You might think that, as a content agency, we’d be banging the drum for more, more, more. And yes, as long as you’ve got the right stuff, we do recommend you get it out there.

But too much content, or simply not-good-enough content, can actively harm your content marketing strategy. More is not always more.

A survey by the Havas Media Group found that some 60% of the content created by the world’s leading 1,500 brands is “just clutter”, with little impact on consumers’ lives or business results.

Havas polled 375,000 people across 33 countries – and found that 84% of their respondents expect brands to produce content in some form. Yet respondents said that 60% of the content that brands were currently creating was “poor, irrelevant or failed to deliver”. Ouch.

You definitely want to be in the 40%, not the 60% here. But how?

AUDIENCE, AUDIENCE, AUDIENCE

Let’s take a step back and remind ourselves that, in general, content is a good thing for your business. The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) found that content marketing generates over three times as many leads compared to outbound marketing. Not only that, it also costs 62% less.

In fact, content marketing benefits your bottom line in a few different ways.

  • it boosts brand awareness with audiences that aren’t yet familiar with your brand
  • it gives audiences nearing a purchase decision that crucial extra information and guidance they need before hitting ‘Buy’
  • it’s a nice way of staying connected with your existing customers, and keeping your brand at the top of their own personal mind map.

You might not be able to attribute each pound of sales revenue directly to each piece of content but be in no doubt that (good) content is of real value.

But how to ensure that content is effective, doing its job, and generally giving you an ROI on all the resources that went into it?

DON’T OVERDO IT

Posting content too frequently or hosting too much content on your company website can lead to the following problems:

1. Its quality, relevance, and reader value is compromised.
The amount of quality content you can produce depends quite simply, on the capacity of your team and resources. Push it beyond its natural capabilities, and the quality of that content will inevitably dilute. You’re far better off posting good-quality, valuable content once a week, than dodgy content every day.

If your content isn’t relevant to your customers’ needs, they’ll quickly learn to ignore it. Audiences may even start to actively squeeze you out of their crowded content universes, unsubscribing from your email list and unfollowing you on social networks.

2. You can actually become less, not more, visible online.
You might think that every bit of content is helping your online visibility, but the truth is that poor quality content can actually be detrimental to SEO rankings.

How so? Well, too much content can mean that your own pieces are competing with each other for keywords. Where the same keyword is used across several pages of the same site (or ‘cannibalized’), you’ll find you’re competing with yourself for ranking. As a result, each page ends up with diminished authority, a lower click-through rate and even lower conversion rates than you’d achieve from having just one target page.

3. You’re too stretched to promote that content in the way it deserves…

If you’re not careful you’ll spend so much time and resource creating content, that you have none left over for giving that content any significant afterlife – adding good quality images or graphics, sharing it, promoting it across socials, etc.

4. … or to really understand how it’s performing for you.
You’ll also want insights from analytics to see how the content performs, so you know whether to provide more of the same – or change tack. Spend some time seeing how each piece performs, and revisit those figures at regular intervals. The more content you have up there, the more work this is going to be.

5. You run out of ideas.
I’ll bet that some days the creative juices are flowing well in your office… but there are also days where it’s a struggle coming up with blinding new insights. So why make more work for yourselves, and risk spreading that creative goodness too thin?

If you’re producing a vast number of blogs, you’re going to be hard pressed to find unique ideas for each one. Some blogs will risk duplicating others, or at least feeling disappointingly similar, Results: underwhelmed audiences and – as outlined above – possible damage to your SEO.

6. You struggle to keep on top of all your content.

The more stuff you’ve got on your blog, the more complex and elaborate your organisational processes need to be. You’ll need a strong organisation system (or CMS) to keep bringing older content to the surface, increasing its shelf life and helping your audience discover more relevant materials.

All this organising requires more resources, which could be better spent elsewhere – such as making a smaller amount of well-curated content work harder for you.

GREAT CONTENT: A CHECKLIST

Let’s be very clear that we’re definitely not advocating some kind of monastic silence on the blog front. Just make sure that your content is engaging and relevant and then, by all means, keep stepping up that frequency.

Focus onputting out your best content – and only increase your frequency when you’re confident that you can keep up the quality.

Think bottom-up, not top-down: less of what you want to be creating, more what your audience wants to be consuming.

Here’s a checklist for engaging, arresting content.

1. Target your content to the audience you’re seeking.
Audit who is receiving your content. Are they the right demographic for you? You may have 10,000 subscribers to your blog, but if only 10% of these are the right age / nationality / income bracket for your product, that blog is performing nowhere near as effectively as you thought.

2. Match the content type to the end goal.
Want to get your brand out there? Blog post, infographic, podcast: these are your friends. Need to connect with an audience who’ve already shown an interest? Something chunkier and more informative may be in order: hello, case study / whitepaper / eBook.

3. Find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition.
You need to stand out among the noise. Are you the guys that post all those really useful how-to guides? Or are you known for producing the clearest infographics in your sector?

4. Get on top of keywords and SEO.
Your content needs to perform on search engines, so thatpotential customers can find you. If they’re not being led to you online, what are you producing all this stuff for? Develop a keyword strategy.

5. Think about word counts.
These should suit the content type and your audience. Two thousand words for a thought leadership piece? Fine. For a product description? Not so much. Look at your competitors’ analytics to find out what types of content do well for them.

6. Have a content cadence plan.
Eh?In other words:when, and how often, you post new stuff. Are you blogging weekly? Fortnightly? To fit in with new product launches? Again, what are your rivals doing, and how’s that working out for them?

CONCLUSION: QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY
The temptation may be to keep churning out copy – but endlessly releasing your insights on the world without some a) quality control and b) long-term vision can do you more harm than good.

We recommend that every piece of content that leaves your computer:

  • features something of value to your customers
  • has a tangible goal, be that increased brand awareness, lead generation, traction to your site, etc
  • feels authentic, not produced to order
  • pulls its weight in the SEO universe

Tick off this checklist before unleashing your pearls of wisdom onto the world, and we predict a rosy future.

And of course, if you need a hand, our team is always available to support you, wherever you need it most!

Ben Hollom

May 25, 2021