Becoming Professional: A Blog

How to Measure Success in Digital Publishing

Posted on: June 9, 2011

What Does Successful Content Look Like?

the book cover of Content Strategy for the Web

Image from

It is rather tempting to start pumping out content on the web. It’s way too easy to press send. Who hasn’t made that Tweet they later wished they hadn’t? Raise your hand. You know you’ve done it.

But just because it is easy to publish content doesn’t mean that content can’t be a useful tool if handled correctly. I’ve already discussed the elements of a successful content strategy, so this time I’ll discuss what that word “success” means in terms of content.

Content Can Have Different Kinds of Goals

As Kristina Halvorson says in her book Content Strategy for the Web, the first thing you should think of when going about measuring success is what your goals were in the first place. There are two types of goals: those of the business and those of the audience. What is your website’s goal? What is your company’s goal? If this is a personal project, what is your goal in engaging in this activity? What is your audience’s goal in consuming this content?

Once you know your goals, you can decide how to measure them.

The Metrics to Use with Content

When you go about measuring the content, there are a few categories of metrics. They are:

A graph of traffic for a website

by dannysullivan on Flickr

  • Reach This can be measured using page views, shares, traffic volume, and the number of new visitors.
  • Acquisition Measure this by looking at how often new visitors return to your website, how many pages they viewed, and how long they stayed on the page.
  • Conversion The trick here is to measure all activities that lead to a goal in a conversion funnel. This could be looking at how many people click on an ad versus how many sign up for more information versus how many eventually did what you were asking them to do, for instance purchase.
  • Retention: Look for how many visitors return to your site and how often, how many customers are returning versus coming for the first time, and how often they view content that is geared towards retained customers.

Bruce Clay has a good tutorial on the different types of metrics (Reach and Acquisition, Conversion, and Retention) and how to use them.

Always relate your metric to your gaol. For instance, if a user is on your site to buy something, then the metric to watch is conversion. If they are on the website looking for customer service, then the metric is retention.

Don’t Take Snapshots. Shoot Video.

It is important to realize that content has a life-cycle. How is your content behaving in regards to these metrics over time? This is an important part to monitoring your content. If something is broken, you’ll find it this way. If an environmental factor is affecting how people react to your messages, this is how you’ll know. And by tracking how your older content is doing, you can even write better content in the future.


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Who Am I?

I am a Digital Native who is trying to puzzle out what exactly that means. I share my thoughts on social media, digital business models, and PR here on this blog.

I am currently getting my Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School, having gotten my B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University. Everything is on track and I am making headway towards my dream: World Domination... or being a productive, helpful citizen and marketer. Whichever comes first.

Don't hesitate to get in touch. I Tweet daily at @KateDavids and also have a science fiction and fantasy blog ( and Twitter (@Masked_Geek).

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