers themselves — from their standpoint, the process remains the same as any other sales inquiry they might make.

The call tracking tools can then be used to compile a report on the calls each piece of content generates. And like other marketing automation tools, call tracking data can be integrated into your CRM system, helping your team to follow each phone lead from the point of entry right through the rest of the sales cycle.

How call tracking impacts content marketing campaigns 

My company uses call tracking to help measure ROI from all our content marketing efforts, but here is one particular example of how we’ve put these tools to use:

This past summer, our CEO, Irv Shapiro, gave a presentation at the Conversion Conference in Chicago on ways to improve lead conversion. Irv’s presentation included a unique, trackable phone number on every slide, as well as one on the final slide, which included a call to action to contact our company for more information. The presentation was made available to attendees after the conference.

When Irv returned from the conference, he recorded his presentation, repurposed it as an on-demand webinar, and published it on our site behind a registration form. We also made the presentation slides available to view on SlideShare.

Our marketers then promoted the webinar via our social media outlets and email campaigns. Anyone who downloaded this video received an automated email (from our marketing automation system), prompting them to call the trackable phone number for a personal demo of our software.

We received a few hundred leads from the campaign— including phone calls from the SlideShare deck and automated emails — and so far, several of those leads have already been converted into customer accounts or have presented us with other sales opportunities. By combining call tracking software with our marketing automation system and our CRM system, we have additional customer insight, and solid proof of how our presentation content has impacted our business.

Adding call tracking capabilities to your existing content technologies provides data that can paint a simple, powerful picture of content marketing effectiveness. Instead of forcing execs to sit through 30 slides of data on how content marketing might impact indirect success indicators, like page views or email click-through rates, you can show them what they really care about: a single impactful slide proving how your content is generating leads and revenue.

To learn more about tools that can increase your productivity and reporting processes — and their vendors — download Content Collaboration Tools: An Analysis of 13 Technology Solutions in a Disruptive Marketplace.

Cover image via Bigstock