Last week, we brought you our 5 big takeaways from the HubSpot State of Inbound Report 2016, but as a writer tasked with producing the blogs and web content for our company, one aspect of the report really held my interest: content creation.
In inbound marketing, we all know the saying: Content is king. It’s a pretty much established fact. It’s what brings people to our websites in the first place, drawing them in with informative and useful material that will help them meet their challenges and find solutions we provide.
Not surprisingly, the HubSpot report notes that regarding inbound marketing, the top priorities for the company’s they surveyed were as follows:
- Growing SEO / organic presence (66%)
- Blog content creation (60%)
- Content distribution / amplification (50%)
This is very much on a par with findings from the last few years, which shows that the challenge of creating good content that ranks well and is interesting and attractive is still, well, challenging
The most overrated marketing tactic according to outbound-using companies was paid-for advertising (31%), with 33% of inbound-using companies saying it was the most over-rated tactic, followed by online advertising (outbound – 11% and inbound 15%), while blogging and SEO were considered over-rated by very few companies (6/5% and 5/6% respectively).
This shows that blogging and organic content creation is still seen as an extremely valuable and important part of the marketing strategy.
This is where the really juicy material comes in, though. The stats behind the creators of that content are very interesting. When it comes to who these people are, the percentage of companies who hire staff specifically for this role (or as one of their roles) has risen dramatically since last year, with 71% saying they have somebody in-house creating their content, compared to 41% last year.
Executives write the content for 31% of the companies, while freelancers write 23% and agencies 19%.
Oddly, for something deemed so important by so many, the time invested in creating a blog post seems surprisingly short, with 13% of respondents saying it takes their company under an hour to write a 500-word blog post, 33% saying it takes between one and two hours, 23% saying it takes up to three hours, and 16% saying it takes more than four hours.
While it may take a staff member familiar with the ins and outs of a business and industry only an hour or two to whip up 500 words on a topic they deal with on a daily basis (and let’s face it, 500 words is not that much), it is hard to imagine that a freelancer or agency would be able to do the same, simply because of the research required to get a grip on the topic before even putting pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard, as it is these days.
The stats may suggest (and I may be biased here, given my own role), one of two things: either that the respondents to this survey may not have been those tasked with creating that great organic content, day in, day out, or the blogs that are written in a very short time may not be top quality.
This business2community blog suggests very much the same thing.
It must be noted too that inbound marketers tend to aim for the 500-1,000-word sweet spot, with research showing that longer blogs are seen to be more authoritative, and, if they avoid waffling, that bit more informative. Some 42% write to this length, compared to those in outbound organisations, who lean heavily towards the shorter blog.
Of course, the view of blogging as such a necessity can lead to those companies who need to employ a freelancer because of a lack of expertise in writing or SEO, etc, facing increasingly exorbitant costs. Despite blogging becoming pretty much a mainstream and established job, we still seem to be stuck in what we like to call a ‘wild west’ scenario, where anything goes. There doesn’t seem to be that much of an agreement, anywhere, or between anyone, regarding how much a blog should cost, and how much a blogger should be charging.
Perhaps this is down to the nature of numerous companies hiring freelancers to work on many different subjects within many different industries. A style blogger could for example, easily write a 500-word piece on the latest fashions to hit Milan or Paris, but tasked with writing a 1,000 word piece about pyrotechnics, they are likely to be looking into a lot of background research, and will charge accordingly.
It’s not their fault, they are freelancers, they need to pay the bills just like everybody else, and so many are reluctant to turn down offers of a paid gig. They are guns for hire. But there has to be a sensible limit on what is being paid out, and if your business finds it is paying out more to a freelancer than you would ordinarily have to pay a fixed employee, it is time for a rethink.
Creating great content is vital for business, but let’s face it, not everybody has the ability to do it right, and the amount of time put into the endeavour is often reflected in the end product, and the cost.
The old adage that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys is true, but so too is the caveat that if you pay too much, you create them. That might sound harsh, but what it means is that by over-rewarding work, we can sometimes run the risk of encouraging complacency.
Finding the balance is key, and faced with having to choose whether to hire someone in-house or retain a freelancer on a regular basis, the best option for you comes down to, well, you.
Another option, however, is to hire a digital marketing agency that specialises in creating the great organic content you need to bring visitors into your website and channel them through the sales funnel using an integrated digital marketing strategy.
The advantages? Well, you can read all about them here.
Need help creating great content for your digital marketing strategy to attract visitors and turn them into leads? Download our free Lead Generation Survival Kit: