February 15th, 2018

Is Content Marketing Littering the Internet?

Author: Laura Lynch
Laura Lynch
Director of Marketing

Is there such a thing as too much content?

Is there such a thing as too much content? For helpful, high-quality content, the answer is: no.

I see this opinion making its way around the Internet every once and a while. Someone—not a marketer, usually—makes an argument that content marketing is somehow clogging up the Internet. That there is, in fact, too much content, and it’s oppressive and intrusive and driving everyone insane.

I know I’m hardly an impartial source on this, but being totally honest, this mindset makes no sense to me. Content marketing, when done right, not provides a better ROI than almost any other marketing out there, it does so in a way that is non-invasive and provides value to the consumer.

Think I might have a point? Let me elaborate.

It’s entirely opt-in.

No one’s making you read this. At least, I hope not. If you are reading this, you’re probably doing so for a reason. Maybe you searched this question yourself. Maybe you follow our blog on Facebook. Maybe you’re interested in our content marketing services but worry about posting too much.

The bottom line is: you’re choosing to read this. You don’t get that choice with a lot of other marketing. You don’t ask to see advertisements on TV, or billboards on the highway, or flyers in your mailbox, or cold callers on your phone. Content marketing is brilliant—for businesses as well as customers, because of how unintrusive it is.

This is no small thing, and honestly, it’s my #1 argument against the idea that we’re somehow producing too much content. It’s like accepting someone’s invitation to dinner and then complaining they’re too hospitable.

The world needs good marketing.

Imagine a world without marketing. Maybe, for a split second, that sounds like bliss to you. But now imagine owning a business. You’re proud of your business and the value it provides your customers. You want it to succeed and do well, not just for your own profit, but so that you can support your employees. How are you going to get your products and services in front of people who might value them without marketing? If you’ve made a better product than your competitors, how will you share that information with the consumer, especially if you don’t have the resources of a Fortune 500 brand?

Or, let’s take it from the customer’s perspective. Let’s say you’re trying to make a purchase. You need a new computer, and given the costs involved you want to make an informed decision. Or you’re concerned about the ethical sourcing of your clothes and want to find a conscious fashion company. Or maybe it’s something simpler—soap, for instance—but you’re concerned about finding a hypoallergenic brand.

Consumers benefit from more information. The more you can write about your product—how you make it, how it can be used, what sets it apart from everyone else’s—the more guidance consumers have when they go to make a purchase.

What do you think makes Google useful?

Think back to those purchasing examples I just listed. I assume you’ve purchased a computer sometime in the last few years. How did you research your decision?

If you’re like me, you Googled. You read up about different models, learned about how much memory and disk space you’d need, compared monitor specifications, and read reviews. And I will bet that a fair few of the most valuable sources you used to make your decision came from marketing blogs.

We’re so used to Google providing answers that we sometimes forget where those answers come from. Not Google, you may be surprised to remember. Instead, that content comes from people, many of them marketers.

Content marketing is egalitarian….

Another thing I love about content marketing is how accessible it is to small businesses. Large companies with lots of resources have the funds to put their brands everywhere. They can sponsor Super Bowls, brand athletes, and hire celebrity endorsements.

But content marketing levels the playing field. You want to start a niche blog about small batch manufacturing? Put enough work into it, and you can reach thousands of interested buyers at relatively low cost. And those consumers will come to you with a better understanding of your business and your product than otherwise.

…but all content is not created equal.

None of this is to say that there isn’t bad content. I’m just as weary as the next person of blank, click-bait fluff. When my search for answers means I have to wade through a pile of trite, poorly-written puff pieces, I, too, feel like enough is enough.

And for what it’s worth, I highly doubt this content is doing most businesses any good. Google is getting better every day at providing users with the high-value content that will match their needs. For content marketers, this means that thorough, well-researched marketing pieces will continue to provide value to consumers.

Quality over quantity. But why choose?

Most blogs work best when they follow the 80-20 rule: Put in 20% of your effort, and you’ll get 80% of the way there. After that, you tend to see diminishing returns, and the more time you sink into each blog post only yields marginal gains.

The good news is, if you stop after 20%, you can reinvest the time you save into new posts. And don’t be fooled: a blog post that is 80% perfect is an excellent post. Why? Because perfect is subjective. The 80% of your time and effort you spend trying to get the final 20% of the way may be an improvement in your eyes alone.

With that in mind, it’s not so hard to understand how some businesses can produce the content they do without lowering their standards. We publish five times a week, Monday through Friday. Not every business needs to publish that much, but ours is pretty broad and things change fast.

That said, if you publish less than once a week you won’t get to cover very many topics. I’ve talked to a lot of companies who seem to believe once a month is good enough. At that glacial pace, you can only publish a dozen topics a year.

I think most businesses do well with two blog posts a week. It’s the kind of pace that will keep you on your toes without being overwhelming, and it will give you room to explore your market without struggling for topic ideas.

So, when it comes to that all-important question of how much content a business should publish, my answer is: think weekly, not monthly.

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