Many small businesses often question whether content marketing is worth the time, money or effort, especially when the results aren’t always immediate. But compared to traditional forms of advertising, content marketing can actually be more cost-effective in helping small businesses thrive in the digital world. Here we set out to show how content marketing helps small businesses.
What is content marketing for small businesses?
Content marketing is a strategic approach to creating and distributing content to a relevant audience. So, instead of simply spruiking your products or services to your customers, you can share valuable information about your industry to help potential customers solve the issues they normally come to you about. But why tell someone how to solve their problems when you want them to use your products or services to solve them? The answer is to build trust, authority and brand recognition online. If your content reaches a customer before they need someone to help them solve a problem, your business is likely to come to mind when they are ready to make a purchase.
While larger companies are able to throw more money into their advertising, small businesses can own a whole market in a search engine by using certain keyword phrases through quality and valuable content, such as a blog post. Content marketing can be a much more effective way to get the most long-standing value from your marketing spend.
How content marketing works for small businesses
Many factors are involved in implementing content marketing including time, money and of course, people power to put it all together. With customers becoming more reliant on the internet, it’s more and more important to be visible online. The initial costs of content marketing are relatively low for the leads you can produce overtime with the real key being consistency and patience as most of the benefits that come from content marketing for small businesses aren’t immediate. Here are some of the reasons how content marketing helps small businesses:
- Growing leads = increased sales
According to a study conducted by marketing software company HubSpot, businesses who have a regularly updated blog have an increase in leads of 126 percent compared to those who didn’t blog, and the conversion rates are about six times higher for those with content marketing campaigns. Content marketing allows you to bring in more leads and expand your reach.
- Improved SEO rankings
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation which essentially means optimising your blog articles and content to appear in search engines. Google and other search engine algorithms are complex but content marketing can help you navigate them. By using particular keywords or phrases your customers are searching for in your blog posts, you can expand your online reach.
- Increased traffic to your website
With higher SEO rankings (having your blog posts appear higher on a search page), you can increase the traffic that comes to your website. Once there, potential customers will be able to navigate around your website, giving you the opportunity to win them over.
- A more interesting or sticky website
Having content on your website makes it a much more interesting place once your visitors do arrive. Instead of just reading about your products or services, they can start to learn about why and how they can solve the particular problem they have. Your content might help customers solve their problem themselves once you arm them with the knowledge, but, they will of course be seeing how you can do it more efficiently for them. By offering educational and informative content, you are also building trust, covered in our next point.
- Brand awareness and building trust
Building your brand awareness online through content marketing also allows you to build trust in your band. By being a valuable and reliable source of information, your company can attract customers from further afield and will likely also be the first name that comes to mind when they need a solution.
How to get the most out of content marketing for your small business
There are a few best practises to follow when it comes to getting the most out of your content marketing campaign. Whether you choose to invest your money in hiring someone to take care of the content creation for you, or you handle it in-house, here are some steps that will help you develop a strong strategy.
Goals and objectives
It’s best to start by sitting down and finding a number of blog posts you want to create. What questions do you want to answer through your blog posts? What information are potential customers likely to be looking for? What key phrases are they likely to use when they head to Google? Once you have a list of ideas, it’s time to figure out the word length of the posts, when to schedule and post the blogs, and how often you want to share a blog post. Don’t forget to factor in time to measure the effectiveness of your blog posts so you can make any adjustments.
Research your audience
It’s important to know who your audience is before you start writing to them. You might need to do some market research or customer surveys to find your ideal customers. Knowing your audience is crucial to targeting them in your content marketing strategy. There’s no point in writing to young mothers when your ideal customer is actually a medical professional.
Make a plan
This is where you need to decide who will create the content, the voice you want your blog posts written in and what type of content you want created. Having a calendar of when you should be posting online can help you keep on top of your strategy and help with monitoring the success of your campaign. Whether you’re creating your content in-house or hiring someone to handle it for you, you’ll need to make sure your content creator has a style guide and a clear understanding of your brand, your target audience and how you want your brand to be portrayed.
Develop your content
Now for the fun stuff – it’s time to get creating! Having someone in-house write your content can be valuable but it can also be costly and time consuming. You might want to consider an article marketplace where you can simply purchase and upload the content that is suitable to your business. Don’t forget to have a budget set aside so you don’t over or under spend on your campaign.
Promote and measure your content
It’s not going to be very effective for you to have a blog post on your website if you’re not actually going to share it with anyone. Now is the time to make the most of your social media channels. Having key search phrases in your blog will help potential customers find it in a search engine, but sharing to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram can expand that reach. Social media also lends itself to further sharing by your followers themselves.
It’s also essential to monitor the success of your blog post. Has traffic increased to your website from the post you shared to Facebook but not from Instagram? This information is valuable for the continued success of your strategy and allows you to make changes and adapt to what’s working, and save money on what’s not.
What does a strong content marketing plan look like?
Now you know the value of a content marketing campaign, and you know how to put a content marketing plan together. But what does a strong content marketing plan actually look like? There are a number of key elements that separate a successful content plan from the rest:
- Timing and frequency
The more frequently you post, the more traffic that visits your website every month. That being said, quality over quantity is always the rule to play by. If it’s more budget-wise to start off slow and share just a couple of posts a month, it might help to visit a content marketplace regularly so you can be sure to check for new quality content to share.
- Relevance and value
The content you share needs to be relevant or you won’t be able to target your ideal audience. There’s no point in picking a keyword that ranks highly if your specific audience doesn’t actually search for it. Successful content also depends on the value your content provides potential customers. If the article people read doesn’t interest them or help them solve any problems, they aren’t likely to return.
- Visual content
Don’t forget that a picture can say a thousand words. Some of the most popular forms of content marketing include how-to videos, podcasts, infographics and photos to help aid what’s written in a blog post. Depending on what information you’re sharing and who your target audience is, it can be more beneficial to invest in visual content. Be creative and entertain your audience so they return for more.
Finally, make the most of your content marketing by ensuring the keywords that your potential customers are searching for in Google and other search engines are included in your blog posts. Take the time to understand what it is your audience is looking for and if you do get content from a marketplace, don’t be afraid to edit it slightly to include those keywords and phrases.
Content marketing works for small businesses, offering a more affordable and effective long-term solution to online marketing. The benefits of an effective content marketing campaign are numerous so don’t leave it to your competitors to discover. Your potential customers are online and it’s up to you to make sure they can find you and then get the information they need when they arrive at your website.