Are you struggling to keep up with your competitor’s seemingly impossible levels of content output? Then you’re probably going to be pleased with what I have to say.
It’s possible to create less content and still achieve the same (if not better) engagement with your audience.
But don’t go slashing your content marketing budget just yet — you’re not completely off the hook. In fact, content is still just as critical to your marketing success, and likely always will be.
The rules are rapidly changing, though. Search engines are saturated, content sharing has dropped dramatically in recent years and buyers are more distracted than ever. And all the while, brands continue to pump out more and more mediocre content, clogging up distribution platforms with tired concepts and regurgitated ideas.
So how can choosing to create less content help you drive more engagement?
Here’s what you need to know.
When I was in journalism school, we had a saying: never use a lot when a little will do.
If you’ve ever been forced to edit a zillion-word article down to half an 11x17 printed page, you can probably understand how this became our mantra. (Or maybe you were lucky enough to enter the industry well after the digital media revolution when word counts became more like suggestions.)
In the bygone era of print-first media, space was the most important commodity. Today, though, it’s your audience’s attention.
In fact, a two-second delay in load time can hurt bounce rates by as much as 103%, according to data shared by Forbes. There’s too much to consume, and no one has even two seconds to spare.
In this era of “content shock,” that old j-school adage may be the best advice I can give. Sometimes in the rush to create more, to fill the practically unlimited space available to share your messages, we lose our ability to create things well. It’s time to flip the script.
For example, let’s say you have a set budget allocated for monthly content production. Many decision-makers would use those funds to create as much content as possible. Surely 20 search engine-optimized blog posts will move the needle further than just one or two more expensive or time-intensive pieces of content, right?
The truth is, people are craving incredible experiences. They want to see a well-produced, entertaining video that adequately addresses a key topic of concern. They want in-depth reports based on your own data and research — something they can’t find anywhere else. That’s not to say a series of blog posts can’t deliver the same level of engagement on its own, but those articles better be extraordinary.
In other words, dedicate your time, energy and budget to creating really, really good stuff — even if that means you’re producing less of it.
Of course, I’m not suggesting you wholesale stop creating simple, helpful content like evergreen “how-to” blog posts and instead dump all your budget into producing larger-than-life assets. Just make sure the blog posts you publish provide the answers your audience is seeking.
Whether through voice search or manually entering search queries, people still turn to content to solve their problems. Google averages around 3.5 billion searches per day and, since 2010, the number of annual searches has grown by 10% per year, according to Internet Live Stats. In other words, people are still looking for answers, and it’s crucial you provide them through your content.
Instead of merely writing blog posts because you want to maintain your publishing frequency, ensure all content you create provides real value based on both quantitative data (like search analytics) and qualitative data (like questions prospects and customers are asking your sales team). If a topic doesn’t serve to educate, inform and drive your audience toward a solution, it’s probably not worth the time or energy it takes to make and publish.
Creating content for the sake of creating content is a wasted effort.
The idea of scaling back on content creation may come as a relief for overworked teams. But sometimes, as Wordstream founder Larry Kim says in an article for Inc., you need the quantity to find the quality.
Instead of producing tons of content to meet some superficial goal (like publishing three blog posts per week even though they’re driving little-to-no traffic), use that time to experiment and try something new.
I don’t mean creating a bunch of random pieces to throw against the wall and see what sticks. Instead, take all the valuable qualitative and quantitative data I mentioned before and use it to foster fresh ideas.
For example, imagine you work for a cardiology clinic, and you’ve discovered cardiology patients are often embarrassed by their lack of knowledge on a topic and don’t always ask their provider to clarify.
How could you add value and help them overcome this obstacle? Instead of creating your usual three posts per week, perhaps you write just one post. Then, dedicate the rest of your time to producing a series of videos where doctors and nurses answer anonymous heart health questions submitted by current and prospective patients. Even if the series doesn’t take off as expected, you can easily repurpose its useful content into blog posts, infographics and more.
In other words, don't just begin creating less just because it's easier or cheaper than creating more. You still need room for innovating and experimenting.
Start with these questions:
If the answer is yes, then great! You may not need to adjust the amount or frequency of your content at all. But if the answer is no, if you feel like you and your team are spinning your wheels constantly without achieving the results you expected content marketing to yield, then it’s time to step back and reassess.
If you’re not creating incredible experiences, providing real solutions and seeking new ways to experiment with content, you need to give yourself the space to do so. Choosing to create less content can be scary, but sometimes it’s the only way to ensure you can create content that succeeds.
Content is still integral to your success — and that's unlikely to change any time soon. If you don't have the time or resources to create content in-house, it's essential you partner with an agency that can give your audience the content they're craving (and keep them coming back for more).