For more than 60 years, Katharine Hepburn was considered the leading lady of Hollywood. Her fierce independence and disregard for the status quo makes her an inspiration to many. It’s no surprise she still holds the record for most won Academy Awards. Of course, her determination, intelligence, and remarkable acting skills deserve credit. But even Hepburn would admit she didn’t reach fame on her own.
So, if Hepburn didn’t reach the podium with her merits alone, who should her award be partially attributed to? We could go back as far as her parents who taught her to speak out and engage with the world. Maybe some should go to Bryn Mawr College where she first fell in love with acting or the Broadway directors who gave her a shot on stage.
The list of those who have impacted Hepburn’s four Academy Awards journey could go on forever. At awards shows, traditional thank you speeches attribute the win to the director, everyone working behind the scenes, and even acting coaches over the years.
Understanding content marketing isn’t far off from our stars and starlets thank you speeches. Rather than attributing the success of a company to someone or something, we attribute desired outcomes to content. In short, marketing attribution answers the question, “What media is driving consumers to purchase our product?”
Unfortunately, the actual act of measuring content marketing attribution isn’t that simple. In today’s technology-driven world, consumers bounce around between various online spaces. By the time they make a decision to purchase a product, they’ve created a tangled web of interactions. The end result, however, is worth it. By understanding what types of media consumers are drawn to and what information they’re craving, you can be even more intentional with your content.
To get started, it’s critical you understand marketing attribution and why it really matters to your content marketing strategy:
What is marketing attribution?
Before diving deep into marketing attribution, it’s important to understand the history and psychology behind attribution. It all began with the attribution theory, named by an Austrian born psychologist, Fritz Heider.
Heider believed how a person understands an event and how that event is related to the person’s way of thinking directly motivates their behavior. What did Heider believe was behind our behavior moving us to take action? Emotional and motivational impulses.
If he were studying Hepburn, Heider would probably give credit to her liberal-minded parents and their encouragement for her to be her authentic self. Or, maybe he would see a lucrative film deal from RKO Radio Pictures as her push to stardom.
Content marketing attribution is based on the same type of emotional and motivational responses. Both should play a major role in deciding what content will create a desired response from current and potential customers.
Once customers are converted, Heider’s theory would state that content creators receive full attribution. Understanding which pieces of content are causing the conversion will give you a direct view into the buyer’s responses and their journeys. By weaving content marketing attribution into your strategy, you’ll have a deeper understanding of all customers, saving you both time and money.
Because none of us are fortune tellers, having the ability to see what directly relates to a customer purchasing your product is as good as it gets. To use content marketing attribution effectively, you’ll first need to understand attribution model options and how to track contributing pieces.
Single-touch and multi-touch attribution
After her first big debut in A Bill of Divorcement, Hepburn’s successful career went on for over 60 years. This means she’d most likely contribute her success to multiple people and events. Just like Hepburn, large companies have a vast amount of content. So, they need to attribute multiple pieces of content throughout their sales cycle.
This is where a multi-touch attribution model comes into play. If you’ve posted a white paper, blog, post, and then infographic, you would give credit to multiple pieces of content. Multi-touch attribution sees each piece of content as necessary for the consumer to reach your desired end result.
On the other hand, because smaller companies have less content, a single-touch attribution is the best and most cost-effective way to track content. Like its name suggests, the model only gives credit to one piece of content for the consumer’s end-action.
While both of these models are effective, they’re only helpful once you understand how to track what content contributed to the desired end result. In a multi-touch attribution model where more than one piece of content gets credit for consumers’ actions, this is especially important.
Google Analytics is a cost-effective and user-friendly place to start. You can track links, set up campaigns, and create goals. Using these techniques, you can see a clear map of when someone clicks on your blog and what action they take.
To dive a bit deeper, and get a more accurate look at consumers’ actions, set a timeline for a campaign. This allows you to determine how overall traffic increased during the time of that specific campaign. Then, look at each piece of content. Analyze how it referred traffic to your site, how many social shares it received, and overall views throughout the entire time of the campaign.
Compare these numbers to both pre-campaign and post-campaign success to see if the content should be attributed for an increase in sales or sign-ups. If you’re finding clicks, conversions, and sales skyrocketed during this campaign, you can make a roadmap for content that you know customers and future customers want to access.
Types of single-touch models
Single-touch models are the ‘basic-packages’ of content marketing attribution — but that doesn’t mean they’re ineffective. In fact, according to the 2016 State of Pipeline Marketing report, 60 percent of marketers said they’re using this type of attribution model. Companies using one of the below models prioritize generating leads over anything else.
First touch attribution accredits the first interaction a customer had on your site to the end result. If the customer read a white paper, blog post, then infographic, this would give credit only to the white paper.
Opposite of first touch, last touch attribution gives credit to the last interaction the customer had before purchasing your product. If the customer, for example, read a white paper, blog post, then infographic, this model would give credit only to the infographic for the conversion.
Types of multi-touch models
According to the previously mentioned State of Pipeline Marketing report, 40 percent of marketers use a multi-touch attribution model. Of these marketers, 47 percent are very confident that they’re using the correct marketing model for their business.
Companies implementing multi-touch models prioritize their attribution efforts with the goal of converting leads into revenue. The below models allow them to track first touch through last touch, allowing them to see which specific leads are resulting in revenue.
In the linear attribution model, each touchpoint throughout the buyer’s journey would receive equal credit for the revenue. If your campaign had social media, guest blog posts, email, and newsletters, each would receive 25 percent of the credit for winning over a customer.
Weighted attribution models give credit to all interactions, but put a higher percentage on specific transitional phases. The model understands some customer interactions don’t hold as much weight as others. For example, if a potential client liked a social media post and also signed up for a webinar, set aside time out of their busy day, and even interacted afterward, the webinar would receive a higher percentage for the conversion.
Time decay attribution
The time decay attribution model believes each piece of content holds weight in converting a customer but gives the last interaction the most credit for converting a lead. This means, if someone comments on social media, then days later reads a blog post and buys the product, the blog post would receive the highest percentage in pushing the customer over the sales edge.
What’s best for your content marketing strategy?
Content marketing isn’t effective unless you understand your customers.
- What are their pain points?
- What are their questions?
- What are their end goals?
- Which content do they actually enjoy?
- How can your product resolve their issues or make their lives better?
To begin the content marketing attribution process, first assess your sales cycle. If it’s fairly short and straight-forward, using a single-touch attribution model will suffice. However, if it’s a bit longer and more complicated — like Hepburn’s movie career — multi-touch attribution models will give you a grasp on which touchpoints are influencing consumers to buy your product.
As you begin the process of marketing attribution, remember what Hepburn said, “If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.”
Assessing your sales cycle, analyzing consumers’ roadmaps, and then reformatting your content strategy around those can feel overwhelming and time-consuming. Remember to do what works for your company and customers. Refreshing and reanalyzing content doesn’t mean losing touch with the fun.