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There is a classic saying in management: If you can't measure it, you can't manage it. Measuring content involves an understanding of knowledge and information. It involves seeing content as an asset. It involves clearly articulating the objectives you have for your content. It involves comparing how content performs against other forms of communication.

Knowledge is what you know. Knowledge helps your organization achieve its objectives. Information is the process of delivering value through the communication of knowledge. Understanding the amount of value information has delivered involves measuring what new knowledge people have acquired as a result of being informed.

Let's say you have a sales presentation for your product. Let's say that your principle objective is to make people more likely to buy your product as a result of the presentation. If after the presentation, people are no more likely to buy your product, did you inform?

Yes and no. You might have informed people that your product is too expensive, too complicated, or takes too long to implement. However, you might also have left people scratching their heads, no more the wiser about your product that before they watched the presentation.

All the time, we find people who have knowledge but can't inform. This is a major block to success for the organization. It has quality knowledge, but fails to inform professionally. To see if your organization is having difficulties here, you need to measure what knowledge your target audience feels it has acquired as a result of your information.

However, it is not enough to measure how much new knowledge your audience has acquired. The critical measure is how more likely people are to act. A simple question you could ask people after a presentation is:

How more likely are you to buy Product X after this presentation? A Lot Less Likely, Less Likely, No More Likely, More Likely, or A Lot More Likely.

There are two ways to inform. The sales presentation situation describes one of them. This is where someone directly communicates to someone else. It's about talking, waving arms, smiling--it's about human interaction.

What Are You Doing at This Very Moment? You'Re Reading.

I am attempting to inform you through content. I will only have succeeded if after reading this you feel you know something you didn't know before you began reading.

Thus, the two ways to inform are: human-to-human interaction, and content. The Web is a channel through which we inform with content. The decision to use the Web to inform should be based on the following criteria:

  • Will it deliver better knowledge?
  • Will it deliver this knowledge more efficiently?
  • Will it deliver this knowledge more cost-effectively?
  • Will it deliver this knowledge faster?

One way that you can show the value your website delivers is to compare the cost and efficiency of content against human-to-human interaction. Content tends to deliver more value under the following conditions:

  • The easier it is to turn a piece of knowledge into content
  • The more people that need to be informed
  • The more geographically dispersed these people are
  • The more quickly they need to be informed
  • The more precise and accurate the information needs to be
  • The higher the cost of human-to-human information is compared to content

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image of Gerry McGovern
Gerry McGovern ( is a content management consultant and author. His latest book is The Stranger's Long Neck: How to Deliver What Your Customers Really Want Online, which teaches unique techniques for identifying and measuring the performance of customers' top tasks.

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