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If Amazon did B2B content marketing…

Amazon has made an interesting shift in its self-publishing strategy, one that I’m sure is getting many authors hot under the collar.

The e-tail giant has introduced a ‘pay-per-page’ policy for its Kindle Owners Lending Library contributors – so instead of giving authors a flat fee for each download, they’ll receive a payment for the percentage of book the downloader actually read.

Now the cynical amongst us may say that this is a corner cutting exercise by Amazon, but the official principle is simple: to make sure what gets uploaded is quality, not quantity.

By doing this, Amazon (theoretically) circumnavigates the possibility of new distribution channels diluting literature, and genuine talent becoming lost in a sea of lukewarm writers.

This got me thinking…what if we introduce the same ‘pay-per-page’ principle to commercial copwyriting?

B2B content marketing is no different to creative writing; over the last couple of years we’ve seen an explosion in the volume and variety of collateral being produced, with 70% of B2B content marketers claiming they produce more material now than 12 months ago.

However, is it actually any good?

I wholeheartedly agree that content should be the epicentre of all marketing strategies, that’s not the issue here. However, I do believe that some marketers fall into the trap of ‘churning out’ mediocre messages, which fail to deliver on their promise.

This is being exacerbated by the way in which we measure performance. Is an open and a click enough? Some would say yes, but how much more would we know if we delved into the time each clicker spent reading that article?

Looking at content dwell times tells us not only the depth of engagement with each piece of content, but actually helps us – when compared against the cost of production – to see which formats are generating ROI, so we can refine our strategy. There’s no point pushing out infographics if your audience responds best to long-form articles!

This year has seen a definite movement of the B2B content marketing fault lines, towards quality of content. Look no further than Google’s Phantom 2 update, which penalises faceless content factories, pushing out articles by the number, not the need.

How would their profits be impacted if we switched to an Amazon-style pay-per-page policy – or at least pay per second of dwell time?

The idea of having my work judged on this basis would TERRIFY me, and I take an extraordinary amount of care to ensure everything I produce for our clients is relevant, informative and engaging.

But it would certainly weed out the chaff, and help the wheat produced by us passionate copywriters to blossom.


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