Two-Thirds-of-You-Think-post

Earlier this year we surveyed more than 600 professionals from around the country about a variety of topics, including their company’s content. Among the people we surveyed were writers and editors, people who manage content teams, as well as individuals involved with localization, distribution, and other content-related roles. Our goal was to gain some insights into how these content folks see the world.

Since there’s no single definition of what constitutes great content, we decided to start out by getting a sense of what they think matters most. So we asked them to name the three factors that they view as most important when it comes to creating great content. Here’s what they said:

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What we found particularly interesting is that the second most common response — cited by more than half of participants — was having content that’s clearly written and easy to understand. The only more commonly cited response was ensuring that your content is valuable to your audience, which makes sense. The best written content in the world isn’t worth much if it’s not conveying useful information.

Other top responses also focused on the quality of writing from different angles, namely using an engaging style and tone of voice as well as making sure that your content is error-free. While the quality of your writing clearly isn’t the only factor that matters when it comes to creating great content, what these findings underscore is that high-quality writing is perceived to be very important. Not exactly a shocking revelation, but wait — there’s more.

Next we wanted to measure how confident our survey respondents are about their company’s content, both in general (taking all of the factors noted in the chart above into account) and then specifically in terms of the quality of their writing (taking just the three in red into consideration).

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Most respondents are confident in the quality of their content overall, while slightly fewer feel the same level of confidence in the quality of their writing. What’s interesting about this to us, however, is that it flies in the face of some other research we did last year. When we published our Global Content Impact Index in 2015, we found that 69 percent of the 340 global brands we studied weren’t producing content that was up to par in terms of the quality of its writing.

While the respondents to this survey admittedly comprise a different group entirely, if the majority of the world’s top global brands haven’t got their content right, it stands to reason that most everyone else doesn’t either. You have to wonder whether or not these professionals’ perception of the quality of their writing (and content overall) really matches up with reality.

Further supporting that theory was the results to our last question. We wanted to know what these professionals do to ensure the quality of their content.

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The answer is that 56 percent of them aren’t doing anything, or at least not enough. That’s because they’re either only reviewing some of their content prior to publishing, are relying on their writers to adhere to corporate style guidelines (which is difficult to ensure at scale), or they just don’t have a process in place to review and improve their content at all.

In our view, there’s a real disconnect here between perceived content quality and the safeguards that companies have in place to ensure that their content actually meets the mark. That’s a problem because content quality really matters. In fact, it can have an exponential impact on business results.

That’s a topic that we’ll be diving into later this month in a brand new report we’re creating about content quality. Stay tuned for all of the findings. For anyone trying to add some meaningful research to their business case for why content matters, this report is going to be a must-read.