You probably wouldn’t take advice on buying a home from someone who has never purchased one themselves… or ask for a meatloaf recipe from a friend who you know only uses their oven as extra storage space. So why are so many misconceptions about content marketing being perpetuated by non-marketing professionals and taken seriously? Here are five of the most common content marketing misconceptions, and their respective reality checks.

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1. It’s cheap, easy, and delivers instant results

If there was a simple recipe to successful content marketing, we would all be fabulously wealthy. The reality is that looking at content marketing as something inexpensive and simple undervalues the skill involved in tailoring content to a brand and its audience. Creating the right content and pushing it out through the right channels requires institutional knowledge about the brand, the audience, and the environment in which both of those entities live.

Additionally, don’t get discouraged if you don’t generate 1,000 new leads right after you launch your first content marketing campaign. Just like most things in life, it takes time and is about building relationships and establishing trust with your audience; this can take weeks or even months. Be sure to set manageable benchmarks for timeframe and ROI so you can accurately and realistically judge how well your campaign is doing.

Don’t make the mistake of failing to invest the proper amount of time and resources needed to develop a good content marketing strategy—if you do, you will likely find yourself over budget and behind schedule.

2. You can plan to create content that will “go viral.”

No, you can’t. Planning to go viral is about as possible as planning the weather, so don’t waste your time and energy racking your brain on this one. The good news is that the right content doesn’t necessarily have to go viral to be effective.

3. Outsourcing is always a good move… anyone can write

Outsourcing has become a commonplace practice among businesses today, particularly with companies that want lots of high-quality content but don’t have the in-house resources to get it done. That being said, choose your outsourcing firm or freelancers carefully. Always check to ensure that they have a clean track record for using white hat content marketing practices and come with good references from other companies so you know you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

4. SEO is the only outcome of content marketing

Many non-marketers believe that content simply needs to be targeted toward search engines to get good SEO. While it is true that great content can help to organically improve your SEO, content that is tailored for your audience and has a high perceived value by them will serve you much better in the long run than content just stuffed with keywords in an effort to beat the system and get to the top of the search results. Keyword stuffing may result in a temporary spike in website traffic, but the Google algorithm for SEO is very advanced and can detect if your content isn’t valuable to searchers

Takeaway from this: Don’t waste your time trying to beat Google with cheap tricks and shortcuts—focus on providing consistent, high-quality, valuable content to your targeted audience.

5. Content marketing and brand awareness marketing are the same thing

This is perhaps the most easily understandable confusion of the five misconceptions, mainly because brand awareness is an outcome of successful content marketing.

However, what this viewpoint doesn’t take into account is that content marketing is actually necessary for every stage of the buyer journey, not just the first stage (brand awareness). Content should be tailored and optimized to address customers’ needs as they make their way through the funnel toward a purchase, and then beyond that purchase to encourage a repeat purchase.

How does your content measure up? Audienti evaluates your website for keywords and brand terms, so you can see if you’re getting the traffic you should: https://scorecard.audienti.com.