Content Marketing, 2014-06-August-REVS-COST.jpg"How do we measure the return on our content investment?

This question made a lot of sense 4-5 years ago. What we today call “big data” was in its infantile stages. Data collection was robust, but costs were high and usability was poor. Expenditures related to content were roughly 3 to 4 percent of marketing budgets and users weren’t used to the idea of companies producing content. Simply put, most of us didn’t really want or care to measure the results. The ability, desire and necessity of measuring content value just wasn’t there.

With content marketing expenditures increasing to approximately 30 to 40 percent of corporate marketing budgets, content marketing initiatives need to be grounded in repeatable and informative data structures. In short, as the budgets grow, so does the need for attribution and accountability.

Understanding how to assign attribution and accountability is where things get tricky. However, it doesn’t get tricky in the way most might think.

Return is Tangible, Cost is Not

If your content is on the web, you can measure how effective it is. Developing robust KPIs can be challenging, but consultants and agencies have teams of professionals to help make sense of it all. It turns out measuring return is tangible. It is the investment that can be difficult to measure.

Most companies know the resources they’ve devoted to content marketing. It’s generally a line item in a budget. But that shows how much money your organization is spending on content, it doesn’t tell anything about how successful a particular piece of content is. It tells you if your content efforts have succeeded or failed but offers very little insight into how to course correct or grow. Beyond that, keeping track of where that content is reused both inside and outside of your ecosystem can get very messy.

Normalization is the Key

Unlike content marketing as a whole, most individual pieces of content aren’t a line item on a budget. Instead of knowing how much money you spend producing a piece of content, you want a consistent and normalized measurement of the production effort.

The formula

(Quantitative) + (Qualitative) = Value
(Resource) / (Reuse) = Investment
Value / Investment = ROI