Engagement or revenue? Conversion or visits?

To help answer the  above question, I’ll be taking a look at our latest report Where Content and Commerce Collide written by James Gurd and commissioned by EPiServer.

The report provides insight and recommendations for how content can be combined with ecommerce as well as examples of what ecommerce practitioners are currently doing and the role they are setting for content marketing within the overall digital strategy. 

Interviews were conducted with leading ecommerce professionals in B2B and B2C organisations, both UK and international. The aim of the interviews was to explore how leading brands are integrating content into ecommerce journeys and what the future strategy of the business looks like, with the output being qualitative data and indicative charts based on the responses of interviewees.

10 key questions were asked, including “who has ownership of your content?” “What tools do you use to help plan and deliver?” and “Do you produce content guidelines?”

These questions and more are answered in the report, but for now we’ll be looking at content marketing KPIs.

What’s the main focus for KPIs?

As you can see by the following chart, there’s an even split between revenue and engagement.

It should be noted that those that focus on engagement also see revenue as a likely by-product of providing good content. If your customers or followers are happy with your content and are sharing it across channels with a positive message, then revenue won’t be far behind if it’s linked to a relevant product.

Revenue is a goal for every ecommerce team, but there is a split in the intention behind creating content. However does this really matter if engagement eventually leads to the same outcome? These engaged customers will also be more loyal to your brand and tend to come back to you for repeat purchases.

There’s a delicate balance to get right when it comes to putting your content under the control of an editorial team. If your focus is on engagement through providing useful and entertaining content, it’s great for the consumer but the reality is that commerce still needs to dictate a certain amount of editorial control. A commerce journey needs to occur from the content for it to be a viable and worthwhile endeavour.

Here's an example from Mr Porter. This is a nice lengthy piece, full of wit and insight that would happily exist in a non-ecommerce publication.

It’s a perfect synthesis of editorial, relevance and ecommerce. There are direct links to the product pages of all the clothes that Murray has been dressed in by Mr Porter’s style director underneath each header image.

There’s also a direct link to shop all the products at once on the ‘front cover’.

The balance comes from not making content look too commercial based, and putting off potential customers.

A dilemma your ecommerce team may be facing right now is agreeing the actual criteria for success. The criteria determines your KPIs, and your KPIs will be dependent on whether you’re using content marketing purely for revenue, engagement or as a brand-building exercise.

To take an example from the report, The Wine Society’s primary focus is on member engagement, so they prioritise page views and dwell time for its KPIs. The ecommerce team then maps this back to value metrics like conversion and revenue, but the focus will always be on member satisfaction. Content is created with a focus on what its members want to read.

The four categories of KPIs

To finish, here is a list of KPIs that can be used to measure performance, split into relevant categories.

Revenue and conversion 

  • Conversion rate (basket-to-order and visit-to-order) 
  • Average order value 
  • Revenue 

As mentioned above, the Mr Porter editorial campaign worked to increase sales for products featured in its articles. 


  • Total visits 
  • Unique visitors 
  • New vs. return visits 

You can measure the total number of visits from social media from content that is posted to a respective social channel. Each post can have campaign tracking parameters added to its URL, so the impact of social links can be measured using analytics tools. 


  • Dwell time (time on site) 
  • Pages per visit 
  • Bounce rate 
  • Social shares 
  • Comments and ‘likes’ (including ‘favouriting’ individual content assets) 
  • Product reviews 
  • Banner click-through rate 

Only four of the companies we spoke to mentioned using customer reviews as a KPI for content marketing. However product reviews are proven to increase conversion rates as they provide social proof to amplify brand messaging.


  • Visits to store (hard to track accurately) 
  • In-store purchases 
  • In-store content usage (e.g. scanning a QR code for a product to watch a video) 
  • Call tracking 

Unfortunately the integration of online and offline data was cited as a key barrier for building the single customer view and understanding the full impact of content marketing. 

For much more on content marketing KPIs and to understand content marketing inside and out, download our full report Where Content and Commerce Collide.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 15 July, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

686 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (2)



Nice article!! This graph is very helpful for understanding revenue and engagement.

about 4 years ago

Paul North

Paul North, Head of Content and Strategy at Mediarun

I'm surprised links weren't included in these KPIs. Are SEO teams kept separate from the content teams in these organisations? I've certainly encountered that where SEO teams produce their own "SEO content" for links, separate from the main content team.

To me, this doesn't make sense. Good content should drive links as well as all the above. In fact, that's the ultimate measure - whether people like it so much they recommend it to the readers of their own websites.

about 4 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.