digital marketing metrics

Digital Marketing Metrics: Does Your Content Generate ROI?

In our Digital Marketing Metrics series, we’ve talked about the indicators we use to measure our campaigns’ success. Categorising them into Consumption, Retention, Engagement and Sharing metrics helped us pinpoint with great precision the areas that bring results, as well as the ones that don’t.

Following next are the Operations metrics, which refer to Production and Costs, two aspects that can indicate whether the resources invested in a piece of content are worth the trouble. Each of these two categories can be furthermore broken down into several smaller indicators.

For starters, Production metrics include:

  • Time to live
  • Content throughput
  • Content backlog

While the Costs metrics refer to the following aspects:

  • Production cost per post
  • Distribution cost per post
  • Promotion cost per post

Up next we’ll discuss each of these in detail, to see how all of them fit in the bigger picture of content marketing. From a B2B perspective, marketing agencies need to have a clear image on whether the return on investment (ROI) of the content that they’re offering their clients is positive or not.

Time to Live

The time that passes from the inception of an idea to the moment it materializes into a piece of content can help you determine the velocity of the content marketing team. An editorial calendar can enable the team to keep track of this indicator, assuming that there are two columns in it, one with the date the idea was conceived and another one with the date the piece of content was published.


Content Throughput

The volume of content that’s produced and published over a period of time can be measured and centralized using online tools or CMS plugins. The Content Manager has to decide whether this metric measures the throughput of a single content writer or of the entire team, and whether the number reflects the number of content pieces or the number of words.

Content Backlog

This particular Production metric has what might seem like a very complicated formula, but once you get the hang of it, you can see whether your readers are consuming your content faster, slower, or at the same speed you’re producing it.

digital marketing metrics

Calculating this indicator implies measuring one metric against another. More precisely, you get to divide the Average Number of Days between Posts, which is a production metric, by the Average Days Since Last Visit (a retention metric).

Depending on the obtained value and if it’s smaller, greater or close to 1, the team can see whether they’re publishing content at a speed that the audience is comfortable with. Smaller values indicate that the content marketing company should focus on producing content at a greater speed, while greater values mean that the audience consumes the content faster than the team can produce it. Making adjustments and bringing this value closer to 1 will ensure that the content marketing team’s effort and the audience are perfectly aligned.

Production Cost per Post

Working with freelancers would make it easier for marketing companies to quantify how much they spend on producing the content. The invoices provide a clear image of the production costs, but there’s a different story when the content writing process is handled internally. Yet, it’s not impossible to calculate the production cost in this case. Using the time to live and the content writer’s hourly wage, marketers are able to measure this cost accurately.


Distribution Cost per Post

Even if done exclusively on free channels, content distribution implies some costs. These are usually reflected in the human resources used in the process. If we’re talking about distribution on social networks, content marketers need to keep in mind that creating status updates, publishing them and measuring their impact takes time. In this particular case, calculating the costs is done by checking the equivalent pay.

It is also possible to do free distribution via influencers that don’t charge anything for endorsing products. Even if that’s the case, content marketers will have to spend time on networking and negotiating the terms of the collaboration.

Promotion Cost per Post

This particular metric refers to the distribution of content on paid channels. Some of the promotion types that could involve high costs include PPC campaigns, industry influencers, and native advertising networks. Content marketers shouldn’t set paid promotion campaigns to run indefinitely. Instead, the costs need to be analysed continuously, and depending on whether the results are positive or negative, they need to make the necessary adjustments.


All marketing planning models out there feature a control component that’s necessary for assessing the efficiency of the campaigns. Needless to say, all performance metrics involved in campaigns need to be analysed, but marketers should also check if the content that they’re creating is worth the invested resources. All of the aforementioned metrics need to be taken into account for every campaign, and not just when these end, but all along the way.

Stay tuned for our final post in this digital marketing metrics series, where we’ll discuss Sales and Lead metrics.

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