If my memory serves me correct, the "quality and quantity" debate has been pervasive in content marketing for most of this decade. The fact of the matter is that both have benefits to a website, however a brand’s mix of the two should be determined by its own established goals, and the resources available to create it. It’s no secret that not every marketing department can pump out fifteen blog posts per week, each of which reading like Hemingway wrote them.
That would be ideal, but it's unrealistic. For most brands, it’s likely that content quality will be impacted as production increases, and definitely without additional investment in production. Content marketing, on average, makes up around 25% of a marketing budget, of which, 7%-8% of gross revenue should be spent on marketing. There are outliers, however. P&G once spent nearly 35% of its revenue on marketing. They've since scaled back.
Generally, B2C companies spend more than B2B brands on marketing.
How Content Quantity Impacts Your Marketing
Every page that’s published on a website is another opportunity to appear on the search engine results page (SERP). Generally, this leads to a higher percentage of traffic coming from organic search over time. That’s a good thing, but if the content is poor, and the online signals it creates are identified as such by Google, the search benefits could be moot.
There's also strong evidence that content quantity benefits lead generation. HubSpot tracks this in its annual State of Inbound Marketing report.
But outside of organic search and lead generation, the benefits are very debatable. With more content, a brand can send more email to its list, post more on social media, and generally do more content promotion and amplification.
According to Google, the average consumer needs around 18 brand touches to become a customer, thus, each time a user is "touched" by content, they become more aware, and more likely to develop consideration.
How Content Quality Impacts Your Marketing
Quality content is in the eye of the beholder - but at the same time, you can produce the world’s greatest masterpiece, but if no one reads, it or can find it, the content stinks.
If a brand blogs once per month, its opportunities to rank in the SERPs will be less, driving less organic traffic, even if the article is amazing. Organic virality is a pipe dream for most marketers. After publishing over 1,000 articles in my career I’ve never had anything go “viral.”
In addition, with less content there’re fewer opportunities to drive leads from content touches. It also extends the time it takes for content marketing efforts to pay off. Lastly, with less content comes less email, fewer social media posts - your potential for content promotion is limited more broadly.
With quality content comes advantages, too. Really good content - especially very helpful material - can make a positive impression on those folks that consume it. It will also most likely create signals Google’s algorithm will recognize as positive and thus reward the content with higher rankings.
Finding the Happy Middle
Based on the above stats - and one recommended rule of thumb - you should be able to calculate how much content should be created and its quality. Most content marketers spend five dollars on creative for every one dollar they spend on promotion. Television executives do the opposite. We should follow the example of television executives as a rule of thumb.
That means that 5% of your marketing budget should be used on content creation. Figure out what's a realistic quantity of content within that budget. In the beginning, plan on experimenting with wordcounts.
Use the feedback loop from analytics to inform you of the quality perception of the content. With paid amplification behind this new content, the feedback cycle will accelerate. Once you have enough data to feel confident, choose a wordcount goal moving forward. The longer the article, the less you’ll be able to produce.
One way to augment the production of owned media is to also promote earned media from journalists and influencers. These are content touches, too. They can also be included in email sends and social posts.
In conclusion, quality vs. quantity is not an "either-or" proposition. You need both. By realistically looking at the budget numbers above, and the feedback cycle from analytics, you’ll find the appropriate mix of the two for your brand.
A version of this post was first published on the inPwrd blog.