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Idea: Be Aware of the Long Tail of Content Marketing

In a perfect content marketing world, the content that works—that helps accomplish the specific business objective that led to its creation and deployment—would be easy to pick out. But when it comes to content marketing, the outcome sought by the marketer rarely can be attributed to a single customer interaction. Determining whether it works is the result of multiple interactions between marketer and customer.

Focusing your efforts on a few clichés of content marketing (an elaborate infographic, a video you hope will go viral, top 10 lists) can often be the wrong approach, even when those appear to be effective. The popularity of one type of content does not always indicate that its value is actually greater than another.

The research firm CB Insights recently analyzed 750 research briefs to determine if a “power law of content marketing” emerged. Focusing its first analysis on pageviews generated by each brief, the research firm did discover that a power law was evident: the top 20 percent of briefs accounted for 69 percent of pageviews. A familiar power law graph demonstrates that a small number of its briefs accounted for a large amount of content viewed:


If the analysis stopped there, it would be easy to say that CB Insights had found the magic metric to determine what content works. The firm is quick to note, however, that page views is not the objective of its content marketing efforts. Leads and conversions into clients are. (CB Insights promises future analysis on those fronts.)

Something else to consider is the importance of “the long tail,” the term popularized by Chris Anderson’s book of the same name: It is not always in the “blockbuster” part of a power law chart where one finds success, even if that is where most of the page views come from. With content, especially the types of digital content CB Insights analyzed, the cumulative impact of the less popular content can have a greater impact than the few blockbusters.

Bottom line for marketers: Don’t focus all of your content marketing efforts on trying to create the next blockbuster infographic or viral video. A variety of content that helps a few potential customers can provide you with a long tail of content that works more effectively in reaching your organization’s objectives.

(Photo: Thinkstock)

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