By Heidi Cohen published October 20, 2010

Content Marketing Metrics for Newbies: 28 Content-Related Measures to Track

When it comes to metrics, many marketers will first monitor whatever is easiest to count. But, what’s most important is counting those things that help you best determine how well you succeeded in achieving your objectives. Therefore, to track your content marketing’s effectiveness, match your metrics back to your business goals. Here are the major business rationales for using content marketing, which is the core of most social media marketing strategies:

  • Expand prospect and customer base.
  • Support entire purchase process.
  • Aid search marketing
  • Build relationships with fans, advocates and the general public.
  • Monitor and/or enhance your reputation.

Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced content marketer, it’s often good to go back to the basics to ensure your monitoring is on track. Here’s a list of 28 metrics in seven categories that will help you measure your content marketing effectiveness.

Content creation

While these aren’t metrics in the traditional number counting sense, they’re important elements to monitor and manage your content marketing efforts and the resources needed to develop them.

1. What type of content do we need?

2. Who will create the content? Where do they report in the organization? Will this function be outsourced? If so, to whom?

3. How often will the content be created? Does this vary by platform (third party, internal media and user-generated media)?

4. What is the cost for the content marketing creation? Remember to include internal resources as well as external contractors and agencies.

5. Where will the content be placed? Does the content require supplementary information? Of so, what and where will that content it be placed?

6. Is related marketing needed to drive readers to the content? If so, who will create it? What is the timing? What is the cost (for creation and media placement)?


For many businesses, these metrics are relatively easy to monitor.

7. How many visitors or readers do we have?  Think in terms of unique visitors and returning visitors. This is a good measure of the volume of exposures for your message.

8. How many fans, friends, followers, email subscribers and/or RSS feeds do we have? This gives a top level estimate of your hand-raisers. Since many of these people may follow you to get product news and special offers, this doesn’t necessarily translate into dedicated customers.

9. How wide is the influence of your fans and followers? This can require a more in-depth analysis and more sophisticated tracking.


Evaluating actions are useful since they indicate if you’re engaging your readers and visitors further towards purchase. Among the elements to track are:

10.  How many times was the content viewed and/or downloaded?

11.  How much time was spent viewing the content? What portion of it was read and/or viewed?

12.  Did readers take another action towards engagement with your firm? This includes email registration, signing up for RSS feeds, etc.

13.  Did readers share content with their colleagues via social sharing including Facebook and Twitter? If so, how many?

14.  Did readers go further into your content or website by following links to related articles and/or products? Did they put products in a shopping cart or contact you?

15.  Did content viewing translate into earned media, additional views generated by readers sharing your content as opposed to paid impressions? This can be a measure of the interest level generated by your content.

Content created

In the social media realm, getting readers and visitors to contribute to and augment your content is important, especially since recent research shows a plateau in the number of these participants. Among the factors to measure are:

16.  Do readers comment and/or vote on your articles? If not, how you can make this easier for them to do?

17.  Do customers leave product reviews and/or ratings? If not, how do you encourage buyers to return and engage with you? Post-purchase emails can provide a helpful nudge.

18.  Have you had success getting customers to share relevant photographs and/or videos? This can be useful for experience-related products such as crafts, cooking and travel.

Brand impact

For businesses where brand is an important element, are you monitoring the impact of your content across the Internet?

19.  How often are customers mentioning your products, brands and/or company? What is the sentiment of these brand mentions? Are they positive or negative? How is your firm responding to these mentions?

20.  How do customers feel about your competitors and what are they saying about them? Is this having an impact on your business? Remember to consider niche competitors as well as category leaders.

21.  Has brand sentiment and intent to purchase changed over time?


For most marketers, this is where the rubber meets the road. It’s the most critical metric. Unfortunately, for much content marketing, it’s not easy to measure directly because companies often use content to generate awareness, which has a major impact relatively early in the purchase process. Here are some revenue metrics to track.

22.  How many purchases did the content marketing drive? Remember, it’s important to have a call-to-action and links to appropriate product pages to make this easier to monitor.

23.  What is the average order size, both in terms of the number of products and dollar amount?

24.  What are the revenues per reader?

25.  What is the conversion rate? How many of the people who took some of the actions earlier in the process actually bought? This can be a measure of how effective the other aspects of your marketing and purchase process are. (Here’s additional insight on conversion rates.)


Compared to revenues, expenses are often easy to track. Be careful to account for costs that may have been overlooked such as personnel that have been stretched by adding assignments.

26.  What did it cost us to drive these sales? Consider all of the aspects of the marketing such as content creation, technical support and media.

27.  What are the product, fulfillment and delivery costs? (Here are  more marketing costs to monitor.)

28.  What were the total internal costs in terms of budget, headcount and complexity? Think broadly across departments.

This list is a starting point for your content marketing tracking. Don’t get intimidated by it. Instead start small and monitor as much as you can while working to expand your analysis. If you don’t measure your results, you’ll have a tough time knowing what’s working and what’s not.

UPDATE:  Ahava Leibtag had a fantastic suggestion in the comments below to create a printable version of this checklist. Download this version for your reference.

What other metrics would you add to this list?

Author: Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is an actionable marketing expert. As president of Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi works with online media companies and e-tailers to increase profitability with innovative marketing programs based on solid analytics. During the course of 20 years, Heidi has obtained deep experience in direct and digital marketing across a broad array of products including soft goods, financial services, entertainment, media entities and crafts-oriented goods. Heidi shares her actionable marketing insights on her blog. Find Heidi Cohen online at Twitter @heidicohen, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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  • Laurie Dunlop

    Dear Heidi,

    Thank you for creating one list broken down by category for metrics. I printed a copy out and posted it over my desk as a reminder that everything is measurable!


    • Heidi Cohen

      Laurie – Glad that you found this list help. Bear in mind when you start tracking content marketing metrics, it’s a good idea to start small because it’s easier to handle. That said, it’s important to think long term since it can take time to build up historic data and see trends. Happy marketing, Heidi

  • Ahava

    Every Content Strategist and Web team lead should print this out as a check list–in fact, you might want to think about making the printable version checkable–user engagement strategy. :-) Because I can’t find a print icon and that should be feedback you use to add the print icon to your emails and then you can write a case study about it!

    • Michele Linn

      Ahava – What a great suggestion! I added the printable version of the checklist above.

  • Russell

    I have planned the creation of a similar list to present to clients at the outset of a project. Specifically, though, my thoughts are to have the client sign such a list as a “Statement of Commitment,” along with the contract. In other words, to arrive at an outcome where the above metrics tell a success story the client must acknowledge that their role in the care and feeding of their content marketing initiative is crucial, and that they have to commit the resources necessary to achieve success, be they financial, human, etc. For example, we still see issues with clients, particularly small B2B, B2C and non-profits, who think that the creation and launch of a web site is the end of the story, rather than just the beginning. By ‘enforcing’ a Statement of Commitment from the outset I think it will help drive home the point that the road to successful metrics is dependent upon their own content creation/curation activities. Ultimately, the objective of a signed “Statement of Commitment” is to drive home the point that what they’re going to achieve through their content marketing initiative is going to correlate directly to what they’re willing to put in.

  • Jeff Kryger

    Wow super helpful (I love the checklist!). Thanks again!

  • Traci Failla

    Great well-rounded list that can work for companies and organizations of various sizes.

  • Steve Squier

    Google Adwords offers some of the best conversion tracking, if not the best conversion tracking, in the world. But guess what? Most businesses advertising on Adwords are NOT using it. They don’t know how well their ads are performing on a campaign level, nor an ad group level, nor an ad level, nor a keyword level. All they know is clicks – but setting up conversion tracking will enable Adwords to tell you exactly which campaigns and which ad groups and which ads and which keywords are actually becomes leads or sales. I confess that I spent thousands on Google Adwords without conversion tracking, but now I wouldn’t spend another dollar without it. I gotta give credit to Simon for helping me out with it, he can help you too if you call his phone during business hours, his number is 325-446-1507 .