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In our enthusiasm to measure clickthroughs, pageviews and revenues, we seldom stop to consider the cost of our Web site content.

Even if your page count is only in the hundreds, you can't add new pages simply because it's fun. So you must have a general rule of thumb for calculating the cost of creating content as well as a general rule of thumb for measuring the return on that investment.

The cost side of content can be straight forward if you identify specific costs for specific labor required to create it. You'll need to know what you're paying by the page or by the hour for the following services:

  • Writing copy
  • Proof reading copy
  • Creating graphics
  • Formatting layout
  • Maintaining the site map and/or index
  • Maintaining the site navigation system
  • Page hosting & serving
  • And the most costly of all--getting content through the approval process

How often should you update your content? It costs money to create it, and it costs to refresh it. The simplest calculation is comparing your refresh rate to visit frequency. If people come back to your site on an average of once a month and you're updating the same page twice a month, there may be some savings in your future.

If the numbers are reversed, then you are training people to stay away. They show up twice a month and see the same content every other visit. Not very engaging.

The ROI side of this coin is a bit trickier. What's the right size for a Web site?

If it's too small, it doesn't have the ability to produce the desired effect and isn't worth the expense. If it is too big, there's simply too much overhead and, again, it's not worth the expense. Lots of content means lots of people to manage it. The right size for you depends on what you're selling and how much information people need before they are willing to buy.

What's the value of a Web page? Your metrics for content fall into two broad categories: making money and saving money.

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image of Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne (jsterne@targeting.com) is the founder and director of Target Marketing (www.targeting.com), founder of the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and the founding president and current chairman of the Web Analytics Association.