By Pawan Deshpande published November 23, 2014

8 Metrics to Conquer a Content Marketer’s Fear of Measurement

15077175519_6a31362dcd_zWhile creating and publishing content may be easy, measuring content marketing is a hard and daunting task. Earlier this year, I asked 24 content marketing experts to name the one  most important metric to which they pay attention. The responses were across the board. Clearly, there’s no one way to measure content marketing.

Since there are so many metrics for content marketing, and even more tools used to measure them, I recently created a framework that covers eight types of possible metrics. Keep in mind that not all of these metrics apply to all types of content. The framework is broken down by channel, so you can get specific examples of each metric.


1. Consumption metrics look at the number of readers who consume your content, the channels they use, and the frequency of their consumption. Those who are in the consumption or sharing phase are likely earlier in your sales funnel or top of funnel (TOFU).

  • Website or blog: Look at page views, unique visitors, and average time on your site using a tool like Google Analytics.
  • Assets like downloadable eBooks or white papers: Check your download or form completions using Pardot, Marketo, Eloqua, Act-On, or other marketing automation platforms. Keep in mind that if your asset is indexed by search engines, users may be able to download the asset and bypass the submission form.
  • Social media: Tools like can help you measure click-through action.
  • Email: MailChimp, Marketo, Eloqua, and Constant Contact measure areas such as open rates and clicks for your email campaigns.
  • Feeds: Use FeedBurner or FeedBlitz to quantify your content’s clicks and views.

2. Retention metrics look at the effectiveness of holding your audience’s attention beyond the initial contact.

  • Website or blog: Look at the percentage of returning visitors, the number of visits, the pages per visit, and the bounce rate using a tool like Google Analytics.
  • Social media: Track your followers on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
  • Email: MailChimp, Marketo, and Eloqua can measure the number who unsubscribe or opt out from your email content.
  • Feeds: Use FeedBurner or FeedBlitz to quantify your subscriber base over time.

3. Sharing metrics examine what content is being shared, by whom, and where or how they are sharing it. They are not really applicable to feeds.

  • Website, blog, asset, and social media: SharedCount can help quantify retweets, “likes,” and social media shares of your content.

4. Engagement metrics are key to understanding whether your content resonates with readers. What kind of action (if any) are they taking after reading your content? Are they frequently or consistently taking action?

  • Website or blog: Google Analytics can help measure a user’s session duration and page depth (how deeply into your site the person has clicked).
  • Social media: Tools like Disqus can help you measure comments and social chatter around your content.
  • Feeds: Use FeedBurner or FeedBlitz to quantify your subscriber base over time.

5. Lead metrics (marketing’s part of the sales pipeline): As customers advance through your sales funnel, some will reach the lead metrics phase (middle of funnel). Here’s where you’ll want to see new leads generated and existing leads touched through your content. Tools like Eloqua, Marketo, Pardot, Act-On, and similar marketing automation platforms can assist in this area.

6. Sales metrics apply to customers at the bottom of your sales funnel where you’ll want to look at the dollar amount and percent value of opportunities influenced or generated and those ultimately won. Use a CRM tool like Salesforce or Full Circle CRM for this.

7. Production metrics are an internal assessment of your content operations. How is your team (including members) performing against editorial calendar deadlines and goals? How long does it take your team to turn a content idea into a published piece of content? How many pieces of content do you regularly publish in a week or month? You’ll need to measure these areas on your own over time. I suggest using a simple Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to track this.

8. Cost metrics are among the most important since they help you calculate a return on investment or ROI for content marketing. What does it cost to produce and distribute each blog post, white paper, or email campaign? Remember to consider not only the cost in staff time or freelance budget but stock images, design fees, and any paid distribution channels.

Getting started with content marketing measurement

To begin measuring the efficacy of your content marketing, I would recommend the following:

  • Start small. You don’t need to measure everything all at once. Rather than flying blind, start measuring something that’s easy for you and work from there.
  • Focus on TOFU first. The top of the funnel is often the easiest place to get metrics. For example, sharing and consumption metrics don’t require marketing automation or a CRM tool.
  • Go broad, then deep. It’s easier to get coverage over all your channels for a class of metrics such as retention or consumption, rather than going deep and trying to map a whole customer journey down to revenue.
  • Count consistency. For your metrics to really pay off, much like your content production, it’s necessary to generate metrics for your content over a period of time, not just for a one-off of your newest content. By doing so, you can identify which older content is evergreen, and what may be underperforming and should be retired or reworked.

Measuring these areas will help you improve your content marketing and demonstrate its value to the rest of your organization. For more strategies to help you improve your ROI, download my extensive eBook on this topic, The Comprehensive Guide to Content Marketing Analytics & Metrics.

Pawan Deshpande shared his expert insight at Content Marketing World. Check out all the fantastic CMW sessions that are available through our Video on Demand portal.

Cover image by Eukalyptus via pixabay

Editor’s note: Curata is a Content Marketing Institute benefactor, which is a paid supporter of our website and content creation activities.

Author: Pawan Deshpande

Pawan Deshpande is the founder and CEO of Curata, a Boston-based company offering content marketing software used by thousands of marketers around the world. He spearheaded the first-ever panel at SxSW on Content Marketing in 2011, and was a 2014 Finalist for MarketingProfs B2B Marketer of the Year. Pawan was an engineer at Microsoft and Google where he was awarded patents in social networking and machine learning. He previously attended MIT where his graduate thesis won top departmental and international awards. You can contact Pawan via Twitter @TweetsFromPawan or on LinkedIn. Interested in the state of the content marketing industry in 2016? Download Curata's 2016 Content Marketing Staffing & Tactics Study.

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  • Bob

    You can measure clicks, you can measure reading time, are there algorithms that can predict action or buys for a restaurant to consumer?

    • Pawan Deshpande

      I am sure there are algorithms that can be designed for this, but it really depends on where the purchases are made (online or offline).

      For a restaurant, the purchases would likely be offline. In such cases, a machine learning algorithm would not be able to easily correlate content consumption activities with the purchases, and therefore prediction would be difficult.

  • Annoyed

    I’ve never subscribed to your mailing list and have tried to unsubscribe from the spam you send 3 times now. But please keep sending the spam as now it’s being logged to be reported to spamhaus. Thank you

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Hi there…we take email unsubscribes very seriously (especially the first part of your comment). I’d like to look into this personally, so please email me at joe at contentinstitute dot com so we can find the problem and take care of it. My apologies.

  • Jana Noack

    Hey there, the ROI part is left blank when it comes to helpful tools. Please go and see Welovroi – it is a Spanish start-up and will make your day with calculating the benefit of marketers’ work. Happy to discuss!

  • Jeremy Swinfen Green

    This is a very useful approach. It might be helpful to match the Performance types (Consumption etc) to commonly-used marketing concepts as this would make it easier to get the message across. A lot of Direct Marketing people use AIDA – Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action – as a model of how people “move along” the conversion funnel although I prefer my own model AURAL which stands for Awareness, Understanding, Relevance, Action, Loyalty.

    Using this I can then split out different metrics into the various stages of the funnel. So under Awareness I might have the metric “Page views” for a website and “Social reach” for social media, while under Relevance I might have “Non-commercial actions” (such as downloading a datasheet) for a website, “Click through” for email, and “Positive comments” or “Web traffic from social” for social media.

    Incidentally I think there are two types of metric: engagement metrics which I place within the AURAL model, and strategic metrics which could include brand strength metrics (e.g. sentiment trends), competitor metrics (e.g. share of voice) and customer insight (e.g. key words identified through analysis of social media content).

    • Pawan Deshpande

      Jeremy, I like your model a lot. Whereas my 8 classes of metrics are marketer-centric, yours are buyer-centric. Many of us struggle to think from the buyer’s perspective when creating content, but your model gets around this by putting the buyer front-and-center.

  • Christopher Watkins

    Oustanding dissassembling and reassembling of the metrical landscape for content marketing, really a pleasure to read, and certainly a resource to return to many times over. I think the more often brands are able to see these kinds of details laid out this explicitly, the better off both brands and marketers are going to be, as a post like this continues to effectively drive home the truism that just as you have to build up a campaign from its components, so too do you have to build up the assessment architecture for the campaign. That more strategists do not incorporate the “after” in the strategy from the start continues to amaze me. This is not, of course, to say that every new campaign should have its KPIs rebuilt from the ground up, but rather, it is to say that just as a successful campaign is bespoke in its components, so too should its assessment parameters be tailored. With the veritable buffet of paradigms we now have at our disposal (see your post above!), there is no reason we cannot design our analysis with the same degree of finesse, nuance, and sophistication that we apply to our content campaigns!

    And mainly, thank you again. Definitely got the wheels spinning. A pleasure to share this …


    Christopher Watkins
    Social Media Manager
    fisher VISTA – HRmarketer

  • Cendrine Marrouat

    Hello Pawan,

    The best article I have read on the topic. So, big thanks for that!