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I’ve been a content marketer before it was even called that. Our platform measures content for hundreds of brands each year. And we get a sneak peek on what works and what doesn’t. There are a lot of posts covering content ROI and measurement. But most are outdated 🙁 and aren’t relevant. So I thought I’d give it a jam – and share my lens on it.

In this post we cover:
– Back to basics
– Reach
– Consumption
– Benchmarks
– Technical aspects of measurement

For a related post, check out a guide to content return on investment.

Back to basics

The reason we (as in marketers) create content is because we believe it will help inform, educate or provide utility to our target audience. And that if we do that, they will reward us, with brand awareness, loyalty, purchase intent or purchase.

Therefore, measurement of content should reflect these objectives. In my experience that boils down to reach and consumption. Did I reach enough people and did they consume the content? IF you capture your audiences’ attention, then everything else is easy.


It’s a cliche to say quality over quantity. But with content, you need to unpack it a bit. First let’s explore quantity, because it really does matter. If you have invested in the content, you need to get it out there.

As a guideline, you should invest (time or money equivalent) of 5 to 1. That is for every hour you invest in content production, you should invest 5 hours distributing it. Or simply allocate budgets that way.

Measuring reach isn’t as simple as going, how many people saw this.

As in 2021, we have to go, alright do we count people that left after 1 second? How many of these were accidental clicks? What about people that visit the content twice? What about bots?

The closer you can get to unique people, the better.


The analogy we like to give is, in a shoe store, the more time you spend with an attendant, the more likely you are to buy something. And that’s how you should think about your content, it takes time and consumption to deliver value.

Measure attention rather than ‘time on page’
Time on page, which looks at the time gaps between link clicks, so means it is sampled data. It misses all those that read the content and hit the back button. Which can distort your data.

Attention looks at every user, and how long they are active on the content.

From Nudge data, we know that attention (as we measure it) is linked to conversion rate. Which makes sense, the more time you actively spend on content the more likely you are to take the action which the content was built for.

And this metric works across video and audio too, letting you better allocate between the types of media.

When you think about consumption of the content, look at:

Scroll percentage or video completion rate; is the average user actually consuming enough of your content?

Ideally, the average person is consuming at least half of what you’ve produced.

Contextualize your measurement with Benchmarks

This is often forgotten, once you know how you are performing. Contextualize your performance in either industry or your own benchmarks.

This helps dramatically and answers two simple questions, should I create new content, promote it more or simply improve my existing content?

  • If under benchmarks, focus on improving existing content.
  • If you’re over benchmarks, focus on more content and distribution.

Note: You can also benchmark your distribution along the same lines.

Technically, how do you measure content?
You will typically orchestrate your measurement by using a few different tools:

  • Onsite analytics, installed via tracking code on your website.
  • Surveys, served to your audience, either through a pixel tracking, or selective opt in.
  • Click trackers or redirects.
  • Social analytics, seeing how your social posts perform.

There are pros and cons to each of these but you will likely use a few different tools, for different parts of the content team or stages of the process. So don’t be afraid to use a few.

Further reading on content measurement from others

  • Content Marketing Institute’s piece outlays the full spectrum, But a lot the links are from 2013,
    • I love their stat “33 percent of B2B marketers and 41 percent of B2C marketers cited the inability to measure as a significant challenge.”
  • HubSpot has this great infographic, it’s also a little dated, but not as bad. Their stat on how often do bloggers check their analytics is interesting. 31.7% said always. From Nudge data we see people checking 20-30 times/week.
  • OptInMonster piece, I really like as they frame up, the cost to produce content. And how that has to be brought in to the calculation. It’s obvious but sometimes people forget to add salaries. Which is a real tangible cost. They also highlight, that good content helps sales teams, not just inbound. Which is worth calling out, if you can get content which is performing well it has a dual function.
  • Curata provides a more balanced lens of the different metrics available. For most teams though, the above framework should cover. It’s simple, understandable and linked to business outcomes.
  • This MOZ piece does a good summary, very analogous to how we’ve thought about it as Nudge. And this piece. If this was 2016 it’d be what I was sharing.
  • Contently has a more practical approach, sharing some of the players in the space. But the market has changed a bit in the following four years.

This is what prompted me to do this piece, content measurement is fairly straightforward. But it’s sometimes made way too complicated, or at least too complicated for most reasonable use cases.

We have in-depth custom measurement for our enterprise clients, where the investments are in the eight figures. At this level, you probably want to go deeper But time and time again it comes down to am I reaching enough people and are they doing what we thought they’d do. You then adjust your content from there.

Getting to this simple framework then enables your content team to push the boundaries and trust their gut, to produce that great content.

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