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4 Misconceptions About Content Marketing

A well-crafted blog. An incisive video. A truly enlightening infographic.

A good piece of content is the strongest way to connect with your audience. With so many marketing misconceptions about how content works and what it can achieve, however, many brands haven’t tapped the tactic’s full potential.

No matter your organisation’s size, content marketing can help you connect with your audience, offer something valuable, and grow your brand. But to make that happen, you’ve got to overcome these four massive misconceptions about content marketing.

Misconceptions About Content Marketing

1. Creating (good) content is easy

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“How hard could it be?”

Creating content is easy. Creating good content is not.

What do we mean by good content?

Brands often view content as the cherry on top of their digital marketing dessert. They may hire other people to devise the recipe and make the filling, but throwing the cherry on top – what’s the big deal? So, they do it themselves. After all, what’s so hard about writing a blog or assembling an email?

What they don’t know is that in order for content to perform well, it must be crafted with the same precision that would go into devising a PPC campaign or an SEO audit. Research, length, quality of images, quantity of images, diction, publication, distribution, amplification . . . so much more goes into a good piece of content than should ever be apparent to the end user.

Pro Tip: Invest in your organisation’s marketing by hiring an experienced inhouse team or outside agency. This will ensure your content delivers the results you need it to.

2. Content marketing ALWAYS/NEVER works

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“Well, which is it?”

If you’re an avid reader of marketing blogs, you’ll know that these claims are among the pundits’ perennial favourites. That’s probably because content marketers, ourselves included, recognise that it’s important to take a stand. In this case, however, both claims are misleading.

Claim 1: Content marketing always works.

Yes, content is a fantastic way to engage, educate, and activate your audience, but not every piece of content is going to hit your KPIs – or even generate a conversion/sale. Content is often a long game. One that pays off, yes, but one that you must nurture over time.

Claim 2: Content marketing never works.

72% of marketers says that content creation is their most effective SEO tactic (HubSpot). Content marketing costs an average of 62% less than outbound marketing and generates more than 3x as many leads (Content Marketing Institute). And there are excellent examples of well-known brands driving results with their content marketing efforts, year after year (Contently). Enough said!

Pro Tip: Don’t discard your content strategy when your first piece of content doesn’t get a million engagements, but don’t discount content altogether simply because a pundit says you should. Experiment until you find what works for your organisation and your audience.

3. Good content attracts readers naturally

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“Where are all my people?!”

Have you ever heard that famous quote, If you build it, they will come . . . ?

That’s not actually what James Earl Jones said in Field of Dreams, and it’s not a very sound mantra for content distribution, either. Countless marketers continue to rely on this method, however, and scratch their heads when their amazing content doesn’t get any traction.

That’s because of content shock: the idea that there is SO MUCH CONTENT on the Internet that all of it cannot possibly be seen – and that includes good content, too. In order for your content marketing to be sustainable and worthwhile, you can’t let creation overshadow distribution and amplification.

Distribution and amplification publish your content in the right places – owned, earned, and paid media – and show it to the right audiences.

“Owned” media includes your website, your email, and your social media channels. All are important, but they’re just the first step.

“Earned” media includes external media such as social media shares, user-generated content (such as reviews), and digital PR. You get these by creating good content that others want to share, but it doesn’t always happen automatically. Feel free to reach out and ask relevant contacts and influencers to share your content.

“Paid” media refers to sponsored social media posts, PPC search ads, native advertising, and sponsored content on external blogs. You’ve literally got to pay for this kind of amplification, but with the right content and right audience, the returns can be exponential.

Pro Tip: Prioritise content creation, distribution, and amplification equally. Otherwise, you risk creating phenomenal content that no one is going to see.

4. Content can’t drive ROI

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G:   “Don’t worry, J.  It’s just not true.”

Forget the Tooth Fairy or Father Christmas – this is the biggest lie ever told. Whether your agency claimed this in order to justify their underperforming output, or your marketing manager believed so because her writers never gave her quality content, this is one of the most egregious misconceptions about content marketing.

Content marketing can drive ROI. Brand awareness, engagement, traffic, conversions, sales . . . high quality, well-distributed, and well-amplified content can deliver all of these.

So, what’s the problem? Unfortunately, many marketers don’t know how or simply don’t measure their results. It’s still a growing field, so there’s no benefit in playing the blame game. The good news is that this big problem has an easy fix. Simply start measuring.

If you’re looking to grow your audience, here’s what you should do: benchmark your content reach for one month, and then experiment with different tactics to grow that number each month. If revenue is your main goal, dive into the “Content Drilldown” or “Referral Traffic” sections of Google Analytics, and investigate which pieces of content are leading to conversion.

And remember to properly distribute and amplify your content in order to get your message to the right audiences in the right places. Otherwise, your ROI will be DOA.

Pro Tip: From simple social media reports to advanced tracking in Google Analytics, measure the performance of your content, and adjust it accordingly. Experimentation is the number one way to turn good content into happy conversions/sales.

How to get started

There are loads of other misconceptions about content marketing out there (content has a limited lifespan, readers prefer short/long-form content), but those are a story for another blog post. By dispelling these four top-level content marketing misconceptions, we’ve given you the tools you need to make your content marketing work for you and your readers.

To summarise . . .

  • Invest in your organisation’s marketing by hiring an experienced inhouse team or outside agency.
  • Experiment until you find what works for your organisation and your audience.
  • Prioritise content creation, distribution, and amplification equally.
  • Measure the performance of your content, and adjust it accordingly.

Start out by following these four rules, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving maximum results from your content marketing.

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Ambergreen is a full-service digital agency, specialising in analytics, content, PPC, SEO, and local presence management. Founded in 2001, we have consistently delivered amazing results for our clients since before the rise of Google.

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