This is how to commercialise your content strategy and deliver marketing attribution to sale

Marketing attribution to sale is an elusive “nirvana” that many CMO’s are seeking to achieve, but it is a challenging knot to unravel.

Research shows that most buyers will be 60% of their way to a purchasing decision before they speak to sales or make a purchase online.

Of those that are 60% of their way to a decision, only 26% will ever actually buy anything.

That means that of the people actually consuming your content and engaging with you, 74% do not “cross the threshold” and buy from you.

In looking at the content that you produce, 70% of it never gets read/consumed at all.

According to IDC, the combination of prospects disappearing and content not being used could cause as much as 10% loss of annual revenues for you.

What does this mean to you?

Often we dismiss these research based numbers as not really applying to us: We feel they are too high or too low, or that they are not necessarily that useful in solving our day-to-day problems. It is just interesting for a moment and then we move on, as it does not really offer a solution to today’s problem. But if we look closer, there are some important points in this research that should prompt a rethink on how we approach our content strategy.

Marketing attribution to sale

The first challenge with content is that we measure what we can. This is a problem as click-through, dwell time, “engagement” and time on site are not commercial indicators of success. The ideal situation would be a world where we measure each piece of content by its contribution to a sale. Marketing has struggled for years with sales attribution and we are still avoiding it with content marketing. But by tracking content engagement against a defined journey map, we can achieve full marketing attribution to sale.

Where it happens

The second challenge is that marketing dosen’t create and manage all the content. Most organisations will find that they have content “silos”. The reality of any commercial organisation is that no single department or function within the business is the custodian of content production.

Moving to a content strategy that delivers on commercial goals will not work if we purely delivered content within and through the marketing function. Instead, there must be involvement from every customer engagement function.

Of course, breaking down the silos and behaving in an integrated fashion has been unsuccessful many times. This is because every function still has its own objectives and business requirements that it must fulfil. No single process is going to knit these conflicting interests together. The answer, therefore, is not to integrate them at all.

Content Strategy for the answer

Instead, the answer is to align them around the customer engagement. You do this by using a buyer journey built around content as the glue that binds these diverse functions together.

The organisation must realign itself around this journey. Marketing must be the custodian of the content strategy that governs the engagement journey between the brand and the audience at all times.

Perception is everything

The third challenge is how customers perceive their relationship with a company. This largely determines their brand loyalty and the potential profitability of the relationship.

Companies need to create personalised, unique and engaging experiences for each customer if they are to maintain and grow the relationship.

Unfortunately, most companies have done a lot of harm by running campaigns that are little more than a volume game. The target being the more people you can get your message to, the more chance you have of getting a sale. Sales occur but, barraged with communications through many channels, people have learned to ignore most marketing efforts.

Response rates to these campaigns illustrate the problem: for some companies, a response rate of 5% for direct mail is an outstanding result! But often rates are much lower even for a ‘targeted’ campaign.

The problem lies that this approach to interacting with audiences does not consider the individual’s point of view. Simply put, companies need to become customer-centric by delivering compelling content that does not just fulfil but exceed expectations.

Re-think the engagement cycle

Companies must rethink the engagement cycle. They should view each customer as an asset and every interaction an as opportunity to increase the value of that asset. Conversely, every interaction is also an opportunity to decrease the asset value if the message and approach is wrong.

Creating a unique and lasting engagement is the critical factor for building brand loyalty, customer retention and profitability. Customers will remain mostly satisfied with fast, efficient service and effective protection of data and assets. But you can enhance the value and longevity of the customer relationship by delivering content that is focused on the needs of individuals.

Therefore, implementing a comprehensive content strategy for managing the buyer journey is now crucial. At every phase of the journey, companies need to deliver intentional content that puts the audience’s interests at the heart of each interaction.

When your content strategy can span your entire customer’s journey, then you can understand the commercial value of your content and be able to provide full marketing attribution to sale.