To paraphrase the old adage, the road to content failure is paved with good intentions. Our latest study of content operations and leadership confirms that while most professionals desire to measure content effectiveness, few are empowered with a system of content intelligence to do so. In this article, we’ll share some insights we’ve gained around the measurement of content effectiveness, and how regularly evaluating content enables more successful operations.

Let’s begin with some background on the study.

About the Study

With our study on content leadership and operations, we set out to document the current state of content operations and to uncover the success factors for content departments. We conducted a survey of 80 content team members and leaders from a variety of industries to better understand what processes drive their success and what their pain points in content operations are. We followed up this survey with a series of nine interviews to gain additional context and support for our findings.

Within this study, we explored the measurement of content effectiveness in detail. We sought to learn how many companies are regularly evaluating their content effectiveness, and what tools and metrics they’re using to do so. For those companies that are not regularly evaluating their content, we wanted to understand why. Here’s what we found:

Lack of Measuring Content Effectiveness + Success

A wealth of research shows that content decisions informed by data are the most effective. Yet our study found that 62.5% of content leaders and teams do not regularly evaluate or measure content effectiveness and success.

“If we could get web analytics to report back who’s going where, how often, what they’re looking up and were they successful, that would be invaluable to us. Unfortunately, the way our IT department has set that up, it’s very restricted, very broad, and it’s almost useless.” —Survey respondent

By not collecting or analyzing data on their content, these companies risk missing out on opportunities to drive real business growth with their content. To understand why so many companies are not measuring their content’s impact, we asked several follow up questions to understand their challenges in evaluating content effectiveness.

Challenges to Measuring

When we asked survey respondents why they don’t regularly measure their content’s success, some of the most common reasons given were a lack of tools, time, or training in content measurement. Many respondents also reported that vague objectives or goals obscure what success even means for their content.

Taken together, these challenges reveal that many organizations lack a system of content intelligence to gain insight into their content’s performance. Without clear and measurable goals for your content, it is impossible to adequately measure its performance or know which tools will give you the data to do so. Without the proper tools in place, it’s impossible to empower your team members via training to understand how your content is performing. Without goal-focused data collection or the ability to analyze and interpret that data, it’s impossible to take targeted actions to improve your content’s effectiveness.

“We should be driven by data, rigorous in our approach, and have repeatable systems in place to showcase our value or content will never be respected.” —Survey respondent

To really understand why having a system of content intelligence to gain data-driven insights about content is important, we also examined the relationship between regularly evaluating content and reported success.

Measurement Correlates with Success

Participants in our study who did report regularly evaluating content effectiveness were much more likely to have achieved success with their content. These teams were more than three times as likely to report very or extremely successful content operations than teams who did not regularly evaluate their content’s success.

Additionally, we found that teams regularly evaluating their content’s success were more likely to report conditions that better positioned them for success:

* In our 2015 study What Makes Content Teams Thrive?, 72% of respondents indicated that possessing the tools, technology, resources, and organizational support to succeed was very important or critical to team success.

** In our 2015 study What Makes Content Teams Thrive?, 86% of respondents said that employing effective decision-making and problem-solving processes was very important or critical to team success.

“You should always be raising the bar for yourself. Nowadays, everything has become so data-driven, which allows us to see what’s working, what content is driving results – but the value of that data comes from what you do with it.” —Ann Marie Gray, vice president of content at Americas’​ SAP Users’​ Group (ASUG)

In short, teams that evaluate their content report both higher levels of success and factors conducive to success. This makes it obvious that measuring content effectiveness is a tremendous opportunity to improve the success of your content operations.

What This Means

Our findings clearly reveal that regular evaluations of content effectiveness and ROI help content teams build credibility, perform their jobs more efficiently, and earn recognition for their work. In short, establishing content intelligence in your organization is essential to your content’s success.

If you’re already evaluating content effectiveness, explore ways to make it more efficient and insightful. Review your content’s goals and ensure that they align with your overall business objectives. Also, make sure that your current data collection answers the questions you have about your content’s performance completely. You can use this gap analysis worksheet to assess and begin filling the gaps in your content evaluation tools.

If you’re not evaluating your content’s effectiveness, it’s worth starting to do so and not too late to catch up. Our content intelligence worksheet is a good place to start – this resource will help you form a concrete plan to evaluate your content.

Measuring your content’s impact and effectiveness is the only way to make data-driven decisions about your content. By proactively planning for content intelligence, you’re taking the first step towards a better understanding of your content and how it can help make a real impact on your business objectives.

The Authors

Andrew is the Principal Consultant, Content Intelligence + Analysis for Content Science, the award-winning content intelligence and strategy company behind ContentWRX, Content Science Review, and Content Science Academy. Andrew has worked with a wide range of organizations to define and measure content effectiveness and to empower enterprises with content intelligence. Andrew holds data and analytics certifications from leaders such as Google and the Digital Analytics Association.

Colleen Jones is the author of The Content Advantage and founder of Content Science, an end-to-end content company that turns content insight into impact. She has advised or trained hundreds of leading brands and organizations as they close the content gap in their digital transformations. A passionate entrepreneur, Colleen has led Content Science to develop the content intelligence software ContentWRX, publish the online magazine Content Science Review, and offer online certifications through Content Science Academy.

Colleen has earned recognition as a top instructor on LinkedIn Learning, one of the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Content Marketing, a Content Change Agent by Society of Technical Communication’s Intercom Magazine, and one of the Top 50 Most Influential Content Strategists by multiple organizations.

Follow Colleen on Twitter at @leenjones or on LinkedIn.

This article is about


Colleen, Andrew, I remember your past posts as well – on content effectiveness, and I often use your ‘content ROI’ posts as reference for my team and my clients.

When we talk about content effectiveness, sometimes I notice that ‘effectiveness’ means different things to different teams/people. I fully understand how ‘content goals’ should bring different teams together for their expectations and their individual goals for content – I have realized that ultimately, UX guys see content effectiveness in different light when compared to how marketers see it. If you too notice it, how do you address it?

PS: Your posts on content ROI are gold, as I referenced something in my post:

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