The Cost of Bad Content

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Cost of bad content represented by a piggy bankAccording to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs 2012 report on B2B Content Marketing, 90% of organizations are marketing with content! (I’d love to know what the “other 10%” are doing?)

But does anyone have a handle on the costs? What are the costs of producing content that never gets used? What are the costs of publishing bad content in the form of lost revenue?

I looked for answers in 2 separate reports. The one mentioned above and the IDG Connect IT Buyer Survey from last year.

While almost two-thirds of the CMI study report that they plan to increase their spend on content marketing over the next 12 months, many report struggling to report effectively on the impact of their content marketing activities.

So I think it starts by looking at both sides of the equation: the costs and results achieved from content marketing. . .

I believe the main problem stems from the common marketing mistake of focusing on activities instead of results (my blood is starting to boil) but I think if we bring some simple and solid analysis to the discussion, we can arm our colleagues to think like business people, focus on the customer and deliver results.

CMI and @MarketingProfs Report

On average, B2B marketers employ eight different content marketing tactics to achieve their marketing goals. The top tactics include:

  • article posting (reported by 79% of respondents)
  • social media excluding blogs (74%)
  • blogs (65%)
  • eNewsletters (63%)
  • case studies (58%)
  • and in-person events (56%)

Marketers, on average, spend over a quarter (26%) of their marketing budget on content marketing. That is a lot dough! And yet non-monetized web traffic is still the number one way marketers are tracking the success of the content marketing activities.

The main challenges listed are quality content that “engages customers,” followed by quantity of content and content marketing budgets.

Those who consider themselves effective content marketers:

  • Spend almost twice as much as their less effective peers
  • Are more likely to consider buying stage in their content marketing efforts
  • Have senior-level support for their content marketing efforts

IDG Connect North American IT Buyer Survey

Digital Content is important:

  • represents over 50% of what contributes to a sale
  • when done right, adds to a vendors chances of getting the sale by up to 25%

This survey gets to some of the costs of bad content:

  • Less than half of digital vendor content is found useful
  • 22% of the buying process is wasted with ineffective content
  • Vendors who make these mistakes are 27% less likely to be considered on the buyer short list
  • And they are 40% less likely to get the sale

And the impact on content:

  • Buyers estimate that content is, on average, 50% too long
  • Buyers are expecting to be entertained with stories as they get educated
  • Buyers are looking for truly “white” whitepapers with no promotional bias
  • Content gating leads to a 40% abandonment rate
  • Buyers provide mis-leading information on forms 30% of the time
  • Buyers are looking for content personalized to them and their contextual needs


From these 2 studies it is clear that content marketing is more than just the latest buzz but is truly important to marketers and buyers. But it must be done in an effective and disciplined and measured way.

How are you measuring the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts? Are you thinking about content that is mapped to buyer stages? Are you tracking what content is found useful by your audience?

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Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. 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 shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.

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