CMOs and content creators must re-examine goals for content. Are they bringing in high-quality traffic, or simply a lot of traffic? As marketers have gone all-in on content creation, they’ve forgotten how to stand out.
Brand marketers are blogging 800% more, on average, than they were five years ago. However, the average number of shares per post have declined by 89%, according to a report from TrackMaven.
Kara Burney, director of content at marketing analytics provider TrackMaven, says marketers have fallen into an “activity trap.” By this she means marketers have gone all-in on creating content without seeing good metric results. While focusing on content is a good thing, marketers have mistakenly made traffic numbers the linchpin of success and lost efficiency in the process, she says.
“They’re just churning out content … but not seeing a return,” she says of the average content marketer. “One of the things this report puts numbers to is the feeling that there’s a lot of wasted energy and resources in marketing right now. We’ve gone so all-in on digital that we haven’t figured out a way to scale it.”
TrackMaven’s report shows that between September 2011 and August 2012, brands posted fewer than 10 times on average and saw approximately 3,000 social shares per post. In the most recent period measured, from September 2015 to August 2016, brands posted in excess of 3,000 times with fewer than 500 social shares per post.
“We’re going in two different directions: putting out way too much and getting much less for it.”
More Competition Means Less Efficiency
Increased competition in blogging means less visibility for the average piece of content, Burney says.
“Marketers are struggling to be heard across competition. There’s so much content out there, not just from other brands, but you’re competing against Buzzfeed, Vox, The New York Times and other major media companies,” she says. “There’s a finite amount of user attention and way too much content to get processed.”
Marketers will often choose the busiest time of day to post blog entries, as many end up publishing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. These are the two busiest days of the week and offer some of the lowest numbers for average shares per post.
“As we’ve gone all-in on digital, we’ve forgotten how to stand out,” Burney says.
Making a Better Blog
Marketers can stop wasting time and energy and start beating the competition by spending less time creating multiple blog posts and more time on fewer, higher-quality posts, Burney says.
“Focus on a few high-value, high-production pieces—like a massive report or in-depth blog post on the topic—and then distribute that in valuable pieces that can be consumed on each social network,” she says. “The customers we’ve seen doing that are seeing a much higher return on the content they’re creating.
Doing this provides immediate value for social media users, she says, thereby allowing content marketers a chance to break through the noise of content competition.
A Challenge to CMOs
This report challenges CMOs and content marketers to set the right goals for their blogs, Burney says.
“Setting goals around pure traffic [is a misguided goal] in many industries, particularly on the B-to-B side,” she says. “It’s really easy to find a way to generate traffic; it’s much harder to find a way to generate quality visitors. For B-to-B in particular, a smaller number of quality visitors trumps a higher number of low-quality visitors.”
Marketers who see no return from blog posts are likely setting the wrong traffic goals, she says, so there may be a need to change how metrics and goals are set, as well as how content creators do their job.
Additionally, marketers must refine their editorial calendars, Burney says. Content calendars should reflect what will be posted in future months but be flexible enough to factor in new input. While having an editorial calendar is important, so is holding onto content fluidity.
“Things are changing so quickly and if you’re not keeping track of what’s going on in your industry, you’re locked into that activity trap again,” she says.
By promoting fluidity, she says marketers can take some of the bureaucracy out of blogging.