Content marketing is best described as the “art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling.” If your brand is like most, however, your content marketing probably promotes the brand too much and your audience tunes you out.
David Beebe, Vice President of Global Creative and Content Marketing for Marriott International explains, “Content marketing is like a first date. If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second date.” You have to let people get to know your brand, like your brand, and then eventually trust your brand enough to buy from you. Let’s say you’ve accomplished letting people get to know your brand. How do you know how much they like your brand and how do you measure overall brand awareness?
Brand health measures how your digital audience feels about you. We can measure this two ways: engagement and audience growth. For this post, we’ll focus on engagement, which we can measure with the following:
- Time on site: The amount of time visitors spends on your site.
- Repeat visitors: The number of times someone engages with your brand.
- Social likes: Which content is resonating most with your audience.
- Subscriptions: People giving your brand exclusive access to their inbox, opening the opportunity for you to market to them.
- Bounce rate: The percentage of visitors who enter your site and then leave, rather than continuing to view other pages.
Time on Site
At first, we naturally assume we should aim for high time on site, right? Not necessarily. Not all time on site is equal. When determining your brand’s time on site goals, it’s important to keep in mind why someone is going to your site.
High time on site, low number of page views.
- This can be good for sites that require a lot of time to read and understand the contents of the site.
- Low number of page impressions may be negative for advertising related websites.
High time on site, high number of page views.
- May indicate high level of interest and involvement with your site.
- Could indicate user frustration difficulties navigating your site to find what they’re looking for.
Low time on site, low number of page views.
- For sites that only provide a simple response or quick answers.
- Generally implies disinterest in the site, which is a poor indicator for most websites.
Low time on site, high number of page views.
- May indicate success for site that require visitors to complete tasks quickly (ie: banking sites).
- Could indicate that visitors are lost in the site.
New visitors are important, but repeat visitors are great for two reasons: they’re less expensive and are more likely to buy from you.
First, repeat visitors are less expensive, because once you “have” a new reader you don’t have to spend time and money attracting that reader. Your content is sufficient to keep them coming back.
Second, if the ultimate goal of your content marketing is to sell a product or service, you’re much more likely to sell to visitors who come back time after time. 96% of people visiting your site aren’t actually ready to purchase, so brands need to think of other ways to bring prospects back. If brands can do this successfully, those same prospects will ultimately choose them when they’re ready to purchase.
Now that we understand why repeat visitors are important, let’s dive into how to measure their value.
Repeat Visitor Ratio (RVR) measures the percentage of visitors who return to your site after an initial visit. The higher your RVR is, the better your site is at engaging the average new visitor.
To put a monetary value on RVR, we first need to calculate your current RVR. Let’s say you received 4,000 visitors this month and 800 were repeat visitors.
800/4,000 = 20%
Thus, your RVR is 20%.
Next, we need to look at the average amount you’re spending in advertising to drive net new traffic to your site. For our example, let’s say you’re spending $5,000 per month on advertising to drive new visitors. If 80%, or 3,200 visitors are net new, you’re spending an average of $1.56 per visitor.
$5,000 / 3,200 = $1.56
Taking that finding, we can then calculate the value of our 800 repeat visitors.
800 * $1.56 = $1,250
Therefore, our repeat visitors are valued at $1,250 per month.
How do you improve your RVR?
- Improve your marketing targeting to ensure you’re spending to reach the right audience.
- Provide great content consistently. All the advertising in the world won’t improve engagement if your audience doesn’t find your content interesting, entertaining or valuable.
***DON’T FORGET*** that while you want to increase the percentage of repeat visitors, you also want to increase the total number of visitors. Otherwise, you’ll start preaching to the same choir.
Social “likes” are a light indicator for whether or not your content is resonating with your audience. While many have tried, it is difficult to assess real value in a “like.” However, it is important to track social shares over time to ensure your content is reaching baseline or increasing level of engagement.
Calculating The Value Of Subscriptions
Your email list is an asset, and should be valued as such. The first step to calculate the value of your subscribers is to find your maximum allowable cost threshold for getting a new subscriber. If you don’t know this, you’re spending in the dark, or worse yet, spending to the point of negative returns.
Knowing your cost to obtain a new subscriber is the only way to determine how much you can actually afford to invest in growing your list sign-up and what your maximum allowable cost to obtain a new subscriber should be. As a rule of thumb, your subscriber cost per acquisition (CPA) should be well under your average sale amount from a new customer and within range of what you pay to obtain other valuable actions, such as webinar sign-ups, free content downloads or even direct sales.
First, let’s calculate what it actually costs to get a new subscriber from each list-building method. For this example, we’ll use the chart below.
Now we need to determine your maximum allowable CPA for acquiring a new list member, and continue to invest in the methods that fall at or below your CPA. Let’s say you’ve tested a few tactics and decided that your maximum allowable CPA for a new email address is $1.50.
Moving forward, you’ll want to continue pursuing all methods costing $1.50 or less (Twitter and Webinar).
Over time, we need to also measure the quality of the subscribers on your list by monitoring things like average sale value and unsubscribe rate. When you analyze the data, you’ll easily be able to spot the methods that produce the best quality and quantity of subscribers within your allowable CPA.
The higher the quality of subscribers you attract, the more likely they are to convert to becoming not only customers but also your best customers — resulting in more revenue from which to raise your CPA.
To calculate the value per subscriber, we need find the difference between the sale value and cost per acquisition for the subscribers. To do this, we use the formula below:
Value Per Subscriber = (QOS * ASV * (1 – UR) – QOS * CPA) / QOS
We’ll use Facebook Ads as an example:
Value Per Subscriber = (QOS * ASV * (1 – UR) – QOS * CPA) / QOS
Value Per Subscriber = (200 * 100 * (1 – 0.30) – 200 * 2.30) / 200
Therefore, the value of each Facebook subscription is $67.70.
Based on these calculations, we can see that paid search and webinar methods return the most value per subscriber.
However, since paid search’s CPA is more expensive than our maximum allowance of $1.50, we should defer to webinar and Twitter tactics.
Your site’s bounce rate is a metric that indicates the percentage of people who land on one of your web pages and then leave without clicking anywhere else on your site. A high bounce rate is a reason for concern since it indicates that your website visitors aren’t looking for more content on your site, clicking on calls-to-action, or converting into contacts. Since attracting and converting visitors into qualified leads is the main objective for content marketing, this is an important metric to measure and improve.
The most common question we hear around bounce rate is, “How should my site stack up?” Ultimately it really depends on your industry and site type, but in general, here are some accepted industry benchmarks:
The natural next question is then, “What can I do to improve my site’s bounce rate?” We can do this a few different ways, all of which have to do with improving the user experience:
- Attract the right visitors: Ultimately you want to be attracting people to your website who will be interested in what you have to say. Therefore, choose the right keywords that match your content, and not just ones to attract any visitors. Writing attractive, useful meta descriptions for search engine users will help new users find you.
- Improve usability: To do this, make sure your site has good color contrast, large fonts and headlines, bulleted lists, white space and sensible organization.
- Use a layout that’s easy to use and mobile friendly: Key layout components include quick navigation, easy to find search, content organized in sections, and responsive layout for multiple platforms (don’t forget mobile!).
- Speed up load time: People are impatient and slow load times will cause people to bounce before they’ve even given your site a chance. A few easy ways to speed up load time is to use little or no self-loading media content and set external links to open in new windows.
- Provide quality content: Last but certainly not least, quality content. A site can have the best UX and tagging, but ultimately, none of that matters if the content isn’t compelling. Quality doesn’t just mean the content is well-written. Quality includes using stylish copy and images, making sure it is error-free and including a clear call-to-action and obvious links to next steps.
Want to learn more about calculating and proving content marketing ROI? Join us for a webinar on August 5th at 1pm with Michael Brenner, Head of Strategy at NewsCred and myself as we explore:
How to build the content marketing business case internally
How to find budget for content marketing
How to calculate KPIs for each content marketing business case
Liz Bedor is a Brand Strategist at NewsCred