measuring content marketing | reviewing statistics

We’ve Been Measuring Content Marketing All Wrong

Last week, I read an article that changed my life – the part that is consumed by being CEO of a marketing agency. As it turns out, we’ve been measuring content marketing all wrong.


In this article, Robert Rose lays out his argument. You don’t need to read the article; I’ll sum it up for you below.


Content marketing is an investment. Campaigns are expenses.


I’ve always said that content marketing is an investment. Like any investment – purchasing a house in an up-and-coming neighborhood or saving for retirement – it builds value over time.


However, a marketing campaign is an expense. You are spending money right now that will benefit your business over the long-term (or as Robert says, in time).


So, how can you measure the ROI of an expense? You can’t.


We’ve been measuring content marketing all wrong


A specific marketing tactic or campaign is a short-term expense that ultimately benefits the company.


Yet, it’s usually measured like this:


ROI = (current value of investment – cost of investment) / cost of investment


Like I said above, an expense has no ROI. This formula, therefore, is useless, because it measured an investment, not an expense.


 It’s critical to business over the long-term


But measuring content marketing in time is hard.


As Robert points out in the article, “some loss-leading campaigns are good for business.” Plus, campaigns often take time to show results, “and there is the attribution challenge, where combinations of campaigns are what provide the results. And there are, most notably, the forgotten long-term effects of brand building.”


How on earth are you supposed to measure the elements that went into building a fantastic brand? How are you supposed to figure out which pieces of which campaigns lead to an X% in increase in sales?


Exactly – you can’t.


Robert’s article includes some examples of how hard this is to do. My favorite is Monster. has a career advice center, which is basically a content marketing platform. You can’t measure a platform’s ROI on Day 0 – or on Day 30 or 90. That’s in time.


So, zoom out to Day 365. It has a few hundred-thousand page views, and it generates thousands of opportunities on the site. Great. But how does that translate into company growth? Is it delivering a good ROI or not?


Now let’s fast forward again, this time to Day 730 (aka, end of Year 2). The platform is now driving 48,000 new leads, represents 22% of organic traffic, and creates a $3 million efficiency on paid advertising spend. Over time, the platform is paying off.


So yes, measuring content marketing can be done over time. It cannot be done in time. If you’d like to continue this discussion “off line”, drop me a line here.


Photo by Lukas from Pexels

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