Today, any digital marketing endeavor is fueled primarily by content. As marketers, we know that a prospect who embarks on a buying journey is most likely to first encounter our organization through the content we produce. But, for this content to have the greatest possible impact, it must consistently convey our brand and its core messages, reliably.
Content fragmentation occurs when sales and marketing content fails to meet this standard. It may be branded poorly, lack key messages, or express them incompletely.
What is the cost of inconsistent content?
(Put your calculator away – we’ve done the research for you.)
In early 2017, our team at MarcomCentral teamed up with marketing research and advisory firm, Demand Metric, to assess the impact of inconsistent content through a comprehensive study. The research included a variety of organizations from a diverse set of industries, the majority of which were primarily B2B or both B2B/B2C, ranging in size from less than $10 million to $1 billion or more. Over 70% reported revenue growth during the past fiscal year.
What we found shines new light on an incredibly important threat to the modern organization: content fragmentation. The impact can be measured in three key dimensions:
1. Lost deals, reduced revenue.
Content’s impact on revenue is diminished when it is fragmented.
Two-thirds of all study participants report that they lose sales when needed content isn’t available. What’s more, when the content encountered during a buying journey is fragmented, its ability to impact revenue generation is diminished by 11%.
Is any organization willing to leave 11% of the revenue it could gain on the table because its content consistency is poor? Most organizations would say “no” and opt to fix the content fragmentation problem in order to gain the revenue.
This is essentially a content inconsistency tax that organizations levy on themselves when they tolerate the presence of fragmented content in the buying journey.
2. Unmet buyers needs
The impact of fragmented content is more pronounced when looking at it through the lens of how well content meets buyer needs in each stage of the journey. An astonishing 85% of companies with fragmented content report the effectiveness of their content at meeting buyer needs in each stage of their journey as “Very poor” to “Neutral.” For those with consistent content, over 60% say content meets buyer needs “Well” or “Very well” – a dramatic difference.
When content is fragmented, only 15% of study participants say that it can meet buyers’ needs well during their journeys.
3. Sales and marketing misalignment
There is a real cost to exposing prospects and customers to fragmented, inconsistent content, but the impact upon Marketing’s relationship with Sales cannot be understated.
When the sales team doesn’t have the content it needs, it is unlikely to simply do without. Often, in response to a lack of needed content, over ¼ of the sales team will often or always create content without waiting for marketing to do it. In doing so, they contribute to the content fragmentation problem in a significant way, because the sales team doesn’t always share the sensitivity of the marketing team for rendering the brand and the key messages associated with the brand consistently.
A common friction point between sales and marketing teams is the agility with which marketing is able to respond to requests for new or modified content. In fact, one of the top five reasons for the plague of inconsistent content is a lack of collaboration or alignment between content users (sales) and content creators (marketing,) reported by 33% of respondents as a major cause of content fragmentation.
The scope of the problem
Nearly every respondent in the study agrees that content measurably influences revenue, yet more than half rated their content effectiveness as “neutral” or worse.
This study found that the performance of marketing content can be directly correlated to its consistency – something four out of ten organizations reported struggling with in our research.
For more information about the research findings, including steps to take to mitigate the problem of content fragmentation, read the full report “The State and Impact of Content Consistency.”