The creation of thought leadership content in the form of white papers, bylined articles, newsletters, blogs, webinars, podcasts, videos, etc., has long been a proven marketing strategy for both introducing prospects to a brand and demonstrating that brand’s mastery of a given discipline. And traditionally, the “discipline” about which that content has been crafted was very directly related to the products or services the brand sold. So “best practices in human resource management” would be written by an HR management software company, and “how to select the right home theatre system for you” was published by the electronics manufacturer that produces them.
But today’s marketers – and their growing pursuit of what has come to be known as “content marketing” – have significantly expanded the breadth of this traditional thought leadership strategy to also include content that only tangentially applies to the products or services they market. Instead, some percentage of the content is focused on other needs and/or interests of their target prospects’ personas. Consider “the ten best cities in the U.S. for opening a small business” offered by an accounting software company, or “the 100 most common baby names of 2014” created by a manufacturer of child cars seats, as examples.
But with the increasing adoption of this broader scope of content marketing as a strategy by many brands, and the associated larger budgets and dedicated teams within/outside their marketing organizations, the need to accurately measure the impact that this strategy has on the bottom line becomes even more important. This means quantifying the fractional contribution that each specific piece of content – or categories of content – has on an eventual conversion. Understand this, and optimizing a brand’s top performing content becomes the next logic step. That’s where advances in marketing attribution come into play.
How It Works
As new content gets produced and is placed on a brand’s corporate website, posted to its blog, or added to a dedicated content portal created expressly as a content marketing destination site, marketers have the ability to name it, categorize it, tag it and group it into whatever internal taxonomy they like using their content management system. As a visitor subsequently reaches that content he is identified via some type of tracking technology (such as cookies), thereby creating a digital record of that marketing touchpoint. When data is then pulled from the brand’s web analytics system in order to feed its marketing attribution solution, included within the data is that touchpoint and all the attributes associated with it, so: date/time, duration, frequency, content name, content category, channel – and any other attribute/categorization defined by the brand.
When this data is combined with that from the brand’s other data sources, such as their CRM system, their ad server, bid management tool, etc., it becomes one of many touchpoints in that visitor’s path to a conversion – their engagement stack. Marketing attribution solutions crunch engagement stacks. They analyze and then quantify the incremental lift produced by each attribute of each touchpoint to which a prospect has been exposed in producing a conversion and then assign fractional credit for that conversion to each attribute and touchpoint. Once that takes place, a brand’s overall marketing ROI metrics are recalculated using those fractional pieces of credit, more accurately spreading the monetary value for all of a brand’s conversions across all channels, campaigns and tactics – including each piece of content.
One challenge to this methodology, however, is that a critical mass of data is required for the analysis made by the attribution solution to be conclusive, and depending on the channel/site/portal’s traffic, this may not be possible at the individual piece of content level. But a benefit of an advanced attribution solution is that it is multi-dimensional, thereby enabling marketers to draw conclusions at the content “category” level if there isn’t enough data to draw it at the individual content level, or at the content “channel” level if not at the category level. And of course the longer the period of time the data is collected, the more critical mass is produced at the individual content level, and the more meaningful the ROI data becomes.
Putting it into Action
Armed with the output of an attribution solution – knowing which piece of content, content categories or content channels has produced the highest ROI – marketers can then optimize. Advanced attribution goes well beyond measurement – actually producing recommendations based on what it has learned. Such recommendations could lead marketers to post the highest performing content in new or multiple locations. Or perhaps they write “Part 2” content around the same content. Perhaps they focus on creation of more content within a given couple categories and abandon content creation within others. Maybe they focus on posting content within one channel/location over others.
Regardless of the specific learnings, the application of advanced marketing attribution techniques to the burgeoning utilization of content marketing as a viable strategy is something that will be gaining significant traction as marketers seek to assign – and increase – ROI to justify its investment.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Measuring Content Marketing’s ROI Through Marketing Attribution
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