by Heather Eng - June 22, 2017
“How often should I publish content?”
That’s one of the most common questions customers ask us, and something every content marketer wonders, at some point.
And it makes sense.
In a world where everyone seems to be constantly churning out content, you may be feel like you’re not doing enough.
However, there’s an upside and a downside to what I’m about to tell you.
The upside is: There is no universal “right amount” of content to publish. There’s no magic publishing cadence for achieving content marketing success.
Rather, the key is to figure out how much high-quality content you can produce on a regular basis – and then maximize it through your distribution channels to reach your goals.
And that’s the downside: You have to find your own best publishing cadence – based upon your goals – through testing, trial, error, and optimization.
Here’s a quote from Robert Rose, the Content Marketing Institute’s Chief Content Adviser, on the “secret” formula for how much content marketers should publish: “As little as you can and still have the impact you desire.”
This may sound surprising, but it’s true.
To illustrate this point, I spoke to two top-notch content marketers who are achieving success with very different publishing cadences: Jacqueline Saenz-Carter, Program Director, Editorial and Content Marketing, at IBM; and Camille Ricketts, Head of Content and Marketing at First Round Capital.
In addition, I’ll share NewsCred’s publishing cadence and how we use it to meet our goals.
IBM: Jacqueline Saenz-Carter, Program Director, Editorial and Content Marketing
Content Hub: THINK Marketing, ibm.com/think/marketing
Target Audience: Senior-level marketers
Goals: Providing senior-level marketers with valuable, informative thought leadership content
Publishing Cadence: 3-4 pieces per day
How They Established that Cadence:
IBM’s publishing strategy evolved over time. When Saenz-Carter and her team launched THINK Marketingin September 2016, they focused on building a depth of content across their key pillars with the goals of driving traffic and awareness.
“During that period, we published an average of 10 to 12 content pieces per day,” says Saenz-Carter.
It was a mix of original blog posts on mobile, personalization, and digital marketing, as well as infographics, video snippets, and cross-IBM content that highlighted the company’s cognitive solution areas. They also published licensed content and IBM Business Partner content.
Three months after launch, the team evolved its publishing cadence. Their goal was to continue building a depth of thought leadership content.
“Now that the original content foundation was set, we reduced our publishing schedule to six to seven strategic content pieces per day,” says Saenz-Carter. “We saw what our readers were interested in and tried to deliver more of that content.”
Educational content was the highest performing: how-to guides, cross-marketing pieces, articles and infographics about technology that marketers could use to better reach their customers and business goals.
More recently, the IBM team adjusted its publishing cadence to three to four pieces per day.
“That content still is a mix of blog posts and cross-IBM content, but each piece has much higher standards for relevancy and strategic alliance to the topics of interest,” says Saenz-Carter.
How They Leverage Content to Meet Goals:
IBM’s editorial and distribution activities are focused on its goal of delivering senior-level marketers with informative, valuable content.
To produce the content, the team leverages a mix of internal writers, as well as influencers, partners, and external writers. All have subject matter expertise.
“While my immediate team has traditionally kept the calendaring, the core team of content members tends to be three managers, working closely with our NewsCred team,” says Saenz-Carter. “I brainstorm with my fellow strategy team members for timing, topic areas, and so forth. We work together to determine relevant topics, based on what interest areas there are in the market and what topic areas we have to talk about.”
For distribution, they partner closely with their social media team.
“They’re the experts in the field of knowing and understanding marketers,” says Saenz-Carter.
Their key channels are Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and IBM’s Watson Customer Engagement blog.
First Round Review: Camille Ricketts, Head of Content and Marketing
Content Hub: First Round Review, firstround.com/review
Target Audience: Entrepreneurs looking to build and scale successful companies
Goals: “Our goals are two-fold,” according to Ricketts. “To generate as much awareness as we can for First Round’s brand so that remarkable entrepreneurs know what it’s like to partner with us, and to make rare, expert knowledge available to the many thousands of people building the startup ecosystem.”
Publishing Cadence: 1-2 pieces of long-form content per week
How They Established that Cadence:
“We established the two-article-per-week cadence at the beginning, when we recognized how much appetite our audience had for this type of content,” says Ricketts.
Each piece is an in-depth interview with a successful entrepreneur, ranging between 3,000 and 5,000 words. Recent stories include “From Burning Millions to Turning Profitable in Seven Months — How HotelTonight Did It” and “How Instacart Uses Data to Craft A Bespoke Comp Strategy.”
“It’s our goal to present the most comprehensive, granular, and tactical advice we possibly can,” says Ricketts. “Every story is a lot to digest and apply. We don’t want to overwhelm our readers with a ton of content that may not be relevant to their interests, and we don’t want our articles to feel commoditized. That’s when people start to skip pieces that come out, and each article begins to command a little less attention. We want each time we publish the Review to be an event that our readers look forward to.”
Ricketts’ content team consists of just one other person: Shaun Young, First Round’s Editor. Together, they do nearly all the writing and editing.
“As you can imagine, we’re pretty scrappy in how we operate, but the emphasis has and will always remain on quality over quantity,” says Ricketts. “It becomes clear very fast that quality and quantity are inversely related when it comes to content. The more time you have to be thoughtful and creative, the higher quality you’ll produce. My teammate and I will sometimes spend a cumulative hour thinking up great headline options – which can make a massive difference.
“That’s why we’ve stuck with publishing just one to two times a week, because we don’t want to compromise the care and polish that goes into making each piece memorable,” she adds.
How They Leverage Content to Meet Goals:
To ensure that First Round is reaching its target audience, it employs a number of distribution tactics.
“If I have one piece of advice for content marketers, it’s to turn their email list into a powerful juggernaut. It’s a spectacular asset to have,” says Ricketts.
The First Round newsletter has more than 120,000 subscribers.
“Whenever we send it out, it inevitably gets forwarded, which prompts more subscribes,” Ricketts says.
Social media is another key channel.
“We see awesome traction on Twitter and LinkedIn, in particular,” Ricketts says. “That’s where we get the most influencer engagement, so we often re-market our content several times throughout the week that it gets published to optimize that audience.”
Ricketts also has a number of syndication partners, including Inc., Quartz, and Fast Company.
“Our reach is entirely organic,” she says.
Content Hub: NewsCred Insights, insights.newscred.com
Target Audience: Senior-level marketers at enterprise companies
Goals: To generate and influence revenue through content
Publishing Cadence: 4-5 pieces of content per week
How We Established that Cadence:
As the sole editor on NewsCred’s marketing team, I don’t have the ability to produce multiple stories a day. Every piece I publish has to work hard to help us meet our goals of driving conversions and revenue.
Like Camille Ricketts at First Round Review, I made a commitment to quality over quantity. I strive to provide readers with value each time they read an Insights story. That’s why most stories run about 1,000 to 1,500 words, and are data- and research-informed, and tactical. I hope that when readers finish a story, they’ve learned valuable information that will help them be better content marketers.
To ensure that I hold our content accountable to those standards, I developed a content quality scorecardagainst which I evaluate every piece. If a piece does not meet the standards, then I will not publish it.
Once I had those standards in place, I evaluated how much content I could produce on an ongoing basis – that met those standards. I arrived at three original stories and one to two licensed content pieces per week.
How We Leverage Content to Meet those Goals:
Beyond creating quality, actionable content, NewsCred employs several tactics to ensure that our content is working to meet our goals of driving conversions and revenue.
Our newsletter is our strongest distribution channel. It accounts for more than 40 percent of our traffic, and our newsletter subscribers are three times more likely to convert to leads. We have calls to action throughout our site urging people to subscribe to our newsletter.
NewsCred also uses social media to reach and engage with our audience, especially on Twitter.
And it’s working. NewsCred can attribute 40 percent of its revenue to content marketing. And 100 percent of revenue is content-influenced. (For in-depth details, read our case study on how NewsCred does content marketing.)
Next Steps for Content Marketers:
If you’re looking to determine your content publishing cadence, here are three important tips to keep in mind:
- Determine your goals. What are you looking to achieve through content marketing? What KPIs will you use to measure success?
- Evaluate how much content you can regularly produce – that meets your standards. Your content marketing will be most effective if it’s consistent. Take an honest look at your resources and figure out how much content you can produce each week – whether that’s one piece or 20 pieces.
- Create a distribution strategy. Even the best content won’t be effective if your target audience doesn’t see it. Using all the distribution channels at your disposal, create a strategy for getting your content to your audience. Even if you’re just publishing one post a week, how will you make sure you promote it well? How will you leverage your channels to ensure you’re achieving your goals?
Heather Eng is NewsCred’s Executive Editor.