Four Content Marketing Myths, Debunked

July 22, 2017

Magnifying Glass

It's no secret that the speed of change in our industry is accelerating. With a new shiny object taking the marketing world by storm almost daily, practitioners can lose sight of their true north as content creators, instead buying into hollow "best practices" that yield poor results.  

We're here to make sure you don't fall victim to content marketing's latest fads. By clearing up some popular myths, we'll ensure that you and your content continue to succeed month after month and year after year. 

To help us out, we teamed up with Marketo to host a livestream Q&A with three stars of the content marketing world. Marketing Insider Group CEO Michael Brenner, B2B strategist Ardath Albee, and digital entrepreneur Jeff Bullas sat down to share their thoughts on the current state of content marketing, as well as where the future is headed.

You can watch the full livestream here, but if you're pressed for time, we've compiled some of the biggest misconceptions they addressed (and what you should be thinking about instead).

MYTH: Content Marketing is Just Writing and Publishing

TRUTH: Content Marketing is Much More Than Publishing

Creating content is essential, and 10 years ago, it might have been enough. But the Internet is saturated with publishers, so it’s much harder for content to reach its audience organically.

That’s why content marketing isn’t as simple as writing a blog post and pressing “publish.” As Bullas notes, effective content marketing requires much more. Distribution and promotion of content is key, which means marketers need a strategy for pushing out new publications.

And content can’t limit itself to one channel. Brands must create ubiquitous content that finds consumers through many different channels and types of interaction, creating multiple points of contact.

MYTH: Access to Data Means that Most Marketers Understand Their Audience

TRUTH: Most Marketers Don't Understand Their Audience

Albee spoke bluntly when it came to the problems plaguing today’s content marketers. She accused too many professionals of not truly understanding their target audience.

Instead, they rely on stereotypes and make assumptions about the audience. These marketers don’t take the time needed to get to know their audience, and it leads to them creating content that fails to address the needs and interests of their targets.

Marketers need to take a customer-centric approach that builds strategy based on a deep understanding of this consumer base. But this doesn’t begin with marketers: Rather, it’s a top-down initiative that must be launched by the company’s leadership. Once this consumer-centric vision is in place, the strategy for your content will be much more apparent.

MYTH: More Content is Better

TRUTH: Content Quality Matters More Than Quantity

More content is created every year, but the average engagement for this content is declining. What’s the solution? Should you create more or less content? Both Albee and Bullas advocate for creating better content, irrespective of quantity.

Simply put, better content earns better engagement. Albee argues that consumers don’t want to waste their time engaging with bad content. It may seem obvious, but many marketers wrongly assume that the fix to low engagement rates is to publish more. Instead, take more time to create content that merits engagement.

MYTH: Traffic Should Be Your Go-To Metric

TRUTH: Marketing Metrics Continue to Evolve

As a science, content performance measurement continues to evolve. Bullas points out that while traffic is sexy, it doesn’t contribute anything to the company’s bottom line.

Marketing ROI is gradually getting easier to track, but improvements to measurement tools will provide more clarity to these efforts. In the meantime, Bullas and Brenner each identified one metric that they believe offers the highest degree of insight.

Brenner advocates for subscribers as a good single data point, saying that subscribers are somewhere between outreach and conversion, and that they have actual value because of their potential to convert. Additionally, these subscribers have already engaged in some way, which shows their level of interest and also indicates that they like your brand’s content.

For Bullas, lead-to-sales ratio is the best number. His case is a practical one: Marketers need to pay the bills and drive ROI, and lead-to-sales is the most important data point when it comes to that ROI. Strong leads-to-sales ratios pay the bills, and every marketer should pay attention to this metric.

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