Is your company blog, content marketing hub, thought leadership, storytelling experience, digital magazine, or similar content effort successful? Many of us either face that question now or will face it soon. How do you answer it?

There is a long answer and a short answer. The long answer involves setting up a system of content intelligence to glean useful insights. I talk more about that in this guide. In this article, I’m providing a short answer. If you had to pick only key success indicators for your company blog or similar content, what should they be? I would pick what I call the 3 Ss of content success.

Before I walk through them, though, let’s remember context.

The Context: Purpose and Positioning

For this type of content, the purpose is usually some variation of attracting, engaging, and educating potential customers. Often a secondary purpose is to nurture existing customers. It’s important for your stakeholders to understand that people usually encounter this content early in their journey toward a sale (or similar conversion).

So, you need a mix of indicators that reflect whether your content is successful in achieving its purpose at its position in the customer journey. I suggest picking Subscribers, Sentiment, and Sales.

Key Indicator 1: Subscribers

If people subscribe to or register for  your content, they really dig it. Subscribing for the latest and greatest content you offer means they find your content so valuable or entertaining they want it regularly. Growing your subscribers is a very, very good sign that your content is attracting and engaging people.

As you grow your subscribers, you can gain many more insights about your content’s success. For example, you can start to answer questions like these:

  • Are we attracting the right kind of potential customers?
  • Are we attracting people we did not expect? Is this an opportunity?
  • Who is most engaged with our content and why?

Key Indicator 2: Sentiment

A BIG job for this content is to influence people’s perceptions. You might want to influence how people view

  • Your expertise and capability.
  • Your willingness to help solve problems, overcome challenges, or add value.
  • Your brand characteristics or personality.
  • Your company values or culture.

And I’m just scratching the surface. While a variety of data can help you understand your impact on perception, if you had to pick one indicator to pay attention to, I’d pay attention to sentiment toward your content and toward your company. The more positive the sentiment among your ideal potential customers, the more likely your content is influencing their perceptions successfully.

How do you arrive at sentiment? Consider your social monitoring, voice of customer, and content evaluation tools as sources of data to mine. While setting up a sentiment indicator might take some effort in the short term, it will pay off with capturing one of the most valuable benefits of this content for the long term. Content Science offers a free whitepaper with a worksheet to help you do a gap analysis of your data and tools.

Key Indicator 3: Sales

You do need to understand the impact of your company blog or similar content on sales (or a comparable conversion, such as applying to a program, applying for a job, becoming a member, making an inquiry, etc.), but not until the content has had an opportunity to work. That doesn’t happen overnight. It usually takes 12-24 months, depending on your business and industry. So, after 12-24 months, look closely at this third indicator of sales to understand your content’s success.

How do you bring in the sales factor? You need to add your company blog or content marketing hub to your sales attribution model and reflect that model in your web analytics tool. A simple way to do that is to set your blog or hub as a custom variable that gets credit when the sale or a key conversion related to a sale happens. Here is an example from Google Analytics of the insight you can gain.

example blog attribution

Even though you don’t want to consider the sales indicator until after 12-24 months, set up your analytics to attribute your blog or content marketing hub to conversions from the beginning. Otherwise your content won’t get credit for the hard work it does to support the customer journey. (Yet another reason to plan your approach to content intelligence early, not bring it in as an afterthought.)

Beyond Past Success: More Insight to Predict + Prescribe Success

The 3 Ss of success above will help you understand whether your company blog or content marketing hub was successful. But, a system of content intelligence can help you understand more in depth why the content was (or was not) successful and, consequently, develop lessons learned to make you more successful in the future. For a brief introduction to content intelligence, check out this overview.

To your content success!

The Author

Colleen Jones is the author of The Content Advantage and founder of Content Science, a content intelligence and strategy firm that has advised or trained hundreds of the world’s leading organizations since 2010. She also is the former head of content at MailChimp, the marketing platform recognized by Inc. as 2017 Company of the Year. 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 an instructor on LinkedIn Learning, one of the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Content Marketing by a TopRank study, 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.

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