Beyond PR

Feb 23, 2016

Metrics That Inform vs. Metrics That Prove: A Guide for Content Marketers

18 Content Metrics That Matter

Ever wonder if there is any point in tracking impressions or reach of your message?

Speaking to a colleague recently about the numbers we track for social media and other strategic channels, I found myself justifying why I still want to see the oft-maligned ‘reach’ number.

Reach may not be a number you report up, but it should not be ignored.

Here’s the thing: There are metrics that inform what you’re doing and there are metrics that prove what you’re doing has value. Reach is certainly not going to prove ROI for your content marketing, but it will give you insight into how the content you create resonates with your target audiences.

If reach is good but conversion poor, that helps you narrow down what needs to be tweaked going forward.

I recently moderated a webinar for PR Newswire about content messaging trends for 2016. During it, I asked Rebecca Lieb, one of our guest speakers and an expert on metrics that matter, what her thought was on the topic.

“Things like likes and shares are volume metrics that don’t necessarily have ROI value,” stated Rebecca. “But they can be very strong indicators to the team of what sort of content is resonating, what you need to create more of — what’s working and what isn’t.”

Rebecca continued that whereas advertising once ruled any campaign, now “companies are floating out content, effectively running it up the social and owned media flagpoles and seeing who salutes.” Content that resonates with audiences and achieves goals most effectively then gets further investment of money and turned into advertising campaigns.

“So,” continued Rebecca, “advertising content or creative becomes the last stop on this content continuum rather than the first stop, and these volume metrics can help make that determination.”

Why are companies doing this? Because it makes so much sense. Why gamble ad budget on content when you can test it first through social and owned media? Then the money you eventually spend on advertising content will be an investment rather than a gamble.

For example, let’s say you’ve launched several pieces of gated content. Logic tells us that not every piece will be a star performer, but how can you be sure you spend money wisely in promoting your content?

If you put ad spend equally on all your content, you’ll likely waste money and time. By testing all that content through your owned and social channels first, your audience can inform you about what content is likely to deliver the best ROI for your ad spend.

Try it out if you haven’t already. It is a cheap method of testing and likely to improve your ROI.

For a refresher on which metrics inform and which prove, here are two quick reference guides with some of the numbers you should monitor and report.

Content Marketing Metrics That INFORM Strategy

Content Marketing Metrics That PROVE Success


Maintaining a properly balanced approach to measurement will enable you to show your marketing’s impact, as well as grow it over time.

Download Meeting Demand: A Guide to Becoming a Data-Driven CMO for more tips on transforming your content marketing through metrics.


Author Victoria Harres is vice president, strategic communications and content at PR Newswire. Her team leads social media, PR, creative and blogging for the brand. Vicky was the original twitterer on @PRNewswire and continues to be part of that crew. If she’s not at her desk, you’ll likely find her in the garden.

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