Content teams

20+ Metrics Content Managers Actually Need to Measure Performance

As a content & social manager for over a decade, I constantly focused on the creative side of things—often the nice-to-haves—because I enjoyed them. This meant I shied away from the “boring stuff”, the frogs of marketing: numbers, spreadsheets, and the data that directors and investors care about the most.

It can be so easy for content managers to lose track of the bigger picture, by focusing on the joy they get from creativity. And, while that is important for innovation, it shouldn’t come at the expense of performance.

With dslx, I’ve had to keep an eye on impact. For our clients and for ourselves. 

Especially in today’s economy, C-suites and investors are looking at the numbers more than ever. If you lose sight of those, you lose your seat at the table. It’s as simple as that.

Having rocked on both sides of the seesaw, I get it. Balancing the qualitative alongside the quantitative is enough to make most fall off the ride. However, it is possible to maintain your creativity while staying objective. I want to share how to do that with you in this article. 

Here are 20 metrics to track your content’s performance—ones we now use in Impact Reports for our SEO clients at dslx. 

Content marketing metrics fall into four major categories:

  • Conversion
  • Engagement
  • SEO Impact
  • User behavior

Those key marketing metrics categories are just the tip of the iceberg. Hold onto your masks; we’re diving deep.

Metrics for measuring conversion

Many content marketing manager’s key performance indicators are aimed at converting readers to paying customers. The following metrics will help you and your marketing team measure how your content strategy is advancing that purpose.

1. Goal value

Goal value is the monetary worth of content marketing actions like subscriptions, downloads, or signups. 

For instance, the goal value of a $20 product sale is $20. But, some actions, like subscribing to a newsletter, have no clear monetary value. Nonetheless, you can assign value to them. 

A good way to do this is to take the cost of the product someone will buy at the end of the journey you’ve put them into. Let’s say it’s a cheatsheet for $20. 

Then, figure out how many steps are in the journey to purchase: 

Social media > newsletter sign-up > newsletter open > purchase 

Now divide the cost of the product by the number of steps: 

20 / 4 = $5 

Giving each step a value of $5. 

If your content is able to get someone to directly sign up to a newsletter, that’s step number two. So, you add up that and previous steps. Giving your efforts a value of $10. 

2. Page value

A page’s value is a measure of its importance to a website’s revenue goals. It’s the average valuation of the page a user visits before landing on a goal page, completing an e-commerce transaction, or both. Basically building to sales qualified leads.

Let’s use the earlier-mentioned $20 product purchase as an example. The page values of other pages on that website are determined by measuring which pages a user visits before landing on the product page. 

And no, it isn’t the same as the goal value! 

Goal value represents the financial valuation of activities that contribute to business success. 

Page value, on the other hand, is the estimated worth of the content pages contributing to that goal. 

Both of these metrics track and measure the profitability of your content marketing efforts. So, describing your progress using them helps articulate your efforts in terms that resonate with those that are gatekeeping your budget. 

3. Conversion rate

The conversion rate quantifies the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy in moving someone down and through the your marketing funnel. It is the percentage of readers who complete your desired actions relative to the total number of viewers. 

For instance, if only 250 out of a possible 500 viewers book a consultation, your conversion rate is 50%. You can calculate it using the formula below.  

Conversion Rate = (Total Number of Conversions/ Total Number of Interactions) X 100

4. Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) conversion rate

Sometimes, content marketing channels alone can’t trigger the sale. This is typically the case with higher-ticket purchases (purchases above $100). In these cases, marketing teams need to convert Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) to SQLs for the sale team. 

Here’s why: 

Most customers don’t make purchases the first time they encounter a product. They go through three major stages—awareness, consideration, and decision—before making that final buy.

You’ll need to structure your content strategy in a way that converts people from MQLs to SQLs. 

Psst. SQLs are leads that have been researched and vetted to have met an organization’s lead qualification criteria

These criteria differ across organizations. However, both the marketing and sales team need to collaborate to determine what qualifies someone as an SQL. Common qualities that can be used as defining parameters include:

  • Knowledge about pricing
  • Knowledge about product features
  • Someone's readiness to buy 

Once both teams agree, you can focus on the conversion. Doing this nudges a reader further down the conversion pipeline and closer to a sale. Measure how well your efforts are advancing this purpose using the SQL conversion rate formula below. 

SQL Conversion Rate = (Total Number of SQLs/ Total Number of MQLs) X 100

5. Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) 

Conversions are great. But at what cost are they coming? 

Many businesses today, especially bootstrapped startups, are operating on tighter budgets in an all-time-high cost market. They’re trying to get more done with fewer resources, and unfortunately that applies to content marketing, too. 

You’ll need to deliver results with limited resources—every penny counts!

The CPA helps you measure the cost implications of your content marketing efforts. It’s how much it costs to convert someone you’ve reached to a paying customer via your content marketing roadmap. It can be estimated by dividing the total content marketing spend by the total number of acquisitions. 

Cost Per Acquisition = Total Content Marketing Spend/Total Number of Acquisitions

Reporting on this metric not only helps you speak the language of MDs and Investors but also helps you stay mindful of the business’s bottom line. I highly recommend it!

6. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

While we’ve got money on the mind, Customer Lifetime Value is a vital metric that measures a customer’s cash worth to a business over their entire lifecycle. It clearly highlights audience segments that deserve the most focus.

Your content can help increase peoples’ spending or their lifetime with your business. This comes down to your bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) content and in-app self-serve content for existing customers.

Marketing metrics for measuring engagement

Engagement! A social media manager's dream and a content writer's untrackable goal. No one clicks the share button on a blog post anymore, commenting on posts got buried with MySpace, so how on earth do you measure it? 

Here are some metrics for measuring your audience’s engagement levels using the tech you likely have access to.  

7. Average time on page (engagement time)

Average engagement time is how long an active visitor focuses on your website pages. It’s a no-nonsense metric that tells you if the target audience loves your content—or not. Spending more time on your website shows they're interested in the content, and vice versa. 

But don’t be too quick to assume. Many factors, besides content quality, could contribute to the average engagement time. 

For example, the website’s load time—a metric measuring the time it takes for a website to become interactive and responsive—can impact user experience. If it's too slow, visitors will exit—yet this negative could be meddling with your marketing metrics.

Try product experience tools like Hotjar to better understand what’s happening on your site and avoid mix-ups like this. The tool’s heatmap feature gives you a visual description of the most and least active areas of your page so that you can see things from the visitor’s point of view. 

8. Click-through Rate (CTR)

The click-through rate focuses on a link’s performance compared to the content. It measures the link’s relative amount of clicks compared to its total number of views. As such, a high CTR indicates the audience's interest in the page’s headline, title, or meta description.

Combining it with metrics like engagement time helps you identify areas needing improvement. For instance, a page with a high CTR and a low engagement time (or high bounce rate) is likely to have an eye-catching title and meta description but low-quality content or user experience.

Thus, tracking this metric helps to estimate content performance in search engines. 

Now, this is something that’s changing as AI search comes into play. Following the opening of Google’s Search Labs Section in May 2023, there are clear indications that organic search will be experiencing major shake-ups in the coming months. 

The number of no-click searches has been rising for some time now. Search engine features like Google’s featured snippets help users gather desired information directly from search engine results pages (SERPs) without clicking on a link. At the same time, plugged in AI agents are delivering first-page results verbally, not a click in sight. 

Consequently, marketing metrics like CTR are gradually losing relevance. Generative AI search features like Google’s AI Overviews and Bing’s Co-pilot offer users a more interactive and iterative search experience by providing evaluative content that is often richer in responses to the searcher’s query directly into the search results. 

So, there are strong tendencies that CTRs might be a thing of the past, and it wouldn’t be indicative of poorly-written content. Nonetheless, monitoring it helps you identify what really works. 

Psst. We’re working with this in mind at dslx by building brands over blogs. We want a reader to search for your brand name over a query, knowing that you’re the go-to on that topic, and that they enjoy reading your work. 

9. Follower or subscriber growth 

A brand’s follower/subscriber growth gives a holistic view of its appeal to its target audience. 

Although clicking on the follow/subscribe button has become effortless, those actions still mean a lot. They show that someone trusts you to supply them with the information they need. 

So, what percentage of your target audience trusts you? How good of a job are you doing in building that trust?

10. Average engagement rate 

Your content’s average engagement rate is one vital metric that quantitatively answers the questions above. 

Let’s face it; there’s no point in having a high follower or subscriber count if they don’t engage with your content. After all, the main reason for growing this follower or subscriber count in the first place is to get people interested in what you have to offer. 

So, how do you measure your average engagement rate? 

Google defines the average engagement rate as the percentage of engaged sessions on your website or mobile app. It further describes an engaged session as a session satisfying the following criteria: 

  • It lasts for more than 10 seconds
  • Involves a key event 
  • Involves at least two page views

Let’s unpack all that.

Every visit to your web page counts as a session. 

However, when visitors do more than just visit your web page by either staying for more than ten seconds, performing an action that’s important to your business (key event), or viewing another page, that session becomes an engaged session

Now, key events vary across businesses—for instance, a SaaS business looking to get more product demos—needs readers to click on the “book a demo” CTA. This makes the click action a key event. 

Following this logic, you can calculate your average engagement rate using the formula below:

Average engagement rate = (Total Number of Engaged  Sessions/Total Number of Sessions) X 100 

11. Bounce rate 

The bounce rate is the direct opposite of the engagement rate. It’s the percentage of “disengaged sessions” OR visitors who “bounce” off a web page without visiting any other page or performing a key event.

If your website page serves on what a reader expected (going on the info they had in SERPs or another channel) then people wouldn’t bounce away. A high bounce rate indicates that the content is either irrelevant, or you’ve got an awful load speed and one too many frustrated visitors.

So, if you’re trying to figure out if your content strategy is effective or if your website user experience is awesome, the bounce rate can point you in the right direction, and Google analytics can help you with this.

12. Scroll depth

After publishing this piece, one of the right marketing metrics I’ll be focusing on is the scroll depth.


I want to know how much of the entire piece you actually read because it’s pretty long to be fair. 

Scroll depth is the percentage of a web page that visitors view. It tells you how much further down the page your visitors are scrolling. Scroll depth, engagement time, and bounce rate help you understand user engagement patterns and subject reader fit (SRF - yes, I just made that up). Yet, scroll depth alone doesn’t always indicate a high engagement. 

Here’s an example: 

Visitors scrolling to the bottom of the page may suggest that the content on that page captures attention, wouldn’t it? 

What if such a page has a short engagement time? 

Now, that changes the narrative, doesn’t it? 

This suggests that the visitors are not actually interacting with the content. 

Instead, they may be looking to navigate your site map: perhaps they’re looking for your career page or something else that’s not in your top menu.

Understanding these patterns can deliver plenty of insights for conversion rate optimization. For example, the average scroll depth of a page might give you an idea of the optimal position for a CTA. Or, if people are scrolling to the bottom of the page for something in the footer, consider shifting a nav to it earlier on for a smoother UX. 

Marketing metrics for measuring SEO impact

As a content manager, search engines impact your approach and outcomes to a large extent. This is especially true when you’re focused on cost-effectiveness of your campaigns and your customer acquisition cost. 

I mean, with the right strategies, SEO can benefit your company in multiple ways.

To maintain objectivity through it all, the following metrics can help you measure content performance in search engines.

13. Non-branded, organic search traffic

A search engine's goal is to serve the most relevant content to searchers. Your goal is for your content to be “that page.” 

Organic search traffic measures how close you are to that goal. 

It is the total number of visits your website receives through natural, non-paid, non-branded search engine results. These are purely visitors who naturally seek out your content because it is exactly what they want. And, if you can get across to many of them, your sales and conversion processes just got way easier. 

Keep an eye on your organic search traffic. That’s where the juice is! 

14. Backlinks

Imagine if someone like Deborah Meaden said your brand’s product was the best for a particular problem. What do you think that does to your business? That’s exactly what backlinks mean to your website. 

Backlinks are links from other websites directed towards a particular website. Linking to a website confers authority on it as a thought or topic leader, just like Doborah’s endorsement.

Measuring this metric tells you how relevant visitors and other websites consider the content on your website. I guess, in some way, it’s how you can tell if your content is “the shit” or “shit.”

It plays a large role in your SEO performance strategy, too.

15. Keyword rankings

Remember how your goal is for your page to be “that page”? Well, your keyword rankings tell you how close you are to achieving the goal.

It reflects how well your website content aligns with the search queries and the searcher’s intent. So, you must structure your content to ensure that search engines consider them most relevant to the audience.

Your target keyword ranking is your website’s position on search engine result pages. Tracking this metric helps you know if your content is visible to your target audience on SERPs.

We did a great job on this with Ambl, and managed to get them 450+ ranking keywords, many holding a first place position in Google SERPs in just six months.

📝 Ready Ambl’s full case study here. 📝

16. Impressions

Impressions measure the number of potential customers who see a piece of your content. They can even be from SERPs. However, they are more commonly associated with advertising content and social media platforms. 

Tracking this metric is crucial to understanding the impact of your content marketing campaigns because one of their main goals is to create awareness and get in the faces of as many relevant people as possible. 

By measuring impressions, you’re actively quantifying the number of potential customers who have seen your content. This also helps determine the breadth of brand reach and overall brand sentiment.  

17. Traffic sources

Now, many content managers get caught up with the need to increase their impressions, especially when they’re still actively trying to create brand awareness. 

But, taking a step back to examine their existing traffic sources can prove very insightful for your overall content strategy. 

Here’s why:

Firstly, you get to identify where your target audience is most active so that you know which areas to focus on. Also, you get to spot emerging trends early so that you can optimize your strategy accordingly. 

For example, when Pinterest started driving referral traffic in 2012, it was a clear indication that customers who were prepared to make purchases often turned to the platform for inspiration. 

Businesses should capitalize on that by optimizing their content accordingly. Monitoring your traffic sources also helps you spot algorithm changes and effectively monitor split testing results. 

The most common traffic sources you need to track include social media, organic search, and referrals. 

However, knowing these traffic sources isn’t enough. Go one step further to gather intricate details about each channel and the behavioral patterns of their respective users. 

The marketing metrics discussed in the next session will help you do that. 

Metrics for measuring user behavior

User behavior metrics are quantitative data points that help you visualize user actions and behavioral patterns. The following are the most important ones:

18. Unique Visitors 

A website’s unique visitors literally means each person who has landed on that website. This metric differs from views in that it doesn’t take into account the time spent by each user. Instead, it solely focuses on the number of individuals. 

This focus makes it a good indicator of your audience size. When you combine this with the traffic sources, you can see how large your audience is across different channels. 

19. Sessions

On the other hand, sessions take into account the number of visits your website receives regardless of the users responsible. 

So, if the same user visits your website ten times, it counts as one user and 10 sessions. It helps you estimate your content’s ability to keep viewers coming back. Once again, combining this with traffic sources and unique visitors helps you see which channels drive more people and engagements to your web pages. 

And, no, they aren’t necessarily the same. You might be getting more unique visitors from organic search yet have more sessions from social media channels. 

There’s so much insight to glean from these details, really. Try to read in between the lines. 

20. Brand mentions

Understanding where your brand is mentioned and in what context tells you how much exposure you’re getting and how best to align your brand to take advantage of that narrative.

Brand mentions are an effective metric for this. 

They refer to all online references to your brand, website, social media page, or business as a whole. Any mention of your brand on social media, blogs, forums, news articles, or other media outlets counts as a brand mention, and you should monitor this to get a sense of how well you’re capturing the audience’s attention. 

Measuring Content ROI (CROI)

Tracking all these marketing metrics is a daunting task—I know. 

But, at the end of it all, your content needs to be getting returns, and you need to be able to showcase that. Remember, we’re trying to balance creativity and objectiveness, and CROI is a vital metric that brings both together. 

The Content Return on Investment (CROI) measures your brand's revenue relative to the budget spent over a specified period. 

You can estimate your CROI using the formula below: 

[(Returns - Investment)  / [Investment] X 100

However, you’re not just going to hand that formula or the gotten percentage to your MD or any other C-suite executive. Instead, you want to articulate your overarching marketing goals clearly so that everyone knows the KPIs that signify success. That clarity helps you identify the most relevant marketing metrics to prioritize. Your data always needs an element of storytelling to bring those numbers to life.

Assuming the overarching goal here is content-generated revenue, metrics like conversion rate, SQL conversion rate, and customer lifetime value will take precedence because they relate directly to leads, sales, and revenue.  

Next, you want to gather the chosen data from various sources, consolidate it within set timeframes, and visualize it clearly and compellingly. Yes, I’m hinting at the charts and graphs that many of us shun. 

But, we need them. 

We need pie charts to visualize our traffic sources by devices or channels easily and bar graphs to indicate how conversion rates increase or decrease over a specific duration. 

The point here is to stay ahead by monitoring your progress and impact as you tweak your content strategy. 

As a content manager, you’re in the people business. And if there’s anything you need to know about people, it's that they are multifaceted. 

Yet, they must be central to your processes. So, monitor the progress at regular intervals and update stakeholders as you notice changes. 

That’s how you determine the correct next steps. That’s how you make a case for further content resources from executives. That’s how you stay ahead. 

You’re in control.

Wrapping up on content marketing metrics 


I totally understand if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment.

Tracking 20 marketing metrics might seem like a lot, and frankly, there may be more metrics to track. But the whole point of this is to know what works with your audience so you can focus on that and ditch what doesn’t.

That’s how you ensure that you’re not just churning out content because you think it reads nice. Rather, you’re ensuring that the audience’s actions are guiding your strategy so that you minimize resources, maximize results, and keep your readers happy. 

But, if you’ve got too much on your plate to handle all these, you’re in luck because that’s what we do at dslx, and so far, it’s been great.

We start behind the scenes by conducting comprehensive technical audits to identify your website’s technical issues. We then go the extra mile to create valuable content for your audience through careful competitor research, keyword analysis, on-page optimization, and comprehensive content strategies. 

After implementing a content strategy, we monitor these marketing metrics to monitor our clients' progress, report on them regularly, and expand the budget for buy-in to expand your content scope. Everyone’s happy. 

You should book a quick 30-minute call today to learn more about our complete content and SEO management services if all that sounds like what you need. Your audience will be in for a treat. 

Stay on your toes, you’ve got this!

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