Why no one cares about your content

Ryan Griffin, senior account manager at Switched on Media, has some critical things to say about content marketing.

You may have noticed the phrase ‘content marketing’ spring into the vocabulary of a few keynote speakers in the past 18 months. Essentially a pyramid scheme, content marketing works by swindling marketers into its promises of quick riches and business outcomes by updating the arrangement of words across their website.

It sounds almost too good to be true.

For those unfortunately unable to have attended said keynote speeches, content marketing as a channel came into its own about two years ago and is now the most talked about topic in marketing. Simple in execution, content has since become quite a convenient distraction from more complex marketing issues.

Now, it shouldn’t need to be said that correct spelling and grammatical prowess are a must, but content marketing goes a step further to create really ‘engaging’ content that will ‘inspire’ readers, driving metrics such as ‘reach’ and ‘likes’. Highbrow stuff.

It’s all a load of shit.

What many people don’t realise is that content has possibly the sharpest inefficiency curve of any marketing activity. For the most part, the majority of content is skimmed over immediately. There are few always standout exemptions to this rule, but no one decided against an online purchase because the content wasn’t quite right.

And before you go Freudian on me, citing the benefits of subconscious affinity, the only metric marketers should use when measuring the impact of content is conversion rate. Whatever you are trying to get people to do on your website, your content should make them do it more frequently.

That’s it really.

I don’t want you to ‘engage’ with my content, I don’t want you to ‘like’ it, I don’t care if you share it, I just want you to buy it.

Your goal when writing content is singular, improve your website’s conversion rate.

It’s actually the only reason you should update anything on your website. We have jobs and families and plenty of other shit going on in our life, we honestly don’t care what’s written. People visit your website to solve a problem. Whether it’s knowledge, entertainment, or something they need; beyond providing a simple and easily understood message, the impact of content marketing is almost non-existent.

The company that does this exceedingly well is Google. They’re probably the only website that wants you to spend the least amount of time on their site. They want you to click the first link that appears, and never have to come back (for that one particular search, of course). They’ve even created metrics such as Quality Score to ensure the first piece of content you receive is the most relevant. They will never reveal the complexity of their search algorithm, ensuring that the most relevant website appears first is the world’s greatest competitive advantage.

Spending countless hours debating the grammatical structure of a sentence will not solve your problems. Finding a way to deliver people through your site as simply and quickly as possible will make it easier for them to convert and return. Think of how easy it is to book an Uber.

Marketers are so caught up in the hype of content marketing that they lose sight of what really matters. Delivering your message succinctly and removing resistance to conversion. Upon opening the Uber app you are presented with ‘request Uber’, no one wants to read the ‘about us’ page.

The role of content is executional, soft-metrics are a distraction and a convenient excuse used to circumnavigate what really matters. An increase in engagement will not solve your business’ problems, Facebook does not build businesses.

Trying to drive engagement makes you the guy who’s just come back from holiday and is trying to show everyone his photos.

The only person mildly interested is your mum, and even she’s struggling.