Content is king, and its marketing impact is only growing. 72% of marketers say content marketing is helping educate their audience. Another 63% see a loyalty boost with existing clients, according to the Content Marketing Institute.
That's a ringing endorsement. But you might be wondering: OK, what's the catch? And rightly so. There are problems with content marketing as sure as there are benefits.
Here at Zoe Marketing & Communications, we have 15+ years of experience in written content marketing, especially sponsored articles. We deeply understand some of the challenges.
In this blog, we'll outline four of the most common, including:
It's not designed for conversions.
It's not about promoting yourself.
It takes a certain quality of writing.
It's time-consuming to create.
With this article, you'll get a more realistic picture of what you're in for with content marketing. It will — and should! — give you pause and encourage you to consider: "Can I do this solo? Should I hire an agency? Is this a stretch goal? Or is it not right for me?"
Problem #1: It's not designed for conversions.
This is a big sticking point. Publishing written content, whether on your own website or a partner's, won't quickly prompt people to buy your product or service (i.e., "convert").
By its very nature, content marketing is great at educating your audience and warming them up. Once they read your blog or article, you'll create an "a-ha" spark in them. Your name will ring a little bell. And, most of all, you'll start creating trust — a fundamental building block in gaining new clients and keeping existing ones. So when they do make a decision, they're more likely to think of you.
With time, your content will gain traction on Google, showing up higher in search results for certain topics. It can start churning up leads, too; more effectively if you pair it with other tactics.
But that's a long-term game. On its own, content marketing can take months, even years, to get leads.
Go in with clear eyes. Know your content won't be a lead-generating machine.
Problem #2: It's not about promoting yourself.
Good content marketing is different from the advertorials of yore. Those were all about you: Why your company is the best choice for a particular product or service.
Toss that concept aside.
Any article you write must answer questions that are important to your audience. If not, they won't care. They'll jump ship. And, worse, they may leave with a bad taste in their mouths.
People don't want to be "sold." Touting yourself and how great you are is the epitome of that. Chew on this: At least 80% of any article should be about educating people with great information. And you should only mention yourself in only 20%, max.
Of course, you're pulling from your expertise. So you foster a positive connection through that association. But it's not self-promotion.
Content marketing must matter to people. If you're more intent on hyping your brand, it won't fit.
Problem #3: It takes a certain quality of writing.
You don't need to be a professional journalist (though it helps!). But, beyond not being promotional, your content should be well-written and authentic and make Google happy.
That last part is essential because if Google likes your content, you'll appear higher in search results. In particular, Google wants experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trust, or EEAT.
Here's a diagram that shows how those four things work together:
Trust, as Google puts it, is at the heart of it all; it shows how accurate, honest, safe and reliable your content is. The three things feeding into that trust are:
Experience: You have first-hand or relevant life/industry experience.
Expertise: You have the needed knowledge or skills to cover the subject.
Authoritativeness: You and/or your website are a known go-to for a topic.
Of course, that builds up with time. But it's crucial to keep it central to your writing.
One more note: Quality and length matter. Around 800-1,200 words is a solid range, but always avoid including "fluff" to hit a word count. Focus on answering people's questions first.
Be prepared to write high-quality articles that help people and satisfy Google.
Problem #4: It's time-consuming to create.
This might be obvious based on point #4, but it's worth diving deeper. Content marketing takes a lot of work. Not only do you have to think of and write quality articles — but you have to do it consistently. At least weekly; ideally three times a week or more.
That applies whether you're writing blogs for your website or teaming up with a media or publisher partner. Among the things that will fill up your schedule fast:
Brainstorming topics and doing keyword research
Pinpointing in-house experts (who either do the writing or get consulted for it)
Setting and updating a realistic production schedule
Picking and crediting art for your articles (supplied, stock, etc.)
Writing the actual articles
Quality-checking the articles (using an editor or AI proofing tools like Grammarly, etc.)
Publishing the articles (if you're doing it yourself, an easy-to-update website platform is essential)
Promoting the articles (this goes a step beyond "organic" Google traffic and helps boost your reach with email campaigns, social media/search engine ads, etc.)
Whether you're aiming to do it yourself or hire an agency, it's a time and money investment.
You'll need an ongoing strategy and resources to make content marketing pay off.
What are my next steps for content marketing?
Content marketing can deliver potent results, but it also has problems. This blog covered four, including drawbacks for conversions and self-promotion. It's also demanding writing that takes time.
Ultimately, you're looking at an intense commitment to make it worthwhile.
Are you feeling comfortable with the challenges but prefer not to go it alone? Talk to us. Zoe Marketing & Communications specializes in content marketing and can get you started.
Still not quite sure? Understandable! Keep learning to find out if this sort of marketing may be a match for you — or could be someday — by discovering:
As Zoe Marketing & Communications’ content manager, Kim Kovelle brings nearly 20 years of writing and editing experience in metro Detroit. She has strong roots in community journalism and a knack for making complicated topics make more sense.