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Like many companies, in the last 12 months the main focus of our marketing strategy at SaleCycle was to produce content. And lots of it.

However, on further inspection it turns out we might have been focusing on the wrong metrics.

So whether you’re a B2C marketer or B2B marketer like myself, you’re probably under a fair amount of pressure to produce content. 

Bill Gates famously declared that "Content is King" back in 1996 (yep, 20 years ago!) while more recently, respected marketers like Ann Handley have taught us that the best content is "useful, enjoyable and inspired".

They are sentiments I happen to agree with.

Which is why I tasked our marketing team at SaleCycle with increasing the amount of content we published for our blog ‘The Abandoned Cart’ in 2015.

And the team delivered. We went from an average of one piece of new content per week in 2014 to two or three in 2015.

While we were high fiving each other feeling like we’d done a great job – we missed an important question… who cares? 

The number of new blogs, videos and stories we publish is a great vanity metric for us to point at as a marketing team. And yeah, it looks great on a graph...

SaleCycle Blogs Per Month

...but it misses the point of our blog! Our goal has always been to publish content which:

  • Educates – using our data and experience in our marketplace;
  • Informs – through the use of stories and real client examples; 
  • and Engages – making people smile with our tone and style.

In focusing so much on increasing our content output, we lost focus on the type of content that delivers on all of those things. More quantity, yes. But less ‘relevant’ quality. 

I thought it would be valuable to share the two big lessons we learned from pouring over the data and how we planned to turn it around.

1) Pareto was right. Annoyingly.

It turns out that although we increased our output; a lot of our new content and ideas weren’t resonating with our audience.

They simply weren’t clicking or sharing as much as they had in the past. 

Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto famously said that "80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes."

Applied to our content metrics, where ‘effects’ are page views and ‘causes’ are blog posts, we found that his 120 year old principal still rang pretty true.

SaleCycle Blog Posts | Page Views

At the start of 2016, we broke down our last 100 blogs to analyse where our traffic came from. As you can see from the chart above, we found that 10 blogs accounted for over 50% of our blog page views!

In fact, the top 20 accounted for 65% of them. Not quite Pareto’s 80 from 20... but not far off.

When we consider that there is little difference in the time and effort to put together the blogs in our two most successful quadrants, compared to the ones in the least successful ones, this was a pretty frustrating realisation. 

Note: We did not include blogs posted within the last three months to ensure a fairer assessment of the data. Naturally, a blog posted yesterday is likely to have fewer views than one of equivalent quality posted a year ago.

2) People want to learn... just not about your new office

Fresh from the dawning realisation that half our content just wasn’t really working, we dusted ourselves down to look at blogs that were working - those 20 blogs that accounted for 65% of our blog’s overall traffic.

We broadly categorise our content into three key areas:

  • SaleCycle Academy (facts, stats and best practice advice);
  • Ask Our Clients (client stories and examples);
  • and Love What You Do (culture and careers stuff). 

What we quickly learned looking at the stats was that our audience enjoys reading and sharing our educational stuff; they like the stories; but the culture stuff is perhaps taking up too much of our time.  

SaleCycle Blog Posts by Category

Whilst we love telling people about the culture at SaleCycle (we eat a lot of cake) and about our new office and job openings; the blog probably isn’t the best place for this kind of stuff. 

It’s made us rethink this approach and look at how we can revamp our careers page to do more for us in this regard; and consider other channels such as social media and even press releases for announcing other company news. 

Looking Forward

Content Marketing - Keep it Classy

Most B2B companies can only dream of getting the kind of blog traffic that genuine publishers like Econsultancy gets. 

For companies like us, it’s important to focus less on the number of blogs we’re posting and more on the impact of those blogs themselves.

Whether that’s traffic (page views), email sign-ups, product demos, upsell/cross-sell or of course acquiring new customers. 

But that’s something for another blog and another time.

Chris Sheen

Published 3 February, 2016 by Chris Sheen

Chris Sheen is Head of Marketing at SaleCycle and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow Chris on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

3 more posts from this author

Comments (14)

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Luis Pires

Luis Pires, Director of eCommerce and eMarketing at Bosch - Siemens Home Appliances LLC

Chris, thanks for the post. To me, the key point is whether or not the content will help solve a problem. Content for content does not seem to be very effective.

over 1 year ago


Lynn McBain, Managing Director at LMB Associates Ltd

Great article Chris and very topical. I'm delivering on the CIM Digital Strategy module at the moment and the class consists of 80% B2B marketers, so this is really informative for them! Thanks!

over 1 year ago

David Reilly

David Reilly, Digital Strategy Consultant at Econsultancy Guest Access TRAININGSmall Business Multi-user

Agree with Luis, content creation needs to specifically educate the readers or solve a client problems. Also important is the content form and distribution strategy so your target market read, engage and respond. Quora is a great source to find questions your customers might be asking. Good luck and thanks for sharing

over 1 year ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

A much earlier example of "Content is King" is from "Toward Improved Learning", from U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1967. "Content is King" is used ironically and in quotes, suggesting the phrase was already known to the readership.

The Bill Gates attribution is another example that #everythingontheinternetiswrong

Link to Google Books: http://bit.ly/1SvlP7T

over 1 year ago


Paul Sharp, Senior Product Manager at FOODit Ltd

While you've reached an unsurprising conclusion regarding your content output, you don't clearly state what constitutes success for 20% of your content. How have you decided that it has worked? What level of views can be said to have made your efforts worthwhile? Why are views even important - do you make money from them?
Traditional marketers should never be content to just sit back and say "our ads have been seen by X thousand people" without following up with a correlation to sales. Unfortunately content marketers seem to think they can get away with that level of analysis.

over 1 year ago

Luis Pires

Luis Pires, Director of eCommerce and eMarketing at Bosch - Siemens Home Appliances LLC

Paul, this is an interesting point. My experience with b2b has shown that success can be measured by a number of factors in addition to sales. For us, driving customers to the b2b portal is key and the most relevant indicator of the success of a content. So, I'd suggest you have a very clear view of what actions you want your customers to have and what metrics can show if they indeed took the steps you hoped for.

over 1 year ago

Luis Pires

Luis Pires, Director of eCommerce and eMarketing at Bosch - Siemens Home Appliances LLC

David, thanks for the Quora tip!

over 1 year ago

Greg Randall

Greg Randall, Director at Econsultancy Guest Access TRAININGSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Chris,

Great article. I agree with Pareto:) The same happens on my own blog.

Content creation is strategic and needs to support business direction and brand DNA. I am in the middle of a content creation strategy for an enterprise eCommerce technology client where the focus is to build/develop the brand as thought leader. The content treatment will be very different to other B2B content plays.

over 1 year ago

Chris Sheen

Chris Sheen, Head of Marketing at SaleCycle

Thanks for the comments guys.

@Paul - Yep, I agree. I'd be happy if the content is seen by only one person, if that person happens to like the content so much they spend $1 million with us! As I mention at the end of the blog, there's a tonne of other metrics we look at that I intend to delve in a future post.

Being a sales lead business, one of the most important things we consider is whether the content is going to help our sales team generate conversations on a daily basis. That's fairly qualitative, but is where 'vanity metrics' like page views give us a nice barometer of the market's opinion on a piece of content.

over 1 year ago


Alexa Stelzl, Content Marketing and Social Media at AlexaStelzl

I also agree with Luis - As a content marketer, I recently was tasked to increase leadgen for an industrial B2B firm that had little to no enthusiasm - hence not allocated enough resources - for content production. The challenge was to hit the nail on the head right from the start, without wasting precious resource on low-engagement content.

What let me achieve my objectives was applying the 80/20 rule:
Spend 20% of time creating problem-solving, hands-on content that is "usable" and worth engaging with for the target group and spend 80% of time promoting it.

over 1 year ago

Chris Sheen

Chris Sheen, Head of Marketing at SaleCycle

Love that Alexa! That's a great way of putting the 80/20 rule into practice. You're absolutely right that the time you put into promoting is vitally important...

When we look back at some of our content that 'failed', there are definitely cases where it simply wasn't promoted enough (or in the right ways). Marketing 101.

over 1 year ago


David Vranicar, President at SilverStream LLC

Good article, Chris.

You drew useful conclusions from your analysis of your content marketing efforts.

Rather than thinking how much time and effort you wasted on content that barely moved the needle, though, I encourage you to think how useful it was to generate data that helped you improve your efforts. You could not have done the analysis if you had produced less content or if you had produced a narrower range of content.

The important thing is to learn and adapt, as you have done.


over 1 year ago

Chris Sheen

Chris Sheen, Head of Marketing at SaleCycle

Thank you Dave. As you say, we're in a much stronger position now having gone through the process than we would have been without producing all that content in the first place.

You 'learn more from a defeat than a victory' as football managers love to say!

over 1 year ago

Luis Pires

Luis Pires, Director of eCommerce and eMarketing at Bosch - Siemens Home Appliances LLC

I really appreciate Alexa's comment. My experience with customers, in two different companies, has been that it takes about 3 - 4 messages (any message) for them to register the information.

over 1 year ago

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