I met Chelsea in a content marketing community (Shout out Superpath!). I was deep in exploration trying to identify themes inside the content marketing community and someone tagged Chelsea in a post that I made. We traded thoughts and got together for a Zoom chat. This Zoom chat turned into a podcast episode. In the episode Chelsea schooled me on what it really means to operate like a human when marketing in B2B. I knew after the recording that our philosophies aligned and asked her to be a contributor to a new content piece that I was putting together on quantity vs. quality in B2B content marketing. The following is her contribution and can confidently state that Chelsea is the definition of a Modern Day Marketer. Make sure you follow more of her content on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Taking a Quality First Approach to Your B2B Content
Director of Content Marketing, Chili Piper
I’ve always been a quality-over-quantity kind of gal. When it comes to friends, cookies, or movies, I’ll always go for the best, gooiest, and finest.
So when it comes to content, which has always consumed my life and career, I feel no different. I’ll level set from the jump — both are essential. I believe in paradox; both can be valuable. But quality will forever be, and always should be, the top priority between the two.
Typically, chasing high-volume is driven by the metrics marketers are measured against. The good ‘ole marketing hamster wheel, if you will. Whirling around and around, chasing MQLs and form fills. It’s no wonder we’re dizzy trying to produce as much content as possible instead of the most compelling content possible.
“Increase our monthly blog post count!” cries the CMO.
Man, have I been there. Despite quantitative data proving that no metrics – brand, engagement, nor performance – changed when we had ten monthly blog posts vs. 20 vs. 30.
So for that particular brand at that moment, the output of our monthly content had no bearing on our results.
This real example is the tell-tale story of how marketers traditionally over-index on and over-optimize for the wrong metrics. (i.e., form fills, MQLs, MELs, traffic, etc.)
Many have woken up to this reality over the last couple of years. Thanks in part, I’m sure, to people like Chris Walker, CEO of Refine Labs. This idea is one he intentionally discusses often.
“Marketers tend to do the things that they can measure, not the things that are most effective,” Walker says.
I’m not here to convince you to change your attribution model or your CMO’s mind. But no matter what you’re measured against, I’m confident a quality-first mindset will help you get there. Here’s how.
1. Define what quality means to you
When I say quality, you say ...? No, seriously, what comes to your mind?
Quality can be subjective. It’s crucial to define what it means to you and your organization from the onset.
I’m a firm believer in a formally documented content strategy. This is the foundation for everything a content team does. Among other elements, this should include some form of a content mission or vision statement, along with goals and how you’ll accomplish them. The strategy helps set the tone for how you’re defining quality.
Some questions to consider:
- What’s the balance between writing proficiency and subject matter expertise?
- What role do data, research, and interviews play?
- How high are you setting your standard bar?
- What grade level should all content be written for?
- How does quality translate across content types?
- What are your guest posting and external collaboration requirements to uphold your standards?
Bottom line: Answering these questions will help you know how best to bring your quality content to life. It’ll help secure alignment across your team, boss, and other stakeholders. And it’ll intrinsically get your mind going on what balance you can strike between quality and quantity. But more on that later.
2. Lean into emotions
One of the core reasons I’m obsessed with a quality-first approach is the psychological link among storytelling, emotions, and how we buy.
Focusing on executing these aspects of content (i.e., quality!) instead of worrying about how many articles I’m writing helps achieve more outstanding results.
Emotions drive purchasing decisions. And we know emotional content (e.g., stories) can act as an oxytocin hit – the neurochemical associated with warm and fuzzy feelings. It’s also the hormone that regulates responses and behaviors around trust, empathy, bonding cues, and positive communication. All things I want to build and create with my audience!
Bottom line: Less obsession with output, and more emphasis on emotions. Not getting caught up in the volume game will enable you to take the time to incorporate storytelling and emotional content, which will drive results.
Whenever I’m tasked with churning out more things, the quality of each is naturally and unavoidably affected. And research shows the best productivity hack is deep thinking. When we take more time to do our work, the output benefits.
3. Give the people what they want
What good are three dozen cookies if they all suck?
If your quality isn’t there, your quantity won’t matter. It won’t get you MQLs, SALs, OKWs, or any of the acronyms.
Your audience is savvy. Readers can see right through the keyword-stuffing or rushed content. Furthermore, put yourself in their shoes. What content do you enjoy? What inspires you to act, subscribe, love a brand, or learn more?
One obvious source of proof here is algorithm shifts. Google and social media platforms are constantly optimizing their quality scores and skewing to qualitative engagement signals.
We did a study with one of our ICPs (demand gen marketers) about what moves them and what they like to see in content. And overwhelmingly, they shared they want tangible takeaways, real stories from people like them doing the work.
They want (and probably what we all want) is content we can learn from. Content that makes us think and helps us do our jobs. We want new insights and stories about failed experiments and thought-provoking research.
People want quality! I’ll take one delicious cookie over 36 crappy ones any day.
Bottom line: You know the golden rule, treat others the way you want to be treated? That applies to marketing, too. Odds are you have a killer service or product to talk about, wonderful customer stories to tell, and a viable audience out there to consume it all. Get their attention with compelling and helpful content first.
What level of content do you like to consume? Your audience deserves nothing less than the best. Quality over quantity will help get you there.
Ramp quality, then scale to quantity
Yes, quality comes first. And quantity is a close second. The quality can bring the reader into your site, but a volume of bingeable content can keep them there.
We also know quantity is beneficial for web traffic and increasing search rankings. This is why starting with quality and then scaling your amount of content is the key move. Then, you need to find the best way to balance both.
How you accomplish this depends on several factors:
- The stage of your organization
- The size of your team
- Your organization’s goals
- How quickly you’re trying to grow
- The metrics you’re measured against
- Your budget
If you’re series A and beyond, you likely have enough resources to focus solely on quality content. And then, hire additional internal or external resources to help scale the amount of content you’re publishing.
Starting with the former helps you put the pieces into place from a measurement and process standpoint so that as your quantity increases, you can effectively maintain quality.
If you’re an early-stage startup, you may feel a lot of pressure to start firing off content as fast as you can. I totally get it. This is where balance is key.
While you may think I’m obsessed with quality, I’m also a big proponent of the idea that “done is better than perfect.” Strive for quality when you’re starting out, but know that you’re also in a stage of learning. And balancing quality with a fair monthly output is more than OK.
You’re in an exciting time to execute nimbly and keep iterating so you can learn what your picture of quality should look like. The more actions you take to grow your content and community, the more you’ll learn about what quality means to you and your audience.
If you’re still under pressure to pump out as much content as you can and it’s hindering quality, it sounds like you might have bigger fish to fry. You always have data to fall back on to make your case, if needed.
You’re building a long-term media asset, so it can take time to see results from content. But when it comes to valuable content, the qualitative data will always be there if you’re doing it right.
Turning down the volume and cranking up the quality is proven to have a powerful halo effect and long-lasting benefits. If you’re consistently creating high-quality, helpful content that’s valuable to your audience, the trust will come. The loyalty will follow. And when they have a problem you can solve, they’ll know to come to you.
The way we behave as consumers and marketers is forever evolving. We face content consumption overload in an oversaturated market, making it harder than ever to stand out. Cut through the noise not by doing more, but being more.
Give your audience your best damn cookie – err, content – first. Worry about volume later.
Want to read the full eBook? Check it out on the Juice. 🧃