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By Sarah Moyles on 16 Jul 2018

Content marketing has been called a few names over the years, some of them kind, more of them not. It’s been labelled “fluffy” and called a “slow burner”, with few marketing managers believing and trusting in the power of content. 

If, like me,  you're a passionate content marketer who strives to prove the value of content, you’ll know how frustrating these remarks are. In defence of content and in search of the perfect comeback I’ve used Google Analytics to concretely prove the monetary value of content marketing. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...the "Touched Blog" audience segment.

The Content Marketing Challenge

Content marketing exploded in recent years with many businesses and C-Level execs starting to wonder why their brand didn't have a blog. The explosion of interest turned out to be a double-edged sword. While the interest was there, few managers understood that content was a long-term strategy. If your business needs an instant stream of sales and leads, content marketing isn’t the avenue for you. However, if your business is willing to invest in honestly serving your target audience, you’ll reap the rewards. 

A Brief History of Content Marketing

The content marketing challenge exists because content marketing is now a digital channel. Digital advertising, which has only really been around since the early nineties, stole quite a bit of marketing budget from print, TV and radio advertising, largely because its success was measurable and today it provides incredible levels of targeting. 

Digital advertising is new but content marketing is not. The first example of content marketing at play can be traced back to Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack from the mid-eighteenth century. While content marketing is a tried and tested method of marketing, which we know works, it’s difficult to attribute success specifically to the channel. That is, until now.

Why Content Marketing Works: A Hypothesis

When it comes to assessing the impact of content marketing, the critical question we need to be able to answer is ‘“What behaviour change did it result in?’. I didn't want to measure revenue alone, because that's not the goal of content. The same applies to the volume of transactions and even conversion rate. Average Order Values (AOV) on the other hand made me pause for thought.

Higher AOVs indicate key engagement metrics have been hit, including awareness and trust building. Beyond that, higher AOVs simply mean customers are spending more per transaction. Higher AOVs are a great indicator that your content is connecting with people and driving the business forward.

Now that I’d identified a key metric, what was the behaviour change? 

Enter the Google Analytics "Touched Blog" Segment

I created a simple enough segment in Google Analytics to separate data into two buckets:

  1. Users who have interacted with the blog
  2. Users who have never interacted with the blog

It's rather simple really, but the results you get are incredibly useful and insightful. One of my favourite things about the "Touched Blog" segment is that it'll work retrospectively, so you can actually implement this now and immediately benefit from a new window of insight into your content performance. 

The True Value of Content Marketing Revealed

I tested out this new segment with Arctic Adventures, Iceland's biggest tour operator. We've been crafting content to inspire potential customers about Iceland, while also informing them of any local traditions or insider tips we can get our hands on. 

To measure how well this content was performing, I overlayed the "Touched Blog" segment and could see that Average Order Values were 24% higher for customers who had recently interacted with the blog versus those who hadn't. 

This is an incredible finding that shows customers who make a purchase after being through a content marketing journey are more engaged, informed and inspired to make grander purchases providing greater overall value to your business.

The Wolfgang Essential Takeaway

I'm a data-driven content marketer and to reveal this number feels like a quality validation for a marketing channel I thoroughly believe in. 

Content that is useful, insightful and helpful creates a meaningful connection between a brand and its customers. By investing in content, you are investing in that relationship for the long-term.

The end reward is trust and a propensity to purchase more valuable items and packages.

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