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[REBUTTAL] The ACTUAL Greatest Misconception in Content Marketing

The good folks at Moz have been doing their Whiteboard Friday video segment for as long as I can remember.
Moz knows their stuff and I have a healthy respect for their organization, their products, the fantastic data-driven content they provide (including Whiteboard Friday) and especially for Rand’s FANTASTIC mustache.
But I don’t agree with this Whiteboard Friday about content marketing… at least not entirely.
Give it a watch and I’ll show you what I mean…

In this video, Rand lays out this “mythical” content marketing process…

  • Step 1 – Create amazing piece of content that people will love and share.
  • Step 2 – Promote the content through social, links and search.
  • Step 3 – Visitors experience your content and some percent sign up for your product or service.

Here’s where my issue lies…
At 3 minutes 21 seconds, Rand reveals the big myth saying:

 “Step 3 is entirely a myth.  It is almost never the case… that someone experiences a piece of content from a brand they don’t know about or haven’t heard of… and immediately says ‘I wonder what they sell, I should buy whatever that is.’

Step 3 is not a myth.  Visitors will experience your content (even for the first time) and will ASCEND to the next level.
But before we get into ASCENSION, let me qualify all of this by completely agreeing with this statement from Rand explaining how content marketing works… (I’m paraphrasing):

“People come [to your content] many, many times.  They essentially grow this memory about your brand and about what you do and they build up a positive bank account.  But there isn’t money in that bank account — there are experiences and touches with your brand.”

I couldn’t agree more.  There’s no question that having multiple touch points with any brand increases the likelihood of conversion.
But the way Rand uses statements like…

  • “You will repeat this [creation of content] many, many times.”
  • “There is a lot of trial and error.”
  • “People come to your content many, many times.”

… is a dangerous way of thinking.  I don’t believe Rand is trying to be misleading or malicious in any way.

What I do believe is…

… that he fails to tell the whole story.  And, that he absolutely fails to identify the actual GREATEST misconception in content marketing which is…


Does content marketing require persistence?  Absolutely.
Does content marketing require effort over time?  No question.
But don’t watch Rand’s Whiteboard Friday and simply head back to the salt mines to create more stellar content before you…

Create an Ascension Plan

At Digital Marketer (and our other brands) we send thousands of clicks from blog content to Lead Magnet opt-in pages (to generate leads) and low-dollar Tripwire offers (to acquire customers.)
Yep… even brand spanking new visitors.
In fact, over the last 30 days we have sent 6,275 clicks from our blog to Lead Magnet or Tripwire offers and 2,009 of those clicks are New Users according to Google Analytics…
Does the content need to be spectacular?  You betcha.
But great content is table stakes.  Show up to the game with bad content and you’ve already lost.
The trouble is that great content is absolutely not enough.  Nor is it sufficient to REPETITIVELY create great content.
You also need…

  1. The right type of ASCENSION offer – If you are asking your first-time blog reader to buy your $500 product or your join your $49 subscription service — you’re sunk.  Instead, gradually ascend your reader with a Lead Magnet or Tripwire offer.
  2. A relevant ASCENSION offer – The more relevant the offer — the higher the conversion rate.
  3. Traffic – Don’t wait for the SEO or organic social media to kick in.  If you’ve taken the time to create a great piece of content with an appropriate ascension offer — force eyeballs onto it with paid media like Facebook Promoted Posts.  (Oh… and don’t forget to pixel them when you do.)

(To understand how Digital Marketer’s TOFU, MOFU, BOFU Content Marketing system transforms ice cold prospects into  multi-buyers, check out this post.)

Let’s look at some examples…

Over the last 3o days, this post sent 802 readers (349 of which were New Users) through the ASCENSION PATH…
Notice that this is a free download available in exchange for an opt-in.  Notice that the offer is relevant to the content in the article.
On the other hand, notice the offer in this post from Moz.  The offer is too much too soon — and it’s irrelevant to the content.  I’m reading a post about ranking in the Apple App Store — I’m not likely ready to try Moz Pro.
Honestly… I love Moz. They are world-class marketers… and that’s why I study what they do.
But the offer they have made in this content won’t convert well — it’s not appropriate at this stage in the relationship.
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Russ Henneberry

Russ Henneberry

Russ Henneberry is a digital marketer, speaker, and co-author of Digital Marketing for Dummies. Russ has helped hundreds of brands increase sales, leads, and retention including Crazy Egg,, and DigitalMarketer. Visit Russ's website or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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