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A busload of content marketing insights

Posted by Dan Hatch on 7th October , 2020 in The Write Fit
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You wait ages for a bus and then suddenly two come along at once.

These days, each bus will have about eight socially distanced passengers on it and a “full” sign shoved against the windscreen, forcing you to wait even longer for a ride out of town — which is really a perfect allegory for 2020.

But I digress.

I mention this old chestnut of a public transport metaphor because in a normal week I’d be happy to have a major report with fascinating insights about content marketing land in the Typeset inbox. But this past week, I’ve had two: The Content Marketing Institute’s B2B Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends Report for 2021 and Orbit Media’s Annual Blogging Survey.

It’s left me racing around like Sandra Bullock in Speed, unable to take my foot off the gas pedal until I’ve shared everything with you and won Keanu Reeves’ heart. (That’s what that film was about, right?)

Anyway, here are 8 things I learned from these reports that you should probably know.

1.    Marketers have switched things up because of the pandemic

That content marketers have changed what they’re doing in response to the global pandemic is hardly a groundbreaking discovery, but CMI’s report tells us exactly how they’ve responded (in the business-to-business space, at least).

Content marketing changes B2B organisations made during the pandemic

As CMI points out, brands must adapt to shifting customer priorities.

2.    Here’s what the top-performing content marketers are doing

This chart compares what the most successful and least successful respondents to CMI’s study are doing. Relative success is self-reported here but, still, these are interesting stats to benchmark yourself against.

3.    Blogs and email newsletters are still content marketing’s superstars

Obviously, the number of in-person events held this year was down, while pandemic-friendly content options like webinars and livestreaming were up. But it was fascinating to note that the two content types that produced the best overall results this past year were blog posts and virtual events/webinars/online courses (tied on 22 per cent).

4.    Working with editors delivers better results

Orbit Media’s report took a deep dive into blogging. As someone who comes from a traditional journalism background, I was particularly pleased (although not surprised) to see bloggers who work with editors get better results. I can’t tell you how many times an editor or proofreader has saved my bacon over the years. Hiring professional editors and proofreaders is a smart and simple way to improve the quality of your content.

This tallies with what we discovered in Typeset’s own State of Writing 2020 report, which found editing plays a big role in how well writing performs. Nearly two-thirds of communicators who reported being extremely or very effective in their writing had someone who oversaw all their written content. By contrast, less than half of those moderately effective (44%) had a central figure to guide content production.

5.    It’s time to update your old content

Updating old blogs is becoming more popular and I can see why: Bloggers who go back and update their old blog posts are twice as likely to get good results as those who don’t. It’s a strategy we’ve seen work to great effect with our own customers.

6.    Social media really isn’t that effective for promotion anymore

The big social media companies have tweaked their algorithms to the point where their platforms are basically redundant for many brands — there’s just no point posting to them anymore. Find other channels to promote your content.

7.    It’s hard to find time to write

Have a quick look at this chart and then come with me on a little bus ride.

Orbit Media found the most successful blog posts:

  • Are 3000+ words long
  • Take more than six hours to write, and
  • Have more than 10 images.

On top of that, the most successful blogs publish daily.

No wonder it’s hard to find time to write. Who has time for all that?

If I was on this speeding bus of content creation while trying to run a successful business, I reckon I’d last about three days before I looked around, apologised to the passengers, and took my foot off the gas.


Creating content can be hard. Creating content that actually delivers on your business goals and your audience’s expectations is even harder. But it’s not a race. You can drop below 50 miles an hour. Nothing will explode.

Which brings me to my final point:

8.    We need to be more like Keanu Reeves

The big lesson from both of these reports (although I admit, the authors did not exactly put it in these terms) is that we all need to be a little bit more like Keanu Reeves.

That is to say:

  • Know your goals and have a well thought out strategy for achieving them
  • Adapt when circumstances change, and
  • To achieve your goals, partner with people you trust.

Dan Hatch
7 October 2020


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