E-News Home Runs Require Depth. Many B2B Editors Are Striking Out
Hitting more e-news article home runs is a goal that B2B editors in search of digital success must pursue. But to hit more homers, they need to produce original, exclusive content—no cinch. In many cases, common editorial practices get in the way of success. Some of these practices are readily addressed. Others involve budgetary factors that are not so easily overcome.
This state of affairs is clearly delineated in the latest update of the 9th annual B2B e-news study from Editorial Solutions Inc (ESI). The data collected so far suggest a need to rethink how we deliver a steady content flow that takes critical depth factors into account. These factors include enterprise, end-user engagement, article length, and embedded link visibility. Let’s consider key statistics pertaining to each of these four factors:
- Enterprise. In past studies, a heavy reliance on press release rewrites in many sites showed a lack of enterprise reporting capability. For this year, the study includes an enterprise reporting target calling for at least 60% of posted content to show evidence of reaching out to sources for exclusive quotes. Based on data recorded by 30 sites to date, the news clearly is less than good. In fact, no site has reached the target score, and only three sites scored higher than 40%. Equally troublesome was the finding that of the 300 articles evaluated (10 articles per site), 258 could earn no higher than a “low” achievement.
- End-user engagement. Past studies always found little evidence of connection with end-user sources. So in 2021, the study is paying more attention to this matter. The number of total direct quotes tallied so far is 290. Of those, 214 were vendor-sourced; 76 were from end-users. Some folks would probably argue that this ratio of vendors to end-users can make sense. After all, especially in many high-tech fields, vendors make most of the news. On the other hand, in several fields—retail for instance—end-users are or should be the main newsmakers. Yet even for sites serving such fields, vendors often get the lion’s share of news coverage. (One nagging matter when it comes to the vendor/end-user direct quote comparison is that 11 of the 30 sites scored posted no end-user quotes at all.)
- Article length. Past studies have ignored statistical considerations when evaluating this factor. But it definitely makes sense to consider possible yardsticks. For instance, if a B2B site desires to run more enterprising articles, a length of at least 500 to 800 words would be required to make several important points. To determine where we stand now, this new study tabulation used 400 words as the lower end of the range consideration. This year, 97 of the 300 articles reviewed were 400 or more words long. The issue for the future is what percentage of total e-news articles deserve at least 400-word consideration.
- Embedded link visibility. This category definitely needs a new yardstick. Previously, the target was an average of at least one link per article. That’s too low. It was established several years back when editors were getting their feet wet in link use. Right now, the ESI study finds embedded link use all over the lot, from a low of zero per site to a high of 33. If done well, links definitely add story-telling value to the posted article.
As an aside to the above information, the current study involves an eight-factor review with a passing grade of 60 points. Of the 30 sites scored so far, eight reached the passing score. That’s actually pretty good based on past performance. Not as good is the Fix-It Alert calculation, reflecting the percentage of 80 total items (8 factors times 10 articles) that require improvement. The maximum acceptable number of mishaps is 20%. Nobody achieved that score. The best result so far is 26.3%, while the lowest score is 48.8%.