Marketers wrestle with ROI of content, study says

By John EganFebruary 18, 2015

B2B marketers are struggling with measuring the ROI of blogs, infographics, white papers and other content. But the struggle isn’t as bad as it seems.

A recent study produced by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs and sponsored by Brightcove found that only about one-fifth (21 percent) of B2B marketers are successful at tracking the ROI of their content marketing programs. For those marketers that have nailed down their content marketing strategies, this figure rises to 35 percent.

But if B2B marketers feel frustrated by proving ROI, the Content Marketing Institute offers this kernel of optimism: “Content marketing is different from other forms of online marketing in that it does not always deliver ROI quickly. It may take weeks or months for a piece of content to be discovered by people and the search engines.”

More good news comes from a Kapost and Eloqua study cited by the Content Marketing Institute. The study found that the ROI of content marketing surpassed the ROI of paid search by more than three times: 31 leads from content marketing vs. nine leads from paid search.

Furthermore, the Kapost-Eloqua study showed that the cost per lead of content marketing lags well behind the cost per lead of paid search: $32.25 compared with $111.11.

In the Brightcove-backed study, 83 percent of B2B marketers reported that they’d shaped content marketing strategies, but only 35 percent had documented them. Meanwhile, almost half of the marketers said that measuring the effectiveness of their content marketing programs presented a challenge.

“The lesson is clear: If you want to be more effective at content marketing, take the time to record your strategy and follow it closely,” the Content Marketing Institute says.

These findings come amid a 70 percent jump in content creation from 2013 to 2014, according to the Brightcove-supported study.

In terms of attributing leads to content, an article on the Content Marketing website outlines two methods:

  • Setting up lead-capture forms. “It’s up to you and your team to close this lead, but the content itself acts as the carrot,” according to the article.
  • Tracking the original source of a lead.

“If a piece of content costs $3,000 to produce and you spend $4,000 to promote it, your total investment is $7,000,” according to the article. “Say each lead you get has a value of $70; to break even on your investment your content piece must generate 100 leads. If you have never determined your lead-value price, it’s highly recommended you do so.”

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