Content Marketing Pt. 1: Quantity vs Quality

One of my favorite marketing quotes comes from Duke University behavioral psychology professor (and all around smart guy) Dan Ariely about big data…

“Big data is like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it…”

The phrase directly applies to content marketing. I’m actually surprised content isn’t what he was specifically referring to. Excluding the “nobody really knows how to do it” part, it’s entirely true.

Some companies, brands, and writers are incredible content marketers. Most, though, do it because everyone else claims they are doing it, and claim they see results from it. Some content marketers produce rapid content hoping the sheer amount of content will spread like wildfire and with each small piece new inquiries, leads, and subscribers will pour in. Other content marketers obsess over spending weeks on creating the perfect piece of high-caliber content hoping that it’ll get picked up by trend-setter sites as the new gold standard. Here’s the truth:

People have been preaching about quality over quantity for years. But really, both have their place in content marketing depending on a number of factors like, say, clients, goals, targets, products, and channels. The important thing is that no matter which avenue you go down, quantity or quality, neither should be sacrificed for the other. Thanks to Google’s Panda and Penguin SEO updates in recent months, unhelpful and useless content tends to get filtered out – so start focusing on strategy.

A good example is Hubspot’s six-month quantity vs quality battle. Hubspot found that high-comprehension content at a low volume didn’t work for them as well as low-comprehension content at a higher volume. Hubspot defined “quality” of content in levels of “comprehension,” but the terms are interchangeable. They also found that different types of content worked better to achieve different goals – traffic and leads. GASP! You mean there isn’t one blanket solution to all of content marketing? Well I’ll be…

Disclaimer: in a lot of cases there are a number of reasons to not favor quantity over quality. Tons of forced-produced content typically goes unnoticed, substance usually lacks, readership connection falls, authenticity takes a hit – take your pick. Scarcity (to an extent) tends to create value. Abundance tends to saturate it. Also, content quantity effectiveness has a lot to do with SEO efforts.

Creating content solely for content’s sake ends up being mediocre at best…and at worst is hot garbage that only adds to the engulfed landfill that is digital clutter.

And mediocre content stems from mediocre strategy.

When a company or brand thinks of time as transactional, they start thinking about their content more like a “viral product.” Is your company making cheap knick-knack weak blog posts intended for one-time use for a few leads that week? Or is your brand making a handcrafted item that can’t be refunded but provides timeless (and time-worth) value? If your company is wasting someone’s time with irrelevant content, they’re unlikely to give you a second chance with their time.