How to Measure the ROI of Storytelling

Amber Dunlap & Hilary Lewkowitz | January 28, 2017

Measuring the ROI or Return On Investment of storytelling is a powerful tool, but oftentimes it becomes the most challenging component of any content marketing campaign. ROI analysis can give insight into the performance of a content marketing campaign, but  only if a plan is created from the start with clear goals and a set of measurements. After a campaign is executed, the results can be analyzed and used to critically evaluate its success and areas of improvement.

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create campaign goals

ROI is a calculation of the effectiveness of a content marketing campaign to meet personalized standards, goals or definitions of success. Goals are campaign specific, and should be set from the very beginning. Content marketing campaign goals include:

  • Brand awareness
  • Brand re-positioning
  • Increase social media engagement or website traffic
  • Increase leads or inquiries
  • Increase sales or bookings

A core set of goals allows you to focus only on the necessary data and results. Without a clear idea of what the content marketing campaign should accomplish, it’s possible to get lost in spreadsheets of data and analytics.

identify metrics

Once campaign goals are established, it will be easier to identify data that needs to be tracked. A variety of metrics exist to help evaluate campaign performance. These metrics can be broken down into two categories: quantitative and qualitative measurements.


Quantitative measurements is data that can be described in numbers, such as: video views, new bookings, sales, web traffic, and social media engagements. It’s easy to gauge the performance of a campaign based on these clear analytics. A content marketing campaign can also be evaluated by looking at qualitative data.

Quantitative measurements for a social media campaign could be number of impressions, in this case 2,400 views would be added to the campaign total.

Quantitative measurements for a social media campaign could be number of impressions, in this case 2,400 views would be added to the campaign total.

Qualitative measurements include: social media comments, new business leads, awards, consumer comments and new press.  These results can be a little more tricky, because oftentimes they are more subjective. However, qualitative results are still useful when assessing the overall performance of a campaign.

A qualitative measurement can be a collection of social media comments, such as @misspennya saying, “…I just cried tears of longing whilst watching this. When I return I will do this trek.”

A qualitative measurement can be a collection of social media comments, such as @misspennya saying, “…I just cried tears of longing whilst watching this. When I return I will do this trek.”

Once campaign metrics are established, you will need to calculate the baseline of each metric. The baseline can be calculated by looking at the average ROI for each metric over a chosen period of time. Additionally, you could look at the average ROI of past campaigns.

 
 

EXECUTE CONTENT MARKETING CAMPAIGN

Once content is created along with goals and corresponding metrics, it’s time to execute the campaign. But for how long? Campaign duration is based on a number of factors:

  • Amount of content
  • Type and number of outlets
  • Enough time to collect valuable data to assess campaign performance

A wide array of opinions exist about the duration of a content marketing campaign - anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months. Ultimately, the decision is up to your team based on the information available.

 

 

analyze campaign results

Once the campaign is finished, it’s time to see how content performed. This is the most exciting step as it allows you to measure the performance of each campaign goal. Your analysis will be based on the specific goal and corresponding measurement. Here’s a few helpful links for analyzing quantitative and qualitative data.

Oftentimes, quantitative data does not complete the picture of how a content marketing campaign performed. Qualitative results will give a more well-rounded and robust insight into consumer perceptions, brand awareness, and likability. Here are a few ideas for qualitative analysis:

  • Trade and/or consumer surveys
  • Social media comments
  • General comments (email, website, blog, youtube)
  • Leads or new business relationships

After results are compiled, take the time to create an organized report that details all components of the campaign: goals, measurements, content distributed, analysis and results. 

 

Real life roi 

During our recent content marketing campaign with Mountain Lodges of Peru (MLP), we produced a series of videos and digital content with two primary goals: 1) reposition MLP and their signature product in the adventure travel market and 2) increase sales. For our content marketing campaign with MLP, we specifically looked at the growth in website traffic and growth in bookings.  These metrics were collected over the course of the 12-month campaign and compared to year over year data to ultimately determine the ROI of the campaign.


The qualitative results told us how well we were meeting our goal to re-position MLP and their product as leaders in the adventure travel space. We looked at consumer surveys and comments via social media to determine the overall shift in brand perception and likability among consumers.  We also went straight to the travel trade for the ultimate peer to peer review by entering our signature film from the campaign into the annual Adventure Travel Trade Association’s film contest.  Winning the 1st Place Award voted by over 800 travel industry peers fulfilled our initial goal, elevating MLP as a leader in the adventure travel market.

Read Full MLP Case Study