Measurement is a fundamental contributing factor of productivity and overall operational maturity for creative and marketing operations teams. It allows you to understand where you currently stand relative to your goals and gives you a realistic perspective on where you may be excelling and where you may be falling short.

But before you begin any form of measurement, it's essential to have clear, well-defined goals in place. Goals provide a direction and a purpose for your actions. They inform you what you're striving to achieve, which in turn guides what you need to measure. Without clear goals, you risk measuring the wrong things, leading to irrelevant data and misinformed decision-making. Your goals act as a compass, pointing your measurement efforts in the right direction.

I’m sure most of you have heard of the SMART framework which is a wonderful strategy for defining your goals and is widely used in project management, performance management, and personal development. By making sure your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound), you increase your chances of achieving them. 

It’s interesting to explore how the SMART framework can be applied to the context of goal setting for an enterprise In-House Creative Agency. Extending that further, how could the SMART framework apply across the stages of the content creation process (eg. Planning, Production, Delivery, and Analysis) to enhance the effectiveness and impact of content strategy in achieving your overall business objectives?

The following table provides context into how to begin thinking of the goals you want to set for each phase of the content creation process by leveraging the SMART framework:

PLANNING Determine the exact content requirements based on client briefs or internal brand objectives. These could range from a specific campaign design to a comprehensive brand strategy. Establish how you will measure the effectiveness of the planning process. For instance, the number of viable creative concepts produced, or the degree of alignment between the planned content and the brand objectives. Set attainable goals that can realistically be accomplished with the resources available to the in-house team, considering time, budget, and skillset. Ensure the plan aligns with both the broader business strategy and the specific needs of the brand or campaign. Set clear timelines for planning completion to maintain momentum and meet project or campaign deadlines
PRODUCTION Clearly outline the assets to be produced, considering the specific requirements of each platform or medium (print, digital, social, etc.). Monitor the efficiency of the production process by tracking the number of assets produced, time taken for production, and adherence to brand guidelines. Set realistic production targets, considering the complexity of the creative assets and the capabilities of the team All content created should reflect the strategy outlined in the planning phase and align with the brand identity. Set specific deadlines for each stage of production to ensure timely delivery of the final assets
DELIVERY Determine the distribution strategy, which channels to use, and the target audience for each Track the success of the delivery phase through engagement metrics like open rates, CTRs, impressions, or shares Set achievable targets for audience reach and engagement, based on historical data and industry benchmarks. The chosen delivery methods should align with the brand’s target audience preferences and behaviors. Establish a timeline for distribution, as well as when you expect to start seeing results from the delivery efforts.
ANALYSIS Define the key performance indicators that reflect the objectives of the content strategy, such as brand awareness, lead generation, or conversions Use analytics tools to track performance against these KPIs and gather data for future optimization. Goals should be ambitious, yet based on realistic expectations from past performance and industry standards. All metrics and analysis should tie back to the overall brand and business goals, providing actionable insights. Set specific time frames for conducting the analysis and reviewing the outcomes.


Using this framework, let’s break this down further and identify example goals for each phase, while also considering how prioritization and tiering influence goal setting. With that in place, we’ll then discuss which specific metrics to focus on when attempting to measure progress towards goals set within each phase.


The planning stage of the creative process involves brainstorming ideas, setting objectives, and crafting a comprehensive creative strategy. To ensure effective measurement during this stage, we need to set clear, quantifiable goals that align with broader business objectives. These can include brand awareness, conversion rates, or customer engagement metrics, to name a few.

As the strategy takes shape, keep track of the resources involved, such as the time spent on brainstorming sessions, number of ideas generated, and the cost of research. These metrics will help establish benchmarks, and over time, identify opportunities for optimization and efficiency gains.

Examples of goals within the Planning phase aligning to the SMART framework:

  • Specific: Develop a comprehensive content strategy for the Q3 product launch.

  • Measurable: Produce at least three viable creative concepts that align with the brand's new positioning.

  • Achievable: Complete the content calendar for the next two months, considering the available resources and time.

  • Relevant: All content ideas generated should align with the company's rebranding initiative.

  • Time-bound: Finalize the content strategy and calendar by the end of the month.

The impact of Tiering and Prioritization on Goal Setting during the Planning Phase

During the planning phase, prioritization can be used to decide which projects or campaigns to take on first based on factors such as their potential impact, strategic importance, or urgency. Tiering can also be used to allocate resources or time appropriately.

  • (example): All high-priority initiatives should have a comprehensive plan complete with timelines and resource allocation within a week of being initiated.

How should goals within the Planning phase be measured?

Goals during this phase can be measured by evaluating the quality and quantity of ideas generated, their alignment with brand objectives, and their potential to meet defined business goals. Key measures might include:

  • Number of viable concepts developed per campaign or project.

  • Time spent on research and brainstorming.

  • Degree of alignment between proposed content and brand guidelines or objectives, which could be assessed qualitatively through peer or stakeholder review.

Additional considerations on how tiering and prioritization impact measurement against the Planning phase:

Track the success rate of completing plans on time for each tier of priority. Also, assess the degree of alignment between planned initiatives and overall strategic objectives.


During the production phase, your team transforms creative ideas into tangible content pieces. Here, the measurement focus should be on operational efficiency, quality, and resource allocation.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) might include the number of content pieces created, time taken from concept to completion, cost per asset, and resource utilization rates. Moreover, feedback loops and quality assurance metrics can provide insights into the creative quality, assisting in continuous improvement.

Examples of goals within the Production phase aligning to the SMART framework:

  • Specific: Produce 20 blog posts, 10 infographics, and 5 videos for the upcoming campaign.

  • Measurable: Reduce production time by 15% compared to the previous quarter.

  • Achievable: Maintain a revision rate of no more than two rounds per content piece.

  • Relevant: All assets created must follow the new brand guidelines.

  • Time-bound: Complete all content production two weeks before the campaign launch date.

The impact of Tiering and Prioritization on Goal Setting during the Production Phase

The production phase is where the actual creation of content takes place, and it's crucial to manage resources, maintain quality, and enhance efficiency.

Complete high-priority tasks first. Aim to improve efficiency within each tier of production. Maintain or even reduce the number of revisions required within each tier, indicating high-quality work at the outset.

How should goals within the Production phase be measured?

Production phase goals typically revolve around operational efficiency and output quality. Key measures might include:

  • The number of assets or content pieces created within the stipulated timeline.

  • Adherence to quality standards, which could be evaluated using quality checklists or through peer review.

  • Time taken from the start of production to the completion of the final asset, to gauge efficiency.

  • Total production cost per asset, helping monitor budget adherence.

Additional considerations on how tiering and prioritization impact measurement against the Production phase:

Monitor the percentage of high-priority tasks completed on time. Measure the planned versus actual time taken to complete tasks in each tier. Keep a check on the revision rate for tasks at each priority level. Track resource utilization rates across different priority tiers.


In the delivery phase, the produced creative assets are distributed across various channels to reach the target audience. Here, the measurement strategy should focus on distribution efficiency, audience reach and engagement.

Use metrics such as delivery times, delivery success rates, channel-specific reach, engagement rates (clicks, shares, likes, comments), and dwell time. Also, consider channel-specific metrics like email open rates for email marketing or viewability rates for display ads.

Examples of goals within the Delivery phase aligning to the SMART framework:

  • Specific: Distribute the campaign content across the company's email list, blog, YouTube channel and social media platforms.

  • Measurable: Achieve an email open rate of 25% and a click-through rate of 5%.

  • Achievable: Increase social media shares of our content by 20% compared to the previous campaign.

  • Relevant: The content delivery should reach our target demographic of women aged 25-35.

  • Time-bound: Gain 10,000 views on the blog and 5,000 views on YouTube within a month of the campaign launch.

The impact of Tiering and Prioritization on Goal Setting during the Delivery Phase

During the delivery phase, some content pieces are more crucial than others and are prioritized accordingly.

Develop a distribution strategy that gives priority to key pieces of content. For instance, all top-tier content should be distributed across all chosen channels within 24 hours of being ready.

How should goals within the Delivery phase be measured?

During the delivery phase, the goal is to effectively distribute the content to the right audience at the right time. 

Key measures could include:

  • Delivery success rate, to determine how well your content was delivered across chosen channels.

  • Engagement metrics such as click-through rates, views, shares, or likes, to gauge audience interaction with your content.

  • Audience reach, measured by the number of unique viewers or visitors across different channels.

  • Time to audience engagement, to understand how quickly your audience engages with the delivered content.

Additional considerations on how tiering and prioritization impact measurement against the Delivery phase:

Measure the success of content delivery based on priority tiers. Metrics could include reach, views, click-through rates, etc., for each tier.


The analysis phase entails evaluating the impact and performance of your creative assets. It's where the rubber meets the road in terms of seeing how your creative operations influence your business goals.

Look at both macro-level KPIs (like ROI, conversion rates, and customer lifetime value) and micro-level metrics (like engagement and recall). Analyze these metrics in the context of your initial objectives set during the planning phase.

Here, you can leverage advanced data analytics and AI tools to dive deep into the data and uncover patterns and insights that may not be apparent from a surface-level analysis.

Examples of goals within the Analysis phase aligning to the SMART framework:

  • Specific: Assess the impact of the Q3 product launch campaign on brand awareness and sales.

  • Measurable: Achieve a 15% increase in brand recognition as measured by a post-campaign survey.

  • Achievable: Increase website traffic by 10% and conversion rate by 2% compared to the previous quarter.

  • Relevant: The metrics analyzed should correlate directly with the objectives of the product launch campaign.

  • Time-bound: Compile and present an analysis report within two weeks after the campaign ends.

The impact of Tiering and Prioritization on Goal Setting during the Analysis Phase


  • High-priority metrics (such as conversions for a sales-focused campaign) should be analyzed and reported within 48 hours after the campaign ends.

How should goals within the Analysis phase be measured?

The analysis phase is all about evaluating performance against the business goals set at the beginning. 

Some key measures may include:

  • Engagement metrics such as time spent on page, bounce rate, or conversion rate, to gauge how effectively the content resonated with the audience.

  • ROI of the content created, calculated by comparing the costs involved in content creation and delivery with the value derived, such as increased sales or leads generated.

  • Changes in brand recognition or sentiment, which could be assessed through surveys, social listening tools, or brand awareness studies.

  • Rate of goal completion or goal conversion rate, measuring the percentage of viewers who complete the desired action, such as making a purchase, filling a form or signing up for a newsletter.

Additional considerations on how tiering and prioritization impact measurement against the Analysis phase:

In the analysis phase, certain metrics should be prioritized over others based on their potential impact on the brand's business goals or strategic objectives. Evaluate the timeliness and completeness of high-priority metric analysis. Are they reported in time, and are all relevant data points being covered?

Wrapping Up

Utilizing smart measurement throughout the creative operations process enables brands to gain a granular understanding of their in-house agency's performance. It allows for more targeted improvements, boosts efficiency, and ultimately, enhances the quality and effectiveness of your creative assets.

By making measurement an integral part of every phase – from ideation to execution – you ensure that your creative operations are always aligned with your business goals, optimized for performance and prepared to deliver tangible results that drive your brand forward.

Remember, measurement isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. The key is to choose the metrics that best align with your brand’s unique objectives, and consistently use them to inform your decision-making process, providing your brand with a competitive edge in the marketplace.