A teammate sort post-it notes during a metrics prioritization workshop.

Conducting a Kick-Ass Metric Prioritization Workshop

While we love conducting a great content brainstorm or launching a great new campaign, one of my favorite client exercises is a metric prioritization workshop. We facilitate these as a means to help brands decide what to care about when it comes to their data, and (perhaps more importantly) what to ignore.

Step 1: Map high-level marketing and sales objectives.

Before we dig into the detail, we start by asking our client to map their goals for marketing as a whole. What does marketing really do for their organization? How does that map to what they’d like to do?

This can include:

  • Prioritizing objectives (increased sales revenue vs. brand activity vs. audience growth).
  • Ranking target audiences.
  • Either/or scenarios. For example, would we rather have some read blog content or share the content.

Step 2: Map all that is measurable.

In this phase, we typically stick to a bunch of post-its and we begin by just creating one for every potential metric that is conceivably measurable. Then we bucket those into three key types:


All metrics that may impact the potential of the brand’s audience — those who have chosen to receive some type of communication from the band. For example:

  • Email subscribers
  • Returning website visitors
  • Social media followers


All metrics that map the audience (paid and organic) interactions with digital brand activity.  For example:

  • Facebook engagement rate
  • On page content consumption
  • Shares, comments, likes
  • Email opens


All metrics that are tied to the bottom line. For example:

  • Website conversions
  • Form fills (B2B)
  • Website revenue

It’s likely that you’ll have some debate about which metrics belong where, but at this point you will probably notice that you have more than you expected. This is where we add in two more categories:


Metrics that you want to intentionally ignore, for now at least. What things can we put off until a later date? To start, this is where you can bucket all metrics that require increased tracking sophistication that’s not yet in place.


Metrics that you do not want to measure, either because they are imperfect, or because they don’t matter all that much to your brand.

Step 3: Rank, re-rank.

Now that you’ve got your initial list of metrics for each category, it’s time to start prioritizing.

  • Start by looking for the one metric you couldn’t live without. Move it to the top.
  • Now find one you don’t think is all that relevant. Move it to the bottom.
  • Repeat.

Along the way, you’ll likely find a number of metrics that are duplicatory. Use that as an opportunity to cull the list a bit by moving some into the “never” bucket. The end goal is to drastically reduce the number of metrics you’re going to value, and thus report on. We aim to reduce each category to 5-10 key metrics. Fewer is almost always better.

Step 4: Create a reporting plan.

Once you’ve determined what to report on, it is key to spend an equal amount of time creating a plan for how you’ll get this information, when it is most valuable, and who will use it.

  • Start by outlining your audiences (leadership vs. tacticians).
  • Now outline when the data would be most valuable to each (before the marketing all-hands, prior to the executive team retreat).
  • Then look to automate. This can be done on platform, or using a tool or tools (cough, MeetBrief).


A laptop with a recipe on the screen sits on a kitchen counter.

Baby, you’ve got a stew going: a five-step recipe for highly consumable content

1. Have a clearly defined objective

Because all content does not have the same goal, it’s important to individually assign a primary objective to each piece of content to measure its specific success. In general, content objectives fall into one of three buckets:

  • Interest: Designed to drive long term relationships (email subscribers, net new fans, followers, returning website visitors)
  • Engagement: Designed to get your readers to share, comment on and fully digest the content
  • Demand: Designed to drive user action, including form fills, petition sign-ups, link clicks, responses to calls to action, total clicks to the store, visits to delivery partners, e-commerce purchases

2. Have a direct tie to your brand

Creating a clear tie to your brand within posts/articles establishes credibility no matter the type of content.

  • Name drop: Inject the brand and product names when relevant.
  • No place like home: Employ geographical references when you can.
  • Paint the picture: Choose visuals in accordance with your brand’s style.
  • Be mindful of tone: Stay true to your brand’s voice.

3. Always avoid the “wall of text”

Designate “sections” of content to allow for structured reading experiences that lead to clearer understanding and engagement.

  • Be clear: Use clear subheads and imagery to designate natural “sections.”
  • Be consistent: For example, listicle items should always be separated by numbers or divided by section.
  • Be visual: Use images to break up long stretches of text and to complement the surrounding content.
  • Be bold: Help facilitate reading comprehension with bold segments and bulleted lists.

4. Have a clear distribution plan

If you build it, they won’t necessarily come. It is important to leverage your social channels to get the word out.

  • Organic social promotion: Every article should be linked from your social channels; choose titles, descriptions and imagery that describe the content well.
  • Content discovery: Measure the quality of article from your organic/unpaid distribution, and then use the best in targeted paid campaigns.
  • Post more than once per article: For example, choose two or three listicle items within content and base the post on those items, rather than the listicle itself.
  • Inclusion on the homepage: Make sure that your latest articles get prime coverage on the most visited page of your site.
  • Inclusion in email: Email visitors are good visitors (they are opting in to hear from you!), so be sure that top content performers are included in your newsletter.

5. Continually measure success using data

It’s crucial to measure how each article performs (whether good or bad) to inform future content.

  • Tracking and tagging: Confirm all tracking and tagging is in place before launch; ensure that forms capture submit counts and that calls to action capture visitor clicks.
  • Campaign tagging: Correctly measure campaigns and social traffic; use UTM tags to measure source and medium performance across your posted articles.
  • Apples to apples: Create a plan to review similar content for performance; find what works in one article and then apply it to another.
  • Glamour metrics are poison: Focus on metrics that matter. (Ditch pageviews.)
A screen capture from the show Arrested Development.
Baby, you’ve got a stew going.


Other great resources:

Kiss Metrics: Nine Ingredients that make great content 

NewsCred: 2018’s 50 best content marketing brands


Four sets of hands, each holding a device (tablet, phone, etc.).

Annoying but necessary: a UTM story

In case you don’t already know, UTMs (Urchin Tracking Modules) are parameters that you can add to your campaign URLs; they provide additional insights on your campaign’s performance. Setting them up can be a bit of work, but it’s worth it.

Here’s why you should always add UTM tags

  • Find your best sources of traffic combined with the highest-performing content for those sources.
  • Tagging links with campaign parameters allows you to segment and analyze your traffic based on social channel, visitor type, or individual campaigns.
  • By default, all social network traffic is treated the same. Tagging links lets you differentiate social traffic from paid social traffic.
  • This segmentation allows you to optimize media spend and placement based on the quality of visit, rather than the quantity of clicks.
  • With tags, visitors can be segmented into “buckets” to differentiate between types, to ultimately find your best source of traffic.