With the holidays upon us, gift givers are scrambling to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones, trying to balance gift quality with quantity. According to a research team's series of studies called the "Presenter's Paradox," however, the perception that 'more is better' in gift-giving may not exactly be the best philosophy, and there are some valuable lessons that extend beyond gift giving and into other quality vs. quantity-based debates as well, including marketing.
The Presenter's Paradox
The concept of the Presenter's Paradox is interesting. Say you were shopping for your mother, and you had the option of purchasing one high-quality gift such as a designer pocketbook or purchasing that same high-quality pocketbook and also including a $10 Starbucks gift card. Most gift givers would choose the second option if their budgets allowed, thinking that more is better. However, the gift recipient will look at it from a different perspective, perceiving the pocketbook alone to be more generous than the pocketbook and Starbucks gift card combined. Ironically enough, to the gift recipient, the inclusion of the low value gift card actually cheapens the overall quality of the gifts. In other words, coupling a high quality item with a low quality item diminishes the perception of both items' overall quality.
The takeaway from this research is valuable and timely for gift givers, but are you starting to see the connection to marketing as well?
The Marketing Content Debate: Quality vs. Quantity
The quality vs. quantity content debate isn't an uncommon one in marketing, especially in the world of inbound marketing. High quality content is beneficial from a thought leadership and brand perception perspective, but marketers also struggle with the need to produce content regularly and frequently to compete for higher search engine rankings and fuel their inbound marketing strategies. With recent developments in ranking algorithms such as Google Panda, however, quality has gained a competitive edge, as search engines are starting to value content high in quality and ding websites with low quality content. That intelligence, coupled with the insights from the Presenter's Paradox, make for a compelling case for quality over quantity in content creation, doesn't it? The lesson is simple: Don't dilute your high-quality content with mediocre or low-quality content. The consequence for doing so is the cheapening of your audience's overall perception of your content and thus, your brand. And who wants that?
So how do you ensure you're consistently creating high-quality content instead of diluting your audience's perceptions of your brand with low quality material?
How to Consistently Create High-Quality Content
1. Analyze the Characteristics of High-Quality Content: The first step in recognizing what quality content looks like for your business is to conduct some analysis. Take a look at the past content you've created. Which pieces of content performed the best and generated the most results? You can measure this by hard metrics like views and leads as well as engagement metrics like social media shares. Which topics seem to resonate with your audience? The key is to identify key traits of what high quality content looks like for your audience and emulate those characteristics in future content.
2. Establish Benchmarks for High Quality Content: Set some goals for yourself to help you stick with your commitment to high quality content. From your content analysis, if a high quality piece of content translates to a certain number of views, conversions, shares, etc., ask yourself if the content you're producing has the capacity to achieve those same goals. If not, you should seriously consider improving that piece of content or going with a different topic. Regularly track and audit the performance of your content to make sure you're continually hitting those benchmark numbers and that the overall quality of your content is improving over time.
3. Establish Strict Content Guidelines: An improvement to your content's quality overall is only possible if you make a commitment to high quality content. This means you shouldn't waver on your perception of whether content is high quality or not or make exceptions for a particular piece of content. If you have multiple content contributors on your team, consider drafting some editorial content guidelines to help guide contributors to create only high quality content.
4. Educate Contributors About What High-Quality Content Looks Like: Once you establish editorial guidelines for your content contributors, you should make a concerted effort to use these guidelines to educate them. Be tough during your editing and revision processes and provide specific feedback to contributors about how they can improve their content creation individually. Over time, you'll have molded your mere content team into a high-quality content team.
5. Sacrifice Quantity for Quality: A commitment to high quality content probably means you'll be spending more time on individual pieces of content and will need to sacrifice the sheer amount of content you produce. This is A-okay. As long as you're still regularly producing content, sacrificing some content quantity for the sake of quality, especially in the era of Google Panda, is totally fine. The end result will be a much more favorable view of your content and, thus, increased trust in your brand.
6. Evaluate Content From the Audience's Perspective: This is where marketing personas come in. Before you publish a piece of content, ask yourself if it addresses your audience's needs, wants, and interests. Does it help them solve a particular problem they have? In a nutshell, if you were to put yourself in your ideal customers' shoes, would you find the content valuable?
Quality content will look different from business to business and industry to industry. For example, at HubSpot, we've found that content dense with actionable advice and takeaways is very valuable to our readers, but your audience might crave something different. There are, however, some common traits of remarkable content that can be applied to all content. In general, high quality content for your audience probably means that it addresses the needs/wants of your target customers, is presented through high quality writing, and is enjoyable to read. Incorporating data and statistics is also a great way to support your content and increase its credibility and value.
Are you sacrificing the holistic view of your brand for the sake of content quantity over quality? If so, it might be time to reconsider.
Image Credit: Ashraf Saleh
Originally published Dec 14, 2011 1:30:00 PM, updated November 21 2017