Getting started with measuring the performance of your content

3 minute read

In data-driven organisations, there is an increasing need for us to justify the performance of our content, either through qualitative measures or quantitative metrics. Content strategists can use KPIs and data as resource indicators for improving targeted content elements, not merely as a method of justification for content creation with stakeholders.

A metric is defined as a ‘system or standard of measurement’. Content metrics can be defined and refined over time so that they deliver clear and actionable results for content teams, whist also giving stakeholders a high-level view of the productivity and contribution of the content discipline to the business.Working with different metrics, depending on the business need, also raises the perception of the ‘value’ of content and demonstrates why it is such an important business asset. Whilst there are plenty of tools available to monitor content performance, there are also some simple measures that can be put in place as a starting point.

Quantitative metrics

How much content was produced, over what period? How can that volume be increased? Can processes and tools be made more effective?

Case study 1: a simple quantitative measure – the first steps to consolidate data on the timeline for creating content were put in place to compare how long it took different groups of content designers to create content for their own markets based on a single, global source. The findings enabled the team to compare notes, share experiences, identify what was working most effectively, and the tools and processes being used. Measures could then be put in place, based on the most efficient methodology, to facilitate the creative process.

Qualitative metrics

Is our content consistent? Are we producing accurate and relevant content for our customers? Is our content engaging and are our customers satisfied?

Case study 2: a simple qualitative measure – implementing a term base/glossary, shared widely within the organisation, to enable anyone involved in writing content to use consistent terminology. The benefits of this, along with other resources including tone of voice and style guidelines, include a more coherent customer experience and reduced translation costs. Writing time was reduced and anomalies removed from the process.


What does ‘engagement’ mean for our business? Are we achieving our key metrics? Have we considered our content's usability?

Case study 3: a simple engagement metric – a high volume of calls to customer services, when analysed, was found to be the result of complex information architecture on a website. Customers weren’t able to complete the tasks they were trying to achieve online. Working with UX, the creation of intuitive, compelling and well organised content reduced the number of calls to the team.

Testing content

A key area where content KPIs and metrics can be useful is that of testing and identifying problems:

  • This can be to satisfy the need to compare two (or more) products/elements of content, to test their usability or their success, depending on the measure selected
  • Alternatively, metrics can be used to test the quantifiable severity of a usability problem; for example to measure the impact a change in content might achieve

Metrics can enable content teams to interrogate their content in more detail and, even when using high-level metrics, there’s an opportunity to impact a number of factors. These might include:

  • Effectiveness – the accuracy of achieving (or partially achieving) content goals, based on business needs
  • Efficiency – the resources required in order to achieve effectiveness, such as time-to-market
  • Satisfaction – the acceptability of use, benefits to users/customers, purpose and ease of taking action

Every organisation will have their own content metrics and should measure their starting point/baseline, define their own version of content ‘engagement’ and see what happens. The results will inevitably be both thought-provoking and actionable.

Targets, KPIs and methodology

The question around measuring content is how do we do this? What data should we use in relation to specific KPIs? And what tools can we employ to demonstrate the effectiveness of our content?Every business will require its own measures of success, be it quantitatively, qualitatively or tied to engagement metrics. Approaching this from a customer experience perspective with a targeted focus gives content strategists opportunities to consider the ROI and ‘measurability’ of content and how these factors can be aligned.

Example 1: increase the number of registrations on the site – the KPI would be a greater volume of participants signing-up and the methodology would be business stats/data on sign-ups

Example 2: increase the number of targeted actions, for example downloads – the KPI would be an increase in download volume, measured by conversion tracking

Example 3: improve business engagement – the KPI would be an improvement in NPS*/social media sharing which could be measured by monitoring the score/number of shares[*Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures the loyalty that exists between a provider and a consumer]

At a recent conference presentation on the topic of content measurement, in the context of content quality, content strategists discussed how quality is driven by data; and ultimately, of course, “… there’s only one statistic that really matters – and with content it’s the conversion rate, the ultimate measure of the effectiveness and quality of your content.”Understanding the needs and goals of an organisation facilitates the creation of finite definitions of content quality and engagement. Through analysis of current data, simple means of understanding complex trends can be deduced. Then a business will find itself in a better position to recognise what it needs to measure – and how.


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About the author

Beverley Brown

Beverley has worked in the content discipline for more than 20 years. Having held leadership roles at PayPal, Three and SGS, she is experienced at working across international markets and managing large global content teams.

She currently works as an Interim Director on content and digital transformation projects relishing the challenge of bringing organisations' legacy systems and processes up to speed. Beverley also speaks, tweets and blogs on content-related topics. She tweets @GlobalWordsmith and blogs at

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