According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 Benchmark Report, 70 percent of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did one year ago, whilst 60 percent of the B2C marketers sampled expect their organisation's content marketing budget to increase over the next 12 months — up from 55 percent.

In all the euphoria around content marketing, the elephant in the room that is rarely discussed is content wastage: What about the content that is created and then never used?

Estimates of the scale of the problem vary: SiriusDecisions suggest that “60-70 percent of content produced by B2B companies goes unused”, whilst Corporate Visions suggest it is even higher (90%). In all cases, it presents a costly issue: whichever figure you believe, at least sixty percent of budget is being wasted on content that is created and then never used or distributed.

How to fix the unused content conundrum

The issue of wasted content in the enterprise is one that largely falls on marketers to solve.

Audit your content: Taking time to understand all the content that has currently been created in your organisation is a helpful start to understand what is being used and what has fallen by the wayside.

Review your content strategy: According to the Sirius study cited earlier, the main culprit seems to be creating content without strategy or purpose. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said their content process was still in “the Dark Ages.”

Use Content Intelligence: At some point, it will become impractical for your marketing team to pore over every piece of content, log it, understand what topics it covers and then remember to use it across the multiple digital channels that you use. Eventually, this job should be turned over to technology.

However, wasted digital content is not solely a burden that Marketing should try and fix alone. Particularly, in a B2B context, there is a responsibility for salespeople to use the content produced to engage and nurture prospects.

We spoke to our own sales team to find out why they don’t use the content which is produced by Marketing. The responses have been illuminating:

There’s too much content. Marketers have to make it simpler for salespeople to find and use the content. If necessary, streamline the amount of content available. They’ll use more of it if there’s less of it.

The content doesn’t sound conversational. Content has to sound like the conversations salespeople actually have and less like a marketing promotion.

The content isn’t relevant to the task at hand. Salespeople have certain
tasks that they perform everyday against each of their opportunities and they should be able to identify which content is most relevant for the job: in terms of amount, messaging and form factor.

Don’t let unused content sink your organisation

Unused content can be the silent killer for many B2B and B2C organisations. But understanding the root of this problem, whether it’s because the content created by marketing isn’t logged or useful, or simply because it isn’t being proactively used to nurture sales opportunities, is the first step to improving sales and marketing content effectiveness.

As more and more organisations are now jumping onto the content marketing bandwagon - it’s time for them to get real about the cost of content wastage, and do something about it.


By Andrew Davies, co-founder and CMO of idio.

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