15 content strategy myths debunked
Content may still be king, but you need the right approach, strategy and talent. Let's clear up some common myths about content strategy.
Marketers, SEOs, employers, prospects, and even content strategists all have been taken in by content strategy myths they’ve heard or read and now believe.
Some people think that it’s all about coming up with new ideas for content. Others believe that it’s a one-time task.
But there’s a big difference between creating content for the sake of creating it and developing a content strategy that will help you achieve your short- and long-term business goals.
This article will debunk 15 content strategy myths that are flat wrong.
1. Content strategy means content marketing
Many people believe that content marketing and content strategy are the same. The term “content strategy” is often used interchangeably with content marketing.
Content strategy is about creating a plan for how you will produce and distribute content across your website and other channels.
But while the two fields share some common goals and tactics, there are important distinctions between them. While content marketing is essential, it’s only one part of a successful content strategy.
In short, content strategy is a plan, while content marketing is a part of that plan.
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2. Content strategy is about topics and keywords
This is one of the biggest misconceptions.
A prospect questioned our content strategy services. Why? They believe content strategy is only a list of topics and keywords and don’t need any service provider. And we lost the lead.
Coming up with a list of topics and keywords is just one small part of creating a successful content strategy.
A content strategy would include (depending on the goals and targeted platform),
- SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) goals
- Segregated marketing goals to achieve business goals
- What the overall marketing strategy looks like
- Who you would target as your customers
- Types of content and number of content you would need to create for respective marketing channel
- Keyword research for each content targeting SEO and customer journey stages, if any
- Briefs for content creators and designers
- Content marketing process to distribute content
- Content performance KPIs
A sample of what a content strategy’s first part would include apart from topics and keywords
So if you meet anyone saying the content strategy is about topics and keywords, show them this list and help them debunk their myth around content strategy.
3. You need content strategy only for blogs
This is another big misconception about content strategy most SEOs have, and I had that too, which got busted after a few years.
I used to create a content calendar to support SEO, which used to work well for my employer and clients. So I started believing that content strategy means a blog calendar.
This is how most SEOs or marketers manage blog calendars, including me (obviously in the past).
Eventually, when I started working on lead magnets to drive MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) and SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads), I had to plan everything from the different types of content to the amount of content we needed to plan, create, promote and track.
When it became about combining my content marketing efforts with content planning and using them across all the marketing channels, I realized content strategy is for blogs and every type of content we wish to push out for marketing purposes.
Your content strategy should include planning for every type of content – be it a blog, video, infographic or another content type or format.
4. Content strategy can only help in SEO
Most of the time, people thinking of content strategies are SEOs. Why? Because no content strategy is complete without a list of keywords.
Each piece of content we plan has at least some audiences searching for them on the search engines, branded or non-branded keywords.
For example, I wrote a Twitter thread on what you should write instead of “conclusion,” “wrapping up,” etc., in a blog.
And because it got viral, I’m writing a blog on it. Why? Because someone asked on Twitter about where she could find it.
Though today, people would not be searching for this kind of topic. Tomorrow, it might have excellent search volume.
That’s why it’s easy to get into the trap of thinking content strategy is for SEO. But, it’s not limited to SEO.
Let’s look at how it can be for every marketing platform and not just for SEO.
Content calendar for email marketing segmented from overall content strategy
Similarly, here is the email content planner segmented from the overall content strategy
I’m not showcasing the social media content strategy because that’s what I’m going to cover in the below point.
5. Content strategy = social media content strategy
No. Content strategy is not equal to social media content strategy.
We have met and seen some marketers and business owners have this misconception, especially in the e-commerce domain, as they largely depend on social media for business.
When you talk about content strategy, it’s an overall plan that includes auditing, researching, planning, developing, executing, managing, distributing content and measuring its performance to achieve business and marketing goals.
A social media content strategy is a segmented part of the content strategy. Once you know what needs to be promoted on social media, why and how, you can prepare a social media content strategy to achieve what you’ve set for social media.
For one of our clients, we created a calendar targeting different audiences for different platforms because they have the targets to achieve for both audiences.
While creating their social media content strategy, we separated the messaging, timings, designs, and goals, considering the audiences active on the respective platforms.
One part of the calendar targeted the Talent audience on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, who would sign up on their platform to seek remote jobs.
Another part of the social media calendar targeted the Companies as the audience on LinkedIn who would sign up on their platform to seek remote talent.
For such detailed social media content strategy creation, you need social media strategists or marketers who would take care of this. But, you cannot have social media strategists create the overall content strategy targeting holistic marketing goals.
If you still have this myth around content strategy, you would hire the wrong talent, ultimately impacting your ROI.
6. The content strategy emphasizes creation
Content strategy is not content marketing; it’s certainly not content creation.
While working as a consultant, whenever I used to ask the marketing teams to develop a content strategy, they would share with me a list of topics to be written and all information around it.
Honestly, it’s also about content distribution. Here is what your content strategy’s content marketing/distribution section should look like,
Content creation is a part of the content strategy. But if the emphasis of your content strategy is only on creation, you’re missing out on generating content ROI.
7. Content strategy is not for my business
I discovered this content strategy myth while conversing with e-commerce and SaaS founders.
During the discovery calls with SaaS prospects, we go through a detailed understanding of their audience, product, and business model. They don’t know what their product should be called most of the time. Let me tell you why.
They could be startups trying to solve a problem. If they are solving a unique problem, their product would also be unique and even challenging to be attached with an existing keyword having a decent search volume.
- We offer a CRM, but our product is not limited to customer relationship management but much more than that for the BFSI industry.
- Sales enablement automation is what we focus on.
- Our product is a sales acceleration platform.
- We offer a sales playbook.
- And the list is endless.
So they don’t feel the need for a content strategy as they want to create content only for the bottom funnel of the customer journey. Well, even if you target conversions, you need a content strategy.
If you create conversion-focused content without the proper distribution process, creating that content is a wasted effort.
Some niche e-commerce businesses wrongly think investing in content strategy is a waste of money. It isn’t. But you’re wasting money if you’re creating content without direction.
The content strategy gives direction to what you want to achieve – why, when and how.
The more niche you go, the more you need a content strategy as you need detailed research on how you’re going to bring your audience into the customer journey and convert.
8. Content strategy is one-and-done
Any successful website is the result of a content strategy.
This is especially true for sites looking to rank well in search engines or generate leads and sales through any marketing channel.
Your site will likely struggle to attract visitors and achieve its goals without planning what kind of content to create and how to promote it.
Unfortunately, too many businesses treat content strategy as a one-time task. They develop a plan, implement it, and then move on to other things. I would call it not just the myth but even the mistake you make around content strategy.
If you want your site to continue performing well, you need to keep your content strategy going indefinitely. If you lose track, you might have to invest more to achieve marketing goals, resulting in low profits.
9. Content strategy is only about the short-term
Yes, a content strategy involves thinking about the short-term. But that’s not all it’s about.
A good content strategy is also about understanding what your audience needs, taking into account the whole customer journey, from first contact to post-purchase follow-up and then giving it to them in a way that’s engaging and easy to consume.
By thinking about your content in this way, you can create a more holistic and practical approach that will benefit your business in the short and long term.
It’s clear why so many people are confused about content strategy. I have met employers and prospects who think – “what’s in a content strategy? I don’t need someone specialized for that.”
10. Content strategy? SEO can handle it
SEOs are the perfect people because they understand how search engines work and what users are looking for.
SEOs are uniquely qualified to handle both tasks simultaneously. But SEOs also have more complex things to look at, such as,
- Increasing competition
- Technical challenges of the website
- Google rewriting title tags
- Maintaining E-A-T
- Keeping their website safe from the Google algorithms coming every month
- Moving from Universal Analytics to GA4
- Google indexing issues
- And more
Honestly, creating a content strategy is a huge task because the one who creates it has to consider business goals, marketing goals, and segmented marketing goals to be achieved through the power of content at the right time, right place with the right marketing message.
Miss this and you’re wasting resources on content strategy and marketing.
11. Content strategists only create calendars
That’s a big misconception business owners have for content strategists.
They are often thought of as just calendar planners. While that is a significant part of the job, there is so much more to what they do.
In reality, their role extends far beyond simply putting dates on a calendar and making sure things get published on time.
Content strategists help brands create a plan for their content that aligns with their overall business goals and establishes a strategy for achieving them. They think about the audience they are trying to reach and develop formats and topics that will resonate with them.
They also ensure that all of their content is aligned with the overall marketing strategy, helping to drive traffic, leads, and sales.
This may include auditing the existing content, creating or sourcing content, ensuring it is designed per the expectations, optimizing it for search engines and social media, tracking how well it performs, and making notes for the next planning round.
12. The content strategist must be in-house
Some businesses have said this to me and came back to me when I launched my agency.
Content strategists can be in-house but don’t necessarily have to be. Whether to have them in-house or outsource them, you need to think of the following,
- What type of business are you in?
- Do you have huge marketing goals and budgets?
- Are you looking to set up the entire marketing team in-house?
- How big is your in-house marketing team?
- Are you able to find the right talent?
- Do you have time to do a trial-and-error with a content strategist?
The answer to the above questions would help you understand when to hire a content strategist in-house or outsource it.
13. Content writers should build content strategies
“Can you come up with content topics as well?” I’m sure most freelance content writers often receive this kind of requirement, as I also used to get it before my agency.
The thought of a content writer coming up with a content strategy may sound like a good idea, but it’s not. Here’s why:
A content writer writes articles, blog posts, web copy, etc. A content strategist is responsible for planning, creating, and managing all types of content (text, visual, audio, etc.) to meet the specific needs of their company or client.
Content writers are great at creating interesting and informative pieces that help businesses achieve their goals, but that’s usually where their skill set ends unless they are content strategists already.
A true content strategist has a deep understanding of the bigger picture of marketing and how each piece of content fits into the puzzle.
So, stop having this myth that content writers can create content strategies and stop asking them to do so. It will impact your business.
14. You can automate content strategy creation
I mean, today, everyone in marketing thinks of automation. But content strategy? Certainly not.
Some tools and techniques automate a lot of content strategy activities to streamline your efforts, such as:
- Content ideation through the search engines, competitors, People Also Ask, BuzzSumo, Quora, etc.
- Content creation through AI using Jasper, Copy.ai, Rytr, etc.
- Keyword clustering with Keyword Insights tool and some Python scripts.
- Content distribution such as email marketing, social media marketing, programmatic ads, and more.
- Google Sheets formulas to automate many mundane tasks while documenting the strategy.
But, you still cannot automate some tasks while creating a content strategy, and they are:
- Understanding the audience
- Defining the brand guidelines
- Identifying the marketing messaging for each content
- Selecting the type of content and distribution platform considering the audience, their customer journey stage
- Creating content briefs
- Reviewing content and ensuring it’s as per the expectations
- Auditing the existing content for gaps
- And more
Content is at the heart of any effective marketing campaign and requires a human touch to create and optimize effectively. So, you cannot automate content strategy creation. Stay away from such a myth.
15. Measuring content strategy performance is impossible
“It’s easy to track the performance of the content but not of its strategy. How would we know if we have hired the right content strategist with no performance tracking?”
Business owners looking to hire content strategists for the first time always think they cannot track the performance of the content strategy and hence, don’t know if their content strategists would do any good. And that’s another big content strategy myth.
If your content is driving results, your content strategy is working.
After all, the content strategy had the content topics, goals, marketing message, platforms, timing, and distribution process that made it drive results.
So, if you want to measure the performance of the content strategy, think of comparing the results of your content with the previous period and see how you’re progressing.
Don’t let your myths around content strategy affect your marketing ROI
The purpose behind highlighting these myths is to create awareness around content strategy, which it lacks.
We all know that content is king, but you need the right approach, strategy, and talent to make your content king.
And these myths are the roadblocks to content coronation. Hopefully, now that these content strategy myths have been debunked, you now have clarity about content strategy.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.