Engagement versus promotion: why we swear by the 80/20 rule

80/20 rule content marketing

If there were such a class as Content Marketing 101, you'd learn that content marketing centres on creating valuable and engaging content. The goal: building strong relationships with your audience.

Learning when to sell (as opposed to engage, educate or inform) to your valued audience is a little more complicated.

If you promote too much, you’re contradicting the principles of content marketing. But if you don’t promote at all, you could be missing out on opportunities to inform your customers of new products.

Enter, the 80/20 rule. This simple little framework should be applied to your content marketing strategy, whether it’s in your social media content, blogs, videos or ebooks.

What is it?

More than just a rule for healthy eating, the 80/20 rule also applies to healthy content marketing. It refers to the notion that only 20 percent of your content should be promotional, while 80 percent should provide value to your customers.

“Only 20 percent of your content should be promotional, while 80 percent should provide value."
8020 Rule

The promotional content includes any sales-based content or advertisements.

The valuable content should be customer-centric, including curating industry articles, sharing expert tips or entertaining visual content.

Why we swear by it

The 80/20 rule is a wonderful thing because it provides a guideline to establishing an engaged audience. The principles of the rule can help you build trust and make customer interactions with your brand more positive.

With this, meaningful, long-term relationships with customers can be fostered.

Build trust + make customer interactions positive = grow long term relationships

As the 80/20 rule suggests, you should have a value focus in your content strategy. Consumers are flooded with thousands of promotional messages every day, and if you are lucky to gain the attention of your target market, you need to you’re your offering valuable.

If you instead use the opportunity to blast sales messages at them, they wont come back. People don’t choose to seek out advertising, and if that’s all they’re getting from your company they will avoid interacting with you.

People seek positive interactions and helpful information. If you give that without expecting anything in return it builds trust. Setting the foundation of a long-term relationship.

This in turn improves the impact of your promotional messages, as when you do promote products, you will have a more engaged audience listening to your sales pitch.

How to use it

The 80/20 rule should be used as a rough guide to help you design a sustainable content strategy. By now you’ll know that your content should be majority valuable content and minority promotional content. But what exactly is valuable content? Valuable content is content that is beneficial and engaging to your client. This would include anything that is:

  • informative
  • entertaining
  • inspirational
  • interesting
  • or interactive

When sharing your promotional content, there is no reason why you can’t also make it valuable. Try these examples…

Call to action - at the end of a blog post, ebook, etc. use a CTA to explain how your company can help customers with a related issue

Testimonial or customer story - tell a customer success story that inspires prospective customers

Video content – create an entertaining or informative video explaining how to get the most out of your products

Social media – start a social media competition or offer a promotional discount.

Positioning - position content strategically within your sales timeline to promote a new product or service launch

Company culture - let your customers get to know the people behind the brand by sharing company culture content

The most important lesson about the 80/20 rule is that in content marketing, promotion is not the goal. Your focus should be building meaningful relationships with customers through providing valuable and engaging content.

Do you follow the 80/20 rule when producing content for your business?

7 creative quotes to inspire every content marketer

Creativity quotes

We all need a little inspiration sometimes. Whether its improving your 2018 strategy or just trying to start the year with the perfect social media post, it might feel like your creativity quota has been used up - and it's only January! 

Sadly, creativity isn't always there when you need it. But sometimes a simple little quote can be enough to open your eyes to a fresh perspective, and inspire you to think laterally.

We've compiled our favourite business and creativity quotes from some of the worlds most brilliant minds.

From writers to artists these inspiring quotes should help you get through your work slump...

Content marketing creativity
Content marketing creativity
Content marketing creativity
Content marketing creativity
Content marketing creativity
Content marketing creativity
Content marketing creativity

Got a favourite quote of your own? Or a creativity ritual that never fails? Let us know in the comments.

21 questions to ask your next case study interviewee

woman writes a case study

As any experienced business writer will tell you, your next case study is only as good as the responses you can solicit from your team and client. So how do you make sure that you're getting the best possible material? 

That's easy: You ask the right questions. 

When we interview our clients' clients for case studies, we don't just ask random questions out of the blue. We work through a list of tried and true questions that both: 

  • Provide all the information we need to write a winning case study
  • Streamline the case study writing process - when asked in order, the answers to our questions form a skeleton on which to build the rest of the case study

We don't believe in hoarding knowledge. So today, we're sharing our go-to list of case study interview questions that will help you write better case studies in less time. 

Note that most of our clients are in the IT space, which means these questions work best for IT implementation projects. They'll still be useful if you work in another industry, but may require a little tweaking. 

The business

  • Tell me about your company – what industry you are in and what does your business actually do?
  • Can you please provide some figures about your organisation, such as size, turnover, number of staff, office locations or similar?

The problem

  • What was the business problem you were trying to solve?
  • What was there a particular trigger that made you decide it was time to act?
  • What were the key challenges you needed to address?

The solution

  • When did the project begin and end?
  • What were your project objectives?
  • Why did you choose [company]?
  • What technologies were used?
  • What was the process for developing the solution? (If you're an IT company, provide the technical details of the solution yourself.  Don't rely on your client to provide this information, as they may not be aware of the depth/breadth of your work.)


  • How is the solution now being used?
  • Has it achieved the project objectives?
  • What quantifiable benefits can you attribute to the solution (e.g. return on investment, dollars/time saved)?
  • What other business benefits have you experienced as a result of this project?
  • How does this compare to how you were doing things previously?
  • How have users reacted? 
  • Who are the main users and what changes has it made to their roles?

Future plans

  • Do you have plans for future development?
  • Off the back of this project, are there any other projects either underway or in the pipeline?


  • If you were to recommend [company], what would you say?
  • How would you describe your relationship with [company]?


Which questions would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments!