B2B Beat: What’s the Frequency, Blogger?

July 26, 2015

darts on board

The debate began in January with a Tweet from Moz’s Rand Fishkin. In that Tweet, Fishkin, who is known as the Wizard of Moz, noted that HubSpot had posted 49 blog posts in a single week. He asked the question, “I wonder if they’ve tested various quantities and found that to be ideal?”

The Tweet attracted the attention of Joe Chernov, Vice President of Content at HubSpot. After Chernov, Fishkin, and others debated the quantity vs. quality question, HubSpot and Moz, both of which have high visibility marketing blogs, agreed to conduct separate experiments examining post frequency on their respective blogs. Among the goals was to gauge frequency’s impact on visitors, page views, subscriptions, leads, and other metrics.

Read on to find their conclusions. You can also read on to discover whether these experiments -- which were conducted by two highly successful blogs, one with a subscriber base of 475,000 (HubSpot) and the other with about 225,000 weekly unique visitors (Moz) -- provide insight for the many business blogs that garner far fewer eyeballs.

Moz's Approach & Findings

Moz shared the results of its A/B test on the frequency of posts on – where else? – its blog, with the post, Raising the Bar: A Publishing Volume Experiment on the Moz Blog.

Moz, which started its blog more than a decade ago, essentially publishes on a daily basis. Trevor Klein, the author of the post, worried that Moz might face negative consequences if it deviated from this strategy. The fear was, he said, “If we stepped back from that schedule, we'd lose our street cred, our reliability, and a sizable chunk of our audience, not to mention the opportunities for increased traffic.”

To check the validity of this hypothesis, Moz conducted a six-week experiment with two weeks at its standard blog post frequency, two weeks at essentially half frequency, and two weeks at double the usual frequency. The experiment yielded some interesting results that ultimately confirmed the value of the daily posting cadence.

The half-cadence weeks saw a dip of 2.9 percent in daily sessions. The increase in daily sessions during the double-cadence weeks was about 3 percent. Of the difference, Klein concluded, “we can pretty well call it negligible.”

Moz did see engagement dip with each individual post as the frequency of posts increased. During the half-cadence week, posts received a “60” on Moz’s internal engagement metric. During the double-cadence week, posts received a lower score – “45.” Klein said these results proved Moz’s hypothesis that “increasing the blog frequency will spread engagement more thinly.”

In the end, Klein’s general conclusion was that increasing frequency could lead to over-saturation – the target audience only has so much time to engage with blogs – and that reducing frequency every once in a while would not cause Moz to lose its audience. “When a post that's scheduled to be published on our blog just isn't quite where we think it ought to be, we'll no longer rush it through the editing process simply because of an artificial deadline,” Klein wrote. …  “If we don't have a great replacement, we'll simply take the day off.”

Hubspot's Approach & Findings

HubSpot also conducted its similar experiment over a six-week period. Ginny Soskey shared the results in this post, Quality vs. Quantity: A 6-Month Analysis of the Age-Old Blogging Debate. Soskey analyzed the impact of frequency on traffic, leads, and blog subscriptions.

In its experiment, HubSpot used 23 posts per week as its benchmark. In the two weeks featuring “low-volume, high comprehensiveness” posts, HubSpot published an average of 11.5 in-depth posts. In the two weeks featuring “high-volume, low comprehensiveness” posts, HubSpot published an average of 34.5 posts.

HubSpot found that traffic remained essentially the same for the benchmark and the high volume weeks and dipped significantly – 32 percent – below the benchmark during the low volume weeks. HubSpot drew two main conclusions from this data. One the one hand, “there’s only so much content our readers can consume,” so going higher was not a winning strategy. On the other, dropping frequency below the benchmark was also a losing strategy, because “comprehensiveness can’t make up for frequency – at least when it comes to short-term traffic.”

In generating leads, HubSpot found that the high volume weeks produced about twice as many leads as the benchmark weeks. Each post essentially generated the same amount of leads, no matter what the frequency. In attracting subscribers, the only standout takeaway was that the high volume weeks boosted churn and generated more unsubscribes.

HubSpot concluded that the low volume approach was a weak option with diminished traffic and leads. The high volume approach was not a winner either, because the traffic gains were minimal and the increases in leads, while strong, were a small portion of HubSpot marketing’s overall lead generation and didn’t justify the added editorial work in producing more blog posts.

So HubSpot stuck with its benchmark approach – which is essentially what Moz did, too. Both of these marketers ultimately parsed the data and concluded that their current approach to post frequency was best for them.

But what can other marketers -- particularly ones that have blogs generating far less traffic and struggle to generate daily content -- learn from HubSpot’s and Moz’s experiments? Fifty percent of B2B marketers say their biggest struggle with content marketing is producing content consistently.

For these marketers who are struggling to produce enough content, the conclusion of these experiments by HubSpot and Moz might be that they need to reach a baseline frequency over several years before they begin debating whether to scale back that frequency.

As HubSpot’s Soskey put it, “To grow a blog, you need to consistently publish content that your readers enjoy reading.” Moz’s Klein also noted that the most effective blogs and other content marketing tactics build momentum over time. “Content marketing is a form of flywheel marketing,” he wrote. “It takes quite a while to get it up to speed, but once it's spinning, its massive inertia means that it isn't easily affected by relatively small changes. It'll keep going even if you step back and just watch for a short while.”

For many marketers, before they debate what level of frequency their blog posts should take, they probably should have at least some frequency to speak of.

Marketing Move of the Week

AirTight Networks, a cloud-managed Wi-Fi company based in Mountain View, Calif., named Freddy Mangum as its new CMO. Mangum was previously CMO at Lastline and Roambi. He also held marketing and engineering positions at Fortinet, Cisco, and EDS.

Marketing Resource of the Week

This week, LinkedIn introduced its newest eBook, The New Era of the Hybrid Marketer, which provides marketers resources that can improve their skills in analytics, coding, content marketing, and all the other skills that help make true hybrid marketers. You can download this indispensable resource here.

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