How to Measure B2B Content Marketing ROI

In B2B content marketing campaigns, content success is measured in terms of growth metrics. When the right KPIs are in place and graphs start showing an upward trend, most brands will see an uptick in sales. While some metrics will show a direct correlation between content and sales, most of them will show prospect interaction and an entry point into the sales funnel. If graphs don’t go in the right direction, the data will shed light on parts of the campaign that are underperforming or driving leads away.

B2B Content Marketing ROI: Who, What, When, Where, Why

The key to effective ROI measurement can be broken down into finding answers to the five W’s:

  • Who is finding your content, and are they part of your target audience?
  • What are the content pieces driving them to become aware or engage with your brand?
  • When did they first visit your website vs. convert; how many times did they come back?
  • Where did they come from? Which keyword phrase or search query delivered them to your site?
  • Why did they interact with your content, or why not?

On the surface, measuring B2B content marketing ROI seems ambiguous and unreliable. If you take the time to set the metrics up, the data will provide a roadmap to a content marketing strategy guaranteed to deliver ROI.

The Target Audience – The WHO of Content Marketing

The case for content marketing is to target your best customer profiles. While paid advertising and outbound marketing cast a wide net, content can target your ideal customer. The best part? Good content never expires.

Start quantifying target audience in terms of value. Which personas deliver the highest lifetime value? Which personas have the shortest buying cycle? Are any of your personas potentially high referrers once they discover your brand? What’s their potential for repeat business?

Once you’ve identified the most valuable buyer personas, it’s time to begin measuring which content pieces drive awareness and engagement from them. A powerful insight tool will compile demographic data from social profiles (Followerwonk), find similarities among prospects with advanced analytics capabilities, and help you identify content pieces that capture attention from your ideal customers.

Once the KPIs are in place and your website begins attracting the right traffic, you can commit to a lead generation content strategy that delivers these prospects right to your best performing content.

Awareness and Engagement – The WHAT of Content Marketing

Google Analytics is the best place to start to discover the WHAT of your content marketing efforts. Effective tracking in Google Analytics will give you a goldmine of data to help you answer the question, “What are prospects searching for?”  An advanced analytics set-up or program will help you silo these content pieces and categorize them according to buyer intent and action.

In B2B content marketing ROI measurement, tracking the buyer journey is very important. At this stage, you may need to invest in better a better analytics tool or work with an Analytics expert. There are many options; start with something simple if you’re not ready to invest in a monthly subscription service. Plug-ins that integrate with Google Analytics are a good place to start. If you’re ready to invest in software, look for something that offers predictive analytics.

WHEN: How Many Times do Prospects Visit Your Website Before They Buy?

Measuring the WHEN in a B2B content marketing campaign can help you focus on creating the right types of content.

  • Awareness Content
  • Consideration Content
  • Conversion Content
  • Retention Content

A common theme in many B2B content marketing campaigns is an uptick in overall traffic and opt-ins with unimpressive conversion rates.  Tracking the WHEN can help you identify flaws in your content strategy and invest in conversion optimization.

WHERE: Where Did the Web Prospect Originate?

Was it a referral visit from an industry site, a social media referral, a specific search query, or a local SEO listing?

Identifying sources of new visitors and aligning them with content pieces can give you a cost vs. value snapshot. If a simple Google Places listing sends significantly more traffic to your website than an expensive sponsored listing on an industry website, you can kill the sponsored listing and invest in content that will drive more people to your local SEO pages.

When Google removed keyword data from Google Analytics, some marketing teams stopped tracking keyword metrics.

Assign a keyword phrase to every page on your website and set up KPIs to track landing page performance. Pages that perform well in organic searches will highlight the most valuable keywords, giving you valuable data that can drive future content campaigns that deliver ROI.

WHY: Why Did They Click on Your Site, or Why Not?

When looking at the WHY, the intent of the searcher falls into several broad categories:

  • Education Content
  • Consideration Content
  • Trust Signal Content
  • Conversion Content

While competitors continue to release content that casts the net far and wide for prospects, companies who invest in tracking customer discovery will see much higher returns on investment.

A Forbes article states, “Customer discovery simply begins with gaining empathy — that is, developing a deep understanding of a customer’s needs and motivations.” Once you’ve identified customer motivation, you can begin tracking the performance of content at every stage.

Knowing the WHY of visitors helps you successfully transition into account based marketing (ABM). Creating content that attracts prospects at just the right time will deliver the most long-term ROI.


Once you’ve identified the 5 W’s, it’s time to take action.

Content Creation

Focus on creating practical, relevant content that resonates with your most valuable buyer personas. 70% of Internet users want to learn about products through content vs. traditional advertisements.

In addition to attracting your target audience, content should build trust and motivate your audience to take action.

Measurement & Evaluation

Measuring the performance of content and using the data to drive strategy is critical to success. For example, many marketing teams are obsessed with the performance of social media and blog posts. They look at the numbers day in and day out, how many engagements? How many shares? How many page views? These numbers are important, but they aren’t so important that other numbers should be ignored. KPIs that measure the performance of email content, event and webinar sign-ups, and evergreen content are just as important as those bright and shiny social media posts.

When the right metrics are in place, B2B content marketing teams can shift their focus to tasks and strategies that deliver true ROI. If you’re not tracking the right metrics, it’s easy to begin.

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