As the year draws to a close and we all get ready to settle in for the festive season, there seems no better time to take stock and review the year’s events in the world of content marketing. We’ve experienced significant growth within the industry, both in terms of search volume and production, and more and more businesses are latching on to the need to revise their current standing online through embracing investment in high-quality content. This, of course, is fantastic news for content marketing specialists, and 2015 will undoubtedly see a further increase in production.
It’s not all positive news, however. While those within the industry have become familiar with the benefits of content marketing, many key stakeholders remain cautious about whether or not to invest in the discipline. Worse still, some proponents of content marketing pursue practices that are far from ideal, expecting quick wins and little effort. As such, content marketing myths continue to give the discipline a bad name. Through suitable education, however, debunking some of these myths is essential in order for content marketing to continue to develop.
Below we take a look at 20 of the most common myths about content marketing and look to resolve any confusion for those still unsure of its value.
Myth 1: Content marketing and copywriting are easy
Let’s get this one out the way first shall we? For content marketing to be effective and engaging, it’s vital to have the input from a number of experts, most notably designers, UX experts, developers and, of course, copywriters. Putting some words onto paper may seem like the easiest thing in the world, but doing it well is something altogether different. Hiring a professional may prove to be slightly more expensive to begin with, but the results will far outweigh the cost; after all, you wouldn’t have an amateur build you a house, so why let an amateur write your content? Which leads us to…
Myth 2: Copywriters do nothing but write
A professional copywriter in the modern era is responsible for far more than just penning words. As already identified above, content creation demands collaboration, but it also demands an investment of time and discipline. A copywriter is required to conduct a number of tasks when generating a piece of content. For example, for every piece of content created, more often than not the copywriter will be responsible for:
- Competitor research
- Customer profiling and demographics
- Keyword research
- Content writing
- Content optimisation (meta descriptions, header tags, internal linking)
- Image sourcing and optimisation
- Uploading (CMS, HTML, etc.)
And that’s for just a simple article! When it comes to preparing videos, slide decks, infographics, etc., the extent of the work is accentuated significantly. Sometimes paying a little bit more for a decent copywriter or copywriting agency leads to far greater ROI in far less time.
Myth 3: Text content is enough
Copywriting and content marketing are about far more than just words. Everything that appears before an audience’s eyes constitutes content, and demands that care and attention is given to every element. Yes, search engines crawl the text found on a page, but the online experience is about far more than simply appeasing Google robots. The user experience is fundamental to the success of your website, so investing in the right text, the right images, the right videos, etc. is of utmost importance. Of course, each asset appearing should complement the other, so having a guiding hand and an experienced content editor to approve the content before going live should is also required.
Myth 4: Content marketing is just flavour of the month
When it comes to content marketing, the theory behind the discipline will never change. Content will always be required. How content is delivered and the type of content required is undoubtedly certain to change, but be required it will. For those working in the industry, it’s about moving with times and embracing evolution. While the term ‘content marketing’ may well become less prominent in the years to come, everything about the discipline will remain relevant. That does not, however, mean that…
Myth 5: More content means greater reach
For a long time, it was a common policy among SEO ‘experts’ that creating page after page after page after page was the most effective means of capturing traffic. The amount of websites now featuring redundant, low-quality pages built purely for the benefit of capturing long-tail and miscellaneous keywords is alarming, not least because some SEO advocates still believe this to be a valuable use of time and resource. While it’s vital to have content relevant to your keywords, the most fundamental issue is that just that: relevance. Weak, poorly crafted content won’t endear you to search engines, let alone customers. Make sure that it’s a case of quality over quantity; it’ll prove far more effective for your digital strategy.
That’s not to say that…
Myth 6: If you build it, they will come
(We know, we know. The actual quote is ‘he’ and not ‘they’. Calm down)
As may be apparent from the article thus far, we’re huge advocates of quality over quantity. Less is most definitely more. That said, don’t expect to generate a huge audience and great levels of engagement if you simply build yourself a blog/website and post once in a blue moon. While that one post may be truly exceptional, you need regular communication with your audience to ensure complete engagement. Too often we see clients invest the money in developing a blog, only to neglect its very existence. Put time and effort into the content you create so as not to neglect quality, but ensure you still post regularly enough to maintain readership. It’s a fine line between too little and too much but, as a consumer of content yourself, it should soon become apparent where the happy medium lies.
Myth 7: Blogging is a waste of time
Investing in a blog is far from a waste of time, but only if it’s done correctly. Something we see all-too often is that businesses feel the need to deliver blog content only if it produces a measurable return i.e. sales. In some industries, affiliate marketing, say, this may be perfectly viable; for others, however, it should be viewed as completely irrelevant. The purpose of a blog differs vastly from the purpose of your actual website; whereas everything on your site has been carefully considered to drive sales and conversions, your blog should be used to promote engagement and foster a relationship with your audience that is altruistic and asks for nothing in return. Your communication via blogs should be informative and entertaining, resolving problems and interacting. Done well, your blog will positively influence sales indirectly. Just don’t expect it to sell off the page.
Myth 8: Content marketing doesn’t influence sales
One of the greatest misunderstandings when it comes to content marketing is the assumption that it plays no role in influencing sales. That this myth still requires refuting speaks volumes about the level of education still required for those in charge of promoting their business. Content marketing pervades every part of your sales strategy, regardless of what and to whom you’re selling. Content marketing plays an integral role in the entire customer buying cycle, and is essential in supporting a potential customer’s need during the five distinct stages:
Without content marketing, guiding customers to the next stage of the purchase cycle is all but impossible. Use content marketing appropriately at each milestone and you can help support customers before, during, and after they purchase. Of course, there’s another myth which isn’t too dissimilar…
Myth 9: Content marketing has failed if it isn’t traced to sales
This can be a tough argument for even the most seasoned content marketing professional. In business, knowing precisely where each pound is being spent, and what you’re getting in return, is important; and without a clear trail from source to sale (sorry for the rhyming), it can be difficult to justify investment, none more so than when it comes to content marketing. While it is often possible to measure the effects of a particular advertising campaign, or determine how much revenue came from a certain promotion, being able to put a definitive figure on a strategy that is so multifaceted (or should be) is a logistical nightmare.
The purpose of content marketing includes raising brand awareness and maintaining a healthy relationship with your audience, so putting a tangible figure on such a strategy is far from simple. Instead, why not think about the effect having no new content would’ve had on the business? It can become easy for a business and a business’ website to stagnate and, without fresh content as part of a strategy, that’s precisely what will happen. The value in content marketing is there, it’s just not always that easy to measure.
Myth 10: Content marketing is just SEO rebranded
It would be easy to think that content marketing and SEO are one-and-the-same. But, while they are definitely related, to claim that one has simply evolved into the other is nonsense. Yes, there are certain companies out there that were once SEO specialists and are now content marketing specialists (and all without having really been one or the other), but those SEO specialists and those specialising in content should work together and not in place of one another. In its simplest form, SEO entails an understanding of search engines; content marketing entails an understanding of marketing and the audience. Two very separate, very distinct, skill sets.
Myth 11: Does that mean SEO is dead?
Far from it. Search engines are evolving all the time, and staying abreast of the latest developments, updates, and changes is a full-time role. It’s just that SEO and content should work side-by-side in developing a structured strategy as opposed to in isolation. It’s no longer the case of an SEO expert identifying a few long-tail keywords that needs copy optimising for; it’s about shaping the marketing messages to best work within the digital environment. And, to best achieve this aim, it’s important to have the right people working the right jobs. As such, SEO is far from dead; yes, it’s evolved and the role is changing, but that’s what makes the industry such an exciting and compelling one in which to work.
Myth 12: Social media can replace your blog
As delightful as it might be to think that you can effectively sustain your business presence through social media alone, the simple truth is that your blog and your website are requirements you cannot do without. For starters, your blog belongs to you and you alone; regardless of whether you bought shares in Facebook, it’s not the same as having ownership of your own platform. What’s more, the content on the site is under your full control, and there are few restrictions in place with what you can decide to promote. Social media is essential to engaging with your audience and should be used to boost brand awareness, promote your business, and interact with your customer base. But don’t neglect your blog or your website – doing so could well prove disastrous.
Myth 13: Tweet and watch your followers grow
Being effective on social media is about so much more than the occasional post, using the right hashtag, and retweeting the best-known celebrities – it’s about interaction. If you hope to see a return on your social media investment, you need to be proactive and get involved in discussions. It can often be difficult for a corporate voice to be viewed as anything other than an entity that is devoid of personality, and that’s because it’s so often the case. Don’t simply tweet your latest special offers and URLs haphazardly; put together a coherent strategy for reaching out to the right audience and delivering the social media content they want to see. Word of mouth is the more effective form of marketing there is.
Myth 14: Be on every social network
Quite how often it needs to be said but, in any facet of life, quality is better than quantity. In social media, there are hundreds of networks with which you are able to sign up, but is it worth it? Let’s just look at the most popular: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube… we could go on. The more social networks you sign up to, the more work you’re creating for yourself and the less time you have to focus on what’s important: creating quality content to post on social media. Identify those channels best-suited to your business and product, and deliver the right content at the right time.
Myth 15: Posting the most valuable content on another’s blog
This myth is a little tricky to dispel, purely because you can sit in one of two camps: first, there are those that believe that providing high-quality content for others will do wonders for brand awareness and help you reach a wider, more varied, audience; second, there’s the line of thought that your best content should stay on your own domain, generating the traffic and attention it deserves in a location that’s most beneficial to you. Of course, each side of the coin has its benefits, so it’s really up to you to judge what you believe is best. For us, we take pride in the content we produce and aim to retain ownership on our site. After all, we can always repurpose that content for use elsewhere.
Myth 16: Republish your content to reach the biggest audience
You’ll notice above that we mentioned that, ‘we can always repurpose that content’ and post on others’ blog. What we didn’t say – what we definitely, definitely didn’t say – was that you should republish your content on other sites. Rework so that it’s an original piece, by all means, but do not simply copy and paste elsewhere. Doing so runs the risk of incurring penalties from search engines and could present a number of problems to your website and your business.
Myth 17: One size fits all
Few business terms are quite as effective at getting the blood boiling as ‘quick win’ and ‘scalability’. When it comes to delivering a content marketing strategy, assuming that you can simply adopt the exact same tactics each and every time is a recipe for failure. This is particularly true when comparing B2C and B2B content marketing strategies. The purpose and audience differ hugely and demand that due care and attention is paid to their needs. Consumers, for example, are often in search of bitesize information that is easily digestible, while businesses will often want to see in-depth analysis and evidence of your expertise. That’s not to say that there aren’t common threads within a content marketing strategy, just no quick wins that are scalable to meet any need!
Myth 18: More content = More success
You can probably guess from this sub-head that we’re going to touch on the whole ‘quality over quantity’ issue again. And you’d be right. Content has to add value to the user experience. If you can deliver 10,000 pages of truly exceptional content that answers every possible query in a way that is informative, engaging, and entertaining, we tip our hat to you. If, however, you’re churning out page after page quickly in an effort to broaden your reach, you’re going to fail. As much as it pains us to say it, there’s a lot of terrible content on the internet, and simply adding to it with poor-quality irrelevant material is doing nobody any favours.
Myth 19: Outsource content to the lowest bidder – anyone can write
You may or may not be aware that you’re reading this article on a website by Minerva Copywriting. We’re a team of experienced copywriters that has done pretty much everything there is to do in terms of professional writing. As such, we know what constitutes good writing and what doesn’t, and can only implore you to use decent, professional writers and content editors when investing in your content marketing. The assumption that ‘anyone can write’ could not be further from the truth, so don’t scrimp on your investment and look for the cheapest option – you’ll only be rewarded with the content you deserve.
Myth 20: Content should be long and extensive
Oh, right. Sorry.
If websites and services such as Twitter, Buzzfeed and Upworthy have taught us anything, it’s that brevity is not a hindrance to digital performance. Quite the opposite, in fact. If the content is good enough, it’s long enough. It’s that simple.
Did we mention quality over quantity?