From ideal blog length to the death of journalism and PR – content marketing trends

Why 75% of content marketers fail to write to the ideal blog length Ideal blog length

Content marketing variables tend to move with the market, and one trend that continues adapt is ideal blog length.

The sun has set on a day when you could still gain traction from firing off a couple of 250-word blog pieces with keywords in the right places, but a series of Google updates and years of changing consumer habits have seen this figure increase incrementally.

According to Kevan Lee of Bufferapp, the ideal blog length in 2016 is *drumroll please* 1,600 of your finest nouns, verbs and adjectives. The scary thing? Only 25% of content marketers are currently producing blogs of this length, and 75% have a few old habits to change.

Anyone who works in content marketing or has hired a professional copywriter in the past will know that their advanced expertise need to be proportionately rewarded. However, if you continue to prioritise quantity over quality, then your investment could amount to nothing.

Testament to this shift is Bufferapp themselves, who’ve generated 100% of their customer acquisition since foundation via blog content in this format. Yes, it meant taking time to streamline the writing system and discover all the time-saving hacks to write to the ideal blog length, but dedicating the time to producing longer-form, more informative blogs appears to have reaped dividends.

Journalism and PR are out; content marketing is in

Statistics released recently by SEO expert Andreas Ramos show the stark decline of traditional journalism and PR since the advent of content marketing.

As content marketers, we knew there had been a shift in the industry, but the extent of the decline outlined in the graphs below was beyond what many had imagined.

This chart, from the ever-handy Google Trends tool shows how regularly the terms ‘newspapers’ and ‘magazines’ were searched between 2004 and 2016:

PR-Forbes1

 

While this graph shows how interest in the term ‘public relations’ has tailed off significantly:

PR-Forbes2

*Graphs courtesy of andreas.com

This decline in interest correlates with changing consumer attitudes, as people now look to trustworthy, authoritative content published by industry-leading brands and thought-leaders, as evidenced by the Google Trends data for the interest in ‘content marketing’ as a term:

Content marketing google trends

News agencies attempted to hop on the content marketing bandwagon with the popularisation of the advertorial, but the lack of authenticity only served to cheapen both methods. If consumers don’t find content helpful, they just ignore it.

Another noteworthy point raised by these charts is the relative flat-lining of interest in recent years. Many commentators are suggesting that we’ve reached saturation point in terms of content marketing, and such stagnation would fit neatly with this idea. This means that content marketers will need to adopt a more intelligent approach to content strategy in order to maintain momentum, focusing on in-depth, compelling copy that provides a clearly defined service to the end user.

Meanwhile, like the horse was superseded by the car, and poetry was ditched in favour of novels in the late 1800s, what we once called journalism will likely become obsolete as a major force, but will continue to be practised by passionate individuals with a unique angle and voice.

Content marketing by numbers

Building trust and authority is something of an abstract concept, but in a numbers game like content marketing, you need a firm grasp on your metrics in order to work out the effectiveness of content marketing campaigns.

86% of B2B marketers currently engage in content marketing activities, however just 21% believe that they’re successfully tracking ROI, according to a recent study from MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute.

44% of CMOs surveyed agreed that lacked the quantitative metrics to accurately track the success of content marketing initiatives, and a worrying 20% relied on their manager’s judgement alone to gauge success.

While a full appraisal of methods by which to measure ROI could easily double the ideal blog length specified above, there are some key factors that content marketers should bear in mind if they are to find out what’s working and what isn’t.

First up, quantitative goals must be set in advance based on metrics including views, conversions and revenue. Then, using figures gathered from free analytics software, decide whether adapting factors such as your blog length, target audience or subject base might gather greater returns.

It’s an inexact science, and is likely to stay that way for some time. But, the intelligent content marketers are getting ahead, and this is one way they’re striding into the future.