Gone are the days when marketers solely emphasized likes, shares and impressions. Thanks to advanced technologies built to analyze marketing activities, today’s marketers have the ability to go beyond these metrics, and understand which social posts actually generate conversions. This is a new level of measurement that surpasses engagement and awareness, and demonstrates the ability of marketing to drive qualified leads, and contribute to company profits.
So what are marketers doing differently? Two words: Content Marketing. The elongated sales funnel has brought with it a constant need for valuable content that builds credibility in the eyes of a prospect – particularly in the B2B sphere. Content marketing is no longer just about engagement – it sells.Yet, with the massive amount of content being shared on social media, websites and online communities, how can you tell which item had the biggest impact in closing the deal? The truth is, when it comes to content marketing – you can’t.
Traditionally, before we were inundated with content from multiple networks and channels, a consumer’s “last click” was considered the only one that mattered. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, last click attribution gives the last “touch point” that a consumer engages with full credit for his or her conversion. Basically, the last ad, flyer, article or other branded content you engaged with prior to “converting” is attributed full credit for the sale.
There are so many problems with this notion, above all else in the digital world, that it’s hard to believe that marketing, sales and advertising experts still refer to it (although many have confirmed its death). In the digital reality at large – or even just in the social media one, every consumer is exposed to, and interacts with, organic and paid-for content promoted by a brand, as well as content from external sources, that influences the final purchasing decision. Attributing all of the credit to just one “touch point” – many of which are lie outside of a brand’s control – is inexplicable, and more than that, illogical.
To drive this point further, Google’s “Zero Moment of Truth” (ZMOT) study, conducted in 2011, revealed that consumers range from using an average of 5.8 informational sources when choosing a restaurant, to a high of researching 18.2 (!) sources when purchasing a car. Considering this study was conducted a few years ago, and that the B2B selling process is longer than the B2C one (due to higher prices and time requirements), you can imagine the major role that content marketing currently plays in B2B decision-making.
Marketers have to recognize the extent to which this reality is removed from the last click attribution theory. In present-day-terms, a “sale” is attributed to a substantial number of blog posts, social media messages, ads, search engine results, and so many other sources. It is a gradual process that requires prospects be nurtured, and come to respect a company for being credible, responsible and trustworthy. The issue of whether the first or the last item “closed” a sale is negligent. The objective should be to constantly engage the prospect at every stage of the funnel, and eventually make him or her realize the value of the product, and its ability to contribute to meeting the organization’s unique business goals.
Last click attribution utterly disregards all of the “supporting” resources that brought the prospect to the final stages. More than that, it provides a misleading picture that isolates a single piece of content from the myriad of messages preceding it. Going back to Google’s ZMOT research, it turns out that of the 3,000 consumers that were studied, each one took a different “purchase journey.” Last click attribution ignores and undervalues the supplementary content that a prospect encounters when in the funnel, in favor of one item.
Chances are that no single attribution theory can fit this new content marketing reality – but there are of course more suitable ones than the last click model. With today’s technology, marketers have the ability to measure what they generate at every point. We need to abandon the habit of simply pushing out content, and measure the performance of each item, based on clicks, conversions and engagement – combined, at all stages. Each piece of content and channel should be attributed its own distinct credit, and taken into account during a prospect’s journey through the funnel.
We might never figure out which particular click tipped the scale in favor of the conversion, but it’s definitely not the last one that should be receiving all of the credit.