5 Content Marketing Myths To Correct Now

The content marketing opportunity is accelerating, according to a survey by PQ media. The survey tracked all digital branded content and predicts that content marketing is expected to more than double by 2019 to a $54.25bn market. And now everyone is a content marketer, right?

At least that’s the trend we’re seeing on LinkedIn, as search, social, PR and digital marketers change their profiles and updates constantly. In many ways, it is true that anyone who produces or is involved in part of a content campaign could lay claim to piece of the content crown. However, as with SEO in the days of black hat/grey hat and white hat SEO, we are now faced with a similar situation, in which many try to game the content marketing system.

Many myths, both strategic and tactical, exist about content and its use in the digital economy. The reality, though, is that the new obsession with content as just a search solution compromises and commoditizes the whole notion of content and the ramifications impact quality, results and most importantly, the end user. Organization marketing values such as brand, customer service, PR and messaging often get diluted as people chase pure content production cadence.

Quality vs. Quantity – Reality Bytes and the Bigger Picture

According to data from the Content Marketing Institute, 86 percent of organizations use content marketing, but only 21 percent say that they are successfully tracking the ROI of their content. Digital and content marketers are at a crossroads: in order to justify content budgets, they have to get better at measuring and improving performance.

Meanwhile, many marketers, especially those with SEO backgrounds, focus on building more and more content for search-only purposes and forget that content marketing is a skilled discipline that involves human creativity, business acumen, branding and messaging. As a result, many organizations go “off-brand” and “off-target” in order to reach a short term page view goal rather than a mid- or long-term business goal.

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According to The Economist Group’s Missing The Mark Global Content Survey, many organizations are misaligned when it comes to defining and understanding goals and objectives for content.

  • Executives judge content based on its notoriety and distinctiveness.
  • Marketers focus on commercial performance and sales.

Marketers who are serious about improving their content marketing efforts must take into consideration the role that content has throughout their organization with multiple objectives. A singular focus only results in what I have described in past articles as a content spam and a chase for vanity metrics.

For example, do clickbait bylines have a positive impact on the users’ perception of the brand?

Many content marketers write some very strange content articles and it is obviously aimed to hijack a trend, film, or news-related issue. However, the content lacks any substance beyond an analogy. Forget the clicks for a second and ask yourself questions like:

  • What does this do for the reader/user, in terms of your brand perception?
  • Does it promote your brand the right way? If you are in B2B, are you using a B2C tactic?
  • What is the mid- to long-term goal of this content? What are the different value points for the reader?
  • If the content is immature in nature, what does this say about your perception of the reader and the industry you are in? Are you actually helping the community and industry?

5 Myths and Their Corrections

Many of the best content creators are creative in nature, and strategic and holistic in their thinking. They then utilize search and social to help promote and distribute their content. The clever organizations don’t just commoditize their content (or at least the important parts) and are thoughtful in how they build content marketing plans and departments, manage talent, and process and set multiple goals for content performance measurement. Below, based on my experience, I have highlighted five common myths that now need to be corrected as the content marketing industry matures.

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Myth 1: Content is King

As marketers compete for consumer attention in a world driven by data produced from content, search, and social marketers, online content production is at an all-time high. According to IBM, 90 percent of the world’s global data over the last two years was actually produced by digital content, search, and social marketers.

Reality Byte: Audience is King

The success of content marketing efforts is built on how the reader responds and takes action beyond the click or like, in the sales, customer service or marketing funnel. How you match content production with audience demand and user intent is actually key to success. Content marketing should drive users to an outcome and not just serve as churn noise.

Myth 2: Content Marketing Best Practice Makes Perfect

Search engine results are awash with best practice guides and how-to guides to help marketers perfect the art and science behind content marketing. However, it is important not to take generic and subjective advice without understanding your customer, market, and business purpose.

Reality Byte: Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

The only way to build a perfect content marketing plan is by combining qualified research with (some) advice, and marrying this with your internal plans, targets and goals. Downloading a content calendar template is not going to drive content performance success. Build your own plan tailored to your business and your audience. This is the only way you will perfect your content marketing plan.

Myth 3: A Culture of Content is Key to Scale

Content culture is key to success and solves real issues of scale, quality, and measurement. However, content marketing has a broader scope beyond just marketing. Content affects more than marketing and plays a huge role in performance and lift for recruitment, customer service, product groups, PR, and messaging.

Reality Byte: Company Culture is Key to Scale, Not Just Marketing Culture

A clear company culture of content aligns your whole organization, as well as all organizational goals. Sometimes, the best types of content come from non-content marketers who lie hidden in the depths on an organization’s structure.

Myth 4: Producing More Content Gets Results

If page views are your goal then yes, producing more content can get you results. However, it is important to balance this with its potential cost to your brand, brand perception, and end conversion goals.

Reality Byte: Producing Targeted, Quality Content Can Improve Results

In order to stand out on the content battleground, simply producing more content is not enough. Content has to have a value to the end user, especially for B2B marketers.

Myth 5: Social Shares and Traffic Equal Success

Search, social, and content marketing are interlinked, but it’s also important to measure different things as part of a bigger picture. This area for me is the gray area where outdated metrics can give marketers a meaningless picture. Over on Forbes, Martin Macdonald described this well, stating that focusing on likes and shares alone is “misrepresentative of results.”

Reality Byte: Traffic, Social and Content Marketing Metrics Are Just Part of Content Performance Success

True business impacts of content performance come in multiple formats and encompass all areas related to wider business and performance goals, not just traffic and shares.

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Conclusion

Content marketing is far more than just search and social marketing. For marketers to truly take advantage of content marketing opportunities, it is essential that it’s viewed as part of the company and corporate culture, and not just a discipline that has been born out of search engine change and opportunity.

Without correcting some of the common misconceptions and myths of content, digital marketers may find themselves tagged with a label that black hat SEO marketers, link farmers and spammers found themselves stuck with many years ago. Many aspects of content marketing can be commoditized to some extent, but other parts cannot. Whilst interlinked with search and social, content marketing has far-reaching value that spans across messaging, PR, customer service and business functions beyond just search.

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