The Association of National Advertisers, in conjunction with The Content Council, recently put out a report in which they surveyed 126 senior level marketers (pre-COVID) about the future of the content marketing industry. 

The overall takeaway? The future of the content marketing industry is bright! 52% of respondents said their commitment to content marketing is strong, and 78% say their commitment will only increase over the next two years.

NOTE: Download the ANA report by clicking here.

proving content marketing effectiveness
Source: ANA

Meanwhile, investment in content marketing has never been greater. The average annual budget for content marketing based on respondents’ answers is $15.4 million, but that number is expected to grow 42% to $21.9 million by 2022.

Source: ANA

At Knotch, we already know that there’s a ton of potential in content marketing. We were much more fascinated by a different finding from the survey: Nobody understands how to measure the effectiveness of their content marketing efforts.

proving content marketing effectiveness
Source: ANA

According to the survey, 59% of marketers feel there is a lack of actionable insights derived from current methods for tracking content marketing ROI. 31% say it’s difficult to pick the most important KPIs to track.

Their specific pain points included:

  • Proving content marketing ROI
  • Explaining ROI
  • Comparing metrics across owned and paid channels
  • Tracking metrics across platforms and publishers

From a business perspective, this is crazy! Marketers are investing millions of dollars in the creation and distribution of content, and not only can they not prove it’s working—they can’t even explain what content marketing success looks like.

That’s not to say content marketing isn’t a powerful marketing tactic. It is. Marketers just can’t seem to explain what makes it so powerful.

In other words, businesses around the world are flying blind. They’re making an investment without understanding what the return looks like.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

That’s why Knotch exists!

We built a content intelligence platform from scratch to address this specific problem. Using Knotch, our clients have been able to combine disparate data sets to formulate a comprehensive understanding of their content marketing performance. They’re also able to collect valuable qualitative data directly from users, identify new opportunities in the market via competitive intelligence, roadmap their strategy based on a continuous feedback loop, and ensure alignment across all stakeholders.

In other words, we do all the complicated work for you.

And in doing so, we’ve learned a few things about what it takes to understand your content marketing ROI. Here’s what you should know:

How to Determine if Your Content is Having an Impact

Content marketing ROI can only be determined when you have stated goals you’re measuring against. 

So before you even create a piece of content, you should document what those goals are, as this will inform everything you do thereafter.

While every company will have different goals related to content marketing, some of the most common goals associated with creating content include the following:

  • Grow brand awareness
  • Increase share of voice
  • Generate more qualified leads
  • Increase revenue

But here’s the tricky part: There’s not one single content marketing metric that rolls up into these broader goals. Instead, you have to measure a variety of metrics and determine which ones correlate with your overarching goals.

This is the crux of the problem.

So what are the metrics you need to track? Ranjit Raju, VP, Head of West Coast at Knotch, breaks them down into three categories:

  • Quantitative Data: Is the content engaging? This question can be answered by evaluating overall and unique views, referral source, time spent on page, scroll depth, click-throughs, search engine ranking, device and browser details, and social engagement
  • Demographic Data: Who is the audience? This question can be answered by analyzing age, gender, location, company, industry, job function, and seniority.
  • Content Impact: Did the content do its job? Measuring perception, awareness, purchase, intent, impact, relevance, and conversion allow impact to be determined.

Tracking these metrics can provide you with insight into content performance, but it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. One pageview does not equal a 10% revenue increase. To find out if there’s a correlation, you need to study how changes in pageviews impact revenue over time. 

If there’s increased revenue in a month when pageviews spiked, there might be causation (or there might not be). 

In other words, pick your goals. Then track the aforementioned metrics and see how fluctuations in that data over time impact your goals. Once you’ve established correlation, you know exactly where you need to invest your time to drive the metrics that roll up into your overall content marketing goals.

For example, after studying the data you might find that, for your brand, there’s a strong correlation between ebook downloads and qualified leads. This lets you know that you need to double down on creating ebook content, as this has proven to be a successful acquisition channel. 

"There's no secret sauce to creating great content," Raju told ANA. "It's about understanding your audience, looking at the data, and creating a feedback loop allowing you to iterate until you perfect your messaging."

Use Knotch to Prove Content Marketing Impact

We hope we’ve been able to illustrate the challenges of determining content marketing ROI. 

If your marketing team is facing these challenges, you’re far from the only one (as the ANA report shows).

As previously mentioned, Knotch can solve this common problem by collecting and interpreting qualitative, quantitative, and demographic data across all owned and paid channels so you can accurately assess your content’s impact. 

Our platform aims to provide users with a birds-eye view of their content performance, so they can see exactly which metrics move the needle the most for their business.

You already know content marketing can help your business. Now prove it’s working with Knotch. Sign up for a free demo today.