How to tackle content waste

Estimated reading time
3 minutes
30th July 2020
Author: Kit McKay
Posted in: Content operations

Would you pay for a full pizza, eat one slice, and throw the rest away? That’s effectively the state of content marketing today. Research from SiriusDecisions estimates that 60-70% of all content is unused, with others suggesting it’s as high as 90%. Imagine 90% of your budget going up in flames and you get a pretty accurate picture of how dire this is for businesses who heavily invest in content.

Regardless of the exact percentage, it’s certainly a widespread issue. A joint study between Forrester and SiriusDecisions found that 77% of B2B marketing organizations face significant content waste issues. They found that there are three main issues driving this:

Top issues driving content waste

An inhouse team of one man and one woman brainstorm together at a desk

Findability

For businesses that produce high volumes of content, things can get out of control very quickly if there aren’t clearly defined content operations. As new content is published, older pieces are forgotten, meaning they’re only valuable for short bursts. When people want to find something that they remember being published a few months ago, they can’t. It’s essentially lost.

Quality/Relevance

Content quickly becomes out of date if not properly maintained. Salespeople and marketers won’t use content that isn’t related to the current climate they’re in. Also, there is traditionally a disconnect between the content that marketing thinks sales needs and the content sales actually needs. If sales don’t see the value in the content you’re creating, it won’t be used, and it becomes a vanity exercise.

Customizability

As personalization and account-based marketing (ABM) quickly become the norm for B2B marketing, reader expectations are adjusting in response. Generic non-customized content is easily ignored when there are other salespeople and marketers at other companies sending out personalized content. Sales won’t want to use content that puts them at a disadvantage.

6 ways to tackle content waste

While it might seem like an impossible task to eliminate content waste entirely, there are several ways you can at least reduce it. When you incorporate as many of these solutions as possible, you move closer and closer to waste-free content.

1. Conduct a content audit

To make sure no content falls off the radar, you need to take stock of everything you’re working with. A content audit is a vital part of your content operations, ensuring you know where everything lives and what state it’s in. This will allow you to get a forensic view of your content ecosystem, highlight where updates need to be made, and will become the blueprint to increase visibility on forgotten pieces.

2. Cull unsavable content

Not all content should be brought back into regular rotation. One of the best “quick fixes” for content waste is to delete content that is no longer useful to anyone in the business or is such low quality that it’s not worth the time to fix it. It sounds very simple but if there’s less content to choose from, less will be wasted.

3. Collect your content all in one place

If your content is scattered across your organization, it’s more likely to be wasted as no one knows where anything is. You should create a primary resource that lists every piece you have available. This can be something as simple as a spreadsheet or a more advanced content repository, but make sure you use labels or metadata to tag your content and make it easily searchable.

4. Achieve closer marketing-sales alignment

To get marketing producing the content sales needs to engage prospects and drive growth, the two functions need to be tied closer together. Whether it’s having marketers sit in on sales calls or organizing regular content-specific catchups to address the discrepancy, a more collaborative approach will reduce the likelihood of wasted content.

5. Talk with customers

Content is often ignored both externally and internally when it doesn’t match the language and perspectives of the people it’s intended for. More marketers should be chatting with customers to better understand their aches and pains to create content that resonates deeper.

6. Take a personalized approach

Lastly, look into personalization and ABM. It’s hard for people to ignore your content when it seems designed specifically with them in mind. This kind of content is also much more likely to be used by sales as it’s created for a targeted purpose.

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