Recently I have been reviewing a number of different software brands (no names, I promise) and I’ve found that there’s just too many content pieces around: it’s content marketing overload. It seems we’re all in a hurry to produce content for the sake it, in a quest to feed the marketing automation machine and because we feel we have to.
I disagree. Less is more. When I visited the ‘resources’ sections of those software brands, I found myself overloaded at the sheer volume of content available to download. So much so, that I simply didn’t know where to start. The result? I ended up leaving.
Ironically, the effort put into the creation of said content is wasted and it doesn’t perform as intended. Instead, it’s left languishing on the shelf with its creators wondering why the campaign isn’t working.
Content: Quality over quantity. Less is more. Better still, tailor it to me as your buyer.
The last thing you want to do is overwhelm me with so much that I’m left ‘blinded’ by all the messages. Three to five pieces per buyer is enough. When you consider all the stake holders in the buying process that’s probably a maximum of 15 pieces you need on display at any one time. We’ll cover the type of pieces another time.
With only three to five pieces to choose from, I can easily decide where I fit, and if you fit with what I need. You’ve got me engaged and hopefully I’ll download (much more likely if I don’t have to give you my email address or telephone).
So, it’s good to be ruthless, and there’s no time like the present. Here are seven ways to combat content overload.
1. Organise your content by buyer type
We touched on this above. Start by thinking about your buyers and segmenting them. On a basic level this should be by the type of stakeholder they are: researcher, operational champion, executive sponsor (decision maker) and financial champion (the finance director).
Different buyers will need different information, so match your content to these buyers. If you have gaps, then there’s your excuse for new content. If you have multiple pieces per buyer, then think about the type of content they need for the buying stage they’re at.
Next, go a step further and think about the markets you serve. Some of our clients work across different verticals, for example, professional services, manufacturing and marketing. Whilst there are similarities between those verticals, the language and the nuances of those verticals are quite different. Therefore customise your content for the verticals.
This exercise will enable you to be far more focussed with the development of your content which will improve relevancy and ultimately engagement. It should also mean that you can put a halt to content production for a while, unless you need to fill some gaps.
2. Make is easy to find: Usability
I’m always surprised that resources sections are usually split by type of content such as white papers, infographics or videos. Whilst that’s great, it means that if you have a lot of content, I still have to sift through all the videos to find the ones that are relevant to me. Again, I’m left struggling to find the information that I want and I’ll probably leave (I’m very fickle and lazy).
Consider re-organising your content so that it’s relevant to the buyer, either by your specialisms (i.e. products or services), the sectors you serve (i.e. verticals) or the buyer’s business objective. There are other ways you can make your content more findable on your website, but that’s for another day.
A great example of a company doing this right is Shoretel. The resources page is similar to a mega navigational menu and I can clearly see the areas that are relevant to me.
3. Create a distribution plan around each piece of content you produce
Most marketers create a piece of content and then put it live by posting it to social media sites, putting it on their blog and telling their database via email. Then, it’s onto the next piece.
Well, that’s not enough. A well thought through content piece should have merit for a good few months, which means that you need to create a plan around the content to make it s-t-r-e-t-c-h.
There are some good thoughts on stripping and ripping content here.
In essence, think about the core messages that the piece is trying to convey, what the objective is, the appropriate distribution channels for the piece and how it’s going to fit with other content that’s being promoted. Think of each content piece as a campaign in its own right and promote it as such.
4. Be selective: Don’t put all your wares on show
When we’ve worked hard to create lots of content, it’s tempting to put it all on display. However, less is generally more so you don’t overload your visitors. Plus, if you’re stripping and ripping the content, you won’t confuse them with multiple messages out in the ether.
Choose the content you show on your website wisely by tying it back to your buyers and what they’re looking to find, discover or understand. Ultimately, we’re aiming to educate and develop a relationship with those visitors, so we should carefully consider what they want and not bombard them with too much information.
Well thought through content has merit for months, so you need to create a plan to make it stretch.
5. Give value: Don’t gate everything
The ultimate question is: to gate or not to gate? My take: don’t gate everything. The more you give, the more you’ll get back. And if you have a consistent programme of content distribution, it’s very likely they’ll come back again.
When they’re ready, offer them your most valuable content in exchange for an email address. At that stage, you’ve earned my respect and I’m happy for you to email me, or perhaps even call.
If you have website visitor tracking software, you’ll be able to monitor the performance (i.e. the same visitor downloading multiple pieces). If you’re not convinced about letting some of your content go ungated, then test it and see if it makes a difference to lead quality.
Remember, if I give you my email address for the pleasure of downloading some pithy infographic or light content piece, I probably won’t come back. I’ll feel cheated as the value exchange wasn’t fair and I’ll stop listening to you.
6. Review and refine
It is good practice to assess what’s working and what isn’t. If a content piece isn’t performing then take a good hard look at the messaging, theme, targeting, landing page and distribution of it. There may be obvious things that you can improve. If there aren’t, then maybe it’s time to retire the piece, or take it out of circulation and beef it up.
If content isn’t performing, check the messaging, theme, targeting, landing page and distribution.
7. Rework and refresh
Content doesn’t have to die. A great way to breathe new life into your content programme is to revisit older or under-performing content and refresh it.
For older content focussed around statistics, your own primary research or technology features, there’s a great excuse to revisit it again and update it.
With statistics, check the original sources of figures and update them, then release an ‘updated’ version. You can also add additional promotional content about ‘year on year’ changes and insights into those changes.
The same is true for content that is focussed around software features and integrations. Things change and develop so it’s good to take a fresh look at how much technology has changed and how that affects the messages in your content. For example, you might be solving an additional problem or a new integration may open up new ways for your customers to examine data. The opposite can also be true; where a new development in technology nullifies something that you’ve said earlier.
So if you feel like you’re a hamster in a wheel creating new content left, right and centre, it’s time to step back and review what you’re doing with fresh eyes. Not only will you save valuable resource and budget, but you’ll also make your existing content far more effective – which your prospects will appreciate and so will your sales team.