October 16, 2018

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What is the ROI of content design and how do you measure success?

We have written about content design before. In short, it is a method to make your website more user-friendly. While that is a great goal in and of itself, you want to know how much time and effort it will cost you and what the results will be. In this blog, you’ll read more about the Return on Investment (ROI) of content design.

What is content design?

Let’s start with a quick recap. What is content design exactly?

The term was introduced a few years ago by Sarah Richards. She and her team were responsible for the overhaul of the British government portal www.Gov.uk.

For each page she asked herself:

  • Is the goal clear?
  • Which task do users want to complete here?
  • Is this actually a task for the government?

The result was a website that won multiple prizes. Even more impressive: she reduced the number of pages from 75,000 to 3,000.

Content design is all about creating user-friendly content by putting yourself in the user’s mindset.

How much time and effort goes into user-friendly design?

Of course, it makes a huge difference whether you want to redesign a whole website, or just a few new or existing pages.

An important pillar of content design (and of UX or SEO) is to first form a picture of the needs your users have.

You can do that through:

  • Keyword research (which questions is your audience asking?).
  • An analysis of surfing behavior (using a tool like Hotjar).
  • A survey of and interviews with your target audience.
  • Brainstorming with employees and partners who interact with clients.

Are you already using these methods of measurement? Then it shouldn’t take you too much time to generate input for new user-friendly content.

If not, set-up will take at least a few hours, if not a few days, of work. Note that you can use these same tools for SEO and SEA as well.

Once you’ve outlined the user stories, you can get started with content production. Usually, that involves a writer and a designer. Estimate how much time each of them will spend creating the new pages, then put that in an outline.

TIP: You’ll make the process significantly quicker if you add an automatic check for the SEO of your content.

A simple estimate might look like this:

What Who Time estimate
Distill data from user behavior (from Hotjar, Google Analytics, etc.) Marketer 4 hrs
Formulate user stories Marketer 4 hrs
(Re)write 8 pages Copywriter 16 hrs
Design 8 pages Designer 8 hrs

In this example, it will cost you 32 hours to create 8 pages aimed at eight important user stories.

How do you measure the returns of content design?

The main question is: what are the returns of those new pages? There are multiple ways to measure that, like:

  • How many visitors are drawn to a page?
  • How many leads are generated from that page?
  • What is the quality of the leads from that page?
  • How many existing leads are visiting the page?
  • How long do visitors stay on the page?
  • How high does this page score for specific keywords?

When you’re replacing an existing page, you’re able to compare. Both on the metrics listed above, but also:

  • What is the increase/decrease percentage of client service contacts?

Many entrepreneurs also want to make a different comparison. What does the ROI of content design + SEO deliver in terms of search engine advertising (SEA)?

This is where the comparison gets a bit more complicated.

Again, you can use multiple metrics (engagement, visitors, leads, ranking) to make the comparison in returns.

But a short-term analysis will skew the picture a bit.

A Google ad campaign of $1,000 might bring you $2,000 worth of new customers after a month’s time.

In turn, your $3,000 content design + SEO might only bring you $1,000 worth of new customers after the first month.

One year later, though, you might see that $3000 of SEA has brought in $6,000 of customers and that content design + SEO has resulted in $9,000 — the initial investment in relevant content will continue to generate new leads.

That’s why you should always measure in the long term!

Conclusion: this is how to measure the ROI of your content design

Content design is a method for creating user-friendly content by placing yourself in the user’s mindset.

That starts with research to determine what your user’s needs are. Then you go on to create user stories, which you can translate into content for your site.

A simple table can help you calculate how much time your marketer, copywriter, and designer will need to create the content.

Next, it’s time to calculate how many leads, visits, and improved rankings this new content will deliver. Offset those costs against the initial investment.

Always measure the long-term results (a minimum of 6 months).

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