As an inbound marketer, you create content. If you’ve been at it for a while, or are blogging very aggressively, you’re seeing the benefits of all that content in terms of increased traffic. You’re hopefully also seeing a corresponding growth in revenue.
But how do you know that the blog is contributing to those results? Or, as one of my customers recently asked me, “How can I tell that this content I worked so hard to create is contributing to sales, rather than people just viewing it then buying elsewhere for a lower price?”
And more importantly, how do you increase the value of the content you’re creating? How do you make the articles you’re writing day in and day out work harder for you? How do you increase visitors’ engagement with your content, and parlay that increased engagement into increased brand recognition and loyalty over time?
We’ll start with revenue attribution to determine the financial impact of your content, then move on to methods for increasing its influence on your bottom line.
Attributing eCommerce Revenue
As anyone who has studied attribution can tell you, it is a complex topic and there are many ways to measure it. A good analytics tool will give you first touch, last touch, and assists for any goal you want to track.
But just knowing what influenced someone’s behavior doesn’t necessarily tell you what were the most important factors in their journey, and therefore, in what channels you as a marketer should further invest.
For instance, if you attribute your conversions to the last touch—let’s say it was an email you sent—you’re missing out on the fact that your best customers find you, say, from organic search. Or maybe a closer analysis of your attribution would reveal that people who view one of your on-site product videos spend 30% more per order than customers who don’t.
Needless to say, being able to analyze the entire conversion path is essential for any marketer who wants to strategically invest in growing their company’s revenue. (If you want to dive deeper into different models, here’s a detailed post on eCommerce revenue attribution.)
From General to Specific
It’s helpful to view not only the top-level numbers that an analytics platform provides, but also the very individual paths of your best customers.
For instance, look at what the outliers do. Can you pull a report and see the buyer’s journey of your top 20 customers? Knowing that information could provide you with an understanding of what content influences those who spend the most at your store.
This is also helpful when you start creating buyer personas. Can you build a list of the top 5 customers for each persona and analyze the differences between their paths? Do you see any similarities in terms of content consumed by each member of each persona list? Understanding this data will give you a sense of how accurate your personas really are and how well you’re meeting their content needs.
Taking it a step further, this kind of reporting can give you insight into which persona is most valuable to your business, and should therefore receive more attention from your marketing and product efforts.
In order to do this, you would need a tool that brings together revenue data by contact from your shopping cart, page-view data from your website, and individual buyer’s journey data from your contacts database (and in case you were wondering, yes, HubSpot can do this).
Now that you’ve created a baseline of how much revenue is being influenced by your blog and other content, it’s time to turn up the volume on said content. Here are some of my favorite examples from HubSpot customers I’ve recently worked with.
1) Nurture Trust With Pre-Transactional Contacts.
Makarios RV does this particularly well, converting site visitors into leads by offering ebooks and other content on their website. One of their automated follow-up emails, containing blog posts and other helpful content related to the original ebook, sees an eyebrow-raising 22% click-through rate. The overall follow-up series converts a whopping 18% of new leads to customers!
2) Post-Transactional Product Adoption Nurturing
The team over at Goodbye Crutches uses their post-purchase nurturing emails to send a new customer instructions for using the product. Below is one for people who purchased a turning knee scooter, educating them on their soon-to-be-arriving scooter. The email takes them to a video page where they re-engage with the Goodbye Crutches website and provides a nice customer service touch point.
3) Landing Pages as Sponsored Content
gThankYou did this with much success this past holiday season. They sell gift certificates designed for workplace appreciation, targeting managers and small business owners who want to express their gratitude for their employees. They had tried advertising their latest ebook about workplace gratitude on LinkedIn with a text ad, with limited results. They only started seeing a truly remarkable return on their ad dollars, in terms of the quantity and quality of their leads, when they linked to the offer via a sponsored update blog post. The conversion rate on the end landing page was 47%—a truly impressive figure, especially considering the traffic was paid and not yet familiar with gThankYou’s brand.
4) Drive Traffic From Social Media
Write blog posts that are click-worthy and shareable and program them out over time and across channels. One of my customers, Safe Organics, wrote a blog post that brought in 100x more visitors than their previously highest-performing post, with only a few bucks invested in Facebook promotion. Their post? The 7 Best Cities for Organic Food.
5) Optimize Product Detail Pages.
We all know that using the manufacturer’s descriptions for product pages invokes Google’s “duplicate content kiss of death.” By blogging and creating videos about topics related to your products, you’ll be able to draw from those stories when editing your product pages. Not only will this improve their search value and link-worthiness, an engaging product page will also increase conversions on those pages. My favorite example of this comes from REAL Watersports, who create in-depth video and text reviews of their products for their blog, and cross-post them on their product pages.
Get Started Now
If you’re not yet creating content, start. If you’re blogging and creating other content, start measuring its impact on your business. Once you understand its impact, increase it by weaving your content into your other marketing activities, such as post-purchase nurturing, pre-transactional contact nurturing, digital advertising, social media, and product page optimization.
How else have you used content to increase its value to your business over time? Let us know in the comments below!
Originally published Feb 18, 2014 10:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017