The Compounding Power of Content Marketing

Like the interest earned on your savings account, the returns on your content marketing efforts can grow significantly over time. “Content is one of the few forms of marketing that has a compounding return,” Tomasz Tunguz, a former Google product manager and now partner at Redpoint Ventures, said in a podcast with HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe.

What this means is that, unlike winning the lottery, you won’t see a huge change in your marketing performance overnight. Content marketing is a long-term investment, so what you will see is long-term, sustainable returns with time, as HubSpot has seen with their content marketing efforts.

By consistently creating quality content over time, HubSpot’s blog has attracted over a million visits on a monthly basis, helping the company to expand their reach and effectively generate more quality leads.

Useful, valuable content will stay relevant over time, and will continue to generate traffic and leads past their publication date. As Tunguz points out, only about one-third of views are generated on the first day of publication for a blog post on his site With time, Tunguz says that a typical blog post will generate 1-2 times as much traffic, as the graph below shows.

typical blog post trafficWhat this means for marketers is that they need to be strategic about the types of content they create. According to Tunguz, content marketing campaigns focused on evergreen content – content that continues to stay relevant, useful and “fresh” for your readers – will grow bigger and faster than temporal content – content that is timely and covers recent events or news.

To get a better idea of how evergreen content performs against temporal content, take a look at the graphs below. Tunguz says that a hypothetical evergreen blog post, for example, may generate roughly 150 views on the day it is published, and about 20 views the following day. Based on the post view decay rate he calculated using his own post, a typical evergreen focused blog can still earn about 18 views per day a year later.

evergreen blog postThe graph also shows content marketing’s compounding effects. In a year, the blog post would bring in over 250k readers every month. While one could argue that this is a hypothetical example, Tunguz says that the idea of compounding return still holds here. The value of quality content will compound over time, and that is what differentiates it from traditional marketing tactics.

temporal blog postWith a temporal strategy, on the other hand, a typical blog post may earn the same amount of views an evergreen focused blog generates on the first day (150 views) and the following day (20 views), but the decay rate for temporal content is much steeper. The blog post may only get about 1 view per day after a year. Traffic also hits a ceiling at around 70k readers, which is less than a third of the traffic of an evergreen post.

The examples here aren’t suggesting that your content strategy should focus solely on producing evergreen content. Rather, content marketers should experiment and find the optimal balance that works best for their target audience.

While temporal content may not have the same compounding effect as evergreen content, it does deliver timely, fresh content to your readers, which some of your target customers may appreciate. Evergreen content, however, is what will ultimately drive sustainable traffic growth for your brand in the long term, to help you increase awareness, generate quality leads and convert them into sales.

What do you think? Have you seen compounding returns on your evergreen content, or your overall content marketing efforts compared to traditional marketing and advertising tactics? Please share your ideas below!

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Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

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