How to Track ROI from Content Marketing


Ecommerce marketers can close the loop on content marketing performance with specific goals and diligent measurement.

Even in the age of AI, content comes at a cost. It is not free. It should generate a positive return on investment for any business — retail, direct-to-consumer, B2B. 

Done well, content marketing attracts, engages, and retains customers.

  • Attract. Content is a foundation for search engine optimization and social media marketing.
  • Engage. Content builds a relationship between a prospect and the business, often positioning the company as a trusted expert.
  • Retain. Content via a blog, email newsletter, or social channel helps a business stay in touch with customers between purchases.

Content Goals

Setting goals is the first step toward generating an ROI from content marketing. We might have two for a month.

  • Attract 1,000 visits from search engines.
  • Get 100 new email subscribers.

The number of site visits leads to our ultimate aim of obtaining email subscriptions.

Applying these goals to individual posts, we could publish four articles monthly, each earning 250 visits and 25 newsletter subscriptions.

  • Average 250 visits per post.
  • 25 visitors (10%) subscribe to email.

Next, we can set a value for each action. Let’s assume:

  • 5% of email subscribers purchase monthly.
  • The average order is $125.

Thus 100 new email subscribers should lead to five purchases, which would generate $625 in revenue. We can now assign a value to each action.

  • A site visit is worth $0.63 — 62.5 cents.
    • $625 revenue / 1,000 visits = $0.63
  • An email subscription is worth $6.25.
    • $625 revenue / 100 subscriptions = $6.25

Measure Content

Whether via spreadsheets or a full-blown business intelligence suite, we will track the same basic information about the content.

  • Title. 
  • URL.
  • Topic. Keyword phrase or concept.
  • Author. The actual creator, not necessarily the byline.
  • Publication or refresh date.
  • Content type. Blog post, podcast, video.

These might be columns in a sheet or fields in a database.

Next, we’ll capture key performance indicators that align with our goals. 

  • Total visits. The number of visits to the new content.
  • Total email subscriptions. Cumulative email subscriptions since the content was published.
  • Revenue. Purchases by shoppers who visited the content and subscribed to the email.

The metrics vary depending on the goals. Some take more time to measure, such as a shopper who subscribed on April 15 and purchased on May 20.

Finally, we will track how much the content costs.

  • Creation. How much we paid for a writer, including a refresh.
  • Editing. The cost of an editor.
  • Graphics. Photography and custom and AI-generated images.
  • SEO. The expense of an SEO platform or consultant for keyword phrases and gaps.
  • Promotion. Advertising outlay. 

Calculate ROI

Measuring KPIs and costs enables a basic ROI calculation.

ROI = Net Return ÷ Cost of Investment


Net ReturnGross Sales – Cost of Investment

ROI = (Gross Sales – Cost of Investment) ÷ Cost of Investment

Assume four blog posts cost $400 and drive 1,000 site visits, 100 email subscriptions, and $625 in ecommerce sales. The ROI would be 56.2% or $0.56 (56 cents) in the first month for every $1.00 invested.

($625 – $400) ÷ $400 = 56.2%

Don’t get too excited. This is an example. It leaves out the cost of goods sold, the expense of the email platform, and conversion optimization. 


Nonetheless, the example is a framework for measuring performance and optimizing over time. Certain content topics might lead to more visits, subscriptions, and sales. One writer could outproduce another. Analyze results, tweak, and improve. 

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