How Much Content Does Your Marketing Team Actually Need?
October 14, 2016 | Jessica Mehring
Last month, Steve Rayson, Director of Buzzsumo, published a post that had the content marketing community buzzing. (Pun intended.)
This post, titled The Future is More Content, looked at the debate over which content strategy is the best: Producing high-quality content or producing high volumes of potentially lower-quality content.
The arguments for producing high-quality content are:
- It’s of higher value to the reader
- There are more opportunities for backlinks, increasing the odds it’ll perform high in SERPs (search engine results pages)
- It gets shared and linked to more often
The arguments for producing a high volume of content are:
- Reports show that producing more content results in more leads
- More content means more website traffic
In this long and well-researched post, Rayson admitted that the quality over quantity argument may have a fatal flaw … the numbers don’t add up. (For those of us in the “quality content over high volume” camp, this was earth shattering. Though there’s still enough data and user feedback to keep me pretty firmly in this camp for a while longer.)
He took readers through data that clearly showed that the rate of content creation is only increasing, and thanks to growth in both literacy rates and internet access across the world, we’re nowhere near the peak.
Lest you think that this is a content tsunami of poor quality content, he also showed that the quality of content is also increasing.
So how does this add up? How can we be creating exponentially more content every year, yet improving the quality? I mean, content marketers all have the same 24 hours in a day!
Under Bezos’s leadership, The Washington Post publishes 1,200 posts a day.
That content, however, is:
- Backed by data. Bezos employed data scientists to analyze high-traction content. From this insight, The Post knows how to create more viral headlines.
- Partially automated. The Post has software called Bandito that allows them to publish posts with multiple headlines, photos, and even story treatments – all chosen by (you guessed it) a data-driven algorithm.
- Supported by a long-tail content strategy. “Long-tail content” is content catering to specific niches versus broader audiences.
So what’s a marketing manager to do? How much content should you be producing to get the best results for your company?
Determine Your Objective
First and foremost, align your content marketing plans to your number 1 objective.
- If building authority and credibility are your most important objective, stick with high-quality, less frequent content.
- If rising to the top of the SERPs is your most important objective, high-quality, less frequent content will be more beneficial.
- If increasing website traffic is your most important objective, a high-volume approach may be a smart move.
- If increasing the volume of leads is your most important objective, increasing the volume of your content makes sense.
Planning for Content (No Matter the Volume)
If I were a marketing manager at a mid-sized to enterprise business concerned with website traffic and lead volume, and I read that post by Steve Rayson, I might be tempted to start hiring writers from Fiverr and producing massive volumes of lower-quality content.
But let me stop you right there.
Even if you decide you want to follow Bezos’s strategy and start producing massive amounts of content, there’s still room for planning and thoughtful content creation.
So before you reswizzle your entire content marketing strategy to publish new content every day, let’s take this step-by-step.
1. Get Your Team Together
You’re going to need these people, at minimum.
- Writers to write the content. (Keep in mind, quality counts a lot here. Prepare to budget for the best writers you can afford. Your company’s authority and credibility will thank you.)
- Editors to make sure the content isn’t riddled with proofreading errors, and to upload the content to the website when it’s ready for publication.
- Fact-checkers to keep your reputation intact. (Editors can sometimes act as fact-checkers. But don’t assume. Make sure someone is clearly responsible for this role.)
- Designers to create blog graphics, design e-books, and overall make your content more attractive while upholding your brand style.
2. Map Out a Content Plan for Each Buyer Persona
Each type of buyer is unique in what they need through each stage of the Buyer’s Journey. And certain content types work better to address certain needs.
So pull out each buyer persona and map out what they need during the Awareness stage, the Consideration stage, and the Decision stage.
Here are a few content map guides and examples to get you going on this:
- The Marketer’s 3 Step Content Roadmap: Aligning Content to Your Buyers Journey, from Inbound. Using this content mapping strategy, you’ll uncover three things for each buyer persona: user behavior, content type, and keywords.
- Content mapping template from HubSpot. This free template helps you identify problems and opportunities for your buyers throughout the buying lifecycle.
- This article from Barbra Gago at Content Marketing Institute includes several templates and step-by-steps.
3. Create an Editorial Calendar
Once you know who’s doing what on your team, and you have an idea of what content you need for each buyer persona, it’s time to schedule it all.
Create an editorial calendar that covers at least the next three months – but preferably 6 months to a year. You can use a simple Excel spreadsheet for this (here’s a Google Sheets template I often send my clients and students), or you can get really fancy with marketing calendar software such as CoSchedule.
In this editorial calendar, determine what content you’ll create and when. Don’t stop at just creating content around the buyer’s journey, however. Also take into consideration any holidays/observances and events happening within your business.
Sales, new product launches, big in-person or virtual events (like attending a trade show, hosting a virtual summit, or putting on a conference) – all of these things should be considered when you’re creating your editorial calendar.
With both a buyer’s journey content map and an editorial calendar that aligns with events happening within your company, you can …
- Warm up prospects to a new product with a blog series
- Announce a conference with a guide to the event schedule
- Build excitement about a new feature with an interactive infographic
High Volume Doesn’t Have to Mean Poor Quality
When you choose to produce high volumes of content, there is a tradeoff. Your team will have less time and resources to create in-depth, truly high-quality content.
With the right strategy, however, you can take advantage of the benefits of producing content in high volumes without damaging your company’s reputation with low-quality content. Get the right team members in place, create a content map aligned with the buyer’s journey, and build a well-thought-out editorial calendar.
Both methods – high quality and high volume – require an investment of your company’s financial and human resources. But if increasing website traffic and attracting a higher volume of leads are important objectives for you right now, you might consider the high-volume approach. (Yes, it did pain me to write that.)