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The content black hole: is 50% of your content a complete waste of time?

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

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Did you know that almost half of your marketing resources are being wasted on absolutely nothing? With an industry average of 45% of online content going unseen, is it time to revisit your approach and stop looking into the content abyss, or have you been doing it right all along?

Was this part of your strategy?

Ask yourself, the big questions. What was the purpose of your content strategy/campaign in the first place? Typically, this was to grow your reach and to improve your brand awareness and influence within your target audiences. Realistically though 9 times out of 10 someone is breathing over your shoulder with the end goal of directly increasing sales conversions.

In the eyes of a marketing purist, the purpose of good content isn’t to sell, it is to assist you and your brand to be 'top of mind' for when your audience is ready to buy. However, if you have a suite of powerful content positioned at each stage of the buying journey then your content can do almost anything.

It's all about KPI and conversion right?

So your content is about conversions, yes? Well, let's speak in a language familiar to you. If the average conversion rate of your content is between 2-25% depending on your definition of conversion (impression, click, form download, sign up, follow like etc), what is 2-25% of nothing, yes you've got it 'nil poi'.

In this ever-competitive arena, not all content is created equally. Good content takes time, energy and resources to make. Do you want to waste this energy and cost on zero eyeballs? Surely zero doesn't convert into any success metrics, vanity or the bottom line.

What should I do?

If positioned correctly your audience will engage, but it is critical you understand who and why you are targeting this sector or individual. Find out what makes them tick both professionally and personally. We are only human. Professionalism, insight, warmth and humour are all important. Whether this is one to many, one to few or one to one make sure it lands.

On a positive note, content engagement has improved across the last 12 months, moving from an impressive 69% of content never being seen in 2020. The improvement may be for many reasons, the most likely factor being the global pandemic and the sheer ravenous consumption of digital content during lockdown. Also, let’s be fair the content market is maturing as is the quality of content creators and the diversity of platforms and formats.

Yet still, a lot of branded content feels lazy, generic and churned out for content sake. 'Look how busy, relevant and productive we all are. Marketing is fantastic!'.

Stats do lie

45% is a big number. However, take into consideration that as a creative you can make a stat work for any argument, specifically the term 'content' covers a multitude of sins from a tweet/jpg to a long-form read, to interactive VR. So again, it is truly worth understanding which assets, topics and channels are most effective for your audience.

So maybe not every asset is essential when delivering a multi-channel always-on program. Be realistic, your audience is not online 24/7 awaiting your next release. Even with the best targeting some assets will be missed, which is why you need a comprehensive communications plan in place to release content in line with your audience's habits.

A good rule of thumb is to have 3-5 derivatives of each core asset and try to extend the shelf life for up to 1 week, with the option to extend and blend across multiple releases.

Make sure you set realistic KPI's against each piece. Take into consideration the quality and desired impact of each asset in your content UX and your prospects buying journey. For example, a (consideration stage) eguide converting at 25% is great, as is an (awareness stage) display ad converting at 0.05%. It's all relative as long as this is aligned to your broader success criteria.

Time to strategise

Content is nothing without strategy and understanding. A call to arms for all creatives, and senior marketing leads please don't sign off poor quality content or fractured meaningless creative. Align your content to wider objectives and integrate it into your prospect and customer journeys. Even without the use of clever marketing automation, you can still make the content work for you.

Top Tip: Use the rule of 4 when shaping your content strategy and assets:

  • Trends - what is relevant to your audience - how do I start a conversation?

  • Pains - what is stopping your audience from achieving their goals?

  • Capability - what do you do that is unique and how does it solve the pains of your audience?

  • Buying Journey - what stage of the journey are they? (awareness, consideration, decision, renewal, advocacy)

Fail, learn, win

Some content won't land, and that's ok. As a marketer, it's all about testing and learning and being brave. Don’t change too many variables at once. Allow yourself time to learn from each activity, i.e what format works best, what topics resonate, what channel is most effective and what persona is worth pursuing.

Over time you will refine a more streamline high performing program, but never rest on your laurels. Change is constant so always (as a good recent army campaign suggests) fail, learn, win.

Sustainable content

We know resources and time can be tight. Be smart with what you have, repurpose and reuse content. It doesn't take much to reformat a blog to a vlog, to an infographic or to an animation. You have done the heavy lifting in the first instance, make sure you build this into your program.

Breath life into old pieces that perform well, modernise with relevance and latest stats. Being a successful marketer is not always about creating original ideas; it's about finding successful solutions that impact results.

Speed vs quality

Finally, a contentious subject; does quality outway speed. Well yes and no.

A good rule of thumb is to make the content the absolute best it can be within the given time, budget and resource that you have at your disposal. Be rigorous with your plan and stick to it. Nothing is 100% perfect, the world is subjective and there is no pleasing everyone.

If you have done your due diligence with the correct research and this is aligned to a wider strategic plan you cannot go too far wrong!

Eyeballs aren't everything, impact and results are key. Be (at least 45%) brave and embrace the void!

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