Spoiler alert: the big guys struggle with content.

If you’re a customer of any of these companies, or if you’re as content-marketing obsessed as we are, you might have already noticed that. But even if that statement was less than shocking, there is something to be gained by delving into the latest research.

Small businesses, listen up.

New Research- Large Companies Struggle with Content Consistency. Can Small Biz Do Better

The Study

Content creation company Acrolinx recently completed a study of the website content produced by 170 global companies. Each company received a content score based on content quality (grammar and style) and clarity (ease of reading, including sentence length, structure, and word choice).

And — this is where things get really interesting — the study also measured the variance in quality and clarity within each company’s content. Because, Acrolinx says, “while maintaining a consistently high level of content quality (i.e., content that’s not only grammatically accurate but that also has a unified voice, style, and tone) is difficult to achieve at scale, it’s essential for building and maintaining a successful brand.”

In other words, for a brand to be successful, each piece of content needs to achieve high marks in quality and clarity and all content needs to fit together. Preach, Acrolinx.

The Results

It’s easy to think big business is always on point, but this study proves that bigger-doesn’t-mean-better applies to the content game, too.

  • 46% of companies received consistent content scores, but only 19% of those companies were producing high-quality content.
  • Which means 27% consistently published low-quality content.
  • Of the 54% of inconsistent content creators, 13% were considered extremely inconsistent and were guilty of publishing low-quality content (Ouch.)

The study shows there is a disturbing amount of sub-par content being published on a regular basis (and some on an irregular basis…which doesn’t make it any less disturbing).

Check out the full report from Acrolinx here.

Why Quality & Consistency Matter

Every piece of content, from an FAQ page to a product description to a blog post, represents a touchpoint. If a customer is on an up-and-down journey through a brand’s content, they are likely to extend the same adjectives they’d use to describe the content to the brand: Unreliable. Sloppy. Boring. Hard to follow.

That’s wasted effort and a missed opportunity, especially considering that quality, consistent content has the complete opposite effect. Acrolinx sites a 2014 McKinsey survey in which consumers reported that a consistent customer experience increases their satisfaction, builds trust, and increases loyalty.

New Research- Large Companies Struggle with Content Consistency. Can Small Biz Do Better

What Small Biz Can Learn From The Big Guys

Big business is up against many obstacles related to content creation. Content is often written by multiple departments, sometimes on entirely different continents. The approval process can be complex, with the buy-in of multiple people required.

Still, no excuses, big biz. The goal should never be to simply create content, it should be to create content that is helpful, relevant and really, really good.

Small businesses can learn from the breakdowns in big business content creation. To avoid replicating them within their content process, they should:

  • Create a blog editorial calendar so content can be planned and scheduled in advance.
  • Develop or modify a brand style guide to include guidelines for grammar, tone and style.
  • Limit the team who writes content to only those with the appropriate qualifications and experience (additional team members can still be involved in other parts of the content process).
  • Write down the details of the content approval process, indicating responsibility and timing, to make the process as seamless as possible.
  • Assign members of the content team to periodically review old content and update for relevancy, accuracy and to fit within the current style guide.

The excuses for weak, inconsistent content can be plentiful, but none of them are good excuses. There many things brands can do to achieve consistency, and these can be even easier for small businesses thanks to their agility.

Check out an even bigger list of ways to stay consistent with your content, and avoid the dismal content that plagues many business giants.