My Blog Made Over 2 Million Dollars in Sales: How’s that for ROI?

by Marcus Sheridan

Any of you that have been reading this blog for a while know that I love to show REAL stats, numbers, and examples of how one blog article or piece of content can affect your company’s sales and bottom line. The reason I talk about this subject so much is because there is still this nutty perception out there that blogs and content marketing don’t make money, can’t be measured, and aren’t worth the time.

Frankly, every time I hear someone tell me how they don’t work for certain industries I’m tempted to start my own blog in that field just to prove them all wrong… But alas, I digress ;-)

Measuring the ROI (Return on Investment) of Your Blog

Because I do talk so much about how business blogging does lead to money and profits(if done properly), I want to focus for a minute today on the utter importance of tools and measurement—something dozens of readers have asked me about over the last few months—many of which are marketers/business owners who understand the power of social media and content, but need a way to prove to management that their labors are more than just words on a screen and can be a direct source of visitors, leads, and sales.

The problem with many companies when they’re looking at the fruits of their blog (and other social channels) is the fact that the tools they’re using are worthless for measuring ROI. For example, most business just use Google Analytics, which although makes for a great understanding of traffic, clearly does NOT measure leads—two very different animals.

To make a long story short, the ONLY way to get a true ROI of your social media and content marketing efforts is to have someone fill out a form on your website—one that attaches a “cookie” to the user’s IP address (read more about what all that means here) and from that point on allows you to know/track the lead’s behavior on your site.

To give you a clear example of how this works, we’ll use my swimming pool website as a model. Let’s assume that you’re looking to buy a fiberglass swimming pool and have landed on my blog because one of its articles showed up in search engine rankings. Once on my site, you now find that I offer a free, educational eBook that will teach you all about fiberglass swimming pools, at which point you click on the link (call-to-action) to find out more.

By clicking on the eBook, the process of tracking ROI begins...

Once on the landing page for the free fiberglass pool buying guide, you now fill out the form.

As soon as someone fills out this form, a "cookie" is attached to their IP address and the process of true ROI measurement is now possible.

As soon as you’ve done this, assuming you haven’t disabled cookies on your computer (which most people don’t), I can now track your behavior. Keep in mind, only certain platforms allow for this, but the one I’m showing you here is HubSpot, one of the better Content Marketing ROI tools available to business owners and marketers who are serious about measurement.

Now that you’ve filled out the form on my website, I can learn quite a bit about you, as shown in the following images:

Shown are two major stats of a lead taken from my swimming pool site. Notice how we can see the exact phrase the person searched to find the site, as well as the number of page views-- two very powerful pieces of information.

Not only can I see the keyword phrase (“Lead Source”)  you typed in Google to find my site (and the initial blog article that lead to this), but I can also take a look at the exact pages you’ve viewed, as well as how long you stayed on each:

Now that you have the lead's history, you can even see the pages of your site they've read, as well as the article that brought them to your website in the first place, which is the essential key to measuring the ROI of any blog.

After you’ve gone through the process of becoming a lead in my site, let’s assume you now meet with my company and end up becoming a “customer.” The final step in measuring the ROI is “closing the loop,” or closing out the lead into an actual “customer” within my analytics:

Once the lead is closed, a proper analytics platform can now show an actual real ROI of your website and its corresponding content.

As a business owner, I’ve seen this very process in its many forms take place on my swimming pool website hundreds of times. It all starts with a simple Google search about fiberglass pools, which sends the person to a blog article on our site that ranked for that particular phrase, which then sends them to a landing page where they fill out a form, which then leads to an appointment with the prospect, which then leads to a sale.

The Most Important Number of All

By having this technology, and knowing what I know about my leads, I can clearly show the profitability of my blog, as well as its most profitable articles. For example, here is the actual customer count coming from my swimming pool site. The number shown is  lower than it should be (as I need to update my leads-turned-customers list), but you can easily see how I’m able to measure the ROI of my labors. In fact, from this tool alone I’m able to track well over 2 million in sales that my company has gotten straight from leads that found the website first through a blog article, and then ended up eventually becoming a customer.

You can see from the following image the number of leads and sales that have come from organic search to my swimming pool website. Considering the average customer spends about 45k per pool, you can see how quickly the ROI adds up.

The image above is EVERYTHING when it comes to ROI, and frankly, it’s the missing link that most businesses aren’t utilizing to justify the ROI of their blogging and content marketing efforts. Because I spend a few hundred dollars a month on beefier analytics, I can measure the lead and customer generation my company gets from Google Adwords, Facebook, Twitter, and organic search results (which mainly stems from the blog). This also allows me to justify any time and effort me or my employees spend on the content production/marketing process.

I hope you’re catching the point here, but this is a big, big deal, and it’s high-time every company in the world that was serious about marketing through the internet embraced better tools and practices. It’s also time that we started talking about social media ROI as a real, measurable number, and not some mystical stat that no one knows, but everyone would like to think somehow exists.

Your Turn:

Questions about measuring the ROI of your blogging and social media efforts? What tools are you using to get these types of stats? Finally, if you’re willing to share, tell us a little about the difference your company’s blog has made on ROI.

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