Use Content Marketing ROI (or lack thereof) to Stop Blogging



The odds are that my company’s marketing manager is scowling at me right now. Heck, the odds are that your company’s marketing manager is scowling at me right now. Why? Content marketing is tough to measure, yet essential to so many businesses. But someone needs to say it: Not every organization should have a blog.


The industry might take away my SEO license for saying that. After all, it is in our job description to be champions of content and all things that lead to more successful digital marketing. Unfortunately, too many people write too many blog posts simply for the sake of blogging, like an offering made without question to the God of Content Marketing.

The God of Content Marketing wants more content!

Sorry, buddy. No free lunch. Every channel, including the cryptic content marketing formula, must earn its spot in the marketing mix. Time is money, and we can’t spend money without a return on it.

Content Marketing ROI Questions

This post provides several questions that you should ask about your current content marketing strategy. Maybe your blog is worth more than you realize. Or maybe the world will have one less underwhelming post to read tomorrow. Either way, everybody wins.

Note: For the sake of consistency, I will often refer to blogs as the home of a content strategy. Surely, content marketing is much broader than but I will leave that for you to determine.

1. Does your content lead to hard ($) conversions?

Create custom segments in Google Analytics that highlight traffic that visits your content assets and traffic that does not. If you are new to custom segments, use this overview from Google then mimic the following screenshot.

Custom segment for blog users

Once pages on are segregated, you can learn a lot about content marketing’s direct impact on the bottom line. In this example, we can see that the blog plays a huge role in digital conversions.

Home page v. blog ROI

Compare that to the following company, where the blog has a less direct role in the conversion process. For this site, traffic that comes through the home page (a.k.a. front door) has a higher value.

Comparing blog and home page ROI

If your company more closely resembles the latter screenshot, your time might be better spent on an awareness campaign or something else that would drive branded traffic to the home page, which is where nearly half of the conversions begin.

2. What is the value of content marketing traffic?

If you sell $200,000 widgets or homes or consulting, it is unrealistic to expect a blog to directly (or immediately) lead to conversions. It likely has soft (non-$) goals like fostering brand awareness or showing thought leadership. That can be difficult to quantify, but here are three examples to start the process.

Share of corporate voice (as we’ll call it) is how much each marketing channel contributes to a company’s total reach. Digitally speaking, blogs can be a significant component, as is the case with this company.

Company with lots of blog traffic

Content marketing makes up the vast majority of their traffic. Without it, brand exposure (follow by sales) would immediately decrease. That might not be the case for someone like this.

Company without much blog traffic

Perhaps time and money should be invested in the pages that do generate traffic, rather than blog posts that (relatively speaking) do not.

Target market ratio for content marketing measures how many of visitors are members of the brand’s top audience. This is easiest to calculate for organizations with local audiences with a custom segment in Google Analytics.

Blog visits from local people

Compare that to this blog, where only a fraction of the visitors are local. Which would you prefer if you knew your customers came from a specific city or region?

Non-local blog visitors

Link building should be a component of most content marketing strategies. Does your content earn links? We can see that in Google Analytics, too. This custom segment groups non-social referral traffic to the blog.

Non-social blog referrals

Can the blog be thanked for a considerable portion of your digital authority? Although difficult to quantify, domain authority has value, especially if organic search traffic is valuable to your business.

3. What to Do with Benefits that Cannot Be Quantified?

Not all soft (non-$) content marketing goals can be quantified. I asked a wise co-worker about this issue and he referenced three several content marketing benefits that are difficult to calculate.

  • Industry Thought Leadership
  • Examples of Company Expertise
  • Industry Share of Voice

Ok, it’s time pull your weight. What things are difficult for you to measure and how do you do it? Please share in the comments.

Andrew Garberson is the Search Department Manager. He has led digital marketing efforts in a variety of settings, including agency, entrepreneurial and nonprofit environments, and has master's degrees in business administration and mass communications. An Iowan at heart and Pittsburgher in spirit, Andrew commutes on his 10-speed most days between March and December -- after all, he's only human.

  • Bjoern Sjut

    In regards to question (1) wouldn’t you build the segment on users, instead of sessions – thus being able to see if people had seen content and converted, even if not in the same session?

  • Andrew Garberson

    You could definitely make the argument for a more comprehensive perspective. I updated my screenshot.

    Tip of the hat, Bjoern!

  • Ty

    Measuring ROI is important…I’ve seen way to many blogs pop up that end up not producing anything!

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