ROI Calculation

Comparative Content Marketing

Miha Cacic

Published: 28 September 2023
Updated: 28 September 2023

Goal: Calculate how much revenue you can expect to get from Comparative Articles over time.

When I started an SEO/content agency, I decided to do something “outrageous”…

👉 I wanted to hold myself accountable to more than just the empty “traffic increase” promise. I wanted to create an agency that generates real leads and drives real MRR growth for my SaaS clients.

So, I figured out how to track conversions from SEO. Since then I have kept a close tab on my article performance. After gathering the data from 15+ clients, I can now confidently say that Comparative Content (the type of content my agency ended up specializing in) converts cold traffic:

  • 2-8% free trial signups,
  • 1-2% into demo calls.

For example, here are the results from a small, 5-article project I ran for a client:

We got 138 leads (users who’ve created an account) from 1379 organic clicks in 5 months.

🔗 Check out this case study here.

The trial signup conversion rate does vary across industries. In some, it’s more likely that the user will begin a free trial (think booking page software or email verification software) because of the quicker setup. However, I discovered that regardless of the “lead” conversion rate, the “paid” conversion rate is nearly always the same…

My clients routinely get 1 paying user every 300 – 350 clicks to the comparative content.

For example, the client above got:

4 sales / 1379 clicks

 Or 👇

1 sale / 344 clicks

Important: This ONLY includes sales we could track.

My experience running my own affiliate campaign for Kajabi is similar.

We got 1470 clicks in four months after we started this campaign on March 3rd.

Leading to 5 sales and 3 free trials for Kajabi.

This means we got:

5 sales / 1470 clicks

 Or 👇

1 sale / 294 clicks

Important: This ONLY includes sales through affiliate links.

Keep in mind that these are 100% self-serve, passive sales. Zero extra effort needed.

Knowing the conversion rate of Comparative Content opens up the whole world of ROI calculations.

Calculating the Value of One Click: LTV / 350

To get the value of one click, simply divide your LTV (customer lifetime value) by 350 (upper limit for how many clicks you’ll need to get one client).

For example, if you have a mid-market SaaS with an LTV of $10,000, then the value of one click to your Comparative Content will be $10,000 / 350 = $28.57.

Pretty cool.

Now, Comparative Content is driven by SEO. Which means you don’t just “buy one click”.

You invest in articles. So the main metric we have to calculate is the value an article will bring to you over time. One option is to simply multiply the click value with the keyword search volume…

But there are two problems with that approach:

  1. Most companies actually don’t know their “true” LTV
  2. You don’t know how many clicks you’ll get from the keyword search volume

Let’s solve that next.

 

Note: You might be surprised by the click value we calculated.

I bet your team gave you a report saying you average “around $0.05 and $0.07 per click” to your content.

In my experience, that number is the average across all pages — homepage, top, middle, and bottom of the funnel content. That’s a mistake: conversion rates from educational content (such as how-to guides, definitions, glossaries, etc.) are significantly lower. We can’t mush them in the same calculation.

So when I talk about “clicks” in this chapter, I always mean “clicks to comparative content”.

That is, clicks to articles such as “Company A vs Company B” or “Competitor X Alternatives”, that have high intent of buying.

Calculating the Value of an Article

Break down LTV into Churn and ARPPU.

LTV is a metric that’s riddled with problems:

  1. Retainer-based businesses can’t measure it accurately.
  2. If they do, it’s usually a 1-year or 3-year LTV, not true LTV.
  3. At the end of the day, we can’t use it for monthly projections.

We could say “Hey, we got 5 users, so our revenue is 5 x LTV this month”, but that’s not true.

That’s just a promise of future cash flow. 

Since cash flow is crucial for operations, I like to make revenue projections month-to-month. To do that, I look at current ARPPU (average revenue per paying user) and monthly churn. That way I’ll know how much revenue I’ll get this month, next month, and the next.

Note: If you have self-serve and enterprise segments with vastly different ARPPUs, that’s fine. Use the weighted average ARPPU calculator which you can find in ROI calculator spreadsheet.

Predict Expected Clicks from Content Supply.

Expected clicks will depend on two things: search volumes and content supply.

Monthly search volumes are easy: you get this from Ahrefs or Semrush.

Note: Include mirrored keywords into the total monthly volume of a keyword. For example “thinkific vs kajabi” and “kajabi vs thinkific” have 1100 US volume in total. A comparative article will rank for both.

But how many clicks you will actually get will be determined by competition.

And my favorite “competitiveness signal” to look at is “allintitle:” results.

You get this number by searching for your keyword in Google along with “allintitle:” search operator. This will give you the number of results on Google that have the keyword in the meta title.

Few results (less than 100) and you will:

  • rank easier,
  • rank quicker,
  • and most of the long-tail traffic will go to you.

Lots of results (more than 100) and you will:

  • rank harder,
  • rank slower,
  • and fewer long-tail clicks will go to you, even if you rank #1 for the main keyword.

Here’s a table that I personally use for my affiliate websites: the percentage of clicks I can expect if I take the top spots on a SERP.

“Allintitle:” results Percentage of US traffic Percentage of global traffic
< 11 130% 95%
11-50 90% 50%
51-100 75% 35%
101-250 50% 25%
251+ 45% 20%

Comment 1: Percentage of global volume falls faster because articles written in a country’s native language will often outrank better quality articles written in International English.

Comment 2: Ahrefs, Semrush, and other SEO tools have a tendency to underestimate search volumes. Usually, the true volumes are 1-3x times higher. That’s good news. It means that if ROI is good in theory, it will be even better with real-world traffic!

Now “allintitle:” competitiveness signal is only a part of the story.

While I personally always rank on top for keywords that have allintitle smaller than 100—even with fresh websites—anything higher than that requires you to be mindful of the secondary ranking signals: website strength and topical authority. (Even though you can still beat stronger websites with exceptional content — the gap is lower than you’d think).

So if you’re planning on going after competitive keywords with allintitle larger than 100, and especially 250, I suggest asking an SEO expert to give you their opinion on whether you can realistically take those spots.

Example: $500 ARPPU, 5% monthly churn, 100 search volume, 121 allintitle

With 121 allintitle results, we can expect to get 30 clicks a month to this one article.

Dividing 30 (clicks) by 350 (clicks needed to get a paying user) we get 0.086 users every month. In other words, there is a 1/0.086 = 11.62% chance we get one paying user from this article every month.

Multiplying ARPPU of $500 with 0.086 users means the MRR increases by $43 every month on average.

I’ll admit, $43 isn’t a “sexy” number.

But it compounds.

In 12 months, this one article increased the company’s MRR by $417 and brought in $3,217 in revenue.

And for an SEO strategy, 12 months is still early days. Here is this article on a 10-year scale:

Of course, because of the 5% monthly churn, the MRR growth tapers off, reaching $855 MRR.

Again, this was just one comparative article. 

A proper comparative campaign could have 10… 25… or 100.

Imagine how that would accelerate your SaaS growth.

Note: At the end of the day, how much an article is worth to you will come from your ARPPU, churn, search volumes, and allintitle results.

I found that industries, where ARPPU is typically lower, tend to have higher search volumes to comparative content, so it’s around the projection I’ve shown in this section.

Still, you should do this exercise with your numbers for every comparative keyword on your list.

Doing this calculation for every keyword by hand is tedious. Which is why I’ve created the ROI Calculator.

SEO investments will always pay off… IF only you rank.

One final point that I have to stress is that SEO is a zero-sum game.

Meaning, you’ll get traffic only if you take traffic from someone else. And the only way to guarantee that in 2023 and beyond is with content quality. If your competitors invested 10 hours into a comparison article, and you’ve invested 30 to 50, then you will outrank them. I’m finding this to be an inevitable law of the universe.

This is why in my agency, we prioritize content quality above everything else.

We talk with your salespeople, customer support reps, and marketing experts to find out your prospect’s pain points — and we base our product comparison on that. Then we manually test each software, take annotated screenshots and detailed gifs, and have six people work on each article: writer, concept editor, grammar editor, beta reader, SEO expert, and positioning expert. Our comparisons typically end up being 3,500 words of dense value and are designed to satisfy skim readers, logical readers, and emotional readers.

This does make us a premium investment.

But we do this because we know that, with SEO, premium investments deliver superior ROI.

The alternative is investing in something mediocre and then having it never rank — that’s a complete waste of money. We solve that. In 2023, 69% of our articles rank in the top 3, and a 94% in the top 10.

🔗 Check out our portfolio to learn more

SEO is a zero-sum game — you win by being the best.

And being the best also comes with secondary benefits…

Getting the most out of Comparative Content Marketing

Waiting for passive MRR growth is a solid plan.

As you saw, it will compound and drive stellar revenue over time.

However, you can also start getting value from your Comparative articles immediately. In fact, we saw companies & our clients repurpose comparative articles in five unique ways:

  1. Lead Generation
  2. Market Positioning
  3. Competitive Intelligence
  4. Google Ads
  5. Buying Intent Data

🔗 Read those case studies here.

If you have:

  • Wisdom of making long-term decisions
  • Awesome product, unique in some way
  • Vision of becoming or staying the market leader

We can help you execute a Comparative Content Marketing campaign.

First, we’ll hop on a call to discuss if Comparative Content would even be a good fit for your market. As I’ve explained in my original article on Comparative Content Marketing, not all companies can benefit from it — at least not in their current stage of market evolution. After that, we can prepare a comparative strategy for you and do the ROI calculations outlined in this article, so you can make informed decisions about the investment.

🔗 Click here to book a call.

Talk soon,

Miha