B2B E-News Needs a Basic Skills Upgrade, Part I
Competitively speaking, today’s B2B e-news is an easy mark for any outsider wishing to invade the market. That conclusion seems quickly drawn every year Editorial Solutions, Inc., conducts its annual B2B e-news delivery study. The most common explanation—which may be valid to some extent—is the heavy workload editors have had to shoulder as spiraling quantitative demands undermine best efforts to get the job done. On the other hand, some basic challenges are easily remedied. And once again, preliminary data gathered for my seventh annual study seems to suggest a clear path to improvement. Let’s see what the numbers tell us.
(1) The study has reached the halfway mark in terms of data accumulation. As of now, 26 sites (out of the 50 targeted for review) have posted 260 articles that are measured against an eight-factor scoring system. Considerations include impact, evidence of enterprise, total parties quoted, fast-paced introduction, Fog Index score, article average sentence length (ASL) word count, and embedded links.
(2) This year’s minimum target score was raised to 80 points (out of a possible 100). Nobody has reached the target. Seven sites scored 60 points or higher. The remaining 19 sites fell within the 44–59 range. In previous years, the target score was set at 60. So you might be motivated to conclude that the higher target was ill-conceived. Let’s bust that premise immediately.
(3) Methodology requires that on the date of review, ten articles on each site are scored. Maximum score each article can earn is 20 points for impact and enterprise, ten points for each of the remaining factors. So doing the math, each article of the ten reviewed earns a collective maximum score of 20 points covering Fog Index and ASL. You would think that since we are skilled editors, achieving that maximum score would be a cinch.
(4) Wrong! Of the 260 articles assessed, 102, or 39%, had high Fog Index scores. And in 87 articles, average sentence length exceeded the recommended 20 words. Why can’t all the articles in these two categories earn maximum scores? Two reasons come to mind:
a) many editors still are unfamiliar with Fog Index principles;
b) perhaps under time pressure, editorial staff post unedited PR announcements, many of which are packed with parades of endless sentences.
So Goal #1 in the interests of higher quality should be a perfect score for all articles in the Fog Index and average sentence length categories. It can be done. Go for it!
In part II, I’ll discuss best ways to assess usage of direct quotes and embedded links.