Attributing the value of content marketing
Measuring content marketing success is a common challenge for marketers. Now that you’ve set your content marketing goals and configured your analytics to track these metrics, you might stumble into another head-scratch-worthy situation—how do you know whether a piece of content actually contributed to each conversion? What portion of the revenue from your last big sale can be assigned to your content efforts? These questions about attribution are some of the toughest questions facing content marketers today, and while it’s not always straightforward, there are a few techniques marketers can use to uncover the value of their content marketing efforts.
Content marketing attribution in Google Analytics
Before we continue, it’s important to note that each all of these methods require you to have goals set up in Google Analytics. If you haven’t done that yet, check out our guide on setting up goals and conversions in Google Analytics.
When you have your conversions set up, navigate to your conversion reports. This is the data we’ll be working with.
Let’s start with the simplest method:
Occam’s Razor method
If you’re not familiar with Occam’s Razor, it’s the problem-solving principle that suggests the simplest solution is the correct one. In our case, the simplest method is to simply look at the number of conversions that are completed on a content page—conversions completed on a content page suggests that your content is compelling enough to drive readers to take action. To get this data, use the Goal URL report, and look at whether any of your content pages have any goal completions associated with them.
Simple right? If you have conversions that take place right on a blog page (such as a newsletter subscription form, or a resource download), it might be that simple. But it’s often not as straightforward as that. What happens if your conversions take place on a page that’s not content-focused?
Same session method
For the most part, more bottom-of-funnel goals (such as sales or lead captures) won’t be completed on a content page so the Occam’s Razor method won’t shed any light on content performance. To figure out how your content contributed to these conversions, we can use Google Analytics’ segmenting functionality to shed light on a visitors’ behavior before they converted. Specifically, we’re going to look at whether they consumed a piece of content that may have contributed to a conversion.
Select “Sequences” from the left-hand menu. For the first drop-down menu, select “Page.” In the second drop-down menu, select “contains.” In the text box on the right, enter a part of a URL that is unique to blog posts. For example, if all your content is in the blog subdirectory (www.example.com/blog/), you’d enter “/blog/”. Similarly, if your content is in a subdomain (blog.example.com), you’d enter “blog.” (assuming you’ve set up your Google Analytics to show full page URLs).
Typically, setting the above parameters will yield the results you’re looking for. However, if you’re looking for the performance of a specific page, you can select “exactly matches” in the second drop-down menu, then enter the URL of the specific page. Alternatively, if there is a specific group of pages you’d like to analyze, or your site structure is more complex, you can select “contains regex” in the second drop-down menu, then enter a regular expression that encapsulates the pages you’re looking for.
Next, click “Add Step.” In the second set of options, filter data for “Goal Completions” per session greater than 0.
If there’s a specific goal you’re looking to measure, you can choose the specific goal instead of “Goal Completions” in the first drop-down menu. By default, “Goal Completions” will show results for all goals set up in your Google Analytics view.
Add a name for your segment (choose something descriptive like “Viewed blog post then converted”), then hit “Save.” Your conversion reports will now only show conversions from visitors who viewed a content page first. Using the Goal URL report, you can also see which pieces of content were particularly effective at generating conversions.
“But wait!” you might say, “What if I expect users to visit my site a few times before converting? How do I attribute value to my content across sessions?” Luckily, there’s another method.
Same user method
Similar to the same session method, we’ll create another segment. However, this time, instead of segmenting for sessions where a visitor converts after viewing a piece of content, we’ll segment for users who convert after viewing a piece of content. It’s a small distinction, but this enables us to track behavior across multiple sessions. Let’s dive in.
Create a new segment, then select “Sequences” from the left-hand menu. Then, select the drop-down that says “Sessions,” and choose “Users.”
The remainder of this process will be very similar to the same session method. For the first drop-down menu, select “Page.” In the second drop-down menu, select “contains.” In the text box on the right, enter a part of a URL that is unique to blog posts. The next step is where it differs slightly again. For step 2, filter data for Goal Completions per user greater than 0.
Finally, add a descriptive name for your segment, then hit “Save.” Your conversions reports will now show visitors who viewed a blog post, then converted, regardless of how many sessions they took. As with all user-related data, there are some limitations: you’re only able to view 90 days of user data at a time, and data may not be accurate as cross-device tracking for users can be challenging. However, this method can still provide a clearer picture of the value of your content marketing efforts.
Capturing the value of content is no small task, and these methods just scratch the surface of understanding the value of your content marketing. It’s possible to get even more specific than these segments—you could only measure visitors who engaged with a story (clicked a CTA, read for long enough time, etc.) then converted. Using custom channel groupings, you could even measure the impact of your content on other channels.
Feel like there’s too much to keep track of in Google Analytics? Quietly Insights curates the metrics you need to understand top-, middle-, and bottom-of-funnel content marketing performance. Start a free trial today.