The quality versus quantity debate has existed as long as content marketing has. But it’s time to put an end to this tug-of-war marketers face.
Marketers are under pressure to create more content now more than ever. According to the 2017 B2B Content Marketing report by Content Marketing Institute, 70% of marketers expect to produce more content this year.
And it’s critical to deliver consistently. Eight-five percent of top performers deliver content consistently, compared to 58% of the overall sample and 32% of bottom performers.
So, you’ve got to produce more content and more often. But what about the quality? At SPROUT Content, we are big proponents of creating quality content and doing it in-house. In fact, it’s one of the factors we consider important for choosing an inbound marketing agency.
Putting an End to the Content Quality vs Quantity Debate
Today’s marketer knows it’s not necessarily about one or the other, but rather finding the right balance between quality content and the quantity of content you produce. In a perfect world, you would spend time researching and writing each post and when you published it, everyone would find it online. You would consistently publish content that your audience enjoys reading. Now that sounds like a noble goal, but is it realistic?
In order to achieve that success online, you can do it, but it takes both quality and quantity. Producing quantity gets you visibility; producing quality helps turn those views into leads and customers.
Neil Patel and Eric Siu’s podcast Marketing School addressed this topic just last month. Kissmetrics’ Patel said as he only publishes high quality articles, he’s chosen to take the quality route. In fact, he looks at his most successful posts and then turns them into in-depth (think 9000 words) pieces to further provide information his audience wants.
“But if you look at my traffic numbers and compare it to someone like HubSpot, they crush me, because they produce more quantity. Ideally, you should have both quality and quantity but the thing that wins in the end is quantity. Take a look at Business Insider, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Mashable. Anyone could pretty much say their articles aren’t the highest quality, but they produce so much quantity, they pretty much rank for everything out there,” said Patel.
Patel recently examined the number of articles TechCrunch posted within a 24-hour period. Take a guess on what it was.
As Patel says, not all of those posts are high quality because let’s be real, there’s no way any business could write that many posts in a day and have them all be high quality even if you had an army of freelancers at your disposal. Instead, Patel recommends starting with quality blog posts. “Go to ahrefs or SEMrush and put in your competitor’s URLs to see what is driving their search traffic and then write better versions of that content.” Quality will even prevail in Google’s eyes.
The HubSpot Experiment
As Patel pointed out, HubSpot is a powerhouse when it comes to publishing content related to inbound marketing. But even they are looking to improve their results. Last year, HubSpot ran several tests on its Marketing Blog and determined that their sweet spot hovered around four posts a day (the articles themselves varied in terms of comprehensiveness).
Before the experiment, HubSpot typically published 3-5 blog posts each weekday and 1 blog post each weekend day, totaling about 20-25 posts in a given week.
The test was to determine whether they should write more intensive posts at a lower frequency or less intensive posts at a higher volume. What they found when they published fewer posts were that there were less opportunities for people to share on social media or click on the articles in their inbox. One of the lessons HubSpot learned with this test is that comprehensiveness can’t make up for frequency in regards to short-term traffic.
The Patel and HubSpot examples show that quality and quantity are both necessary to achieve success. But what about the content that we referenced in the title of this post, the content “you shouldn’t create”?
But First, A History Lesson
You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 rule before. It originated in 1906 when Italian economist Vildredo Pareo created a mathematical formula to describe the unequal distribution of wealth in his country. Pareto observed that 20% of the people owned 80% of the wealth. Today, the 80/20 Rule means that in any situation, 20% of the inputs or activities are responsible for 80% of the outcomes or results.
Let’s apply this to marketing. We all know about the 80/20 rule as it applies to social media strategy: 20% of your content should be about promoting your brand and 80% of your content should be shareable that interests and engages your audience.
We can apply the same 80/20 rule to content creation and distribution. Most of us probably focus 80% of our time on content creation and 20% of our time on content distribution. But it really should be the opposite: 80% on distribution and 20% on creation. If we follow Pareo’s theory, that 20% will ultimately be responsible for our results.
The logic is that you should work harder at getting people to consume and share that quality content you’ve already worked hard to create. We know that just putting content online is not a way to guarantee people see it. By adjusting the time you spend on content creation and promotion, you can change your focus to getting that content found.
One way we promote content for our clients at SPROUT Content is through an influencer marketing strategy. This inbound marketing strategy allows you to make connections, share your company’s expertise and attract the right audience that is in need of your help. Learn more in our ebook: How an Effective Influencer Marketing Strategy Supports B2B Inbound (And Why It Matters).