Content is King, Email is Dead and 3 Other Myths of Content Marketing
We look at the most common content marketing myths and explain why B2B companies need to reject them.
Published: 09 Dec 2013
5 minutes read
As the end of the year draws closer, digital marketers are busy putting off their Christmas shopping and predicting the key trends that will shape the next 12 months (we've indulged in our own future-gazing here). Of course, different people have different ideas about how the world of content will develop in 2014, but the experts generally agree on a few points: an even greater number of businesses will want a piece of the action, which means investment in B2B content marketing will increase once again and more content specialists will be hired.
This is all good news for digital marketing agencies. And it's potentially great news for the many companies who have yet to produce sparkling content that helps their customers solve problems, generate sales leads and establish themselves as leaders in their industry. However, it also means that many more people with incorrect or misguided notions about content marketing are likely to join the conversation.
The following five statements are commonly circulated myths about content marketing. We explain why rejecting them should ensure your content strategies really take off in 2014.
'Content is King'
This highly unhelpful catchphrase has been around for years, but it refuses to go quietly. It was originally coined by Bill Gates back in 1996, when he published an article discussing the commercial opportunities the burgeoning internet would provide for content publishers.
These days, the phrase spawns variations and extensions on a regular basis - each one more infuriating than the last. Pointless axioms like 'Context is king, content is the kingdom' and 'Content is the king, distribution in the queen'. And, lest we forget, 'Content is not king'.
Of course, Mr Gates made a number of sage points in his article. He wasn't to know his words would be adopted by thousands of content marketing evangelists imploring their clients to produce content first and think about it later. The phrase is unhelpful because it suggests that content is a strategy in itself, and that a company's objective should simply be to create content. In reality, content is a tactic that should form an important part of your overall inbound marketing strategy.
We hope to see this misleading piece of hyperbole die out completely in 2014, but don't bet against further mutations of the phrase cropping up in blog titles for years to come.
'It doesn't apply to B2B'
It's true that many of the most famous content marketing strategies to date (Red Bull, Coca-Cola etc) belong to the B2C sphere. But B2B firms who have so far dismissed content marketing as a B2C-only concern are in for a rude awakening.
We've discussed the potential of content marketing for B2B companies before on this blog. If anything, B2B have even more to gain from using content to tell stories and engage customers than their B2C counterparts. That's why forward-thinking B2B brands are becoming increasingly content-focused.
'It's killed off email marketing'
In recent years, the death of email marketing has been proclaimed by many so-called experts (probably the same people who like to declare that 'content is king'). Back in 2009, a Wall Street Journal article entitled 'Why Email No Longer Rules' stated that email had been usurped by social media networks as the leading form of communication. Since then, the knives have been out for email marketing.
The more zealous advocates of content marketing (as well as social media) would have you believe that more traditional tactics, such as email, are now obsolete. They argue that the way consumers interact with businesses has fundamentally changed and they no longer want to see marketing messages in their inboxes.
However, the truth is that email marketing remains an extremely powerful way to connect with customers and influence their buying decisions. In a 2012 survey by Exact Target, 66% of respondents said they had made a purchase as a result of an email from a company (compared with 20% for Facebook and 6% for Twitter).
Email marketing is not dead, it's just evolved. To be successful, it now needs to function within an inbound marketing strategy.
'It requires little skill'
This misguided notion is largely a by-product of the explosion in content production witnessed over the last couple of years - the beginning of what we've termed the Content Avalanche. Unfortunately, some businesses still believe they can produce great content without doing much at all. They aren't prepared to invest time or money in content marketing because they view it as something to be conducted on an ad hoc basis, or handled by an intern.
As the sheer volume of content in circulation continues to grow at a frightening pace, the folly of this view will become even more apparent. Companies require exceptional content to make a mark, which means they need people with exceptional skills to create it.
'It's all about web traffic… No actually it's thought leadership!'
Many companies are confused about the objectives of their content marketing. But if you start off without clear goals, it's extremely difficult to measure success. In addition, reviewing the performance of your content against just one metric could mean that you fail to notice progress in other areas.
Content marketing can be used to achieve a number of different organisational goals. Web traffic and thought leadership are certainly among them, but defining ROI against these objectives can be problematic. Any movement in terms of lead generation and customer acquisition, on the other hand, is much easier to track.
This is why we recommend that content is always positioned within an inbound marketing strategy, motivating prospective customers to visit your site and provide their contact details, in exchange for more content that helps solve their problems. These leads can then be carefully nurtured (email plays a key role here) until they become customers, thereby ensuring your content always justifies the investment.