Why More Marketers Should Compost Their Ineffective Content

Peter Ross

VP, Corporate Marketing

compost content
Content Compost image via Shutterstock

Despite significant content marketing investments made by many B2B marketers (this one included), an extraordinary amount of content is still ineffective or simply goes to waste. A closer look at this useless content reveals some consistent and avoidable marketing bad habits:

  • A tendency to produce content that is irrelevant and not audience-centric
  • An emphasis on volume over quality
  • Poor distribution strategies

If you’re investing in content marketing programs to fuel inbound marketing and enable sales, there’s a high likelihood that more than half your effort is going to waste. So it’s just as important to identify your high-return assets as it is to shovel your under-performing content onto the content marketing compost pile.

Avoid the ‘Content Wasteland’

Several recent surveys, focused on the effectiveness of content marketing, highlight the conflict that many B2B organizations are adopting best practices but they still continue to struggle with getting an optimal return on their content marketing investments:

  • Sirius Decisions market research indicates that roughly 60 to 70% of content created by B2B companies is never used and ends up in the ‘content wasteland’ which equates to millions of dollars, not to mention resources wasted developing content that was never viewed or downloaded .
  • A 2014 Forrester study found that over 50% of B2B marketers consider their content marketing to be very mature but only 14% claimed these efforts to be very effective at delivering real business value
  • According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2014 B2B Content Marketing Benchmark, 47% of B2B marketers cite that one of their biggest challenges is to produce the kind of content that engages their buying audience

To better pinpoint some of the attributes of content that works, it’s critical that we (as marketers) do a thorough job of figuring out why some content just doesn’t work so we can eliminate it from our strategy and make every marketing dollar work harder.

Common denominators of wasteful content strategies

It’s not all about you

Just say NO to narcissistic content that is self-absorbed, or non-relevant to the audience you are trying to reach. B2B marketers must make more of an effort to produce content that addresses their customer’s business issues, challenges and pain points and what can be done to alleviate their issues. Too much content is inward facing and tends to focus only on products and features with little insight on how these solutions might directly help customers. Marketers can stop producing so many B2B marketing “selfies” by not talking so much about their own brands, their products and their capabilities and spend more content marketing effort to focus on buyer’s interests and better address their information needs. If so, you will get more mileage and value out of content that is relevant, insightful and on-point with your buying audience.

Your content is too hard to find

There is no question that marketers have become prolific content creators and customers have become more comfortable with brands as publishers. But just creating good or even great content is not enough. If the right buyers can’t find your content, then your marketing plan is destined to fail. To best sum up this situation, Media agency Mindshare, coined the marketing adage, “If content is king, then distribution is queen” .  One of the main shortcomings of an ineffective content strategy is that customers and internal stakeholders can’t find the right content because content distribution in some cases hasn’t fully evolved to take advantage of all the ways our audiences consume content. Marketers need to conduct regular internal and external content distribution audits with your primary stakeholders to determine what content they are using, where they are sourcing it from and where they prefer to have relevant content presented to maximize its accessibility. Lesson learned: Content is only as good as its distribution channel and it doesn’t matter how good your content is if nobody knows it exists.

“Quantifying” Quality – Build off of your best content

With lots of pressure to fuel inbound strategies, email nurture campaigns and improve search engine rankings, it’s common to fall victim to emphasizing quantity over quality. And with every B2B marketer producing a continuous stream of content, it has become more challenging to create the sort of content that really engages buyers. Since marketers only have a limited number of at-bats with their audience it’s critical to make every piece of content count.

Top notch content helps establish thought leadership and promotes greater brand awareness as it gets shared with more engaged buyers.  Recent changes in Google’s ranking algorithms have helped put a much higher value on the quality of content posted as opposed to rewarding websites with a higher volume of low-quality content.

That is why marketers must “quantify” their quality assets. In other words, take your best performing content and use it to build out even more high-quality, relevant assets to add to the arsenal. Here’s a relevant example of building a comprehensive content arsenal of fourteen distinct assets from a single piece of high-return content.  By taking this approach you will avoid the consequences of lower search engine rankings and alienating your audiences with loads of unwanted, unused, second-rate content.

Keep turning your compost pile

At the same time, when you compost the best qualities of any asset, good or bad, it leads to much more fruitful content marketing efforts.

While B2B marketers continue to develop new pieces of content, many of which will be composted, the only way to conclusively find content that works is through ongoing trial and error. As any good marketer knows, you will fail many times before you succeed, but adopting some of these approaches will help minimize the amount of content waste, so you can make room for developing more powerful assets that actually deliver business value.

I’d love to hear from you about some of your successes, failures and any advice you have to share — so I encourage you to connect with me in the comment section below or reach out via LinkedIn and Twitter.

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