This is why content marketing is worthwhile

A ZHAW master's thesis shows when content marketing is worthwhile from a company's point of view.


Why do marketing managers invest valuable resources in newsletters, infographics, or blog posts? To what extent do content marketing measures influence the tangible and intangible value drivers of a company? It is clear that marketing managers systematically rely on a combination of qualitative and quantitative key performance indicators to measure the success of content marketing. A master's thesis from the ZHAW, Business Administration and Marketing, shows: "The more relevant, credible and competent target groups perceive content, the more worthwhile content marketing is from a company's point of view.

When making purchasing decisions, consumers are inundated with information on the web, on blogs, microsites, and in social media. The variety of possible contact points with brands and their content leads to increasingly complex user journeys. However, only those brands that convince with high-quality content deserve the attention of consumers. Companies are therefore investing more and more in content marketing. At the same time, marketers are obliged to validate their investments in content, its effectiveness and efficiency by means of clearly defined key figures. Quantitative metrics show whether and how often users interact with content. However, the motivations of the target groups to read content and their associated appreciation usually remain uncertain for marketers. Therefore, if you want to comprehensively demonstrate the business value created by content marketing, you need to consciously combine quantitative metrics with qualitative and user-focused metrics.

To date, there is no industry-wide model for this combined method of measuring content marketing success. The master's thesis therefore ventures a practical attempt to make content marketing more measurable using the Webrepublic agency as an example. In doing so, the research work undertaken builds on the existing measurement model of the DPRG and ICV- Gesellschaft für Kommunikations-Controlling and expands it to include a qualitative, user-focused dimension. Three newly defined attributes sharpen marketers' focus: perceived relevance, competence and credibility of content. Targeted qualitative surveys systematically show the influence of perceived relevance, competence and credibility of content on defined value drivers. In the case of Webrepublic, for example, it turns out that the newsletter strengthens customer loyalty, infographics increase the willingness to interact with the brand, and the blog increases the perceived competence of a company and leads readers to recommend the company and specific content to others. If content marketing measures do not fulfill these user-focused attributes, the value created by content marketing is significantly lower.

For marketers, this ultimately means that investments in relevant, competent and authentic content are intangible value drivers for the company - and positively influence brand loyalty, brand sympathy, intention to recommend and willingness to interact. It remains to be seen how the value created by content marketing can be directly monetized and whether the systematic integration of CRM tools can provide the sales department with additional insights into the value of content marketing.

Natalie Schönbächler is the author of the master thesis and was supervised by Sandro Graf, lecturer Marketing, lic. iur. EMSc, at the ZHAW. The practice partner of this master thesis is the digital marketing agency Webrepublic, with co-supervisor Simon Wüthrich, Senior Communications Manager, Webrepublic. Schönbächler has been working in the agency's Marcom team since August 2014.

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