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25 Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions in Content Marketing

Editor’s note: Hearing the same questions from multiple stakeholders about content marketing can get frustrating. We updated this post to provide you with go-to answers for 25 of them.

Do you frequently hear tough (or even easy) questions about content marketing from your executives or clients?

Want a handy dandy cheat sheet for those questions? We are here to help.

We culled the questions and answers from past presenters at Content Marketing World and the larger CMI community.

Now, here are 25 questions you’re likely to be asked and how to answer them.

1. Should we do this?

Too often clients say, “Can we do this?” They are so enamored by what’s new and possible that they don’t stop to ask whether it’s right for the audience, right for the message, and whether it could work.
Bethany Chambers, North Coast Media 

We wrote about 99 benefits of content marketing. Among the benefits – shorter sales cycle (No. 4), complement to paid advertising (No. 10), and measurable custom conversion tracking (No. 25).
Jeff Baker and Tom Agnew, Brafton 

2. What is content marketing?

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Content Marketing Institute

When I am asked by companies, I show them the website I worked on regarding content marketing and then search on Google for the keywords they rank for to show the value of content marketing. This helps them to know the actual benefit of content marketing.
Prasun Shakya, The Prasun Shakya Company 

3. Does content marketing work?

What does it mean that your content marketing is “working?” In general, this means it’s supporting your marketing and business goals. Here’s a simple way to track your content marketing program and, more importantly, how to communicate this to your team and management.
Cathy McPhillips, Content Marketing Institute (How to Measure Your Content Marketing Effectiveness)

Does #contentmarketing work? Yes, if it supports #marketing and business goals, says @cmcphillips via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Share on X

4. How does marketing without talking about or promoting our product/service help us create leads and sales?

Your current or future customer is not interested in your product, they are interested in solving a problem or challenge, usually both organizational and personal. By leveraging inbound marketing tactics companies can share content with the intention of inspiring their audiences. Instead of pushing out product information, content is intended to stand out based on elements such as authenticity, thought leadership, experience in solving those problems, etc.
Carola van der Linden, The Social Selling Company

Your customer is not interested in your product, they are interested in solving a problem, says @Carola164 via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Share on X

5. Why would I want to educate my customers and help my competition?

Loyalty, building a long-term relationship, and customer retention are three key components … Consumers today are oversaturated with many businesses providing the same product or service. By educating customers, they will make informed decisions and look to you as the subject matter expert.
Kyle Tavares, NEPS

6. How can content marketing help address our target audiences throughout the customer purchase journey?

That question gets at the heart of how content should be used. Content should address the motivations and needs of the customer at various points of their process, so that it strengthens their positive feelings about the brand, heightens their likelihood to convert, and increases their customer lifetime value.
Zontee Hou, Media Volery

7. How can I use content marketing to increase brand presence in the most efficient way?

First, make sure you’re inserting your brand into a conversation that’s relevant to both your offering and your audience. Missing that foundational mark is the content equivalent of getting on the wrong flight.

Secondly, once you’ve identified your broad opportunity, do your homework – find the optimal intersection between conversation volume and conversation saturation. The goal is to tackle the topic(s) that are unexplored enough for you to own that still attract enough eyeballs to drive your bottom line. That calculus varies based on your product sale point, obviously, but the base principle is still the same.
Travis Stewart, Johnnie Studio

8. How does content marketing drive revenue?

It starts by building a strong business case that doesn’t just directly attack people, their teams, or their budgets. I point out that content marketing ROI is higher than the average marketing ROI in every place I’ve looked. (He details how in the original article.)
Michael Brenner, Marketing Insiders, (How to Make the Content Marketing Case With ROI )

#Contentmarketing ROI is higher than the average marketing ROI in every place I’ve looked, says @brennermichael via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Share on X

9. How do we measure content’s influence on sales and revenue?

That one question drives the best decisions, the best priorities, and the best subsequent questions that drive impact.
Matt Heinz, Heinz Marketing

To connect content to revenue, your marketing and sales teams need to be tightly aligned to the same business objectives, company messaging, and agreed-upon processes. (She goes into detail in her article.)
Erica Lindberg, Kapost (How to Prove Your Content is Driving Revenue)

To connect #content to revenue, your #marketing & sales teams need to be tightly aligned, says @EricaLindberg_via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Share on X

10. How much is it going to cost?

Marketers who have limited experience with content marketing often worry that the cost of creating content is just too expensive for their company. The reality is that marketers often expect to pay way more than creators charge for various content assets. (The article covers content creation, promotion, and distribution costs.)
IZEA (Content Marketing Costs: What You Need to Know)

11. What’s our goal? Why are we doing this?

We were initially more focused on the what and the how questions. When the CEO asked the why question, it forced us to take a step back and get our short- and long-term goals down on paper. We referred to those goals for five years. They served as a great guiding star for the content program.
J.P. Medved, Consultant 

The goals of content marketing are simple: you build your brand awareness by personalizing your brand; you establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry; and you increase traffic to your website with each post by using SEO friendly keywords.
Mariya Bentz, The Marketing Mindset Podcast

Build brand awareness by personalizing your brand with #content, says @MariyaBentz via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Share on X

12. What are we missing?

It’s almost always that the content isn’t focused on creating a permanent change in how people see a situation, the brand, or the world.
Tamsen Webster, Find the Red Thread

13. What should we stop doing?

I wish people asked this question. Marketing continues to be additive. Yet, to be truly creative – and offer something different and worthwhile – we need to deliberately do activities that make the greatest difference.
Michele Linn, Mantis Research 

To be truly creative, we need to deliberately do activities that make the greatest difference, says @michelelinn via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Share on X

14. Where do you get your inspiration?

We got an opportunity to ask this very question to marketing veteran Tom Fishburne on how he creates these amazing “marketoons” week after week. He shares that what appears to be magic is actually ”stacks and stacks of paper and a lot of false turns and playing with ideas that never quite pan out.” In his view, it is ultimately about having faith in and following a consistent process.
Neema Kapoor, Relevance

15. Is our point of view unique so we don’t sound like every other agency or company?

Many content marketers and content creators stress out about trying to come up with unique content that no one has ever seen. It’s important to have original ideas, so do your best to come up with as original ones as you can think of. But it’s also important to realize that HOW you craft and present your ideas is what really matters when it comes to originality. Why? Because it’s the only real way for you to create anything that is new. As King Solomon said, “There’s nothing new under the sun!”

That means that your focus and concern should be more on your HOW than on your WHAT.

What I am saying is this … Originality is more likely to be found in HOW you present your ideas than in WHAT ideas you present.

You shouldn’t be tortured by the idea of having 100%, original content/ideas. Instead, you should be focused on the most original presentation of your ideas possible.

I am talking about things like:

  • Personality – style used to present your ideas
  • Stories
  • Examples
  • Structure – order and way you present your ideas
  • Attitude – tone
  • Perspective – viewpoint you take or the angle

These six areas are the real ways to create content that will be perceived as original and that will make your content stand out from your competition.
Scott Aughtmon, Intuit and Direct Response Content Marketing

Don’t be tortured by needing 100% original #content. Focus on the most original presentation, says @rampbusinesses via @cmicontent. #CMWorld Share on X

16. What are the editorial and commercial benefits of creating interactive content?

The way society consumes content has changed. We can no longer expect users to simply scroll and consume text-heavy, dull, static content placed in front of them. Neuroscience points to a solution: interactive content is shown to awaken the brain and result in increased content memorability. It will power the future of storytelling.
Shachar Orren, EX.CO 

17. What are we doing about voice search?

Keyword research is more important now than ever. Specifically, in regard to capturing Google Home answers. Google provides most of its voice answers from the featured snippet (i.e., answer box) at the top of search results.
Britney Muller, Moz, Voice Search: Is Your Content Prepared for the Verbal Revolution?

Keyword research is more important now than ever, says @BritneyMuller via @cmicontent.#CMWorld Share on X

18. How can we get executives to create and share content for the company?

Getting executives to buy into content marketing is an important step. And getting them to actively participate in your content as your company’s thought leaders is another. You need to put the leadership into thought leadership content and look for those leaders wherever possible.
Mat Zucker, Prophet (Don’t Forget the Leadership in Thought Leadership)

19. How do we use content marketing to help other people in the organization?

The beauty of content marketing is in how valuable it can be across the company and not just marketing. Your head of recruiting can use it to attract the right talent, your communication people can use it to communicate to investors, your head of training can use it to educate current employees. Too many executives are so concerned about themselves and their own teams that they don’t give an olive branch to others. This question shows me somebody who can really help others accomplish bigger things for the company.
John Hall, Calendar and Influence & Co.

20. How can we make something go viral?

There’s no guaranteed formula. But no matter the industry, you can increase your chances if your content (1) presents a unique story, idea, or dataset (2) in a way that directly addresses a pain point or creates an emotional response in your core audience and (3) in an engaging format. And that’s not enough. You have to promote the heck out of it.
Leslie Carruthers, The Search Guru Inc. 

“I can make this go viral for you.” This one has caused many a PR pro to smack his or her forehead in frustration.

Going viral became a thing back in the 2000s. Quora says the term to “describe rapid and widespread social proliferation of a meme or product” started picking up steam in 2008. I imagine it’s been causing public relations folks headaches ever since.

Truth is, it rarely happens. “If you are a client and a PR firm guarantees they can create a viral video or post for you, end the meeting immediately. This is a promise they cannot make,” says Rob Wynne of Wynne Communications.

The only way to earn media coverage is to work hard at it by honing your message, choosing the right media targets, and being persistent.
Michelle Garrett, Garrett Public Relations (5 Things You Should Never Hear a PR Person Say)

21. Can we get beyond thinking we are the best answer and bring in others from our community?

The reason I love this question is that someone recognized the importance of inclusivity. Being smart by having voices from outside the company could bring others closer to them. It also meant that people outside their immediate network would hopefully share with others and draw people closer in.

As part of this client who asked this question, its editorial calendar now actively incorporates input related to their monthly topics from beyond their industry.
Mark Masters, The ID Group

22. What’s the difference between audience and traffic?

The question hints at where marketing is heading overall. A synonym for traffic is “visitors,” which by definition are people who leave. Today’s best content marketers develop audiences. They focus on subscribers, not visitors; time spent, not views; holding attention, not merely acquiring it.
Jay Acunzo, Marketing Showrunners

Traffic = People who visit your website
Audience = People who regularly look forward to consume your content

Your goal should always be to drive traffic to your content, so you can build an audience.

As I write in this article, How Rodale Inc. Evolved Its Content Strategy to Become the World’s Largest Health and Wellness Media Company:

The only purpose of content creation is to gather a specific audience … Rodale Inc. never creates content for the sake of creating content. It always has a specific audience in mind. All of the content is designed to appeal, attract, and help that audience. Successful content creators understand that great content is only part of the equation for what it takes to build a successful business using content. The reality is that the content creators who are the most successful are not just great at creating content. They are great at building an audience.

Scott Aughtmon, Intuit and Direct Response Content Marketing

23. How many buyer personas do we need?

Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two personas, or as many as 10 or 20. But if you’re new to personas, start small! You can always develop more personas later if needed.

Pamela Vaughn, HubSpot (How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business)

24. How do we manage all the different audiences?

For example, instead of producing three original versions of an email, include the same offers and calls to action in all, but change the openings to address each audience’s unique pain points.

Dianna Huff, Huff Industrial Marketing (Make Your Content Do Double Duty When Writing to Multiple Audiences)

25. Why won’t people come to our content?

The short answer is that people in charge lacked a basic understanding of SEO. A slightly longer answer is they didn’t do link building and outreach, or perhaps they didn’t produce content that was “linkworthy” in the first place.
Stephan Spencer, strategist and consultant

Imagine a store would open in the middle of the desert. Would you go? Even if you knew it existed, you would probably not go – unless that store had unique value to offer you. If you want people to come to your content, you need to:

  • Create unique content that they can’t get anywhere else. If you’re just getting started, make sure you start with a WOW factor – for example, invite an influencer to write a guest post or interview a key figure in your industry. That will help you get initial traction.
  • Invite them to come – Make sure you target the right audience that needs/wants your content and let them know the content is there, be it through social media, newsletters, SEM, or any other relevant channel. Don’t be spammy or salesy, just conversational and friendly.
  • Be consistent with your content – Make sure to always have fresh content delivered so that your readers have a reason to come back.
  • Encourage them to share your content so that others can learn about it and to help your content earn organic reach.

Yael Kochman, Re: Tech

25 questions and counting

And if 25 questions and answers aren’t enough for you, George Stenitzer takes it one step further – well, 75 steps further, in this post he shared on the top 100 content marketing questions and answers.

But no matter the question, getting the answer right often requires you to frame as you would for your content marketing. It’s about delivering a relevant answer to the right person at the right time.

Do you have a question you’re asked and want to know the answer to? Would you have a different answer for any of the questions above? Or perhaps you want to share a frustrating question with the community. Add your thoughts in the comments.

Up your content marketing game this August with expert speakers talking process and technology at the now-virtual ContentTECH Summit. Register today.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute