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The Content Gap: Seriously Guys, Can We Stop Overpublishing?

I’m the CEO of a content company and I’m here to tell you there’s just too much content.

Hear me out on this.

We all know brand publishing is having a moment: Even before the world locked down, more than half of companies claimed a strong commitment to content marketing – a doubling in two years.

Then, the pandemic forced online publishing into overdrive.

With people tethered to their homes and their screens, digital content became the customer experience. According to a recent global survey, consumers spent an average of 53.1 hours per week on screen time in 2020, the fastest annual growth rate in five years. WordPress, one of the most popular content management tools, is adding about 70 million posts to the digital universe every month.

So screen time may be up, but people are also faced with more choices than ever before. The competition is fierce, and what we’re collectively creating, as an industry, simply isn’t good enough – especially for business purposes.

This will come as a shock to many marketers. Leading companies are increasingly leaning into content to manage their reputations, attract mission-critical talent, nurture leads and shape the issues their stakeholders care about. A 2020 survey from the Content Marketing Institute found that 75% of companies think their content is at least somewhat successful.

But in fact, as many as 62% of B2B decision makers ignore the content they encounter, according to our own research at SJR.

That content falls into what we call the Content Gap, and I’d argue it’s one of the biggest challenges facing marketers today.

What’s the impact of all this content that’s getting ignored?

When people ignore your content, it doesn’t matter how much you publish. In fact, every additional piece of ignored content is just making the content gap harder to cross – it’s more lost time, resources and budget being thrown into a void. When your content gap gets big enough, the few nuggets of truly valuable, interesting content disappear.

Publishing too much content actually damages your brand.

A few years ago, one of our biggest clients revealed to us that they had more than 7,000 pages’ worth of published content on their site, but less than 10% had what they considered to be solid metrics. Think of all the time and resources that went into creating the 6,300 pages that were ignored.

When you’re publishing for the sake of publishing, you’re losing opportunities to drive action and change, and to fuel your business transformation. You’re wasting your effort and you’re wasting your budget.

A manifesto for transformative content

It’s not enough for content to be merely informative; it also needs to be clear, relevant and of value to your audience.

Audiences may well feel they have too much choice, but they don’t necessarily want less. With more choice than ever, they want – and are increasingly coming to expect – the right type of content and cadence, curated just for them.

Closing the content gap requires transformative content that drives action and change. It requires content that’s thoughtful and intentional.

Creating transformative content requires a new approach to marketing: one that brings together a multidisciplinary team of uncommon talents that’s focused on driving the right kind of action and change. A team that combines data analysis, creative flair, technical understanding and journalistic rigor. A team that works in harmony to spot a narrative, bring it to life and optimize its impact for the right audiences, in the right places, at the right times.

So how do you stop the overpublishing train before it picks up speed and goes off the rails? Start by closing the content gap.