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?