Content marketing is often misunderstood. Like any nascent marketing arena, content marketing defies conventional expectations and confuses newbies with its complexity and multi-faceted approach.

Having spent more than a decade innovating and pioneering in the field of content marketing, I've faced several recurring questions.

From the basic to the incisive, these are the content marketing questions that you should know the answers to.

1. If we have a blog, that's content marketing, right?

That's only part of it.

Content marketing is much, much broader than merely a blog. If you have a blog, good for you, but you can do so much more.

Find out where your customers are, and create content that delivers. This could be through Twitter, Reddit, Slideshare, Quora, webinars, a free SaaS, email updates, ebooks, podcasts, and more.

Start with the most obvious methods, and work your way to more advanced techniques.

2. Isn't content marketing on its way out?

No.

Content marketing has been around as long as brands have had something to say. "Content," as you're aware, is a very broad subject.

Any time a trend emerges, someone will declare it to be dead within a few years.

The genesis of the "content marketing is dead" myth revolves around a single point: There's simply way too much content to absorb.

While there's truth to the "content shock" that has pervaded our world, there is no expectation upon any single user that he or she will absorb all of that content. Content shock on a macroscopic scale is a reality, but content shock for individual users hasn't occurred.

Each user continues to partake of as much content as he or she prefers. Content marketing is alive and well.

3. Why would you want to give your information away for free?

Let me answer your question with another question: How can people find out about it unless it is free?

People don't risk their money on information that they can't trust. They pay for information that has been validated by a history of trustworthy, valuable, and elucidative content.

The grand goal of content marketing is to create a stream of customers and prospects coming to you. You can sell another product. Heck, you can even sell more content. But in order to draw attention to that content in today's marketplace, you must have free content.

4. What's the easiest way to start doing content marketing?

Start sharing content of any kind anywhere and everywhere.

I suggest, first, that you find where your users are hanging out. Discover their sources for content, and then go to those sources.

If that source is Twitter, then start engaging on Twitter. Share and retweet valuable content. Write posts that grab attention and provide value. Complement your Twitter stream with tactic-packed blog articles on your website, solving user problems. Record a webinar that helps your audience overcome a hurdle.

5. Does content marketing have a measurable ROI?

It's hard to measure the ROI of content marketing. Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, has admitted, "I don't believe in any silver bullet ROI strategy."

This isn't to say there's no ROI. The ROI is there. However,it's difficult to quantify it in terms of metrics, bar graphs, and revenue increase.

To answer the ROI question, it's critical to develop a set of specific KPIs that align with your business model and marketing growth channels. Track these channels and compare them with other critical business metrics to gauge improvement.

6. Should B2B companies do content marketing?

Absolutely, yes. B2Bs have traditionally been behind the content marketing curve, but they're catching up.

B2B content used to be notoriously dry, unoptimized, and irrelevant. Today, however, some B2Bs are completely dominating the content marketing space, providing stellar examples of how it should be done.

7. Should we outsource our content marketing?

Yes and no.

Outsourcing content marketing completely is a mistake. There exist agencies and marketing companies who are willing to take on the entire role of content marketing, but I advise against this.

Content creates a company's identity, and it's difficult for an outside agency to truly develop the story and vibe that a company needs.

It is smart, however, to outsource certain aspects of content marketing. Tasks such as creating a blog, writing content, making videos, designing graphics, managing and posting to social media, recording webinars, and the medley of technical support issues are legitimate tasks to outsource.

8. Doesn't content marketing conflict with SEO?

No. They go hand-in-hand. You can't "do SEO" without content, and you can't have good content unless it's optimized for search.

Content marketing and SEO are distinct disciplines, and they serve the same purpose. Use them together.

9. Should we only focus on content marketing?

No. Content marketing is one (very large) weapon in the entire marketing arsenal. Use it alongside other marketing methods.

According to research from CMI, most B2B marketers spend nearly a third of their marketing budget on content marketing. The most effective marketers, however, spend from 42-46% of their marketing budget on content marketing.

The amount your business spends on content marketing will vary according to your growth objectives and business lifecycle. Early in a company's existence, it may need to allocate more funds to paid search or direct mail instead of a content strategy.

As the age-old investing advice states, diversification is key. You should diversify marketing methodologies to ensure that you retain a consistent stream of customers from all available channels.

Conclusion

One of the reasons content marketing is often misunderstood is because it is vast and unwieldy. If you think about it, almost anything can be considered content. So, how do you distinguish between content marketing and non-content marketing?

There are no clear delineations, but there is overwhelming evidence that content marketing works.

The final question you need to answer is why am I not doing content marketing right now?

Do you have more questions about content marketing?

Published on: Nov 19, 2015