The quarter just began and you get out of the Smarketing meeting with one mission:

Generate more leads.

So you get back to your desk and wonder:

What am I going to try this time?

After checking the analytics and brainstorming with your team you decide:

Let’s double down on content marketing!

Well, not so fast: the content marketing industry has changed and pushing out more content may not be the answer to your problems.

Stay with me for the next few minutes to discover what’s killing your content marketing and how to save it.


1 – THE ATTENTION ECONOMY, CONTENT SHOCK AND CONTENT PERFORMANCE

How content offer exponential growth and the limited nature of content demand are affecting your content results

Content Exponential Growth vs. Limited Content Demand = Poor Content Results #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

 

a) Your competitors are everywhere:

Once upon a time companies and services were geared toward enticing you out of your money. Today, the goal of many is to entice you out of your time. […]

Everything is in competition with everything else. Facebook is as much in competition with Twitter, as it is with Spotify and Apple Music, Gawker and BuzzFeed, Hulu and YouTube, Candy Crush and Two Dots, Amazon and Walmart, Xbox and Playstation, Chipotle and your family dinner table, your hobbies and your bed. […]

[Instagram and the Cult of the Attention Web: How the Free Internet is Eating Itself]

In other words: if attention is what you’re seeking, you are not alone.

b) The world doesn’t need more content: the content shock

According to Nielsen and other sources, […] the amount of information on the web is expected to increase by 500 percent (conservatively) in the next five years. If you can imagine how big the Internet is, in the next five years, we are going to have five of those. Do you think it is going to be a little more difficult to be successful in content marketing?‘”

content shock Mark Schaefer

[credit: businessesgrow]

While content supply is exponentially exploding content demand remains almost flat – there’s an evident cap to the amount of content individuals can consume.

The result?

Individuals, companies, and brands would have to “pay” consumers more and more just to get them to see the same amount of content.

c) Running a blog is not for the light-hearted

There are over 164 millions blogs online, with content machines like TechCrunch, Forbes and Gigaom pushing out content in the order of thousands.

forbes publication frequency

[credit: iamondemand]

Which of course heavily affects content performance: of those 164 millions blogs, 71% get fewer than 5,000 visitors per month (less than 200 visits / day).

blog traffic stats

[credit: backlinko]

As a consequence, readers engagement is at an all time low too. Here’s what Buzssumo and Moz found out after analysing 1M posts:

  • 50% of randomly selected posts received 8 shares or less
  • 75% of these posts received 39 shares or less
  • 75% of these posts achieved zero referring domain links

share distribution

[credit: buzzsumo]

To recap:

content marketing stats

Does that mean content marketing is doomed?

Not at all…keep reading for the good news.


2 – THE CONTENT SUCCESS FORMULA

Content  marketing doesn’t bring overnight results. It’s a complex game, but there are clear success patterns.

If you are taking content marketing seriously, you don’t need to worry.

The good news is, most of the content out there is crap. Low quality content that provides no value whatsoever.

The secret to stand out?

There's no secret: create 10x content and promote it like you mean it! #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

 

1) Rand Finshkin (MOZ): “Good, unique content has to die”

“Hey, we created some good, unique content, but we don’t seem to be performing well in search.”

Why?

Good unique content used to work a few years ago, but that is simply not the bar for modern SEO.

To rank, today, you need to push out 10x content:

“Content that is 10x, 10 times better than anything I can find in the search results today. If I don’t think I can do that, then I’m not going to try and rank for those keywords. I’m just not going to pursue it. I’m going to pursue content in areas where I believe I can create something 10 times better than the best result out there.

10x content

[credit: Moz]

There’s a number of reasons behind this shift:

a) User experience impacts ranking much more than it used to, with “Google caring about load speed and device rendering, mobile friendliness, all these kinds of things.”

b) Earning links overtook link building, and it’s nearly impossible to earn links with good, unique content: “If there’s something better out there on page one of the search results, why would they even bother to link to you?”

c) The content marketing field is much more crowded than it sued to, with many people trying to get to a higher quality bar.

d) Users expectations have gone crazy: they expect pages to load fast, look great, and provide immediate answers. “Our brains have rewired themselves to expect very fast, very high quality results consistently.”

How can you create 10x content?

Rand was kind enough to share with us his “10x Content Checklist”:

10x content formula

[credit: Moz]

Check out Rand’s list of sites and article that deliver a 10x experience.

2) Content is nothing without distribution

Creating 10x content is just one part of the equation.

Distribution is key: coupled with 10x content, it’s what allowed Brian Dean to get over 1M unique visitors over 1 year (2014).

brian dean 1 million visitors

brian dean 32 posts

[credit: Neil Patel]

So, how did he do that?

A recent study about the influence of ranking factors in Google’s Algorithm (Moz / 2015) highlighted that:

Despite rumours to the contrary, the data continues to show some of the highest correlations between Google rankings and the number of links to a given page.

google ranking factors

[credit: Moz]

What Brian did was quite simple: find the most effective ways to earn high-quality backlinks.

Here two of the most effective tactics implemented by Brian to achieve this amazing result.

a) The moving man: a tactic to turn third site’s broken links into links to your site.

Brian breaks it down in 3 steps:

  • Step 1: Find sites or resources that have changed names, shut down, or moved.
  • Step 2: Find sites linking to the old page.
  • Step 3: Give them a heads up about their outdated link and suggest that they add your link to their site.

b) The Skyscraper technique: a strategy to leverage your competitor’s backlinks in your favour.

Again, this strategy can be executed by following three simple steps:

  • Step 1: Find link-worthy content
  • Step 2: Make something even better
  • Step 3: Reach out to the people who have linked to your competitors’ content, giving them a “friendly heads up” about your 10x content.

On a side note: these tactics may seem too good to be true, but reality is, they require skills, resilience and a considerable time investment. There’s no trick, just a good amount of elbow grease.

For sake of simplicity and brevity, I won’t dive deeper into distribution and leave this topic for a future blog post. Subscribe to our blog to receive it straight to your inbox.

At this point I’m sure you got the idea: good content it’s not enough.

To stand out you need to create 10x content and spend twice as much time distributing.

It’s now time to answer the question that got us started in the first place:

Will I get more results if I produce more content?


3 – QUANTITY AND FREQUENCY: THE MAGIC NUMBERS

More content may be better, but don’t piss off your readers.

We got it, quality and distribution are key to content success.

How about quantity?

To answer this question, Hubspot pulled the data from its 15,300+ customers and found out how total and monthly content, impact traffic and leads.

In both cases the results were quite univocal.

a) The 400+ Tipping Point

With respect to total content, the result showed that the more blog posts companies published in total, the more inbound traffic they got to their website and the more leads they generated.

With the tipping point happening around 400 total blog

Companies that had published 401+ blog posts in total got about twice as much traffic as companies that published 301 – 400 blog posts.

blog_total_traffic

Companies that published 401+ total blog posts got over 3X more leads than companies that published between 0 – 100 total blog posts.

blog_total_leads

b) Frequency: more is not always better

Similar results were found when analysing the correlation between weekly frequency, traffic and leads.

Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts.

blog_monthly_traffic

Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5X more leads than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts.

blog_monthly_traffic_b2b2c

However, when it comes to frequency, beware: over-posting can be annoying.

Here a case study from Darren Rowse, founder at ProBlogger:

I once surveyed readers here on ProBlogger about the reasons they unsubscribed to RSS feeds and the number one answer was “posting too much.” Respondents expressed that they developed “burnout” and would unsubscribe if a blog became too “noisy.”

The takeaway is:

“There’s a tipping point for every blog where one more post just becomes too much and readers begin to disengage.” – Darren Rowse


CONCLUSIONS

So, should you double down on content marketing?

Sure, but at two conditions:

1 – That you nail your content before you decide to scale it.

2 – That the increase in content production doesn’t affect neither the quality of your content nor the time you can dedicate to distribute it.

In other words: respect the first rule of content marketing:

first-law-content-marketing

[credit: hitenism]

How?

It’s all about resource management: stretch your content organization to the limit and add resources before quality and distribution are impacted.

inbound.org

[credit: Kieran Flanagan]

You could either scale your content team, hiring additional staff, agencies, freelancers, and source content from within the company.

Or make your organization more efficient: implementing content production workflows and using a content marketing software to automate repetitive tasks.

workflows

The two solutions are complementary and, if properly implemented, will allow you to produce and distribute 10x content at scale.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

If you want to learn more about how quantity can impact your content results and how to measure them, you may want to read:

a) 5 Simple Steps That’ll Help You Determine How Often You Need to Blog – by Neil Patel

b) Quality vs. Quantity: A 6-Month Analysis of the Age-Old Blogging Debate – by Ginny Soskey

c) We Stopped Publishing New Posts for One Month. Here’s What Happened – Kevan Lee

Special thanks to Neil Patel, your blog post “5 Simple Steps That’ll Help You Determine How Often You Need to Blog” provided me with an incredible amount of resources that helped me write this post.

Thanks for your dedication in helping marketers do a better job.

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