How frequently should you be posting content? Content marketing experts typically offer sage advice like “as often as necessary,” but the relationship between quantity of articles published and results from content marketing is not so straightforward. This is where a content strategy comes in to play.
Moz, for instance, found that traffic slowed down when blog post frequency dropped below once per day. However, OkDork found that longer posts are far more effective than shorter ones. With only so many hours in the day, what should take top priority?
The Best of Both Worlds
Creating too little content could mean you lose chances to connect with your audience. When people find your brand online, they expect to see evidence that you know what you’re doing. One good article might bring them in, but you need more than a single hook to convert a lead.
Creating too much content, on the other hand, could mean audiences will see you as inauthentic and repetitive. High-quality content requires time and expertise to develop. If your marketing department is pushing out tons of content every week, pieces will vary wildly in usefulness and tone. Some might be great, but no matter how large your marketing team is, excessive pressure to produce will inevitably lead to a few duds — with your brand name attached.
To find the right blend of consistency and quality in your content strategy, my team has found these four action items essential:
- Make regular deposits in a knowledge bank.
In my experience, the larger the company, the more it seems that content is treated as an on-demand process. Big brands have a lot going on, and these multiple efforts end up pushing their marketing departments in various directions. There’s a lag in content creation because they wait until they have a topic in mind, then perform all the research, writing, editing, and distribution in order. That might sound like a logical approach, but it introduces unnecessary bottlenecks that can cramp consistency and force brands to publish incomplete or just plain bad pieces.
Use a knowledge bank to get the most from the experts within your organization and keep the process moving. The best way to do this is to first schedule regular interviews with your company’s thought leaders. This will give your designated content creators the resources to create dynamite pieces on a regular basis, without being at the mercy of the thought leaders’ busy calendars. When an opportunity to lead a conversation in your industry presents itself, your team can respond quickly with relevant, high-quality insights at a moment’s notice.
You can use a simple spreadsheet as your knowledge bank, which will help you organize ideas and areas of focus. Customize it as you see fit, but make sure you keep the fields for each topic consistent. It’s helpful to include links to other relevant content that can help substantiate or provide research when the time comes to create content on that particular topic. Make sure you update it regularly so that your information isn’t stale and that all the necessary people have access to it.
- Study your analytics and perform A/B tests.
You might love your latest blog post, but if no one reads it, that means something is wrong. Quality in content marketing is not measured by subjective appreciation but by objective results like views, shares, time spent on page, and other concrete metrics.
Step away from the creation process for a minute and think about the content strategy behind it. Ask yourself, “What does this content seek to achieve?” If your goal is brand awareness, then you’ll want to make sure you’re getting more website visitors actually coming from the content you’re publishing. If it’s lead generation you crave, then pay attention to how well those site visitors are converting on-site.
Perform A/B testing with your messaging and delivery mechanisms to discover which tactics are producing more results. Maybe this means sending out a mass email to your subscribers but using two different email subject lines to see which one has a higher open and click rate. Stay scientific by changing only one thing at a time. If you deliver two totally different messages to different audiences, you’ll never know which factor made the difference.
- Draw a line in the sand on quality.
Every company blog post, guest-contributed article, infographic, or other piece of content needs to meet a basic standard of quality. When your team publishes two short posts that sound more like rants in between two long posts rich with research, your brand voice comes across as unprofessional — maybe even untrustworthy.
Put together a style guide that lays out areas of focus for your content and addresses things like grammar standards, tone, and graphics. Ask yourself how you want to refer to your products and services. Is there a certain way your team should talk about something within your industry? Is there a strong stance you want to take in regard to an industry issue? Spell out these requirements in an official document and share it with the entire marketing department to ensure all your marketers are on the same page and using it to guide their content creation and your content strategy.
When in doubt, look at the standards of content coming from other brands you admire. Patagonia, for example, puts environmental values front and center in its blog content. It does so consistently, with a clear message and stance that is inspiring and thought-provoking. The company does its research and presents reports and stats where necessary to validate its claims, which raises the quality of its content. The clear direction of Patagonia’s content demands precise guidelines to ensure all the members of its content creation team are living up to its brand standards.
- Set a schedule.
With quality standards in mind and an expanding knowledge bank, have your team set a posting schedule it can stick to. It doesn’t have to stay at the set frequency forever, but it will give your team members a solid jumping-off point and a chance to examine metrics to see how well it’s helping them meet their goals.
There’s no magic number when it comes to knowing how much content you should publish. Some companies find the most success when they publish multiple times per week. Others are more interested in creating a few long pieces per month that are filled with research, data, and analysis. Be realistic with your marketing department’s capacity. Look at how many content creators you have, and then throw some monthly numbers out there that seem viable. Make sure you identify the tools you’ll need to keep the consistency going, like an editorial calendar and a marketing automation software platform, if you don’t already have one. These will help your team track and measure results to determine whether any changes in frequency need to be made.
- Make regular deposits in a knowledge bank.
Consistency and quality go hand in hand. Too much of one without the other bores the audience and gives the impression that your brand is not as authoritative as it claims. Establish baselines and test against your hypotheses to identify the best content strategy for your company.
If you need more guidance on the amount of blog content that makes sense for your team, set up a free consultation with us!
The original version of this article was first published on The Marketing Scope.