Content Marketing

The 4 Types of Content Metrics That Matter

Calling all content marketers! We would LOVE your ideas and insights on this new content production survey from our friends at Rundown. It should only take a few minutes, and you’ll get a copy of the report when it’s been analyzed in August. Thank you for your time and brilliance!

In a post last week, I talked about turning your content marketing upside down and focusing first on what behaviors you want your content consumers to perform.

4 buckets of content metricsOnce you’ve done that and created content that you think will drive the desired actions, you can start measuring the efficacy of your content program. Content cannot be measured with a single metric, because no one data point can successfully or satisfactorily tell you whether your program is working. Instead, you need to create an array of metrics that are selected from four primary buckets:

1. Consumption Metrics

This is the most fundamental type of content metric, and is unfortunately also the place where many programs both start and end. It’s a critical data point, and is generally easy to derive through Google Analytics, YouTube insights, or similar. The key is to not stop your metrics train at this depot.

Key question answered: How many people consumed your content, measured as page views, downloads, or views?

2. Sharing Metrics

This is the metric type that probably gets too much love, because it’s often public which drives up the sexiness factor like cologne with bits of real panther. Here we’re measuring how successful your content is in getting consumers to share it with others, as determined by tweets, likes, Linkedin shares, Google + shares, Diggs, and the like.

Even though my blog includes public displays of affection like number of tweets (look at the top of this page), by far my favorite way to track sharing metrics is PostRank Analytics, which combines all the sharing behaviors into one jambalaya of data that’s easy to track and compare. Unfortunately, PostRank was bought by Google a few months ago, so you may not be able to sign up as a new user. My assumption, however, is that PostRank is being used as part of Google’s ranking algorithm for search and will eventually show up as a report in Google Analytics.

Key question answered: How often do consumers of your content share it with others?

(side note: you can impact this metric considerably by making social sharing easier and more obvious for your readers and watchers)

3. Lead Generation Metrics

Now we’re sniffing dollars, not just gathering eyeballs. Whether you require registration before allowing people to read/watch/download your content (which I usually don’t recommend), or whether you’re measuring leads generated after content is consumed, this is where we start determining whether the content marketing effort is making financial sense.

If you have an online lead form on your site, you can measure this by determining how many people went to the lead form immediately after consuming your content. You can also set a browser cookie and track when someone fills out that lead form after viewing your content, even if there is a 30 or 60-day interval between those events. If your leads are handled via phone, you can install a simple script that shows a different (trackable) phone number when people have first watched a video, downloaded a presentation, etc.

Key question answered: How often do content consumers turn into leads?

4. Sales Metrics

Holy grail time. If you’re using some sort of customer and prospect database (and you absolutely should be, even if it’s something simple like Highrise or Sugar CRM) you’ll want to note in the prospect record that the potential customer consumed content pieces X, Y, and Z. Then, when your crack sales team turns that prospect into a sale, determine the projected revenue and profit (lifetime value if you can) of that customer, and assign it to the content pieces.

Do not double up, however. You want to amortize your content value. If the customer consumed 3 pieces of content before buying and is worth $90,000 to your company, assign $30,000 to each content piece. Your major CRM and sales automation systems like Salesforce, Eloqua, Marketo and similar make this process automated and easy.

Key question answered: How often do content consumers turn into customers?

If you know the answers to all four of those key questions, you have a holistic content marketing measurement system that will help you efficiently and effectively judge content pieces and archetypes. You can also determine actual ROI on a per piece basis, as well as on your overall initiative. (for more on calculating ROI, see this post on how to calculate blogging ROI in 9 steps).

Content isn’t just about consumption, so don’t only track consumption. It’s also about sharing and leads and sales.

Facebook Comments


  1. OnlineBusinesVA says

    These tips are extremely beneficial. These are things that anyone can easily do to improve content marketing measurement. Thanks for the share Jay….

  2. says

    Great breakdown Jay! As always you have a great way of making the intangibles of marketing tangible. It’s important that businesses understand that a social strategy does not immediately bring sales but they stay focused on achieving KPIs as they progress the customer relationship across the evolutionary chart. Your my SMM (Social Media Mentor) Aloha, Rob

  3. rebeccadenison says

    Love this list! Always a good reminder to look beyond basic views. I’d even add a sentiment or reputation bucket to your list. If your goal is to maintain or strengthen your reputation, seeing more positive chatter is a good thing. Or tracking recommendations or other indications someone believes you have a good reputation.

    Although, I suppose indirectly you would still be tracking leads and sales, but it would be a more roundabout way to get there. You make it simple! Let’s stick with that. :)

      • rebeccadenison says

        @JayBaer If you’re tracking shares and what not, why not track sentiment, too? If you see 5 tweets, quickly assess whether they’re positive/negative/neutral.

  4. NickSweeney says

    Sharing metrics are a bit over-stated and over-flaunted (Groupon, anyone?). I do like the idea of four distinct metrics, though (note EVERYTHING is about sales). Too many companies seem to just be on social media sites (or online in general) just because everyone else is. Knowing and doing something about it are two different things, though. All the information in the world won’t help you if you don’t DO anything with it.

  5. NickSweeney says

    Sharing metrics are a bit over-stated and over-flaunted (Groupon, anyone?). I do like the idea of four distinct metrics, though (not EVERYTHING is about sales). Too many companies seem to just be on social media sites (or online in general) just because everyone else is. Knowing and doing something about it are two different things, though. All the information in the world won’t help you if you don’t DO anything with it.

  6. RickBjarnason says

    Fantastic article, really gives a clear indication on how you should be structuring your content around a marketing plan and not just a random thought.

  7. k.romkes says

    I like the idea, and the basics, but it lacks the entire “social” component of the deal. What’s a friends value, what’s the friend of a friens’ value? Can we connect the reach of someone sharing your content, to a profit in the end of the sales funnel? We know how many clicks are generated, but 1 person clicking on a link with 10k followers, is a bigger value than someone with 10 followers, although the density of its’ network can theoretically be bigger than the person with 10k followers.

    Just a thought to add up to your well layed out (and, geniously simple) post!

  8. GovLiquidation says

    Thanks for sharing this outlook, Jay. There’s a lot of data to quantify and it makes perfect sense to “create an array of metrics” like you suggested. Good use of the word efficacy, by the way. :)

  9. HeidiCohen says

    Jay–I love the idea of putting various metrics into different buckets based on consumer activity. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  10. amandamaks says


    I echo the other comments in saying that this is a great way to look at content marketing metrics. Often times people get so caught up in the numbers and forget what they are really creating content for. By placing the metrics into buckets, marketers can easily align critical metrics with the goals they are aiming for.

    Thanks for sharing,


  11. says

    Lead Generation Metrics is something that I haven’t consitered. I would imagine I need to track my members better so I can effectively use that information to permote myself more. Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips.

  12. says

    Thanks Jay,

    Defining metrics isn’t only important for content metrics, but for marketing in general. As a marketer for a fast growing company, I sometimes get very caught up in the tactical, and sometimes even forget to keep the goal metrics in mind.

    – samir

  13. DuanePrimozich says

    Well done Jay

    This is a terrific distillation. I find often myself trying to over-explain the tactics at the front end of each of these. From now on I’ll start by forwarding this link as a context for the tactics. Thanks and great work.


  14. says

    Jay, this is really a great blueprint for tracking effectiveness. It’s so easy to get absorbed in consumption and sharing (because they are so easy to track) and lose focus on the endgame of lead gen/conversion.

    Good stuff.

  15. aptharsiabenin says

    I definitely agree that social media for schools is really useful in teaching force. It is a matter of how to use it properly.Thanks for sharing!.

  16. mobileappslink says

    I love your multifaceted approach to metrics – I couldn’t agree more that one specific metric is not enough to determine success.

  17. Michael Webster says

    I think that you want to measure how a particular piece of content was seen by your audience. You measures seem to me too general.

    Here are the (3) things I look at for my clients, was it interesting, authoritative and did it work as a marketing piece?

    1. Interesting – look at page views, then average times, then and then source. Use a backlinks strategy to increase variation after publication.

    2. Authority – use Google’s top ten authorities to try to engage those people.

    3. Marketing – measure some call to action, something you want people to do after reading the article, if they want more.

    Here is a detailed example of how these measures work:

  18. says

    Just remember that content is king. Create content that is interesting, informative, and unique to draw your audience in and when it comes time to study the metrics, you’ll actually have some positive data to study.

  19. Nydia says

    I was looking for good metrics to measure the success of my content, and your article came up. Great insights and approach you have here. I believe it covers almost all areas that I’m trying to focus on :)

  20. Ali says

    This compartmentalisation has really helped to focus the mind, thanks Jay.

    One thing I still go back and forth with is the period of time over which one would measure performance for an individual piece of content. Clearly it’s going to be more for something chunky like an ebook (versus a blog article). 1, 2 .. 5 weeks?

    Your thoughts would be appreciated.

    Many thanks, Ali (UK)