Content marketing is riding a vector of increased popularity as more and more people discover its utility as a search engine optimization (SEO) and brand value strategy. However, this level of attention also leads to overexcitement and misconceptions about the practicality of the strategy. Content marketing is not a magic switch that can instantly attract thousands of new visitors to your site; like any other marketing strategy, it takes time, effort, and balance to be truly effective.
The following content marketing myths are some of the most prevalent – yet misinformed – I’ve seen. Make sure you and your organization don’t buy into them.
Content is valuable, and the more content you have, the more likely you are to catch somebody’s eye or offer the specific solution they need to a given problem. However, some people take that idea and interpret it as a single truth: that more is always better – that having more articles at a longer length is the best strategy, and the more you have, the better your campaign will perform.
This is simply untrue. While quantity can give you more visibility, quality is far more important. A series of five 1,200-word articles that only covers the basics is less valuable than one 600-word article that goes into great detail. If you can produce several high-quality articles, go for it – but don’t ever sacrifice quality for quantity.
Many business owners are successful as content marketers because they’re immersed in their industry and they have a gift for effectively communicating complex ideas. However, not everybody can write content successfully.
It’s not enough to simply put words on a page. You have to have to be a good researcher to find the most relevant, accurate information. You have to be a good writer in order to convey that information in an engaging, concise way. And you have to be a good marketer to know your target audience and cater to them.
It’s true that anybody with a keyboard can type words on a screen, but it takes discipline and experience to write great content for a marketing campaign.
The terms “content marketing” and “blogging” are related, but they are not interchangeable. Blogging is a specific strategy in the realm of content marketing, but not all blogging is content marketing and not all content marketing is blogging.
For example, if you write a blog regularly with no target audience, no niche focus, and no research to support your ideas, you aren’t adhering to the fundamentals of content marketing. Conversely, it’s entirely possible (though less efficient) to run a content marketing campaign without a blog—by leveraging guest blogging opportunities and social media marketing.
Because content marketing has built such a buzz over the last several years, many entrepreneurs have inaccurately deemed it as a fad. For some, that means ignoring the strategy entirely and focusing on other long-term solutions. For others, that means exerting tons of temporary effort in order to claim short-term results with no long-term goal in mind. The former misses out on the opportunities entirely. The latter will ultimately fail.
Content marketing is about providing value to your users, which is a fundamental principle immune to the ebb and flow of marketing gimmicks. If you’re going to be successful in your content marketing strategy, you need to treat it as what it is: a long-term campaign for your brand.
There are many writers and potential writers out there, all of whom have different rate expectations and different approaches to the craft. Some content marketing organizations take advantage of this by enlisting the help of the cheapest writers they can find, but this isn’t the right strategy.
Content marketing can be an inexpensive marketing channel, but great content doesn’t come cheap. If you hire an intern at minimum wage and expect them to write a series of masterpieces, you’ll be disappointed. For the most part, you get what you pay for, and the easiest way to ruin your campaign is to cheap out on inferior material.
The core purpose of any content marketing strategy is to produce content that’s valuable to your users, but that’s not the only purpose, nor is it the only goal of your campaign.
In addition to creating great content, you have to make sure people can find it and spark enough interest in it to get the attention it deserves. Over time, your brand will build a reputation to the point that your users will do some of the work for you, but it never hurts to give it an extra boost.
Publicize your content on social media and on external forums. Start public discussions about your topic. Develop an email campaign to make consumers aware of your content strategy. As s content marketer, generating attention for your marketing content is just as much your responsibility as creating the content itself.
Lately, content marketing has earned an inaccurate reputation of being useful only to B2C companies, or only to companies in a handful of industries. This simply isn’t true. Content marketing can be used by practically any company, though each company will require a different strategy.
For example, B2B companies might make better use of LinkedIn than Facebook for their content marketing strategy, due to the professional, targeted nature of LinkedIn. With the right adjustments and careful catering to a targeted audience, it’s possible to orchestrate a content marketing strategy that fits any business.
To save time and money, some companies use automated tools for their content marketing strategies. This can include social media scheduling tools, bulk post creation, or even content spinning to take one article and rewrite it dozens of different ways.
Some of these tools, such as advanced social media scheduling, can be quite useful, but the more you automate your content marketing, the less human and approachable your content becomes. If abused or used improperly, automation in content marketing can actually do more harm than good.
While content marketing is unique and faces a series of distinct advantages and disadvantages, it shouldn’t be kept separate from your other marketing efforts. Instead, it should function as an extension of your current branding and marketing strategy.
Integrate your campaign by cross-marketing; take advantage of your traditional advertising to cultivate more interest in your content strategy, or redesign your website to show it off. Content should feed your overall branding just as your branding should feed your content.
Content marketing should be a measurable strategy—otherwise it’s impossible to tell whether or not it is working. But many content marketers make the mistake of placing 100 percent of the value of content marketing on its success at converting customers.
While conversions are highly valuable and a good indication of your content’s success as a sales tool, it is not the only factor that dictates the success of your strategy. Low bounce rates, high click-through traffic, and high numbers of social shares are just a handful of measurable qualities you should consider in addition to direct conversions, not to mention the vast intangible benefits content marketing holds for your brand.
In order to be successful in the content marketing world, you first have to understand what content marketing is and what it isn’t. Instead of thinking of it in terms of numbers or getting excited about the buzz surrounding it, think of it simply as an opportunity to bring value to your users. In the end, that new value is what matters the most to your campaign. With it, you’ll improve your brand’s reputation and inspire loyalty in your visitors.