Despite the popularity of content marketing, there is a ton of misinformation about what content marketing is and how it works.
As a result of all this incorrect information, many businesses either fail to implement a content marketing strategy or fail to implement a successful one.
This is a shame because, when done well, content marketing is one of the most effective methods for raising brand awareness, increasing leads, and driving sales.
Here are 10 of the most common myths about content marketing and why they are wrong.
1. You Can’t Track Content Marketing
This is one of the most common myths about content marketing — and one of the most damaging, in my opinion.
Most businesses are used to tracking marketing efforts to see if their dollars are well spent, which makes sense. You want to be sure you aren’t wasting money on strategies that don’t work.
Since so many people think they can’t track (or accurately track) content marketing, they assume it is useless — or, at the very least, won’t give tangible results.
The truth is it might be a bit harder to track content marketing, but it can be tracked.
In fact, there are multiple ways to track content marketing. The right tracking method will depend upon your goals and they type of content you produce.
Here are a few ways to track your content marketing efforts:
- UTM Codes: UTMs are unique codes added to URLs that let you see where customers came from.
- Unique Pageviews: In Google Analytics, unique page views tell you how many unique users viewed your content. They are more accurate than Page Views alone, which count multiple views from the same person as new views.
- Goal Completion: Google Analytics lets you create Goals, which allow you to track specific interactions users have with your site.
- Email Sign-Ups: In addition to tracking the number of email signups you get, you can also track where those sign-ups come from. (Email platforms may have varying abilities to determine sign-up locations. Here’s how to do it in Mailchimp.)
- Social Shares: Tracking the number of social shares your content gets on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will give you insight into how useful users find your content.
- Time on Page: The length of time readers take to read a piece of content indicates whether they are interested in what you have to say, and is one way to measure engagement.
To learn more about the different ways to track content marketing and step by step directions for setting it up, read this post.
2. Content Marketing Doesn’t Drive Actual Sales
Content marketing doesn’t generally drive sales as directly as, say, PPC. In most cases, content marketing is a long game aimed at educating, increasing leads, and establishing trust. But, you can track how content marketing affects your sales.
First, How Are You Tracking Sales?
If you aren’t seeing sales from content marketing, the issue might actually be how you track conversions, not your content marketing efforts.
For example, if you are tracking your PPC using a last click attribution model, you are only counting the last touchpoint users have before they make a purchase.
While that retargeting ad on Facebook might have been what made a buyer pull the trigger, the blog post they read and the email list they signed up for did contribute.
Track Content Marketing Sales Directly in Google Analytics By Enabling eCommerce
Google Analytics offers another method. To see how your content is contributing to sales, you will need to enable eCommerce in Google Analytics. (Here’s how to do it.)
Once you enable eCommerce, you can see exactly how many sales your content is driving by navigating to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.
3. Longer Content Is Always Better
According to a study by HubSpot, articles at or above 2,500 words in length see more organic traffic, get more shares on social media, and earn more backlinks.
It is clear that site visitors are no longer afraid to read long-form content, even as internet users move to mobile in droves.
But, is longer content always better?
Nothing in content marketing is always better. Yes, longer form content, on average, does tend to perform much better than short, thin content.
This doesn’t mean you should prattle on for 2500 words if you can say what needs to be said in 1000 words.
Your goal should be to create more useful content, not just more content.
If you are struggling to create long-form content, here are a few ideas:
- Expand your topic to cover other relevant topics.
- Add step by step instructions.
- Add background, history, or more statistics.
- Ask experts for quotes or advice you can include.
- Include templates or examples.
- Address a dissenting viewpoint and explain why it is incorrect (or doesn’t apply).
4. Content Marketing and Link Building Are The Same Things
This myth is not totally wrong, just a little bit off. Content marketing and link building have similar end goals, which is likely why they get grouped together.
When done well, your content marketing should attract links from high-value websites. You also need high-quality content if you want to build valuable inbound links.
The difference lies in their approaches:
Content marketing seeks to create valuable content that educates, entertains, and informs.
Link building seeks to increase the number of sites that link back to a site in order to improve search engine rank.
Though the goals are similar (to increase brand visibility), the approach and strategies are very different.
5. More Content = Faster Results?
If two blog posts a month increase traffic by 25%, you might think that publishing 25 blog posts a month would increase your traffic exponentially.
The truth is, more content is not always better. In fact, most of the time, more content isn’t better.
Content Marketing Institute has actually moved away from publishing more and is focusing on publishing better content.
Google recently said it does not rank sites that publish more frequently higher in search results.
Content marketing takes time. Building relationships takes time. Cranking out dozens of sub-par blog posts won’t increase your content marketing results. Creating better content will.
6. Content Marketing Won’t Work For My Business
Another popular myth, particularly for B2B brands, is that content marketing just won’t work for their brand. The excuses are as varied as the brands who believe them.
The most common reasons brands think content marketing won’t work for their brands are:
- Our brand is “boring,” there is nothing to write about. There is no such thing as a “boring” brand. This content marketing guide for boring businesses is an excellent place to start.
- We sell to big businesses; they aren’t interested in reading about our products. Sure, if you sell toilet paper holders to hospitals, there might not be much to write about your products. But, you shouldn’t just be writing about your products. (And content doesn’t have to be just writing!) Look for problems you can solve; for example, share news, tips, or interview experts in your field.
- We sell to small businesses; they aren’t interested in content about our brand. Content marketing doesn’t need to be about your brand. Look for problems your customers have. They might be struggling with marketing or customer retention, for example.
- We don’t need content marketing; ads are working just fine. Customers’ trust in paid ads is declining. Plus, nearly 200 million people have installed ad blocking software. Ads are not the future of marketing, content marketing is.
- There is so much content out there already; we don’t have anything new to say. Look for new approaches to the same old topics, or expand the topics you write about to marketing, research, or leadership in your niche. Consider interviewing experts or asking customers to share their success stories.
- Our business niche is too small; we won’t have an audience. If you have a successful business, your niche isn’t too small. Try expanding your topics to those related to your brand, like leadership or innovation in your niche.
Here’s the thing — in most cases, content marketing isn’t about your brand at all. It is about finding and solving a problem your target audience has.
So, ask yourself: What problems do your customers consistently have? How can you create content to solve that problem? What topics are they looking for information about? Can you provide that content?
7. Content Needs to Be About Our Brand to Work
This one trips up a lot of brands. They don’t know what to write about their brand or think that people won’t be interested in reading about their brand.
The thing is, good content doesn’t need to be about your brand; again, it needs to solve a problem.
Good content marketing shouldn’t be a hard sell; it is about providing value.
If you are at a loss for topics that your audience will be interested in (that aren’t about your brand), here are a few ideas:
- Write about industry news topics.
- Share unique how-to guides about topics/strategies your audience struggles with.
- Share reviews of tools your audience will find helpful.
- Post case studies.
- Run an experiment or study and share the results.
- Interview an industry expert.
- Share customer success stories.
- Create a list of useful resources.
- Share common mistakes and how to fix them.
8. Content Creation Costs Too Much; It Isn’t Worth It
Content marketing is an investment, and it does take time. This doesn’t mean content marketing doesn’t produce a positive ROI.
According to a Demand Metric, content marketing costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing methods, and it generates three times as many leads.
According to Impact, small businesses with a blog earn 126 percent more leads than small businesses that don’t.
Sixty-one percent of consumers said they made a purchase after reading a blog.
Still struggling to see how you’ll afford content marketing? This guide to content marketing on a shoestring budget is a good place to start.
9. We Don’t Need to Pay for Expensive Writers
This one is sort of correct. You do not have to pay for top-tier writers to succeed at content marketing.
There are a few reasons why:
First, not all content needs to be written content. Videos, graphics, and podcasts don’t require a writer at all.
Second, you might also have someone who can write well on your team to get you started. Once you increase content production, you can invest in a professional writer.
You don’t need to start off publishing three long-form blog posts a week. Start small and scale up when you can.
But, long-term? You need to hire professional writers. Finding freelancers is a great way to get high-quality content if you don’t have the means (or the need) to hire a full-time writer.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Content marketing is an investment. You likely won’t publish an article on Monday and see the return on your investment by Friday. But if you produce high-quality content that solves a problem your customers have, your investment will be worth it.
10. If We Publish Great Content Consistently, Traffic Will Follow
The old Field of Dreams myth: “If you build it they will come.”
Don’t get me wrong, publishing great content on a regular basis is very important.
But what you do after hitting “Publish” matters just as much.
How are you distributing your content? Are you posting on social media, sending it out in an email, or are you just publishing and waiting for the traffic to flow in?
What social media sites will you post to? How often will you repost evergreen content? Do you plan to do outreach to related brands? Are you going to boost posts to drive traffic?
All of this should be decided in your content distribution plan. This chapter from CoSchedule’s Content Marketing Guide is a great resource for promoting your content.
The 1 Truth You Need to Know About Content Marketing
The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all content marketing strategy. What works for Coca-Cola isn’t going to work for your small business marketing firm. The strategy that drives thousands in sales for a small bakery is going to fall flat for your industrial paper business.
Anyone who tells you that <this> strategy is the only one that matters is misleading you.
Don’t focus on the “must haves” in your content marketing. Instead, work on creating the most useful, relevant content you can for your users.
Not sure what content they will find useful? Ask them.