Connecting Content To ROI – The Holy Grail Of Your Digital Strategy

On so many occasions we’ve seen brands, digital agencies and creative agencies missing a trick by not connecting the content they create back to their core digital strategy.

Brands usually have a roster of clients who work with an in-house team. So often, communication between those agencies and in-house teams is disconnected, which means the content doesn’t reach it’s maximum potential, and doesn’t provide an optimum ROI.

We start many client projects with an asset audit – discovering what images, videos, maps, PDFs and other assets our clients have at their disposal. We often find many assets and pieces of content that are completely cut off from their main digital strategy. Sometimes those pieces of content are for micro-sites or campaigns. Sometimes they are for individual ads. Nonetheless, each piece of content created should serve the purpose of pushing the digital strategy forward, as well as being on-brand.

Content should be at the heart of a digital strategy. Many brands buy in to this philosophy, but saying and executing that idea are two very different things. Content marketing was a buzzword in 2013. As more and more brands pour budget into content and digital marketing, content marketing in 2014 has created burning questions that many brands are finding difficult to answer. “How do we measure content?” “How do we know what impact the content has had on SEO?” “Where do we get the data?” “Does the content work across all devices?“.

In their recent 2014 Search Marketer Survey, Brightedge canvassed the opinion of over 20,000 digital marketers, includes 8,500 brands. As a standout headline, the majority of those surveyed agreed that improving content performance, measuring content impact, and understanding the contribution of social media were at least as important in 2014 as they were in 2013.

From the study, 78 percent of those surveyed said connecting content efforts to ROI will be more or much more important in 2014 than in 2013.

Connecting Content to ROI - More Important in 2014 - Brightedge Survey

From an SEO point-of-view, measuring content success and tying it back to SEO performance is still causing problems. With the giant strides Google are taking to protect privacy by throwing the majority of  keyword data into the (not provided) bucket, digital marketers need to focus on other areas to measure success.

If each piece of content sits on it’s own URL, it is possible to track content performance at a page level. Not only that, it is also possible to track the flow of visits, links and revenue generated by that URL, and how that piece of content assisted sales and performance across other channels.

Take the example diagram below. In an ideal scenario, each digital channel is working in synergy with one another. That means any content created – regardless for which channel or what purpose – can affect each channel performance. Depending on how well the content is promoted, pushed and shared, you will be able to track the traffic, goals, revenue and other actions (such as newsletter sign ups, registrations etc) that occur as a result of that piece of content.

Content at the heart of a digital strategy - 8MS

If you have a revenue figure, and you know the value of a newsletter subscriber, registration, or similar action, you can then work out the ROI.

The results from the Brightedge survey reveal most marketers agree that a page-centric approach to tracking and reporting is going to be far more important in 2014. In fact 85 percent of those surveyed said a page-centric / URL approach would be ‘more’ or ‘much more’ important in 2014 than 2013. Similarly, 84 percent believe understanding the business impact of content will also be more or much more important in 2014.

Content Measurement Factors - Page-Centric Approach More Important In 2014

Technology is key to tracking content performance. The BrightEdge survey revealed Google Webmaster Tools (90 percent), Moz (56 percent), and Majestic SEO (34 percent) were the top three tools used by SEOs to gather data.

But that is only the picture for SEO. We believe a more holistic view of content performance should be provided. Setting a KPI framework for a brands internal teams and their associated agencies allows everyone to work towards the same goals. Whether that is traffic, revenue or ROI, a KPI framework should provide a clear view of each channel performance, and how content impacts each channel, and the overall business goals.

In order for all teams to understand what content is being created, when and by whom, a Content Calendar should run alongside the KPI framework. This gives all digital teams a transparent view of the content being created, allowing them to plan activities for their own channel. If you’re not sure where to start, econsultancy have a nice post, covering eight different content calendar templates.

At 8MS, we aim to not only measure content so it provides a tangible ROI, but also to think about the audience when creating content. The general public are becoming increasingly bored with the same old branded content being thrust under their noses. So here’s a final few thoughts to consider before you start populating that content calendar.

Is the content I’m creating on-brand? (Unless you are Dogs Trust, cute puppies won’t cut the mustard). Does it tell part of my brand story? Is that story authentic? Does the content I’m creating have longevity? Is the content interactive or personal in any way?

Good luck with your content campaigns, and give us a shout if you need a hand.

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content content calendar content marketing digital digital marketing digital strategy KPI KPI framework ROI SEO study survey

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