The Ultimate Content Marketing Guide for Small Business
You’ve probably heard of content marketing, right?
Everyone is doing it. EVERYONE.
But what’s the deal, exactly? Why should you bother creating a content marketing strategy for your small business? And, more to the point, how do you get started?
We’ve got the answers to these and other burning questions on content marketing for small business in this post. Read on.
What is content marketing?
Let’s start at the very beginning. Content marketing involves creating useful, relevant material — or content — and making it available online, usually for free. As a rule, the content doesn’t explicitly promote your business. But its aim is to create awareness and interest in your business, and, ultimately, help you make more sales.
If someone were to ask you for an example of content marketing, chances are your first answer would be ‘blog posts’. And you wouldn’t be wrong. But while blog posts are important, they’re not the only component of a successful content marketing strategy.
You’ll also want to think about creating:
- Images, infographics and other visual content
- Social media posts
- Reports, ebooks or other downloadable materials
The reason for this is simple: not everyone likes to read. So, by creating content in a variety of media, you’ll improve your chances of reaching a bigger audience.
What are the benefits of content marketing for small business?
Right off the bat, content marketing looks like a lot of work, doesn’t it?
As a small business, you probably have way too much on your plate already. So why should you spend time and effort creating original content only to give it away for free?
Well, we’ll give you five reasons.
1. You’ll get more for your efforts with less money
Content marketing may need time and effort, but it doesn’t cost much money — great news when you’re a small business on a tight budget.
You can get started with content marketing yourself, without spending a penny. But even if you hire a professional, it typically costs 62 percent less than techniques such as cold calling, newspaper ads or sending out flyers in the mail (these are called outbound marketing techniques).
At the same time, despite costing less, content marketing is incredibly effective. The Content Marketing Institute reckons it generates three times more leads for every pound spent than other kinds of marketing. And those leads are six times more likely to buy from you.
2. Your business will be easier to find online
There are several reasons for this. Here are just four of them:
- The more often you update your website with new content, the more often Google will visit it (this is called indexing). In turn, the more often Google visits, the more likely your website is to rank higher in the search engine results pages.
- Posting new content regularly makes it easier for Google to understand what your website is about. This means your website is more likely to come up in search results when someone looks for information related to your industry.
- If people find your content relevant and useful, there’s a good chance they’ll share it. And the more they share it, the more they’ll spread the word about your business. It’s word-of-mouth advertising at its best.
- Publishing high-quality content regularly helps you position yourself as an authority in your field. Google is more likely to place your website at the top of relevant search results if it thinks it’s authoritative. You’ll also look more trustworthy, which brings us to the next point.
3. Customers will trust you more
And this means they’ll be more likely to buy from you.
Think about it. It’s one thing to say you’re the best accountant in the UK. But what if you could prove it, at no risk to anyone?
Well, that’s exactly what content marketing can help you do. By regularly publishing relevant and useful content, you can help people who are having trouble with an accounting or tax issue. And, you get to prove that you actually know what you’re talking about.
The result? People will start trusting you. And, if they decide they’d better hire an accountant, after all, you’ll be the first person they’ll think of.
4. You’ll form stronger relationships… and make bigger sales
Not everyone who visits your website is ready to buy. In fact, according to one study, a massive 92 percent of first-time visitors are on your website for other reasons, such as research.
Clearly, going for the hard sell won’t work in this situation. If anything, it’ll probably put them off. You’ll be much more effective if you let them get to know you and slowly earn their trust. And content marketing is how you can do this without being on the nose.
A study by Marketo found that customers with whom you’ve developed a relationship make purchases that are 47 percent larger. So, it turns out, good things do come to those who wait.
5. It encourages customers to come back
Content marketing is the perfect opportunity to stay in touch with past customers, without being salesy. Keep creating and sharing helpful content, and your customers will remember you long after you’ve made the sale.
Seeing as returning customers are 60 to 70 percent more likely to buy again, you’d be daft not to encourage them. Right?
How do I get started with content marketing?
Getting started with content marketing is easier than you might think. Here’s how to go about it, step by step.
Step 1: Identify your audience
Content marketing is about educating, informing and engaging prospective customers. But before you can do that, you need to find out who those prospective customers actually are.
The more you know about your customers, the better you’ll understand them. Which means you’ll be able to create more relevant, useful content. At a minimum, you should find out:
- Background details such their average age, gender, level of education, income, job title and role.
- Their pain points. In other words, what are the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis?
- Where do they hang out online? Do they have preferred social media networks? Or, perhaps, groups or forums?
- What are their hobbies and interests?
An easy way to collect this information is to ask your current customers. Use Typeform, SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to create a survey you can send out to them. Alternatively, you could look at your competitors to see the kind of customers they’re attracting.
Step 2: Figure out your unique selling proposition
Once you’ve discovered who your audience is, you need to find out what you have to offer them that your competitors can’t. Otherwise, you won’t get much out of your content marketing efforts.
In September 2018, users published over 70 million blog posts. And this was just on one platform — WordPress. So, if you want to stand out and catch your audience’s attention, you have to offer something they can’t get elsewhere.
This sounds like a tall order. But it’s much easier than you might think. Here are some tips to help you make your content more original:
- Use your personal experiences. For example, you could introduce a blog post about the importance of software backups by talking about a time when you spilled hot coffee all over your laptop. Or you could talk about what running a marathon taught you about preparing a presentation.
- Dig deeper. A lot of content tends to cover the basics and stop there. You can stand out — and showcase your knowledge — by tackling lesser-known aspects of a particular topic.
- Don’t be afraid to air your opinions. Disagree with what everyone else is saying? Or have a unique take on a topic that’s been done to death? Great. Not only will this make your content more original, it’ll also make you more relatable.
- Involve your audience. This can be as easy as interviewing a happy customer after you’ve delivered your service. You can then publish their feedback as a case study
Step 3: Put a plan in place
This will set out how you’ll execute your content marketing efforts. It should include:
- The type of content you’ll be creating. Are you starting a blog? Will you be creating YouTube videos? A mix? As we’ve explained above, it’s usually best to mix things up. That said, if you’re just starting out, it might be a good idea to stick to just one type of content to keep things simple. You can always experiment later.
- How often you’re going to post.
- A list of topics. This should be relevant and useful to the audience you’ve identified in step 1. It goes without saying that you should also be knowledgeable about them.
- How and when you’ll be creating content. It’s usually best to batch tasks together and set aside a specific time each week to work on them. This will help you stay on track.
Step 4: Be consistent
Content marketing isn’t a quick fix. You won’t build a relationship with your audience and win their trust overnight. First, you have to show up regularly and put in the work.
Marketing guru Neil Patel says it takes six to nine months of regular content creation to start seeing results. Think of it like starting a fire. You’ve got to build it up before it roars into life.
Content marketing tips for small business
All set to start working on content marketing for your small business? Great. But before you go, here are some final tips to help you make the most of your efforts:
- Having trouble finding topics to tackle? Use com to find out what your audience is searching for.
- Make sure your content is mobile-friendly. 4 percent of internet traffic now comes from mobile devices, which means you risk losing half your audience if your content doesn’t work well on mobile.
- Creating quality content is only half the battle. You also have to help your audience find it. A good rule of thumb is to share on social media as soon as you publish, two days later and a week later. It’s also worth sharing on other channels such as forums, LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups and Reddit subchannels.
- You can make your content work much harder by repurposing it. For example, you could use a blog post as a video script. Or turn a series of related blog posts into a downloadable e-book.
Now go start that fire.