The truth is out there: 5 content marketing myths debunked

As you’ve probably heard, The X-Files were re-opened on Sunday night. And right as “The Truth Is Out There” flashed across my TV screen, it got me thinking about the misconceptions (and fabrications) we content marketers have to face. Fortunately, I don’t need Mulder and Scully to refute people’s claims. All that’s required is some data and practical experience.

MYTH: Content marketing is expensive

Great content marketing can be labor intensive. Generally, there’s a high cost associated with it — from writing to design to videography. And if you only invest in something you’ll use once, then, yes, things get pricey. That’s why you should look for opportunities to repurpose whenever possible. Create a magazine using top-performing blog posts or re-edit videos to make them Instagram, Vine and Snapchat-friendly. I wouldn’t stop there though. If you’re sitting on a large video library, try using the audio tracks to assemble some podcasts. Let’s face it, getting creative with your recycling will only improve your ROI.

29% of leading marketers systematically reused and repurposed content in 2015.


44% of marketers said finding better ways to repurpose content is a 2016 goal.

Content Marketing Institute

MYTH: Content marketing delivers quick wins

Creating exceptional content takes time and seeing results from it can take even longer. This is why it’s important to educate stakeholders. Prior to launching a blog that published 20 times a month, I crafted a presentation that set the appropriate expectations with my exec team. I even wrote case studies conveying what other companies had seen in terms of time-to-impact. I got lucky — we started seeing traction in about 90 days — but a little C.Y.A. is never a bad idea.

Content marketing is measurable, but it takes time to get real data…at least 6 months.

Michael Weiss, Content Marketing Institute lead consultant

MYTH: Content marketing is just an SEO play

While content marketing does wonders for SEO — Google loves fresh, high-quality content — zealously incorporating keywords can have two negative outcomes: 1) you have a jargon-filled mess no one will want to read and 2) Google will slap you with a Panda penalty for trying to game the system. That’s why I always write for my audience and not web-crawling bots. Not surprisingly, my best performing posts for OneSpot have been ones where I was least focused on my SEO score and most concerned with solving a problem myself and others were struggling with.

Identify issues with [your] site…starting with a single page and asking: “Is this the best page on the Internet for this topic?”


MYTH: Creating viral content is easy

All you need is a good idea, right? Wrong. There are tons of good ideas executed every day and yet few ever “break the Internet.” When I was at Razorfish, I always hated it when a client they said they wanted something “viral.” Viral is not something you make, it’s something that happens. It’s often the result of not chasing page or video views. Your best shot of having something blow up is to perfectly align your content with the interests of your audience. Get to know them, get to know what they want and then give them exactly that. There’s no sure-fire formula for success, but having a keen understanding of your customer’s needs is a good place to start.

The chances of content going truly viral…is one in a million.

Professor Sharad Goel, Stanford University

More than half [of 100,000 analyzed posts] had two or fewer Facebook interactions and Twitter shares, one or zero Google+ shares, and no LinkedIn shares

Moz and BuzzSumo joint study

MYTH: Lots of traffic or shares = success

So let’s say you’re one of the fortunate ones that has something catch fire. Does that make it a victory? It all depends on your KPIs. A couple of years ago, I worked for a WPP-owned mobile solutions company that wanted to get in on the “Harlem Shake” craze. The CEO filmed the entire office losing their collective minds and his video racked up over 100,000 views (along with several media mentions). He liked to proclaim it was more successful than anything the marketing team produced, but we were obviously tasked to drive sales. An editorial vehicle we produced for the auto industry put us on Bill Ford’s radar, but I don’t believe the “Harlem Shake” ever brought us any leads. My point: make sure you have benchmarks in place at the beginning of any endeavor or success will be subjective.

% of marketers who have clarity around content marketing success
Yes – 43%
No – 31%
Unsure – 27%

Content Marketing Institute

Most important success metrics for organizations
Sales – 30%
Sales Lead Quality – 13%
Higher Conversion Rates – 11%
Brand Lift – 12%
Website Traffic – 8%
Data Capture – 5%
Other – 21%

Content Marketing Institute

Hopefully, with a little persuasion and the stats above, you’ll be able to bring the confused and contrarian in your company around to this way of thinking.


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