There’s a less than elegant, yet apropos, expression that perfectly sums up how too many marketers approach content creation: “If you throw enough s**t against the wall, something is bound to stick.”
It’s easy to succumb to the lure of more. In their never-ending quest for more eyeballs, shares, leads and, ultimately, conversions, many marketers flood their customers and prospects with more content. The thinking, of course, is that the more you put out there, the more likely you are to attract attention. But frequency isn’t worth much if the content is mediocre—or worse.
The “Quality vs. Quantity” conundrum confounds even savvy marketers. More isn’t necessarily better, as evidenced by a content evaluation conducted by marketing software firm Acrolinx, which found that 69 percent of the content produced by 340 global brands failed to pass the litmus test for quality.
Feeding the beast (junk food)
This waste of time and money is both careless and foolish, given the proliferation of channels that consumers now frequent. It takes deep, deep pockets to keep up with the perceived demand for more, better, useful and relevant content that does the job of informing without applying a heavy commercial hand.
And then there’s this simple fact: There’s already far more content online than anyone can possibly consume. (Don’t believe me? Internet Live Stats will blow your mind.) Imagine what the web will look like in another five years, let alone 10!
Sure, some of this content might “stick.” But today’s information-overloaded audiences are developing their own markers to discern what’s truly worth their time and attention. For instance, they tend to favor sources—be they individuals, brands or organizations—that they feel they can trust. The challenge for those sources deemed trustworthy is finding ways to leverage that power via content that passes quality standards (a.k.a., the “sniff test”).
It’s easy to understand how marketers got caught up in the feeding frenzy. To a significant extent, they lost sight of their audiences and the thoughtful content marketing strategies that draw those audiences in and keep them coming back—all without overwhelming them. Too many marketers, unfortunately, have substituted sound long-term strategy for shorter-term goals in the endless pursuit of more.
Consider, for example, the drive to achieve high rankings in search engine results. When websites essentially functioned as brands’ online “brochures,” companies stuffed their sites with keywords in an initially successful bid to land at the top of search results.
With that having worked so well, marketers tried the same tactic with their content. More content equaled more keywords equaled better search results, more clicks, more traffic, ideally deeper engagement, and, yup, new and stronger customer relationships.
And then the search algorithms changed. Suddenly, understanding user intent and creating quality content that addressed users’ needs became higher priorities.
Delivering content that measures up is an ongoing struggle, however. An appalling number of marketers—70 percent, according to an Altimeter Group study—don’t have a consistent or integrated content strategy. Worse, of the 80 percent of B2B marketers who told the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs that they do have a strategy, nearly half haven’t taken the time to document it.
And that’s how the tug of war between content quality and quantity is perpetuated. Because without a strategy that reflects a deep understanding of the target customers (audiences), as well as their hot buttons, pain points and sweet spots, there’s nothing there to inform and inspire your creatives to do their very best work.
Need I say more?
Ultimately, in today’s content game, more is less: less effective, less engaging, less creative.
If you want your content marketing to work, resist the temptation to play the numbers game, which dilutes its power. You’ll win your audiences’ (and new fans’) hearts and minds in the process.