Always attribute content to revenue, even if measurement is imperfect

Pardon me, but social shares and pageviews mean shit (unless you’re making money off advertising). If your end game as a business is selling products and services, metrics like these are meaningless. They are vanity metrics.

In my post on minimum viable content, I talk about a content initiative we started at MaxCDN called the visual glossary. It entailed defining industry-related terms and illustrating how they work. It was – and still is – a successful project. And even though it’s a top-of-the funnel content initiative, we can attribute it to revenue.

Using Mixpanel I could see that 26,499 people viewed our visual glossary articles over the course of a month, that 78 of those people became leads, and that 25 signed up for an account.

Because every account has a minimum value of $100+/year – and it only takes about $100 to outsource a visual glossary article – the ROI on this project is huge, even though these articles receive almost 0 social shares. And while pageviews are always nice, that “Order Submitted” number is really all that matters at the end of the day.

Now you might be wondering: How can you attribute all of that revenue to these articles? Visitors probably viewed the articles in addition to other content. Also, they could have stumbled upon the visual glossary article after entering the website through a different landing page. And to that I say: This is not perfect, but it’s something.

Imperfect attribution is better than no attribution

In content marketing, imperfectly attributing content to revenue is better than not attributing content to revenue at all. Start somewhere, then work on making attribution more precise moving forward.

With the visual glossary, ideally I want to see if the articles are the first online “branded experience” a new visitor has with us. I could then attribute most of the revenue to that piece of content since it’s the first touch point.

Unfortunately, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. But I’m confident it is possible. So while our data scientist and I work on figuring out a way to do it, I can still attach a revenue number to the visual glossary project. Again, it’s not perfect, but it’s something.

I consider something like this a content assist. While you can argue whether the visual glossary was the first point of contact responsible for a conversion, you can’t argue with this: The puck (visitor) was passed to the visual glossary. After that the goal was scored.

That’s fact, and a better way than none to measure the value of content.

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