November 10, 2020
Updated: December 3, 2020

How to Show Content Marketing ROI

Content marketing is an inbound lead engine.

As a methodology, content marketing supports sales enablement efforts in numerous ways such as:

  • Generating high-quality leads at a fraction of the cost of outbound marketing or sales
  • Shortening the sales cycle by removing low-intent leads from nurture or outreach campaigns
  • Building a stronger reputation in the marketplace and owning a greater share of voice
  • Producing higher search engine rankings, thus drawing more web traffic and SERP visibility
  • Reducing cost per lead (CPL) and cost per sale (CPS)

As leads are handed off to the sales team, your reps and agents are operating with a higher likelihood of closing a deal in record time. But have you asked yourself if sales is using your content to do so and which content is actually driving revenue?

In this post, we’ll take time to discuss:

  • How your organization can maximize sales efficiency through impactful content marketing investments
  • How you can surface insights beyond the traditional ROI equation of net profit/investment x100
  • How to understand the ROI of content usage and discover what content is and isn’t working
  • Discovering the content that customers are engaging with
  • How a sales enablement platform can help you keep all content, data and assets in one centralized location for the ease of both sales and marketing teams

As you dig into all of these questions, you’ll begin to understand the value content marketing brings to your organization and its impact on driving revenue.

How to measure your content marketing

Content marketing ROI is often broken down into two types of metrics:

  1. Surface-level data points that marketers can easily measure. These are vanity metrics found in an analytics dashboard without much data manipulation or strategy required. 
  2. Commercially relevant KPIs that the rest of the business cares about. These are core metrics that show a fuller picture of ROI, and they might require additional layers of math and definitional understanding — i.e., you have to dig a little deeper.

One of the chief mistakes marketing managers make is putting too much emphasis on the first, at the expense of the second. The reality is that the sales team and the executive suite care about cold, hard dollars. This is the language that matters to them, and it’s the way that fundamental ROI is measured: dollars in vs. dollars out.

Here are some examples of the difference between the two:

Vanity metrics

  • Bounce rate: The % of site visitors who view a single page then leave
  • Page views: The total number of pages a single visitor views
  • Followers: The collective sum of followers across all social channels
  • Time on page: The time spent on a single page before a visitor clicks on another page or leaves the site
  • Traffic: The total number of visitors to your site

Core metrics

  • Conversion rate: Conversions divided by number of visitors
  • Cost per conversion: The price of converting a single user (as defined by what a conversion is at your company)
  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs): The score assigned to a lead who’s more likely to become a customer
  • Sales qualified leads (SQLs): The score assigned to a lead who’s ready for the sales team
  • Customer lifetime value: The projected profit from the entire engagement with a customer
  • Cost per lead: The average price of securing a single lead
  • Cost per sale: The average price of closing a single deal

Free tools like Google Analytics can do much of the analytics-tracking and dashboarding for surface-level metrics, but you’ll likely need an enterprise tool of choice to provide next-level metrics and insights that are relevant to executives or other departments.

Content marketing assets throughout the customer journey

As marketing and sales teams work in close alignment, they need to ensure the customer journey is fully optimized along the way. Using the industry standard definition of the buyer funnel, here’s how certain types of content marketing collateral should fit in at each stage:


Users in the Awareness phase are becoming familiar with your company for the first time. They may be consuming your:

  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • Social media videos


Users in the Interest phase are becoming comfortable with your company online and may subscribe to an email newsletter or follow you on LinkedIn. They may interact with your:

  • Landing pages
  • eBooks
  • Whitepapers


Users in the Desire phase are potentially looking to do business with you but need to further vet your offerings relative to your competitors. They’re probably looking at your:

  • Web testimonials
  • Case studies
  • Sales collateral


Users in the Action phase are prepared to become a customer and need one final nudge across the finish line. They’re going to want:

  • Demos
  • Trial offerings
  • Sales proposals

As leads move through the buyer funnel, you can steer them toward intent-specific content so that they remain engaged and nurtured with each brand interaction. Content marketing thus keeps your MQLs warm while your sales reps are working to close red-hot leads. Plus, your sales team is now armed with a powerful index of online materials to share with leads at any moment, so no stone is left unturned.

Unify your marketing and sales

Content for content’s sake is wasteful. And if it’s not created for the right purposes (growing your business) nor tracked accordingly, your marketing can quickly veer off course.

The goal of any marketing and sales collaboration is to work in complete cohesion. To do so, a sales enablement platform is a must-have. An enablement platform is instrumental in driving content marketing ROI in conjunction with growing pure revenue. These twin KPIs are what matters to a CMO.

It’s crucial for CMOs to take sales enablement seriously. Download our checklist that highlights questions every CMO should be able to answer “yes” to, spotlighting the elements of sales enablement that are crucial to boosting marketing impact.

How Showpad can help

Showpad’s suite of innovative content and sales solutions provides value up and down the supply chain of customer interactions — all in a central location. Sellers can discover, present and share content with leads to fully optimize every prospect experience.

Additionally, Showpad integrates with top CMS and DAM systems, employs AI-powered search functionality and provides contextual recommendations in seconds. No more scouring spreadsheets or a legacy database for what you need. No more waiting on email or Slack responses from colleagues. No more leaving prospects hanging.

Put your content marketing to good use with Showpad.