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Ardath Albee

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4 Content Marketing Conundrums

I see a lot of stuff said about content that makes me wonder. There's so much noise about content marketing that it's hard to know what to believe. Some of it looks good on the surface, but when you start to dig in it doesn't. Some of it holds up. Do marketers take the time to find out which is which, or do we just go with what sounds best to us?

So, because it's Saturday and I'm stumped on a website copy project and need to clear my head, I thought I'd tackle a few things I've seen lately and see what you think.

Is Longer-Form Content Losing Ground?

For the last few years, I've been hearing a lot about how longer-form marketing content is dead. That everyone wants to read short blog posts, Tweets, scannable lists, look at pretty inforgraphics, etc. To a degree, I can see the logic. We're all busy. It's a snack-and-go world.

Or is it?

I stumbled across 36 Useful Internet Marketing Statistics, written by Mauro D'Andrea, and found these:

18

(Source: QuickSprout)

AND

19

(Source: QuickSprout)

So why is this?

  • Is it because it takes more depth to write something truly helpful and instructive about solving a problem someone is trying to deal with?
  • Is it because - instead of a snack - people are sometimes looking for a meal?
  • Is it because people assume that since it's long that it has good stuff that may be useful - and make them look smart for sharing it? (But they don't really read it?)
  • Is it because there are more opportunities to hit on the keyword phrase without the appearance of "stuffing" so the search bots like it better?

I use a lot of 1,000 word articles in the marketing programs I do with clients. They're selling meaty solutions that solve complex problems so it takes some weight in information and expertise to help prospects with serious consideration. But at 1,000 words, the content is still pretty easily digested. The programs have solid traction.

One of my client's salespeople finally secured a meeting with a prospect that he'd been after for a long time. When he got to the meeting, the prospect pulled out a copy of an article from our nurturing campaign and said - I agree with the way you're company is approaching this issue - what would it look for my company if we did this? The deal is in the works. And it's in the 7-figure range.

So, is longer-form content losing steam? I say no.

Only 20% Counts

I read somewhere recently that, on average, only 20% of the text on a web page gets read. Wish I could remember where. If you know, tell me in the comments. But, if it's true, how do you measure which 20%?

Some assumptions were made about the first 20% of the text from top down as that which would be read. If true, then I'd say the writing needs some work.

I'd guess that the first few sentences and then the headers and any bullets are skimmed. Maybe whatever has emphasis, such as bold or italics can also be thrown in. Then I think people decide if they want to read the whole thing.

If you had to consider how to optimize 20% of an article, how would you do it?

Producing More, More, and More Content

This is another hot button I'm hearing a lot about. Content marketers are trying to keep up with the hamster wheel of content production based on posting schedules and channel coverage. In fact, producing more content has overtaken the challenge of producing engaging content in the latest report (slide 17) from Content Marketing Institute.

But I'm also getting calls from marketers who say "We believe in content marketing. We produce great content. Buyers like it. But it's not impacting the pipeline"

Yep. That's because content for content's sake isn't going to do that. Content marketing isn't about just pushing out more content, it's about connecting the dots and telling the story that moves buyers from status quo to change.

I spoke to a marketer the other day who showed me a website redesign plan and asked my opinion. After looking at the site plan, my first question was to ask how he planned to produce all the content required on a schedule that would keep it fresh and motivate buying? We'll be working on a new strategy that gets the job done and doesn't kill his team and drain his resources. 

As a selfish plug - I'm presenting a webinar about Putting Your Content to Work next week. I'd love to "see" you there. If you'd like to produce less content and get better demand generation results, you'll find some helpful ideas.

Infographic Madness

This may be due to my age and eyesight, but most infographics make me a bit frustrated. Who decided that it was a smart idea to cram a bunch of really tiny text onto a scrolling horizontal series of graphics with big numbers?

This aside, even when I can blow them up big enough to read, many of them don't tell a story or carry through on a reader value proposition. #7 on the 36 Internet Statistics post is:

Publishers who use infographics grow in traffic an average of 12% more than those that don’t (Source: NeoMam Studios)

But I wonder if the traffic is bounce traffic or serves to build real engagement? If people only come for the infographic eye candy, is it worth the effort and resources to produce them? And, how many infographics are part of an integrated content program? I don't see many that are. Do you?

I'd love some examples if you've got some to share. And it needs to be more than "we embedded it on our blog and pinned it on Pinterest and Tweeted about it."

The above are only a few conundrums about content marketing. What else are you seeing that confounds you about content marketing?

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More Stories By Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee, CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist of her firm Marketing Interactions, helps companies with complex sales increase and quantify marketing effectiveness by developing and executing interactive eMarketing strategies driven by compelling content.

Her book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, was published by McGraw-Hill.

Her articles and blog posts have been used for university ezines, published in CRM Today, Selling Power, Rain Today and Enterprise CRM News. Marketing Profs has incorporated her blog posts into a number of their "Get to The Point" newsletters.