B2B Websites Must Become E-News SUPER SITES
As competition among B2B websites heats up, the quality of e-news takes on increasing importance. But many online publishers are slow to recognize this new reality and shed past habits. This is a key conclusion of the Ninth Annual 50-Site E-News Delivery Study from Editorial Solutions, Inc. The lack of progress is understandable in some respects. It is true for many sites that the staff support needed—either full-time or freelance—is unavailable. But this excuse will not suffice: many improvements can be made quickly without increased staffing. This new report shows how.
A key change in the study this year was the introduction of two-part scoring. The first part covers enterprise reporting considerations, and is the focus of this article.
The second part covers eight basic editing factors: impact, enterprise, end-user presence, story-telling headlines, news first achievement, total word count, average sentence length and embedded link presence. This second part of the scoring approach will be addressed next week.
Understand the Competitive Picture
Websites must dramatically increase enterprise reporting, basing e-news content not on press releases or vendor comments, but on end-user sources. This is a key step to becoming what I call an E-News SUPER SITE.
Nearly a decade ago, my very first e-news study showed that enterprise reporting was deficient in most B2B websites. Then as now, two-thirds of content involved rewrites of press releases. Only a handful of sites could attain the target score of 60 points (out of 100). In fact, during the first six years, a grand total of only 43 sites (out of 300) made the grade. A regular group of sites managed scores in the 50’s, but none could claim a competitive edge. Where most sites scored poorly was on the two factors measuring enterprise performance.
Today, nothing has changed (except for my study method having developed a more precise way to measure enterprise reporting prominence). No site can yet claim an outright edge in enterprise or in the ability to deliver substantial content based on exclusive interviews with end-users.
Previous annual studies identified the lack of end-user sourcing, but did not provide specific hard numbers. That has changed in this latest study. Let’s take a close look at the evidence:
- This year’s 50-site study collected 451 quotes. Of these, 317 were from vendors and a few miscellaneous sources. Just 134 quotes were from end-users.
- The average number of end-user quotes per site was an unimpressive 2.7.
- Seventeen of the 50 sites used no end-user quotes at all.
Future studies will measure end-user quotes in terms of the number actually obtained by direct interviews versus those taken directly from other source material.
As shown by this latest study, B2B website managers should take immediate steps to increase the number of end-user quotes. A first step toward earning SUPER SITE status is to ensure that at least three out of every 10 articles are based on interviews with at least three end-user sources each.
Another step to attaining SUPER SITE status is to ensure that at least 60% of content posted overall reflects exclusive quotes obtained via direct interviews. Last year, the study introduced a calculation based on enterprise reporting prominence (ERP) to measure this key factor. Of all 50 sites surveyed this year, none could reach the 60% goal. In fact, only five sites managed scores higher than 40%. The highest score was 53.1%; the lowest, a mere 0.09%!
Clearly there is a significant competitive advantage to be gained by understanding ERP and using it to help attain SUPER SITE status. To date, sadly, there has been no rush from editors to learn more about how this works. But there are still plenty of opportunities to do so!
Next week’s installment will discuss how article depth, embedded links, and editing basics fit into the SUPER SITE picture. In the meantime, send questions or comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.