How to prove your content marketing success to your boss

By Joe Escobedo
Best practices

Content marketing is creating, publishing and promoting value-based content to attract your target audience so they get to know, like and trust you. But how can show content marketing ROI to your boss? @RealJoeEscobedo from Forbes shares his insight. 

“Show me the ROI of our content marketing.” Has your boss ever said that to you? If so, you may find it challenging to answer their question.

That’s why I asked Katie Dufficy, Marketing Communications Director for Salesforce Asia Pacific how her company measures its content marketing.

Keep reading as she provides a simple step-by-step process for proving the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy to your boss.

Step 1: Identify the goal of your content and audience

Don’t do content for content’s sake. Understand why you need an owned content program, who you are trying to reach and build from there.

Dufficy explains, “At Salesforce, we aim to share content which helps tell our brand story and aligns to our values. We aim to feature content that helps our customers better understand who we are and what we do. We also focus our content on what’s relevant to our current and potential customers.”

Below are just some examples of content marketing goals you might set:

  • Increase brand awareness by creating content that shows who your brand is and what it represents
  • Drive more organic traffic to your website
  • Generate more leads by creating highly valuable hero pieces of content that are gated behind a form that captures leads’ details

Step 2: Don’t be afraid of measurement

As with any form of marketing, it’s important to understand what success looks like and what your benchmark measures will be.

Dufficy says, We tend to look at our measurement from two angles:

  1. Awareness and engagement: traffic, engagement, audience growth, content downloads, and blog subscriber data
  2. Business opportunities: leads, opportunities, pipeline, conversion rate and total sales

Here are examples of short-term metrics that could match some of the long-term goals shared in step one:

Brand awareness metrics:

  • Increase social shares of content
  • Increase brand mentions on social media
  • Increase the percentage of total traffic from first-time visitors

Content traffic and engagement metrics:

  • Increase your overall blog page views
  • Increase time on page and decrease bounce rates
  • Increase views of video content and video view length

Lead metrics:

  • Increase the volume of responses/leads generated from gated content assets
  • Increase conversion rates of your landing pages
  • Increase the percentage of marketing pipeline generated by content marketing

Retention and loyalty

  • Increase the percentage of returning visitors to your site and individual content pieces
  • Grow your content subscription database

The key to any content marketing program is to continually look at what content your audience is engaging with.

“We regularly look at our top content and will adjust our creative style and tactics to align with that data. Content marketing is fundamentally about combining the creativity of storytelling with the data and science of the web,” says Dufficy.

Step 3: Educate and seek buy-in

Educating the wider business on the role of content marketing in driving growth and awareness plays a big part in the success of your content marketing strategy. This includes educating the wider marketing team, the employee base and perhaps most importantly the executives you will be leaning on to create some of the content.

Know your elevator pitch to explain the role content plays (or will play) in the business. For example, “Our content contributed 30% of the leads that sales received last year.” If your strategy isn’t that far along, you could quote general statistics like this one from Kapost: “72% of marketers think that branded content is more effective than magazine advertisements and 69% say it’s superior to direct mail and PR.”

Use your employee army. The employees of the business are often the best advocates for sharing your content. Work with teams across the business to give them access to the content you’re creating and encourage them to share it with their networks. For example, you could help your staff to share content by creating quick and easy “click to tweet” links.  

Step 4: Create a customer journey

The holy grail of content marketing is to create a holistic customer journey and involve the right people in the organization. This means, creating a plan for what happens after someone downloads a piece of content. This plan should involve sales reps, marketing ops, as well as lead scoring and nurturing.

Phase one: Understand that great content alone doesn’t yield great results. The best-written, most beautifully-designed content will reach a dead end if there’s no way to meet customers or prospects for the next step of their journey.

Phase two: Map your customer journey and collaborate with the right people. Creating a holistic customer journey is complex because people’s reactions to your content vary widely. Start by thinking about the different possible responses from readers and the possible next phase of their customer journey.

Creating a customer journey involves understanding your audience’s’ reactions as well as technology to automate this process. You can start with building up to two journeys for one piece of content. You will need to have a single view of all the customer information for journey-building and a CRM platform like Salesforce to make the process easier.

Step 5: Report and refine

If there isn’t data on how successful it was, did it even happen? It’s so important to set your measurement goals up front and continually review and refine your content based on what is achieving the highest level of success. An example for us is that we found people were engaging most with our content when it was in a list format or ‘top tips’ style. These blogs were consistently the blogs that were performing best. This then helped us to shape our editorial calendar for the following quarter and encourage our bloggers (both internal and external) to think about positioning their content in this way.

Dufficy shares an example, “One of the other major learnings we found was that our culture posts – things like when we placed in the Best Place to Work list and when we take a stand on equality – tend to perform very well. This tells us our audience wants to know more about who we are and what differentiates us as a company – not just about what we sell.”

Top three content marketing takeaways

  • Measuring content marketing is a constant work in progress. Continually add new metrics to the mix and remove old ones that don’t make sense anymore. You must be agile and able to pivot to stay competitive.
  • Don’t forget to focus on your values as a company and telling a human story in your content – people want to know more than just what you sell.
  • Technology is your friend. Use the data to measure what you’re doing, explore marketing tools to help map your customer journeys and demonstrate your impact on the business bottom line.

Ultimately, you’ll be a more successful content marketer if you let data be your guide.

Additional reading:

This article was written by Joe Escobedo from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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