3 Steps to Measuring Content Marketing ROI

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Content marketing is a lower-cost method of reaching prospective clients. As with every other marketing effort you pursue, you must know how your efforts impact your law firm’s bottom line. This three-step primer will give you the information and the tools necessary to measure the ROI of your content marketing campaigns.

Step 1: Prioritize Your Goals

In a previous post, I wrote about the importance of creating and following a strategic content marketing plan.

Once you identify your goals, you must then prioritize them. This will help you measure success on a piece-by-piece and total production basis.

Step 2: Identify the Metrics Tied to Your Goals

The most common metrics that marketers track fall into one of seven categories.

Consumption Metrics

Consumption metrics involve tracking how your prospective clients interact with your content. These metrics include:

  • Page views. This is the total number of pages viewed by individuals who visit your website. This allows you to see which pages are getting the highest and lowest amounts of traffic. You can plan adjustments to your content or even your overarching strategy depending on what gets the most views.
  • Unique users. This is the total number of individuals who visit your website. This helps you understand your audience size and will give you a better understanding of how many pages each visitor views.
  • Clicks. How many of your followers are clicking through links in emails and ads to visit your website? You’ll know if you track clicks or click-through rates. Typically, the higher the rate, the greater relevance your content has with your audience. If you aren’t seeing good click-through rates, you will want to adjust your copy or rethink your approach.
  • Email open rates. Open rates will help you understand whether your email list members are viewing the emails you send. For the legal industry, the average open rate is 22.68%. If your open rates fall well below that average, you will want to revisit how often you are sending your emails, as well as work on making your subject lines more engaging.
  • Downloads. If you offer a free resource on your website, such as an eBook, white paper or how-to guide, you will want to track total downloads. You can do this by tracking email sign-ups or, better yet, by tracking how many users visit the resource itself. If you aren’t seeing many content downloads, review the copy that leads to the download, the actual download process, and the piece itself to see what you can change to make it more enticing.

If your consumption rates are low across the board, review your social sharing processes to ensure you are effectively spreading the word about your content. Also revisit your search engine optimization practices.

Sharing Metrics

Social media sharing is an integral part of law firm marketing strategies. Here are a couple metrics that you should pay close attention to in the social realm:

  • Total shares per piece. From shares to retweets to likes and much more, social media is the area to focus on if you care about spreading the word about your content.
  • Total email forwards. Another sharing metric to keep an eye on is how often your email subscribers forward your emails.

Both of these metrics enable you to see the scope of your brand’s exposure. They also provide insight into which pieces of copy are most relevant to your prospective clients; the higher the shares, the greater the relevancy.

Engagement Metrics

How well is your content engaging with your prospective and current clientele? You’ll know the answer to that question by tracking these focused metrics:

  • Time spent reading. Reader engagement with your content matters! This Time To Read (TTR) or Average Time on Page metric helps you see how much time your prospects spend viewing your copy. Comparing this metric to the total number of views helps you understand what type of content gains and keeps your client’s interest.
  • Sessions. Once you know your total number of sessions, you can determine how long each prospective client spends on your site and how many pages each prospect averages during those sessions. Together, these numbers can provide insight into how engaging your copy is and how easy your site is to navigate.
  • Comments, shares, and likes. Track the number of shares, comments, reactions, and other types of engagement with your social media posts, blog posts, and emails.

Low engagement rates can indicate problems with your content. Check your copy to determine if it needs slight rewording for greater effect. It is also possible your copy is not interesting to your audience.

Retention Metrics

Once you have engaged your prospects, you want to keep them on board until you can convert them to clients. Track the following retention metrics to see how well you are performing here:

  • Total number of subscribers. This is the total number of individuals you have signed up for email marketing. You can track success of your content by watching which pieces lead to list growth. This number shows you how many loyal followers you may have and how vast of an audience you have with regard to brand ambassadors.
  • Total followers. From your Google+ circles to your Facebook followers, you should keep track of how many people are actively following you on social media. With these numbers, you can track how large of a base you can reach with your posts. And using analytics tools can help you identify when to post and how often to post to reach prospective clients.
  • Total returning visitors. This percentage helps you understand if your content efforts entice individuals to revisit your blog or website. Use this rate and related engagement metrics to determine what caused each visitor to return and what steps you can take to convert those individuals to clients.
  • Bounce rate. This tells you the total percentage of single-page website visits. Review pages that have high bounce rates to see if there is a way to update the copy to better meet client expectations or direct them onto another relevant on your website.
  • Opt-out rate. This is an email marketing metric that helps you understand how many individuals unsubscribe or opt-out of your email list. When compared to your new sign-up rate, you can learn whether you are on the right track or if you need to take steps to improve your email tactics.

Lead Metrics

This is where we start to fully realize the ROI of content marketing. While we could address multiple metrics here, there are two that stand out:

  • Total leads received. How many form submissions are you receiving? How many phone calls? Tying unique forms to each individual content piece (e.g., eBook, website, landing page) will give you a more focused understanding of which pieces are converting more prospective clients to leads.
  • Cost per lead. Once you know which pieces are converting, and which ones aren’t, you can tie those back to total leads to give you the cost-per-lead metric.

Together, these rates allow you to identify content you should focus on producing in the future to gain the most leads.

Sales Metrics

We’ve come to the crux of what most attorneys care about—how much revenue does your firm receive based on your content marketing efforts? These two metrics will tell you what you need to know:

  • Total new clients. Part of your intake process should include a “how did you find us” question. Was it your website? Was it a post you shared on LinkedIn? Was it a free form download?
  • Cost per client. Once you know how many clients you received based on your content efforts, you will be able to compare total client numbers to total content costs to determine your actual cost per client.

Identifying these metrics will help you understand which content marketing efforts are working to convert prospective clients into actual clients.

Cost Goals and Metrics

Knowing leads and sales are great, but those numbers do not mean much unless you can compare them against total costs of your marketing efforts:

  • Costs per marketing piece. Remember to include all costs, including time to produce, distribute, and promote.
  • Overall costs. This is the full sum of monies spent on content marketing.

Tying these metrics together with your lead and sales metrics will help you better budget for future content marketing efforts.

Step 3: Top Tools to Use for Measuring Content Marketing ROI

Numerous tools exist to help you track one or all of the metrics laid out above. Instead of providing you with an exhaustive list, I have compiled my top choices based on cost, capabilities, and ease of use.

Website Analytics Program: Google Analytics

If you do not yet have Google Analytics installed on your website, get it. Right now. It’s a free analytics program that is incredibly robust. It offers insight into most of the metrics laid out above. With Google Analytics, you can track almost everything a visitor clicks and views on your website.

Social Medial Listening: Mention or Sysomos

To best shape the messaging around your firm, remain aware of what others are saying about you online. Use Mention or Sysomos to stay up-to-date and involved in conversations that mention you, your partners, or your firm.

Social Media Management: Hootsuite

Most social media management tools provide you with the ability to shorten your URLs. They also enable you to track more in-depth social sharing metrics. I am particularly impressed with the reports you can access by using the free version of Hootsuite, which includes reports on clicks per day and the most popular clicks. For deeper analysis on Hootsuite, Buffer, or any other social media management platform, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan.

Email Marketing Software: MailChimp or AWeber

A myriad of email marketing software programs exist, most of which come with a basic free account. Others have low-cost options for small firms. All of them offer higher-cost opportunities for when your lists grow.

All-in-One Marketing Software: Hubspot or Marketo

For attorneys who prefer to have an all-in-one solution, I would recommend looking into a marketing platform that offers email marketing, social media management, lead management, and robust analytics. These systems all come at a price, some much heftier than others. Programs that I have heard are successful for a law firm include Hubspot and Marketo.

Happy Measuring!

The ROI of content marketing means something different depending on your priorities. No matter your goals, my hope is that this primer helps you gain a better understanding of how your content marketing ties into your business objectives and affects your bottom line. Keep an eye on your metrics and use the results to adjust your efforts accordingly.

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