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Marketing Strategy
min read
May 15, 2024

How to Measure Content Marketing Attribution

Keelyn Hart
Content Writer at Letterdrop


  • Content marketing attribution is the process of determining the impact of specific content in driving conversions or sales.
  • It is important to track content attribution to prove the value of content and secure your job.
  • To go about content marketing attribution, know your content KPIs, allocate content goals to the right buyer stage, know your attribution models, and set up attribution software.

Content is a great addition to (unsustainable) short-term plays like investing in ad campaigns. It's also a way to educate and build trust with prospects so that they choose you over your competitors.

There are many unmeasurable benefits to content for your brand — but what about the measurable benefits?

Historically, content teams struggle to prove the ROI on content, which, more often than not, costs them their jobs.

It's no longer defensible to go without proving that content had some influence on deals closed. That's why it's so important to set up a proper content attribution model.

What is Content Marketing Attribution?

Content attribution refers to the process of determining the impact and contribution of specific content in driving conversions or sales.

It involves assigning credit to the content that played a significant role in influencing a customer's decision to make a purchase or take a desired action. This relates back to marketing attribution theory.

So what is the attribution theory in marketing? It's the premise that an element (or multiple elements) of your marketing plan influenced a purchase.

For example, a prospect may read your blog or attend a webinar sometime before they buy — those actions are given weight in content attribution.

An example of possible content touchpoints in the customer journey - content attribution, Letterdrop
An example of possible content touchpoints in the customer journey

This data is presented in an attribution report that showcases the most influential content in a customer journey to deal closed.

You can then use this data to allocate resources more effectively and push the content that actually moves the needle.

It's worth noting here that content attribution involves a precision tradeoff — its focus should be on analyzing trends rather than getting precise results.

Why Does Content Marketing Attribution Matter?

There was a whopping 198% increase in layoffs in the US between 2022 and 2023, and content teams were the most impacted out of all marketing departments.

This comes down to a general inability to tie content to revenue. According to a recent survey, only 38% of content teams claimed to be satisfied with their ability to measure the success of their content efforts.

Content marketers struggle to tie content to revenue
Content marketers struggle to tie content to revenue | Source: Marketoonist.com

Content is an extremely defensible marketing strategy with the possibility of evergreen returns and one of the lowest CAC rates. But without tangible attribution data:

  • You're flying blind without knowing what content to invest in next to drive conversions
  • You can't prove the value of content to the business, which puts your job at risk

Of course, 100% attribution is impossible — especially when it comes to content.

Content has a longer attribution cycle than PPC campaigns, and there are plenty of interactions that happen offline that you can't possibly account for. Think about someone talking about your company over lunch or revisiting your website three years after reading a blog post.

It also doesn't help that Cookies have declined dramatically, and Google has already begun phasing cookies out.

But there are some interactions that you can measure, and this data can give you direction and guide your decisions.

"Pipeline impact is the most important thing to track and what you can show to your VP and other departments when people ask why you invest in content. Especially in this economy.

100% attribution isn’t possible. But you should try to at least show directional impact of what you do on revenue.

I was helping some content marketers find new jobs, and it’s hard for me to pass them on to a CEO or VP when all I have to share is activity and vanity metrics, not revenue.

Marketers, it's your job to prove your ROI as best you can." — Parthi Loganathan, CEO of Letterdrop

How to Go About Content Marketing Attribution

1. Know Your Content KPIs

Before you start tracking content attribution, you need to know what your revenue-based KPIs are for content.

Successful marketing teams from companies like Scribe and Klaviyo track content-influenced revenue as their primary metric.

  • You can tie the ACV or MRR of a deal to the pieces of content that a customer touched
    • If a prospect visits a page and becomes an MQL or closes within 60 days of that visit, that deal counts toward assisted MRR
  • You can track your monthly traffic and signups from content
    • Track the % change from the prior month
    • Track the % difference between projected value and actual value

It's important to note here that you can't have the same goal in mind for every piece of content, because different pieces of content drive different actions from prospects.

2. Allocate Content Goals to the Right Buyer Awareness Stage

You need to align your content goals to the right buyer awareness stages in the buyer journey if you want to track the right metrics.

You will get your best understanding of your customers' specific buying journey by simply talking to customers and sitting on sales calls.

Using the right CTAs will also drive the right actions that you can track later. For example:

  • A feasible goal for top and middle of funnel content would be newsletter signups, since those readers are still educating themselves on the space and their options
  • A feasible goal for bottom of funnel content is conversion rate, because those readers are ready to buy

Here are the buyer stages where conversions are possible.

2.1 Middle of Funnel Buyer Stage:

Solution-Aware, or when prospects are aware of solutions and are weighing up their options.

"Conversion events" at this stage could be e-book downloads, trial sign-ups, or even demo requests.

2.2 Bottom of Funnel Buyer Stage:

Product-Aware, or when prospects are at a place where they're choosing their solutions and actually becoming paying customers.

"Conversion events" at this stage are demo requests and deals closed.

Buyer Awareness phases in the marketing funnel by Letterdrop
Buyer Awareness phases in the marketing funnel

3. Know Your Attribution Models

Attribution modeling comes down to how much credit certain touchpoints within the buyer journey are given for the deal closed.

It can be difficult to decide which model is best for you. What you pick will depend on your content goals and company maturity — it's easier for smaller businesses with a smaller content repository (and budget) to go with single-touch attribution models, for example.

Some common attribution models used in marketing are the following:

  1. First touch attribution
  2. Last touch attribution
  3. Linear-touch attribution
  4. Multi-touch or position-based attribution
  5. Time decay attribution

1. First-Touch Attribution

This is where credit for the conversion is given to the first interaction a user had with your brand. This could be opening your blog for the first time or liking a LinkedIn post.

This is admittedly becoming more difficult with the decline in Cookies and with companies like Apple tightening their privacy policies.

First-touch attribution model by Letterdrop

2. Last-Touch Attribution

This is the opposite of first-touch attribution, where a user's last interaction with your content is given credit for a conversion. For example, what was the last blog post someone opened before converting?

While useful, this does leave out all the important lead-up steps to the conversion.

Last-touch attribution Letterdrop

‎‎3. Linear-Touch Attribution

Linear attribution gives equal credit to all of the touchpoints that led up to a sale — for example, if someone read blogs A, B, and C before converting, all of them are given 33.3% credit.

This ignores the fact that one article (or any other piece of content) may have had more influence on the conversion than the others.

Linear-touch attribution model Letterdrop

4. Multi-Touch or Position-Based Attribution

Multi-touch attribution, also known as position-based attribution, gives more credit to the first and last touchpoints of a buyer journey compared to the touchpoints between.

For example, 40% is assigned to the first and last touchpoints, respectively, while the remaining 20% is divided among the intermediary touchpoints.

Multi-touch or position-based attribution model Letterdrop

A multi-touch model can be difficult — in order for it to work properly, you need to have mature content production and a well-established marketing pipeline. It's best suited to companies with longer sales cycles, bigger budgets, and multiple distribution channels.

5. Time Decay Attribution

Time decay models assign credit to all touchpoints in the buyer journey, but give more weight to interactions that are closer to the conversion.

Time decay attribution model Letterdrop

4. Additional Content Metrics to Track: Accounts in Orbit and Content-Influenced Pipeline

In addition to the above attribution models, we've identified four additional content attribution metrics to measure for 2024 and beyond:

  1. Accounts in orbit If an account in your ICP is actively engaged with your content on site, social media, your YouTube channel, et cetera, that's a marketing win. The prospect is now primed to buy and more receptive to a pitch — sales can close the deal.
  2. Content-sourced deals — Inbound demos and signups that happen after consuming content across any channel at any time in the past.
  3. Content-accelerated deals — A deal in an active sales cycle that consumed content across any channel before closing.
  4. Content-influenced revenue — Closed/Won revenue that consumed content in any form before buying 

4.1 How Marketers Approach Content Attribution Today: A Study

We conducted a survey on how companies do content attribution today (where 78% of respondents were from sales-led motions). Here are our key findings:

  1. 85% of marketers can't tie content to revenue with their current tech stack
  2. 43% of marketers have 'MQLs' as their primary KPI
  3. 66.7% of prospects consume 2-5 content assets before entering the sales funnel
  4. 27.8% of respondents report that these 2-5 content assets contribute to 30-40% of web traffic

In the end, we found that B2B marketers focus on vanity metrics like site traffic instead of tracking pipeline or revenue KPIs. This focus correlates with increased layoffs in marketing, especially content teams, during economic downturns.

Content attribution study

Learn how marketers are approaching content attribution today

5. Set Up Your Attribution Software

There are plenty of tools out there that can help you set up your conversion events, set up your preferred attribution model, and tie content to revenue, including Google Analytics and HubSpot — we've written articles on how to do both.

However, setting up and configuring these tools for your reporting can take several hours as a lot of it is manual. An alternative is to use Letterdrop, which plugs right into your CRM and data enrichment provider (such as Clearbit) to give you an automatic overview of unique account engagement with your content pages.

In a nutshell, it can:

  • Identify accounts reading your pages
  • Pull in revenue and stage data on closed-won and "in progress" deals
  • Connect to your LinkedIn for your company and employee accounts to pull engagement data with them from prospects

It builds a picture of what content every account has engaged with and how much booked revenue came from accounts that read your content pages or LinkedIn post.

This helps you automatically identify content that resonates with buyers so that you know where to invest more — and it helps you show the impact of content on revenue.

Letterdrop's content attribution dashboard

Attribution Is More About the Customer Journey vs Assigning Credit

Traditional attribution models like last touch, first touch, multi-touch, and others attempt to assign credit to specific marketing channels or touchpoints. However, this approach misses the bigger picture: buyers don't think about who made them take action — their decision is influenced by a combination of factors.

Instead of fixating on assigning credit, companies should focus on understanding the buyer's journey:

  1. Identify the touchpoints that lead to an account being "in-market" and engaged with your marketing efforts. These signals indicate a higher inclination to purchase.
  2. Analyze the content and assets that customers consumed before making a purchase decision. This could include webinars, blog posts, videos, newsletters, and sales calls.
  3. Optimize and distribute the most impactful assets based on the insights gained from analyzing successful customer journeys. Just like a recommendation algorithm, you can increase conversions by promoting the content that resonates best with your target audience.

The goal is to replicate the journey that historically led to revenue for similar customer profiles.

Learning What Works (and What Doesn't)

When you don't have enough data scale to identify patterns, you need to make hypotheses about what will work through customer research:

  1. Talk to customers: Have conversations with your target audience (even just 1-5 people) to understand their motivations, problems, and how they think about your product/service.
  2. Listen to sales calls: Pay attention to the questions prospects ask, what features interest them, how they heard about you, and why they buy or don't buy. Use tools to analyze call recordings at scale.
  3. Consider CRM data: Weigh sales insights appropriately - an enterprise prospect's questions may be more valuable than those of an unqualified lead.
  4. Talk to non-customers: Get perspectives from people completely outside your pipeline to understand how your marketing lands.

Use these customer insights to inform hypotheses, then test your marketing campaigns.

Analyze what resonates, fold the winners into your strategy, and continue the research cycle.

The goal is to amass enough data over time to identify successful buyer journeys you can replicate.

Defend Your Content (And Your Job) With Content Marketing Attribution

In a time of mass layoffs, it's more important than ever to prove the tangible value of content to your business efforts.

Attribution data can not only save your job, but can also help you build a business case for more resources from leadership to improve your content strategy, such as with better content management or SEO tooling.

With Letterdrop, you not only get an instant view of content-influenced revenue, but an end-to-end content management tool complete with helpful automation and forward-thinking SEO tools.

If you're interested in cutting down on manual tasks and getting actionable data that can help drive revenue, reach out to us.

Cut down on 6+ hours a week for your content ops

Automate everyday tasks and get the right data at your fingertips faster with Letterdrop

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