If you’re a marketer, then you probably know just how important content is to the success of your business. After all, it’s the voice of your brand, it’s what educates your prospects, and it’s the fuel that drives new sales and customer loyalty.

Fair enough, but have you ever stopped to appreciate the fact that the quality of your content is directly related to the impact that it has on your business? We’re going to go out on a limb here and guess that the answer is no.

And how often do you take the time to actually optimize your content? You know, ensure that it’s really well written, that it has the right tone of voice, and that it’s clear and easy to understand? Probably not as often as you should be, right?

Unfortunately, that’s why many marketers wind up wasting thousands — and, in some cases, even millions — of dollars creating and distributing mediocre content. The funny thing is that they’re then left scratching their heads when they discover that it doesn’t deliver the results they were hoping for.

In this post, we’re going to explain why content quality matters and why content optimization is therefore so very important.

Proof Positive That Better Content Drives Better Business Results

Earlier this year, we did some research to try to prove that better content drives better business results. And just to be clear, we’re not talking about incremental improvements. We mean major gains in the core metrics that matter most to today’s marketers.

As part of our research, we surveyed over 800 professionals from around the world. All of the input we gathered by doing so points to one clear finding: better content really does lead to better business performance. Boom!

Let us explain.

First, we started off by asking the participants to name what they thought were the top three business implications of having poor-quality content. The graph below shows what they said:

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While virtually everyone agreed that publishing poor-quality content has negative implications for business, opinions varied about what those implications actually are.

Our survey participants cited brand degradation, decreased trust, and lower customer engagement most.

Of course, perceptions alone don’t make the case.

Our next step was to try to quantify the impact that content quality can have on business metrics. To do so, we segmented our survey participants into two groups, sending each a piece of marketing collateral for a company we made up called Xtera.

Although the content and messaging were virtually the same for both pieces of collateral, we made sure to vary the quality.

The piece of collateral that Group A received was of above-average quality (based on the Acrolinx Score it received), while the piece that Group B received was just average. You can see the two versions of the text below along with their respective Acrolinx Scores.

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You can see a pretty dramatic difference in the scores and, if you read the text, you’ll see a definite difference in how well written they are, too.

By the way, it’s important to note that this was an independent blind study, where participants only saw one version of the content. After reviewing it, we asked them some questions, which led to some interesting results in three main areas:

1) Brand Perceptions

To quantify the connection between content quality and brand perception, we asked participants to rate their first impression of Xtera, based on the content they read.

Only 23 percent of the recipients who received the low-scoring content had a positive first impression of Xtera’s brand. By contrast, nearly 60 percent of the respondents who received the high-scoring content did.

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By simply improving the quality of the content, we were able to increase positive brand perceptions by 139 percent — and that was using generic content for a random audience.

Imagine the impact on content that’s tuned for a very specific group of target customers!

2) Conversions

Next, we wanted to measure the correlation between content quality and conversion rates.

To do so, we included a call to action in our sample marketing collateral, encouraging readers to sign up for a free trial. We then asked our survey participants how likely they’d be to sign up based solely on the quality of the content they had read.

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We were gratified to see that the folks who received the higher-quality content were 185 percent more likely to sign up for the free trial than those who had received the average-quality content.

That’s a big deal considering how important increasing conversion rates is for generating and nurturing leads. What our findings show is that by improving the quality of your content, you can dramatically increase conversion rates.

3) Intent to Purchase

The last thing we wanted to quantify was the correlation between content quality and intent to purchase. So we asked our lovely survey respondents how likely they would be to purchase from our fictitious company based solely on the quality of the content they had just read.

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Amazingly, among the respondents who got the better content, intent to purchase was 104 percent higher than among the respondents who received the average content.

This is perhaps the most compelling insight we gleaned from our research because it draws a clear connection between content quality and increased sales.

The Road to Better Content Marketing Begins With Content Optimization

Based on these findings, we think it’s clear that even small changes in content quality can yield significant improvements to business results. That’s why it’s so important to optimize your content.

We saw meaningful differences in brand perception, conversion rates, and intent to purchase between people who received good content and those who received great content.

For us, the takeaway is clear. Content quality matters more than most of us realize, and to truly optimize our content marketing programs, we must first focus in on creating higher-quality content. Having a defined plan in place (or better yet a software solution) to optimize your content, is critical.

In our view, and based on the data we’ve shared, it’s the key to maximizing the return on the considerable investment that many organizations are already making into content.