Everyone’s heard of the phrase “Content is King.”
There’s much more to content marketing than just content, though.
And it ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.
In this article, I’m going to try to give you a balanced list of Pros and Cons of content marketing.
Let’s start with the first Pro!
Pro #1: Consumers like learning about brands through content rather than ads
We’re bombarded with thousands of ads each and every day.
There’s no surprise there’s a lot of consumer pushback towards ads.
Hundreds of millions of people are using ad-blocks these days.
In 2019, nearly 26% of online users in the US alone were using ad-blocks.
Content marketing completely circumvents this issue.
Not only that, but consumers who end up visiting your content got there proactively.
To see your content, they had to type a query into a search engine, follow your brand on social media, or browse social media for content similar to yours.
On top of that, providing value for free to consumers who proactively found your content makes for a great environment where business can thrive.
It can be a bit counterintuitive to not monetize every bit of content surrounding your business, but it pays dividends in the long run.
Just be mindful of your own behavior when you’re looking for solutions to your problems online.
Try to pay attention to how you react to businesses or individuals who provide value without expectations versus those that are using every monetization method under the Sun.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t monetize your content.
Far from it.
Just make it feel organic.
Don’t worry, people will find your offers and buy products and services from you of their own accord.
When that happens, the feelings of trust and loyalty only amplify.
Pro #2: Consumers make purchasing decisions based on content they consume
When you connect someone with a solution to their problem through your content, they’re more likely to value your opinion and take product recommendations from you.
It can get hard deciding what product to buy out of the tens or even hundreds of options available.
In most cases, people can’t try them for themselves before making a purchasing decision.
They obviously don’t trust the product manufacturers because let’s face it, they’re not going to be 100% honest.
That’s why people are looking for 3rd party opinions.
If you can fill in that gap and establish yourself as an expert in your niche, people will flock to you for advice.
Even companies can do this if they switch their sales-first mentality to a value-first consumer-centric mentality.
Every time you provide value to a consumer, that consumer becomes more likely to enter your funnels.
This is why it’s important not only to have quality-content but to have lots of it.
Ideally, you want to be there, ready with an answer to every question related to your business your consumers might have.
Of course, that’s not always possible considering the time and effort it takes to produce high-quality content.
Luckily, you can target key points that influence your consumers’ buying decisions and focus on creating content around them.
Pro #3: Content marketing improves your domain’s SEO
Simply put, if you don’t have any content on your domain besides pages like Home Page, About Page and Contact Page, search engines have zero reasons to send traffic your way.
To get organic traffic, you have to rank for keywords.
And to rank for keywords, you need content in which those keywords will appear in.
As you rank for more and more keywords, your domain will gain in authority and search engines like Google will send more traffic your way.
Take a look at this case study where a company published 50 posts in 25 business days or 7 weeks.
At the end of this campaign, the company noted the following results:
- Website traffic increase of 481%
- Search traffic increase of 427%
- Referral traffic increase of 440%
- Direct traffic increase of 570%
- 470 more keywords on the domain indexed by Google
And that’s just the results after 7 weeks.
Taking the compounding nature of content marketing and blogging into account, those results will be further amplified over the next few months and even years.
Notably, 50 blog posts in 7 weeks is a pretty aggressive publishing schedule that’s hard to pull off, but you can publish content at your own pace.
It is, however, widely considered important that you do publish as much content as possible at the beginning for your domain to gain traction with the search engines.
Basically, the sooner you can get to 50-70 quality content pieces, the better.
Of course, you always want to publish as much content as possible, but after the initial content rush in the first 3-5 months, it’s OK to scale content production down a bit if you have to.
Pro #4: Content marketing builds consumer trust and loyalty
People tend to be mistrusting towards businesses.
And for good reason.
Traditional marketing efforts like ads tend to exaggerate qualities and ignore the shortcomings of products.
Which is, in a way, understandable.
Nobody likes to point out their flaws, whether it’s in their personality or their products.
But we do need more honesty injected into the consumer-business relationship.
The consumer-centric quality of content marketing makes it perfect for establishing trust with your audience.
When you make it all about your audience and not about you, they notice it.
Not only are you providing value with content marketing to them, but the very fact that you ARE providing value might be enough to differentiate you from the rest of your competition.
We’ve all heard the phrase “customer comes first” so many times from business owners, but their actions don’t match their words in a lot of the time.
The value-first nature of content marketing gives you an opportunity to become invaluable to your customers.
Loyalty and trust start building up on their own in that kind of environment.
Pro #5: Content marketing helps you establish your expertise and niche authority
A lot of your content will be informative and educational.
Which is a perfect medium for demonstrating your subject expertise and niche authority.
To maximize the authority-building potential of content marketing, it’s a good idea to know your audience well.
Because that’ll help you pinpoint their problems with regards to your niche.
And when you know exactly what bothers your audience, you can suggest solutions with much more precision.
For example, if you’re creating fitness-related content and you know for sure one of your audience segments are mothers of young children, you can extrapolate their problems from there.
They’re probably busy and don’t have a lot of free time to go to the gym, their backs and knees probably hurt from chasing after kids all day, and they’ve probably gained a few extra pounds during pregnancy.
Knowing all this can guide you to create a 20-minute routine that’ll strengthen their lower back and knees and burn some extra calories in the process.
A surgical strike to the core problems of your audience segments will make you an expert and an authority in their eyes for providing them exactly what they need.
To get to know your audience it’s a good idea to create a buyer persona.
A buyer persona is a fictional character that’s molded by the answers to questions in key areas like:
- Educational background
- Career path
- Online habits
- Content consumption habits
- Decision-making process, etc.
Pro #6: Content marketing costs less than traditional marketing efforts
Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing efforts.
That’s a considerable cut in costs if you can afford to wait for the results to kick in.
Content marketing will still cost you either money or time.
If you’re a one-man-band like I am, you can either do everything yourself and exchange your time for content, or you can outsource your content creation and spend money.
I chose to do the former and create all of the content myself.
There’s no right or wrong option here, though.
You just have to decide what’s best for your particular situation.
Pro #7: Content marketing builds brand and increases brand awareness
Creating high-quality content through content marketing is perfect for building brand.
Sure, a business can create interesting ads and throw a lot of money at increasing brand awareness.
But nothing will evoke more positive feelings towards your business than actually solving problems for your audience.
Content marketing works well for both personal and company brands.
Just be blindly consumer-centric and don’t make your brand the hero of the story.
Take a look at what John Deere, leaders in agriculture, did with their magazine The Furrow.
In its 120-year history, John Deere mentioned their company 15-20 times in their own company magazine.
They opted for a value-first approach and it helped them build the huge global brand that John Deere is today.
Anything they thought was beneficial to farmers was published in The Furrow and everything else was disregarded.
That’s how you build brand, loyalty, trust, and authenticity.
You don’t have to go quite that extreme with your content, but the less salesy you can afford to be, the more effective content marketing will be for your brand in the long run.
Something to keep in mind, for sure.
If you want to know more about content marketing for brand building and increasing brand awareness, you can check out my article on the topic.
Con #1: Content marketing doesn’t yield overnight success
One of the drawbacks of content marketing is the fact that you have to wait for months or even years before the needle starts moving in the right direction.
Not always, though.
Sometimes the results come much faster.
It all depends on the quality of the content you’re putting out, publishing frequency and the level of competition in your niche.
In most cases, you’ll just have to be patient and grind for a while before you see results.
This happens almost regardless of channel and platform.
If you’re blogging, your content will take months before it starts ranking.
The same goes for Youtube.
You’ll have to amass quite a few subscribers before the algorithm starts trusting you enough to recommend your videos.
And if you’re going for social media channels or podcasting, you’ll have to build a sizeable following before you see meaningful results.
That’s just one of the content marketing barriers to entry.
Con #2: Content marketing requires a versatile skill-set
Whether your company has a marketing team or you’re a one-man-band, content marketing will require quite a few skills to make it work.
Let’s just take blogging as an example.
To get a blog off the ground, you’ll have to:
- Decide on the platform and create a blog
- Decide what plugins you want and learn how they work
- Learn on-page SEO
- Learn off-page SEO
- Learn how to structure and write articles, and much more…
There’s a lot of trial and error when it comes to content marketing.
Luckily, there’s an infinite amount of resources out there on anything you’ll ever need.
The information has become a commodity and is readily available.
The more channels you decide to employ, the savvier of a content marketer you will have to become.
Every social media channel has its nuances and being aware of them can make or break your content marketing efforts.
For example, LinkedIn is enjoying a great organic reach right now, but if you post external links in your posts, it kills your reach.
But posting a link in the comments after publishing the post doesn’t penalize your post as severely.
This study shows that posting a link in comments makes the post reach 2.9 times more people than posting the link in the post itself.
Long story short, content marketing requires you to have your finger on the pulse of the channels you’re using.
Con #3: Creating content takes time and effort
Creating content can be laborious.
For example, this study shows that marketers on average spend 3 hours and 16 minutes to write a 1000-word article.
Needless to say, many of your articles will be much longer than a 1000 words if you want to write comprehensive content that shoots for the top of the SERPs (search engine results pages).
And writing the content isn’t the only thing you’ll have to do to get the article up and running.
You’ll have to find the images and videos for your articles, you’ll have to upload it to your blog, you’ll have to update them periodically, and so on.
Other content mediums have their time sinks as well.
Youtubers will tell you all about the hours and hours they spend researching topics, writing scripts, editing, etc.
Content marketing is a lot less glamorous when you’re actually in the trenches, producing content and doing the work.
You have to learn to love the process of creating or you won’t last for long enough to see the fruits of your labor.
Con #4: Measuring content marketing effectiveness can be difficult
It can be difficult to measure the effectiveness of an article you wrote 8 months ago that’s not getting any visits.
It might have been a complete waste of time, or it might have provided relevance to some other article on a similar topic that IS doing well.
Maybe this article is a vital part of the content silo on a larger topic that’s collectively bringing in a lot of visits to your blog.
Or maybe 8 months just isn’t enough for this article to reach its peak ranking placement.
If you want to know more about how long it takes for articles to reach their peak placement on Google, check out my article on the topic.
Some of the aspects of content marketing are difficult to track and that’s just that.
But some aren’t.
For example, you can set up different links for different articles that are funneling traffic to your lead generation pages and see exactly which pages are doing well and which aren’t.
Even though it can be difficult, it’s a bad to idea give up on tracking the ROI of content marketing altogether.
Even if you’re just partly successful at it, you’ll still have some data points helping you make educated guesses.
Con #5: Fierce Competition in most niches
There’s a lot of competition for the finite amount of eyeballs on the Internet today.
Still, there’s a place for everyone.
The barrier to entry might have gone up, but success is far from unobtainable.
Plus, not every channel is equally saturated.
For example, blogging is very competitive with millions of blog posts being published every day.
But podcasting is much less competitive.
Odds are, you could still be one of the pioneers in podcasting in your niche or local area if you just started your podcast in 2020.
Likewise, Youtube is still not as saturated as blogging in a lot of niches either.
Being in front of the camera is something a lot of content creators are just not willing to do.
Those that are can capitalize on that fact.
When it comes to social media channels, LinkedIn and TikTok, in particular, are blowing up in popularity right now.
You can get a considerable amount of organic reach on those two platforms even if you made a fresh account right now and start posting content.
Not that you have to run away from competition…
Content marketing is the game of being the best, not the game of being the first.
The old school content marketers reaped the benefits of being the first, but everyone has to continue grinding to stay on top.
Con #6: Finding content ideas can be hard
Odds are, you’ll never exhaust all the possible content ideas in your niche even if it’s a very small one.
But it can feel that way very quickly.
It’s just the way our brains work.
If someone was to ask you to name 20 films you’ve seen in 2019, you’d struggle to recall all of them.
But if they were to start reading off of a list of films from 2019, you’d instantaneously be able to tell if you’ve seen the film or not as soon as you hear the title.
The same is with creating content.
When it feels like you have no ideas to create content around, do some research.
Enter your main keywords into free tools like AnswerThePublic, Keyword Sheeter, Keywords.io, etc.
By the way, check out my article on “How to use AnswerThePublic to get content ideas and outline articles.”
You don’t even have to use tools to come up with content ideas.
Google gives you a ton of related content ideas to whatever you type in the search box.
Just check out the People Also Ask or Related Searches sections of the SERPs.
Con #7: It’s difficult to stray away from traditional marketing efforts
To think you could throw the traditional marketing tactics away and 100% dedicate to content marketing would be naïve.
Nor is content marketing the be-all-end-all type of marketing.
Some traditional marketing tactics are still effective.
So, switching to content marketing can be much more difficult than it seems.
Especially if you’re running a business and you have financial obligations to meet every month.
What you can do in a situation like that is to allocate a budget to your content marketing production efforts that you can afford to waste.
In other words, even if that money brings in ZERO ROI, your company will be fine.
That way you’re able to create content without the added stress of it having to perform well or else you’re in trouble.
In time, you will get savvier when it comes to content creation and the compounding nature of content marketing will start to kick in.
Content marketing definitely works.
There’s no doubt about that.
But, like anything else, content marketing comes with a set of challenges for you to overcome.
If you’ve read the article, you’ve realized that content marketing isn’t a walk in the park.
But when it’s all said and done, content marketing is in my opinion worth it.
Very much so.
Have I missed a major Pro or Con of content marketing?
Let me know!