Time To Make Good On Promises of E-News Enterprise
Wouldn’t it be nice if B2B e-news managers finally made good on all their claims over the years that “content is king”? In fact, some publishers have followed through on those declarations. But for the most part—as confirmed by preliminary findings in the ongoing ninth Annual E-News Delivery Study from Editorial Solutions, Inc.— the majority of sites treat content more like a commoner than a king.
To test my admittedly bleak hypothesis, I revised the study scoring system this year to identify whether or not e-news sites were devoting sufficient coverage to gathering end-user input. For each of the 50 sites examined, the study applies a new Enterprise Reporting Prominence (ERP) calculation. ERP measures the percentage of total news posted that clearly reflects end-user input. Why does this metric matter? Because year after year, despite pleas for improvement, the amount of end-user input in B2B e-news remains unacceptably low. The data gathered from 20 sites reviewed so far confirm this shortcoming once again.
Historically with these projects, the initial 20-site scoring phase accurately reflects the final results for all 50 sites. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some results so far:
- Enterprise coverage based on end-user input is sadly rare. For example, of 200 articles examined to date, 169 could not earn a scoring value higher than low or zero. The way the scoring works is based on the number of direct quotes used per article. One or two per article would earn a grade of low. Articles with direct quotes from three or more sources would earn a medium or high grade.
- The total number of quotes provided by vendors in this sample is 142. Meanwhile, end-user quotes account for just 45. Of the 20 sites reviewed, 7 provided no end-user quotes at all.
Perhaps the above findings disappoint me more than they do the staff of the sites studied. Lately the practice of using press release copy verbatim is becoming more overt, with stories or whole sections being identified as submitted announcements. Of course, gathering end-user comment often requires considerably more effort than simply rewriting vendor press releases. Current squeezes on staff size and freelance support hardly suggest a positive outlook for this unfortunate trend.
This brings us to the survey section devoted to specific ERP performance. Each e-news site scored is based on performance of 10 articles reviewed on the review date. ERP designated total target for the 10-article package is 60% of total words posted. Nobody reached this goal: 18 of the 20 sites were stalled point/wise below 40%, the top score was 53%, and two sites scored below 1%.
The way scoring works is that eight factors are rated. Two of those are devoted to enterprise factors; the maximum score possible for each of those factors is 15 points. Most enterprise scores range no higher than five points per article.
Basic Editing Factors Also Considered
The way this study works, there are two scores. ERP performance also is considered in an overall eight-factor system seeking a target score of at least 60 points. It is possible that anyone earning zero on the two enterprise factors could still reach 60 if the remaining six factors achieved maximum scores. The six factors scored are impact, headline, news first/source later format, word count, average sentence length, and embedded link visibility.
Five sites reached goal by finishing in a range of 60 to 61 points. Another critical item not considered for scoring purposes was Fix-It Alert performance. The objective of this metric is that the number of items requiring revision should not exceed 20% of total items posted. That score was beyond reach for everybody; the worst score was 55%.
If you would like clarification on the above information, feel free to email me or call 201-569-7714.