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Outreach in 2018 – Survey Findings

By June 7, 2018 No Comments

I’ve recently been preparing a talk for Verve’s amazing outREACH Conference. As a part of my preparation for that, I ran a small survey of people involved in content outreach and promotion using Google Forms. A few people asked whether I’d be making the findings available, so here they are.

The Usual Housekeeping

This is by no means a scientific study. Before we even start talking about variables in this line of work, there’s a ton of other things to take into account:

  • Survey was run using Google Forms and was open from 15th May 2018 to 5th June 2018
  • I used Twitter and emailed contacts to ask them to complete it
  • There were 103 responses – not a large enough pool to make sweeping, factual statements based on. But large enough that there’s some genuinely interesting anecdotal insight here
  • I allowed people to respond anonymously – my thinking here being that I’d get more honest responses to the more sensitive questions
  • A was contacted by one individual who realised they’d accidentally included their agency name in an open response field and asked me to modify that response on any data sheets to be released. I’ve (of course) complied with that request

I deliberately kept the survey short. I was primarily interested in:

  • How confident people are that they hit their targets
  • How much time they spend on promotion and outreach compared with the time spent on production
  • Their approach to revisiting old content to “re-promote” it months or even years later

So the bulk of my questioning was around that.

  • I did not make any questions compulsory. So there are instances where respondents have simply not answered a question on the survey.

Who Responded to the Survey?

The survey ran from 15th May 2018 until 5th June 2018.

In terms of the breakdown of respondents:

  • 62.1% agency side
  • 27.2% in house
  • 9.7% freelance
  • 1% other

content outreach survey breakdown

Outreach Survey Findings in Summary

At the end of this post, I’ve included a raw download of all responses, so feel free to take that and run any of your own analysis as you see fit. But the main things I took away from this were:

  • Only around one quarter of respondents claim to hit their targets either often or all the time
  • 59% of respondents state that they do their outreach “all in one go and as quickly as possible”
  • Only 22% say they often or always revisit old content to promote it again in the future
  • 65% of respondents have targets for each outreach project
  • 70% of respondents spend as long or longer on promotion than on production of content

How Much Time Do We Spend on Content Production and Promotion

I asked two separate questions here. The answers are below:

how long do you spend creating content?

how long do you spend on average on outreach

 

The answers here are quite broad, so a comparison between the two questions isn’t necessarily straightforward. For example, if someone is spending 6 weeks on content creation and 8 weeks on promotion, they’d give the same answer (1 to 2 months) for both. So it doesn’t allow for particularly granular analysis of how much time is being spent on one element versus the other.

However, when you do run a comparison (and take it as an approximate) it would appear that:

  • 26% of respondents are spending more time on promoting content than they are producing it
  • 44% are spending around the same amount of time promoting as producing content
  • 30% spend less time on promotion than production

So for 70% of those responding, the promotion and outreach element is given at least the same focus and resource as the production.

How do we Space Outreach Out?

This is always an interesting one for me. In an ideal world, you’d crack on promoting content until you’ve exhausted every single avenue and hit every single relevant publication (certainly if your content isn’t time sensitive). Meanwhile, however, in the real world, we have budget restraints, other clients, other responsibilities and the practicalities of contracts to consider. So how to spread out and plan our promotion is often led by factors, I believe, like these.

So I asked the following question:

how long do you take over content outreach statistics

I gave 2 options:

  • Do it all in one go and complete it as quickly as possible
  • Spread it out over a longer period

I also allowed for people input their own answer and some of those answers made for interesting reading (you can view them all in the raw data download at the end of this post).

  • 58.8% take the “do it all in one go” approach
  • 36.3% spread the outreach element of a campaign out

Some of the open ended responses suggest quite people have a process that splits it a little (“10% pre 80% launch 10% later,” for example). And for many, it varies.

Nonetheless, the majority  appear to plan outreach as a one time “all in one go,” hit.

Revisiting Old Content to “Re-Outreach”

Again, how feasible this is depends upon scores of factors, many of which are not directly related to the content itself. Contracts, resources, budgets… it all plays a part in how much on going work can be put in. But I was interested to find out how much “re-promoting,” people do.

revisiting old content projects

Outreach Targets and Hitting Them

setting outreach targets

Unsurprisingly, 65% of people have targets for each project they’re involved in and a further 27% have targets for some projects. However, a small minority (under 8%) don’t set specific targets for their projects.

But… most people don’t frequently hit their targets!

This is the one that really had me thinking…

hitting targets statistics

What this suggests, basically, is that for three quarters of people who took this survey, hitting targets is “hit or miss,” at best. Only a quarter feel they hit targets often or all the time.

And granted, there are all sorts of reasons this could be the case. Some people have unreasonable targets, insufficient resource or other non content related limitations.

But whatever the causes, this is a big deal, I think!

Download all the responses

I’ve put all the responses in a Google Sheet. I made one modification from the original Google Doc at the request of a respondent who inadvertently included the name of the agency they work for and wanted it to be removed, but other than that, this is as answered. So please feel free to grab that here and analyse as you see fit!

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