4 different approaches to measuring the ROI of content marketing

Last year, only 23% of B2C marketers thought their organization was successful in tracking the ROI of their content programs. New research shows this continues to be an issue, as nearly half of all content marketers admit that measuring ROI will be their third-biggest challenge in the coming year.

Last January we shared the measurement metrics Marriott, Moz and content marketing maven Rebecca Lieb prefer. Now we’re sharing four additional benchmarks that can help you determine the worth of your content:

Operational ROI

This is exactly what it sounds like — it’s an evaluation of content based on the cost of producing it. You look at manpower and other expenses to determine if the cost-per-view justifies the effort. For instance, when compared to a blog post, a video may be more expensive from a production standpoint, but its overall cost-per-view might be lower if it attracts significantly more people. Your takeaway could be it makes sense to produce videos less often than it does to publish blog posts with greater frequency. If you merely looked at production costs as lines in a spreadsheet though, you’d likely never uncover the larger truth.

You might also want to look at time savings. Is your organization able to make aspects of your content marketing operations efficient or automated enough that less staff time and effort is needed to reach the same outcome? By dollarizing time reduced or eliminated through aspects of your content marketing, you can get a fuller picture of its total economic impact.


Measuring engagement can happen several different ways. The typical measurements are obviously clicks and pageviews. Beyond that, there’s the attention metrics of dwell time and scroll rate. You can get even more nuanced by looking at indicators of repeat engagement. This is a topic we dive more deeply into here.

Simply put, “relationship metrics” are concerned with how much content a single person is consuming and how often they consume it over a defined period of time. Using the metrics below, you’ll be able to see how successful you are at creating long-lasting relationships with existing customers in addition to attracting (and holding) the interest of prospective customers.

Metric What it tells you
Repeat engagement rate Percentage of content users who come back for more content
Content per repeat user Average number of pieces of content consumed by repeat users
Visits per repeat user Average number of visits for users who visited more than once
Content consumption rate Percentage of content views with dwell rate of 40 or more seconds

Brand Lift

By surveying those who’ve had exposure to multiple pieces of content marketing, it’s possible to see its impact in the areas of:

  • Brand consideration
  • Brand preference
  • Attribute association
  • Purchase intent

A OneSpot client recently conducted such a survey and discovered those who saw three pieces of branded content were 24% more likely to purchase their product than those in a control group that didn’t see any content. Assessing brand lift, while not especially common a few years ago, is being done by more and more content marketers. In fact, earlier this month brand lift was revealed to be the most popular non-sales metric.

Sales Lift

As you can see, 43% use sales-related activity as the chief indicator of content marketing success. For those who must show a bottom-line impact, Oracle’s Datalogix, Nielsen Catalina and other services can attribute sales to content marketing just as they do with other marketing assets and programs. Armed with data, you’ll be able to tell how content helped with cross selling, upselling and closing deals.

In 2017 marketers will devote as much as 32% of their annual budget to content marketing despite the inability of many to effectively evaluate it. While soft, squishy metrics like social sharing can provide some intelligence, those in the C-suite will often demand concrete evidence that content marketing works. Should you find yourself in this situation, use the above metrics to evaluate (and ultimately justify) your strategy.


Increase the Effectiveness of Your Content Without Increasing Your Workload

Drive engagement, conversions and ROI with true 1:1 personalization. No integrations required.

We’ll show you how