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What is the Pareto Principle and how to use it in your content strategy

what is the pareto principle and how to use it in your content strategy

Perhaps 80% of your content marketing sales come from 20% of your content, or one in five of your social media campaigns drastically outperformed the rest. This isn’t new, and there’s a name for the phenomenon: the Pareto Principle.

The Pareto Principle states that for the majority of outcomes, roughly 80% of results derive from 20% of efforts. The term was coined by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1896 to describe an 80-20 split pattern occurring all around him. Specifically, he observed that 80% of wealth in Italy was owned by only 20% of the population, and merely 20% of his pea pods bore 80% of the peas. Thinking it to be a coincidence, he conducted surveys across other countries and was shocked to discover the same distribution.

In 1930, Joseph Juran, the leading voice in operations management at the time, applied the Pareto Principle to demonstrate that 80% of product defects were caused by 20% of the problems in production methods. Moreover, 20% of factories caused 80% of total defects, and within those factories 80% of the issues stemmed from just 20% of the workstations.

By pointing to what he called “the vital few and the useful many,” Juran used the 80-20 rule to isolate and address areas of inefficiency, and came to be known as the father of quality improvement.

The Pareto Principle is surprisingly applicable to content marketing, too. It permeates business, web design, making a website, customer journeys and conversion rate optimization the same way it did for the plants in Pareto’s garden and the factories in the ‘30s.

That’s all to say that the Pareto Principle can guide your content strategy. When small tweaks make large differences, the key is to identify those leverage points and forge a plan to put them to use.

How to use the Pareto Principle to improve your content KPIs

01. Focus on what performs the best

Aim to spend 80% of your content creation efforts on topics and formats you know work and 20% of your time experimenting. You’ll learn more about what works (and what doesn’t) without isolating your core audience.

A general rule of thumb for social media is that 80% of your social media posts should be educational and only 20% should be self-promotional. In other words, four of every five posts should lead with insights, and only the fifth post should include content like coupons, sales, demos, team headshots and media coverage. This helps brands establish their thought leadership without being spammy.

From there, determine which posts drive the top 20% of engagement you receive, and spend the majority of your marketing budget on those pieces specifically. This is where the Pareto Principle can maximize your return on investment in content marketing by allocating your funds to the posts that perform the best.

02. Optimize for website conversions

Take a look at your web analytics, and you’ll likely find that roughly 20% of their pages attract 80% of their overall traffic. Optimize the way traffic flows through your website to increase conversions, facilitate better engagement and accelerate business growth as a whole.

On homepages, one of the simplest ways to maximize conversions with minimal effort is to add a pop-up to your site. This is the essence of the Pareto Principle at work: 20% effort for 80% gain.

Strong popup forms offer ‘quick-wins’ (such as a downloadable ebook or template) and seamless navigability so users know the total number of steps as well as what step they’re currently on.

03. Enrich your content and reach new audiences

Take the same approach with your blog as you would your website and social media. Audit blog posts to identify the top 20% performing content. What do they have in common? You can do the same with your audience: who are the top 20% most engaged readers?

Continue to create the type of content that performs well and that top fans want to see. If writing isn’t your speciality, you can work with a ghostwriter or freelance writers, but make sure you hit that sweet spot between business needs and reader expectations.

On that note, blogs do little to move the needle for a business if no one reads them. If you’re putting in a ton of effort without seeing many results, you need to spend less time creating and more time promoting. Test out an 80% promoting, 20% creating split and see what happens.

Looking to to start a blog? Create a blog with the Wix blog maker.

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