The ultimate debate in content marketing: Quality vs. quantity
The use of content marketing to drive business growth has risen steadily over the last decade. Marketers in nearly every industry are leveraging content marketing to better engage their audience, drive brand awareness, improve brand reputation, and grow their customer base.
There are two primary types of content marketing, and we are currently having a debate about which of the two is more effective. Those two approaches are: 1) lower-volume, higher-quality content, and 2) higher-volume content that delivers less value but drives more traffic.
Below we’ll compare these two schools of thought and provide some content marketing examples. But first, let’s start with an overview of what content marketing actually means.
What is content marketing?
We recently published an article that provided the best content marketing tips for driving growth. In that article, we relied on the experts of content marketing—Content Marketing Institute—for a high-level definition of the concept. Here it is:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
In short, content marketing is the practice of developing content that solves common problems for your target audience and educates them on emerging trends. In recent years, this has proven more effective than traditional outbound marketing.
Why content marketing?
Although outbound marketing is still an effective tactic, marketers are increasingly devoting more time and attention to their content marketing strategy. Most are using a combination of the two, but content marketing is slowly taking over, and for good reason.
According to research by the Content Marketing Institute, on average, B2B companies spend only 28% of their overall marketing budget on content marketing.
They also found a direct correlation between the percentage of a company’s budget allocated to content marketing and the effectiveness of their overall marketing efforts. The most effective B2B marketers spend 42% of their budget on content marketing, which underscores the importance of investing heavily in your content marketing efforts.
But once you invest in content marketing, how do you incorporate it into your marketing efforts? Which of the two approaches mentioned above will be more effective for your business? Let’s dig in and shed some light on this debate.
The debate between quantity and quality
The debate is ongoing: which is better, high-quality content or high-volume content? The best way to answer this question is to compare the two.
The argument for quality over quantity
We are in a new era in which there is so much content available that readers can easily be overwhelmed. Most markets are saturated with content these days. This saturation point we are seeing is called “peak content.”
With so much content out there, you need to produce content that stands out from the rest. If you produce content that delivers unique value—value that your competitors’ content is not providing—your content will stand out.
Providing unique value will help differentiate you from your competition. Producing high-volume content that mirrors the rest of the content saturating the market will not differentiate your business from the rest.
Content repurposing refers to taking a killer piece of high-quality content and reusing it to produce additional content around the same message.
For example, if you write an awesome eBook that generates loads of engagement, you can leverage that momentum and convert that eBook into various other pieces of content.
You could shorten the eBook and publish a blog article that only includes the main points and key takeaways from the eBook. Or, you could take the most important statistics and lessons from the eBook and use those to create an infographic. You could also pull out the most important points and turn them into individual social media posts.
In this way, you can create one piece of amazing content, and walk away with three or four additional pieces of helpful content. Your target audience’s preferences around how they consume content vary. Some prefer long-form content like eBooks. Others prefer shorter content they can consume in less time—such as blogs or infographics.
Producing high-quality content allows you to make that content available in a variety of formats and through multiple marketing channels. You can’t repurpose a low-quality content piece, because there’s not enough “meat” in the content to warrant repurposing—you can only stretch it so far.
Greater reach and exposure
High-quality content that delivers unique value speaks for itself. If it effectively solves common problems for your target audience and educates readers about highly-relevant industry trends, it will likely be shared on social media and through other channels. This increases the number of readers that view your content, which expands the reach and exposure of your brand.
Low-quality content is less likely to be shared, which means that you spend time and resources creating it, then it just sits there.
Reputation and brand awareness
With so much competition in most markets today, and so much content saturating the airwaves, it’s easy for your content to get lost in the shuffle.
However, if your content marketing efforts focus on high-quality content, your target market will take notice, and your brand will establish itself as an authority in your space. Doing this can allow you to become a thought leader in your market—one that consumers look to for answers to common problems.
This will improve your brand’s reputation and also increase brand awareness, both of which will ensure that your content is in high demand. If you produce high-volume, low-quality content, your content will not produce the same effect. Rather, it will remain lost in an endless sea of mediocre content.
Better customer experience
The customer experience is the new driver of consumers’ purchasing decisions. If you do not focus on delivering a world-class customer experience, your customers are likely to leave you for a company that does.
Plus, if you deliver a poor customer experience, word will get out, and your brand’s reputation will take a serious hit. Consumers who have a bad experience interacting with your company can be ruthless with their comments on social media. Delivering a poor customer experience will have devastating effects on your ability to grow your business over the long-term.
If you deliver high-quality content that solves real problems for your target market and keeps them educated on emerging trends, you are delivering a great customer experience. This will generate brand loyalty, which will reduce customer churn.
The argument for quantity over quality
More content equals more traffic
Proponents of high-volume content feel that if you push out more content, it will result in more traffic coming to your website simply because there is more of it to catch readers’ attention. They focus on SEO tactics and look to leverage strategies that will push your content pages higher on the list of search engine results.
That may be true in the most basic sense. However, what businesses need in order to grow is not more traffic, it’s new customers. It’s important to drive traffic, but you need to drive the right traffic. In other words, you need to engage leads who are a good fit for your product or service. It’s better to write content that directly addresses your audience’s needs than to write for Google’s ever-shifting algorithm.
Having one hundred visitors to your website who fit your ideal buyer profile and are more likely to engage once they arrive at your website is far more valuable than one thousand visitors who ultimately have little interest in your offerings.
The takeaway here is that driving more traffic does not equate to business growth. You need to drive traffic that is actually interested in what you’re selling, and high-quality content achieves that where low-quality, high-volume content does not.
It works better for established companies
Again, this is true in some ways. Once a company establishes itself as a thought leader, it can push out more content that delivers less value and readers will still engage with it because they trust and are loyal to that company.
However, a business can only do this once it is established and well-known. And to get to that point, it must first focus on delivering high-quality content that increases brand awareness and positions it as a thought leader.
So, in the end, while high-volume content can work for well-known, established companies, they can only arrive at that point by focusing first on high-quality content.
Robots can do the job
Artificial intelligence (AI) is advancing, and some companies are starting to use AI robots to generate high volumes of content.
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com and owner of The Washington Post (through his holding company: Nash Holdings), is using robots to write articles for that publication. Those articles still need to be reviewed and proofread by human editors, but an AI algorithm writes the initial draft. This allows The Washing Post to publish over 1000 articles every day.
However, one main drawback to this approach stands out: robots can only write simple, basic articles. They can’t understand the nuances of some issues and are not able to write complex articles. So, while robots can help produce a plethora of content, it’s not likely to be high-quality content.
Bottom line: Who’s the winner?
The answer is that there really is no true, objective winner. Different approaches work for different businesses. However, a few key takeaways are clear and agreed upon by most content marketing experts:
- High-quality content always beats low-quality content
- High-volume, low-quality content typically loses to low volume, high quality content
- In the era of peak content, marketers need high-quality content to stand out from the crowd
Although there is no definitive winner, signs point to high-quality content increasingly being the preferred tactic for content marketers.
However, the ideal scenario is to produce high-quality content at a high volume. That is only possible if you invest heavily in your content marketing efforts and hire the human resources necessary to produce a high volume of high-quality content.
My prediction is that we’ll see more businesses doing this because the numbers indicate that content marketing is an increasingly critical element of a successful marketing plan and strategy. Time will tell, but content marketing is a hot topic today and will continue to be well into the future.
How are you leveraging content marketing? Do you focus on quality or quantity? Or both? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments section below!