Content may be king, but it’s got one problem: Marketers consistently struggle to express the value of content in real numbers.
Unlike sales, where specific motions lead directly to revenue, content marketing is hard to measure. It’s often top-of-funnel, where likes and shares look suspiciously like vanity metrics. Even bottom-of-funnel content can be hard to connect to sales.
There are plenty of stats on content costs. Gartner calculated that the typical enterprise marketing budget is 6% of revenue, and Forbes found that 25% of this is spent on content.
But what’s the ROI of content marketing spend? That’s the question.
To find an answer, we explored the real value of a blog post. Keep reading for a simple 5-step process for estimating the traffic, conversions, and revenue generated by your content.
The Challenge: How to Measure Content Marketing
To drive business results, content must perform in several ways:
- Create awareness among people in your target market
- Educate your audience about your industry and the solutions you provide
- Drive traffic to your website
- Generate interest in your products/services
Measuring these outcomes is challenging, because attribution across multiple channels is hit or miss.
It also ignores the fact that your content is hard at work long before you see its results. People are probably already watching, reading, and exploring your posts, learning more about you and your solutions. You don’t usually know who they are until they actively engage with your brand.
Despite these challenges, it is possible to calculate the value of a blog post. We evaluated the traffic of companies that prioritize content marketing, and then calculated the potential revenue of individual blog posts, based on their estimated traffic and conversion rate.
Here’s how we did it…
How to Calculate the Value of a Blog Post
For content to drive sales, it must first drive traffic to your website. So our 5-step process starts there. Let’s dive in.
Step 1: Average traffic per keyword
The first step in calculating the value of a blog post is to determine how much traffic it drives to your website. There are three factors involved here:
- The search volume of the keywords the article ranks for
- How well it ranks for each keyword
- How many keywords the article ranks for
The search volume for a keyword tells you how many people are searching for that term on a monthly basis.
For example, the keyword “content marketing” has a search volume of 18,100. “Why content marketing matters” has a search volume of 50. That means 18,100 people search for “content marketing” each month while 50 search for “why content marketing matters.”
The search volume (18,100 or 50 in the examples above) tells you how much potential traffic exists for any keyword. No one gets all of it — your portion of that traffic depends on where you rank in the search results.
According to a study by Backlinko:
- The #1 position on Google gets about a fourth of potential traffic from a keyword.
- The Top 3 positions, together, earn about half the potential traffic.
- The Top 10 positions get incrementally less traffic but average about 3.2%.
There’s no way to know in advance whether you’ll be able to rank for a keyword, and if so, where you rank. But we need a guestimate so we can estimate how much traffic you’re likely to generate from your content.
For our calculations, we’re going to use a conservative percentage based on the chart above: 3.2%.
- Use an SEO tool to run a report on the keywords you’re ranking for.
- Sort by (1) the Ranking URL, and (2) the Position.
- Determine how many keywords rank on Page 1.
- Determine the average of all your Keywords’ Volume.
- Multiply by 3.2%
This tells you your average traffic from each keyword.
One of our clients has 31 articles that rank in the top 10 for 609 keywords. We took the average of all 609 search volumes: 428. We then multiplied by 3.2%.
428 Avg Search Volume x 3.2% = 35.6 visits per keyword.
Note: We’re purposely using conservative numbers in all our calculations. In reality, the client gets 8,422 visits per month from these articles:
8,422 visits / 31 articles = 271.7 visits from each blog post per month.
But stay with us. Even using conservative numbers, a branded blog post is worth far more than most people realize.
Step 2: Conversion rate
Now that you have your estimated traffic from a blog post, you need to determine how much of that traffic ultimately becomes a customer. Here are some statistics to help us arrive at a realistic conversion rate.
- Content marketing gives you 3x more leads than outbound marketing and costs 62% less
- SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate.
- A good conversion rate for landing pages is generally 2-5%.
If you know the conversion rate of your content, use that number in your calculations. If not, let’s assume 3.5%.
Calculate: Take 3.5% of your average traffic/keyword (from Step 1).
Let’s say your average traffic/keyword is just 30. (In reality, it will likely be higher. You’ll get 0 traffic from many keywords and 100+ from others.)
At a conversion rate of 3.5%, each keyword you rank for will give you one customer.
30 visitors x 3.5% conversions/visitor = 1.05 conversions
Step 3: The number of keywords per article
You may optimize for one or two keywords, but search engines will rank your article for multiple keywords.
Many of the articles we produce rank for 150+ keywords. Our average is 60 keywords per article with at least one keyword in the #1 position, five in the top 3, and 18 on page 1.
- Determine how many keywords each of your articles rank for
- Multiply your estimated conversions (from Step 2) by that number
Let’s be uber-conservative. Assume each of your articles rank in the top 10 for just five keywords. (That’s a safe assumption, even if you’re a newbie to SEO. We estimate that most blog posts rank for 13 keywords when they use simple on-page optimization.)
Using our calculations above (30 visitors and 1 conversion per keyword), 5 keywords/article will give your 5 customers for each article you write.
Step 4: Average order value
If you get 5 customers from each blog post, you can estimate the value of each article based on your average order value.
Calculate: Multiply your # of conversions (from Step 3) by your AOV
Most of our clients sell big ticket SaaS products for tens of thousands per month. But we’re trying to be conservative, so we’ll assume an AOV of $5,000 per month.
$5,000 AOV x 5 sales/month = $25,000/month
Many blogs support small-ticket products that sell for less than $500. We’ll continue to use our estimate of 5 sales per article, though the conversion rate is probably higher for small-ticket items:
$200 AOV x 5 sales/month = $1000/month
Step 5: Customer Lifetime Value
If you have recurring revenue, the real value of your blog posts depends on how long you keep your customers.
Step 4 gives you the value of the customer’s first month. To fully calculate the value of a blog post, you need to multiply that number by the average number of months you retain a customer.
Let’s say your blog post drives $25,000 per month and customers churn every 4 months, your blog post will bring in $100,000 of revenue. If you keep customers for 12 months, its value rises to $300,000.
The Importance of Branded Content
There are a lot of factors that contribute to the ROI of your content marketing efforts. That’s why we used ultra-conservative numbers in our calculations.
But even using conservative numbers, there’s no denying the value of a blog post. The key is to avoid fluffy content or low-quality posts, like those written by content mills or AI posts, that aren’t likely to rank in search engines.
Generally, content is treated as a low-value investment. It’s seen as a top-of-funnel tactic that does little more than generate awareness and interest in your brand. And when budgets are strained, content is one of the first things to be cut.
That’s a mistake. If you feel your content isn’t delivering value, you can massively improve results by implementing a smart strategy that drives both traffic and conversions.
That’s our mission at Jcurve. Our Competitive Content™ strategy helps you create quality content for every stage of the customer journey. So you get more traffic and conversions that grow your bottom line.
Ask us about a Competitive Content strategy for your business. It’s time to Jcurve your growth.