Ideal Content Breakdown

Credit: Ginny Mineo, HubSpot

When it comes to a content marketing strategy, what’s better: quality or quantity?

Great question.

With today’s obsession over content, it feels like you’re failing if you’re not pumping out material as fast as Stephen King on cocaine in the 80s, burning out in the bright glare of your monitor while fueling the unending blog slog of post after post after post.

How much is too much? In other words, is it better to publish a lot of content on a regular basis or focus on generating fewer high-quality pieces?

HubSpot tackles this question head on in (probably) their best blog post ever, Quality vs. Quantity: A 6-Month Analysis of the Age-Old Blogging Debate.

Upfront they say, “In an ideal world, the answer would always be less content of a higher quality. You’d spend lots of time researching and writing every post, then when you published it, the whole internet would notice…But that’s not how blogging works in real life. To grow a blog, you need to consistently publish content that your readers enjoy.”

To understand which content marketing strategy performed best, they categorized all of their posts into the following groups:

Tactical: Posts that teach people how to do something or inform them about a specific subject. E.g., “How to build an effective cold calling strategy.”

Deep Tactical: Like Tactical posts, but more in-depth. Length often exceeds 1,500 words. Covers topics using a lot of original quotes and current data. E.g., “HubSpot’s most effective cold calling campaigns, based on 10k campaigns.”

Editorial: Trends or issues that pertain to your audience. The difference between this and a tactical post is that often there’s no concrete takeaway. E.g., “Goodbye Moz, Hello SparkToro! Start-up stories from Rand Fishkin.”

Infographic/SlideShare: Infographics or SlideShares that stand on their own, usually featuring an introduction and the embedded media. E.g., “The Basics of Excellent Cold Calling [Infographic]”

TOFU: Posts created with broad, top-of-funnel (TOFU) traffic in mind. Usually related to larger trends or novel topics. E.g., “15 of Google’s Coolest Doodles.”

Syndications: Posts that appeared on other blogs, either internally or externally.

Promo: Short promotional posts of a gated offer. E.g., ebook, template, or webinar.

After analyzing their own mountain of data on these different post types, HubSpot arrived at the following takeaways.

Conclusion 1: Low volume is not an option

When HubSpot produced fewer posts of higher quality, they received 32% less traffic and 4% fewer leads than their benchmark phase.

When they produced higher quantity of lower-quality posts, traffic only increased 5% from the benchmark phase—but they generated almost double the benchmark leads. How? Each post generated the same average number of leads per post, but overall post volume drove lead volume much higher.

LVHC = Low Volume, High Content; HVLC = High Volume, Low Content

“In short,” HubSpot says, “[low volume] isn’t a viable strategy for us. The traffic and leads losses are too high, and the dip in subscriber churn isn’t enough to make up for them.”

So how many posts does HubSpot publish in a week?

(Make sure you’re sitting down for this…)

HubSpot publishes 20 – 25 posts on their marketing blog every week, which translates to 3-5 blog posts each week day and 1 blog post each weekend day.

If you want to grow a blog as lucrative as theirs, there’s a case to be made that you should copy this cadence. It reminds me of Gary Vee’s mantra about getting more “at bats”. The more you publish, the more opportunities for success.

Don’t have a team big enough to keep up with that schedule? Keep reading…

Conclusion 2: You need traffic AND lead gen

Since blogging is a long-term play, HubSpot dug into the long-term traffic- and lead-generating capabilities of their post types.

They found that TOFU, Deep Tactical, and Infographic/SlideShare posts generate the most traffic, while Promo and Tactical posts generate the most leads.

But here’s the problem: there are no post types that are a grand slam for traffic and leads.

“In the long-term,” says HubSpot, “we get way more bang for our traffic buck by focusing on TOFU, Deep Tactical, and Infographic/SlideShare posts than the others. But these post types aren’t the ones that are ‘high returns’ for leads—those are Promo and Tactical.”

So ultimately, it’s a chicken-and-egg scenario. You can’t get leads without traffic, but traffic without conversion is useless.

What’s the right balance?

Here’s what HubSpot determined after their research:

If you stick to publishing a spread of content like this, your chances of success improve greatly over publishing random, uncoordinated posts.

Conclusion 3:  Certain post types perform better on certain platforms

All marketing channels are not created equally. After analyzing which content did the best across channels, HubSpot found the following.

Email: TOFU performs the best, followed by Deep Tactical, Infographic, and then the rest (Editorial, Promo, Syndication, Tactical).

Organic: Besides TOFU, the rest of the post types receives similar levels of organic traffic over time. Deep Tactical and Tactical are the next most popular, and they’re the most immune to traffic decay over time.

Social: Like Email, traffic from Social tends to spike in Month 1, then peters off during Months 2 – 6. TOFU performs the best, followed by Promo, Infographic, Deep Tactical, and then the rest.

Consider those breakdowns per channel when building your content marketing strategy.

5 Key Takeaways

There’s a lot to digest here, but the takeaways boil down to these five points:

1. Publish up to 20 posts per week. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? If your content team isn’t big enough to pull that off, go back to the pie chart with HubSpot’s recommended % breakdown of content types and follow that. For every 10 posts you publish, 3 of them should be tactical, 2 should be deep tactical, 2 should be a Slideshare, etc. Arguably, you shouldn’t worry about syndicated or editorial posts until you’re publishing more often.

2. Increase your number of Deep Tactical posts. These posts drive more traffic on average than other post types, and they continue to attract traffic over time.

3. Lean heavily on keyword research for tactical posts. If you don’t, you’ll waste time on a content marketing strategy that won’t drive as much traffic as it should.

4. Consider writing fewer tactical posts to produce more TOFU and Infographic/SlideShare posts. Be careful, though! While TOFU posts increase your audience, Deep Tactical posts are better for qualified traffic and lead gen.

5. Build in two slots a week for Promo posts. They’re key for lead gen.