By Stephen Moyers published March 5, 2015

How To Fix 9 Harmful Misconceptions about Content Marketing

Moyer-misconceptions-content-marketing-coverContent marketing has become a buzz phrase, not unlike “inbound,” “SEO,” and other words thrown around by digital marketers.

All real and worthwhile concepts, these words – perhaps because of their relative newness – tend to be used as blanket terms that describe a laundry list of things. For example, “content marketing” is often used interchangeably with “social media.”

In passing conversation, this might not be a big deal, but if you make generalization mistakes when creating a content marketing strategy, it can negatively impact your success.

It’s clear why everyone’s interested in content marketing. Consider these recent stats:

  • The ROI of content marketing outweighs the ROI of paid search by more than three times. (Kapost and Eloqua)
  • Yearly growth in unique website traffic is over seven times higher with content marketing leaders versus followers. (Kapost)
  • Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about three times as many leads. (Demand Metric)

Brands know that they need content marketing, but too often misconstrue what it is or how to implement it. Meanwhile, companies that have had content marketing success may be missing out on even more gains because of an oversight or lack of understanding.

Here are nine common misconceptions to avoid in your content marketing.

1. Content marketing is easy and cheap

The internet is gloriously free. Anyone can start a website or host a social media account. Perhaps, for this reason, some brands assume that content marketing is easy. After all, you don’t need a degree or any special training to create content, right?

This view underestimates the skill involved in making content work well for the brand. Creating the right content requires deep knowledge of your brand, the digital landscape, and your audience, which is no easy task. Does your audience respond more to Facebook posts or videos? Email or blogs? Is your content actually converting?

Keep this in mind when you start a content strategy. If you fail to invest the proper amount of time and resources, you might not get very far in crafting a successful content marketing strategy.

2. Outsourcing is always a good idea

For companies that want to drive content online but don’t have the resources to do it in-house, outsourcing can be a viable option. Some marketing agencies specialize in this kind of work.

However, outsource wisely. Reputable companies will have proven, verifiable track records. Companies that offer ultra-bargain deals or operate in a country other than ones in which you operate may not have the right experience or might use dubious business practices.

For example, a relatively unknown company may seem like a bargain for its promise to generate tons of content and get it posted on different websites. Even if it fulfills the promise, it’s most likely using black-hat SEO tactics, which can backfire. Google penalizes websites if it discovers the brand’s content and links on a less-than-reputable websites – no matter who posted it.

If outsourcing, invest the time to research and work only with reputable companies.

3. Content marketing is only for SEO

The role of SEO is one of the biggest misconceptions about content marketing. Many people assume that all content needs to be targeted toward search engines. True, content is a great way to improve your organic position in search engines. Valuable content that people visit and share will move your site closer to page one of search results.

The mistake many make is to try and game Google. Some brands think that if they stuff their content with keywords relevant to their business, they’ll beat the system. Keyword stuffing might result in a temporary spike in traffic, but Google is watching what its users do. The algorithm is smart, and if it detects your content isn’t valuable to searchers, it will boot your site down the search engine results chain.

When creating content, make it search-engine friendly, but focus first on providing content that your targeted audience would find valuable.

4. The content is only for your audience

As stated, value should guide your content. However, while you shouldn’t manipulate search engines, you do want to give them some direction. There are a number of natural, approved methods of communicating basic information about your content so that search engines can match people’s queries with appropriate responses.

These days, Google is relying more on semantic search, meaning your keywords should be surrounded by relevant words and phrases on the page. Additionally, you can take a handful of simple steps to make sure your pages are search-friendly, such as including meta titles, descriptions, and headers.

5. Content marketing is only for B2Cs

People often assume that only fun, consumer-focused brands can reap the rewards of content marketing. But case studies abound showing how B2Bs have used the core principles of content to improve their power online.

Take SunGard, an IT operations company that supports many Fortune 100 companies. By creating a video series that brought humor to industry trends and pain points, and analyzing its audience’s consumption patterns, the company generated 3,000 leads in three days and scored a cumulative 87.4% click-through rate.

6. Content marketing is the same as brand-awareness marketing

True, brand awareness is perhaps the easiest goal – albeit the hardest to measure – of content marketing. And, to be honest, if its effectiveness ended at brand awareness, I probably wouldn’t be writing this right now.

What a lot of brands don’t realize, however, is that content marketing isn’t just for the first stage of the sales funnel or customer journey. Content should be created and optimized to address customers’ needs as they go through the process of engaging with your products and services.

For example, if a customer visits your website, clicks on a page, and leaves, you could use retargeting tools to track the individual and advertise that departed page’s content to them as they visit other sites. Or perhaps, you secure the visitor’s email address in the first visit and send a follow-up email. Tailor your content to nudge customers further along through the journey.

7. Content marketing’s value is not measurable

According to CMI’s 2015 B2B research, only 35% of marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. It’s no wonder then that some brands often become frustrated with the lack of perceptible results.

A variety of tools can track the impact of your content. Google Analytics is probably the most common method of measuring data gleaned from your website, social media channels, blogs, and more. You can even dig down and get granular results so you know how your audience interacts with specific pages and posts.

The web is basically teeming with tools for measuring, managing and creating content. Figure out which ones work for you and start tracking your efforts today.

8. Content marketing delivers instant results

I’ve seen some brands become frustrated that their content marketing doesn’t pay off as quickly as they would like. This is understandable. If you invest time and money into something, you want to see results as soon as possible.

But content marketing is about building relationships. Just like in life, it takes time. It’s unlikely that someone will view your content and immediately make a purchase. Be prepared to play the long game. You need to establish trust with people before they take further action. Take that person who views your content and get him to provide an email address. Now, you have the start of a relationship.

Remember, with content marketing, the prospect is in the driver’s seat. Brands have to provide value to their targeted audiences to prove their true worth, and that can take months.

Make sure you set manageable benchmarks and set a reasonable time to expect an ROI on your content efforts.

9. Content marketing is the same thing as content creation

Of course, the content itself is essential, but it’s only one part of the overall strategy. Content marketing includes everything from distribution to interaction and communication. You can’t just create and post a blog post and expect it to do all the work for you.

In fact, before you create any content, you should create a documented content marketing strategy. To whom is your content targeted? What do you want your audience to do? How will you promote your content? Which websites can you target in order to get backlinks? Does your plan account for responding to people in real time over social media? How often will you post?

These are just some of the many questions you need to address before implementing your strategy. The takeaway here is that each individual piece of content needs to interact with a larger plan.

What other misconceptions about content marketing have you seen? How did you fix them?

Want to plan ahead for your own content marketing education? Check out the CMWorld 2014 sessions available through our Video on Demand portal and make plans today to attend Content Marketing World 2015.

Cover image by Viktor Hanacek, picjumbo, via

Author: Stephen Moyers

Stephen Moyers is an active tech-savvy blogger who loves to write about online marketing, social media marketing, and various technology topics. He is currently associated with Los Angeles based SPINX Digital Agency, which provides a range of digital services like social media marketing, website design & development, search engine optimization, and many more. You can follow Stephen on Twitter @StephenMoyers.

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  • Richard Arenas

    Hello. First, I offer an apology, my english is not good. I think another misconception is to confuse “content marketing” with “branded content”. Although they share some things, their differences are not only that, but they are antithetical. It would be great to share an article about this. Greetings from Mexico.

    • Michele Linn

      Great point, Richard. We talk about the relationship of content marketing things like branded content in this article if helpful:

      • Richard Arenas


    • Stephen Moyers

      Hi Richard,

      You have rightly talked about the problem with content marketing. It’s a huge subject and often confused by misconceptions associated with it.

      Branded content is something different and should not be confused with the ideal content marketing. And, I take a note of your words to share an article on this subject separately.

  • Rick Vach

    That was a great article. Thanks for the measurement insights among other things.

    • Stephen Moyers

      Thanks Rick for sharing your views. Glad you enjoyed it.

  • Ram Babu SEO

    Thanks Stephen, Your article has cleared few of my misconceptions on content creation . .

    • Stephen Moyers

      Hi Ram,

      It feels great as lot of stuff about content marketing is perplexing and not very satisfactory at times.

  • Shai Geoola

    Great article Stephen, thank you for sharing. Cheers

    • Stephen Moyers

      Hi Shai,

      Thanks a lot for appreciating it. I am glad you enjoyed it.

  • Ofuma Agali

    Nice article Stephen. Can I use on my blog, with credits given to you and the source?

    • Stephen Moyers

      Hi Ofuma,

      Yep! That sounds great. You may go ahead. Thanks a lot.

  • Wade Morse

    Some great points – Thanks

    • Stephen Moyers

      Hi Wade,

      I am glad you liked the points. Content marketing is indeed very vast yet very intelligent.

  • Lili Gambette

    This is a great, great article ! Thank you !

    • Stephen Moyers

      Thanks for liking my article.

  • Terri Zora

    Great articel.

    I think another misconception is that content marketing is a “magic wand,” “silver bullet,” or “one and done” kind of thing. As with other digital marketing trends, people want to be able to push a button and have instant results. Unfortunately (as you indicated above) real results take time. Real results are the end result of steady, dedicated work.

    • Stephen Moyers

      Hi Terri,

      Great to hear from you. Content marketing is fabulous but requires competitive strategy to excel which most businesses fail to understand. Presently, the “term” is so widely popular that people have actually taken it for granted. Plus, people want quick results and cannot wait until it shows up. We need to know, as you said, that it’s not a “magic wand.”

  • Activ Hub- China Digital Intel

    Great, right on the button.
    A very large US organisation here presents as a case study of some of the points you raised.

    2013 decided that SM and Content marketing was needed in China, so set about it.
    Found it was not the silver bullet, was taking too much time so contracted a NYork Agency to handle it.
    Still not going anywhere so finally engaged a local studio to pick up the pieces.
    18 wasted months and a lot of money.
    True Story, we signed them yesterday.

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