Content has become a big part of every small business marketing plan. Most online marketing strategies rely on content because without content there is nothing to optimize for search or share for visibility. We provide 10 useful tips to help you get started with content marketing.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on the creation and promotion of quality content for your particular target audience. The key is to create content that your audience needs so that the content is found when they search to solve a particular problem. When you consistently deliver valuable and relevant content, you educate rather than sell your products and services and your audience will be more inclined to seek you out when they need help.
We know that creating quality content can help your business differentiate itself, showing people your expertise and personality. But many small businesses have trouble planning and delivering on a content marketing strategy. Although there are substantial benefits to implementing content marketing, we recognize that there are many challenges as well. Overcome the challenges and realize the benefits with these content marketing tips.
Practical content marketing tips
1. Quality over quantity
Businesses are producing a huge amount of content. For you to get attention in a very noisy and crowded market means you need to stand out. Publish only the best content you can create.
Many of us don’t have a lot of time to create content. When we do, we need to do our best work. It is far better to produce one highly researched and well written piece of content per month than posting more low quality articles. How often you post new content will be based on your available resources.
2. All content is strategic
Given that most of us don’t have the time to write just because we love it, we need to take an approach that all content needs to be strategic. We need to research the important search terms that we want to gain high rankings for and plan content accordingly.
Run an SEO report on your website to see how your website ranks for your top keywords. If there are important keywords where you aren’t ranking in the top 10, create content for those keywords. And look for questions people ask when they search. Those questions make a great topic for a piece of content.
3. Create a content plan and calendar
You will be far more successful with your content marketing strategy if you create a simple plan and content calendar. Marketers who document their strategy are 313% more likely to report success than those who don’t.
Your content plan is the high level strategy that shapes your content and should include the following:
- Audience you are writing for and what they need
- Types of content you will create
- What categories you are going to write about
- How often you will create new content
- Where you will distribute and promote the content
- What content will be cornerstone or evergreen so that it is timeless
Your content calendar can be simple and contain a list of topics and dates to publish. Or it can provide monthly themes, topics and what type of media you plan to use. If you have been publishing content, you should do a content audit first so you can determine what needs to be replaced, updated or eliminated. Also use a content marketing tool to help you organize and manage your efforts.
4. Mix up your media and vary your content types
If you like to write, great. Create blog posts with great visuals and share them on your social platforms. Many small business owners would rather not write, so record your thoughts and have a writer use the audio to create a post.
Or create videos or a podcast. The episodes don’t need to be long, just make them educational. And when you create a great piece of content, repurpose it into different content types and share on different platforms.
Determine what your audience needs and deliver it in the format that makes the most sense. Consider creating a:
- How to blog post to educate your audience on a specific topic
- Step by step guide that helps your customer solve a particular problem
- Quiz or assessment that helps your audience identify their challenge that you can solve
- Podcast where you interview experts in complementary industries
- An explainer video of how your product works or how you can fix something. Here’s a guide to help you determine if an explainer video is right for you. And here’s a nifty video marketing checklist to make sure you can perfect your video marketing strategy.
A variety of content delivered on different media types keep people interested in what you have to say. By choosing the right piece of content for the problem you are helping to solve, you will connect with people who need what you have to offer.
5. Tell stories
People love stories. The way you tell them can affect people differently depending on their situation. We’re not talking about fictitious stories however. If you are a veteran in your industry, you have a lot of experiences that can help others. Attorneys, CPAs, financial planners can turn education into interesting stories. They can take the form of case studies showing how you helped a client resolve a problem.
Stories can make an emotional connection, build trust or provide a motivation to do something. Talk about why you chose a certain solution and how it helped resolve a customer’s problem.
6. Include calls to action (CTA)
People need to be encouraged to take action. A call to action is active copy that elicits an immediate response. You are inviting them to do something. It could be watch a video, sign up for your email list, learn more about your services or download a useful piece of content.
CTAs are used in all aspects of marketing and will vary based on your industry. Don’t include just any call to action. Make sure you try to match your CTA to what the content is about so there isn’t a disconnect. For example, if you are writing about how to see if you have roof damage after a hail storm, make your call to action an offer to do a free inspection on your roof.
7. Don’t forget about email
It’s not all about social media distribution. Build an email list and regularly share content with your subscribers. A quality email list enables you to reach interested subscribers on your terms. If they have joined your mailing list, this audience is far more interested in your business than those who might see a post on social media.
Create a customer email list and share content that will help them. Don’t let your customers forget about you. Sending them a regular newsletter with helpful tips and special offers will keep your business visible. And depending on your business, these offers will encourage customers to purchase more.
8. Pay attention to visuals and formatting
If you are writing content, visuals and formatting are important for readability. A wall of text in small font sizes is not inviting. People want to scan your content quickly to see if they are interested in the topic. In addition, people are visual creatures. Images, graphics and videos can break up the text to make it easier for people to consume.
Make sure you incorporate white space in your content. Larger fonts, using ordered lists, breaking up paragraphs and adding images and videos to your content makes for a better user experience.
9. Promote your content
If you write a great blog post but nobody sees it, what’s the point? Put all of your valuable content on your website and then promote and share it so that it gets the attention it deserves.
Share your content on the right social media channels for your business including Google My Business. Email your content to your subscribers. And see if you can find a place to syndicate your content for a broader reach.
There are many tools to help you automate your marketing including:
- Lead generation – Use email auto-responders to create a sequence of emails to those who sign up for your lead magnet. These email sequences can keep a new subscriber engaged with your content.
- Blog post publication – Write a month’s worth of blog posts and schedule them to publish while you are away. WordPress enables this quite easily.
- Social media posts – Use automation tools like Buffer or HootSuite to schedule post to go out at the most appropriate times for your target audience. I use Buffer and love the ability to set different schedules for each social media platform. I can easily share content using the Buffer extension for Chrome.
Knowing that you have your content written, lead generation funnels automated and posts scheduled can get you through your
11. Get help
Be realistic in how much time you can spend on content marketing based on your resources. If creating content isn’t your strength, consider outsourcing to someone who can produce the content and distribute it for you. Oversee the process so what is being created aligns with your vision and beliefs. You could also find a marketing agency that specializes in inbound marketing, helping you incorporate content marketing in with search and social.
All businesses have plenty of content to share, but many just don’t realize that what they know or do is valuable. Understand what your potential customers want and in what format and share your knowledge. Take advantage of these content marketing tips and invest now in your content marketing strategy.