Content Marketing Is The New Marketing, How Will You Use Content Marketing For Small Businesses?
If you do a quick content audit of your favorite brands, you will notice they have loads of content. Every blog, podcast episode, social media post, and email are part of a larger content marketing plan.
Content marketing for small businesses can seem too far fetched for some business owners. They may think it’s too expensive or seem like it’s a time suck with no clear benefit.
But more and more brands are using content marketing as their primary marketing technique. Why? Because it works. According to DemandMetric, content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing, but it generates 3 times as many leads.
Content marketing is modern marketing, so it can’t be pushed aside any longer. Content marketing has fostered the reality we’re now operating in. From well-researched papers to your favorite podcast series, content is changing the relationship between the brand and customer.
As a business, investing in high-quality content can lead to major growth. Content marketing generates leads, retains more customers, and builds more customer loyalty through genuine relationships and engagement.
How To Get Started With Your Content Marketing Plan
Content marketing is the secret to understanding your customers, but producing content yourself is a choice. You can either choose to put in the time and effort required to create great content, or you can hire content marketing specialists to tackle the project for you.
If you’re opting to give this a go on your own, follow these steps for creating engaging content that can help your small business grow.
Create a Branded Content Strategy
Give your content direction. If your content is wandering aimlessly, then it’s harder for your audience to latch on to your larger, more encompassing idea. We want all pieces of content to connect, like a web of ideas that uphold a larger topic, value, or philosophy that resonates with your audience while addressing a marketing goal.
A well-designed content strategy will guide your brand to meet or exceed its goals. Here are a few tips and tricks to create content worth reading.
- Create content that solves a problem, answers a question, or engages your reader while supporting your brand and business goals. For example, let’s say you own a natural cleaning products company. Through market research, you see that 10% of your audience is (or will be) moving in the next year. You could write a post about moving the eco-friendly way and feature your natural cleaning products.
- Targeted content is some of the most effective content a brand can create. Speak to your customers needs and desires, which you will mine and analyze through market research. Use that as inspiration for your content strategy.
- Make sure your content strategy aligns with your brand messaging. Every video, social media post, blog post, email campaign, (no matter what type of content) needs to be true to your brand.
Like any other plan, your content strategy will need tweaking in order to become successful. Update your content strategy regularly (bi-monthly works for many of our clients) to reflect new market research and the ever-changing goals of the company.
Create Content For Every Stage of The Buyer’s Journey
Once you have mined and analyzed deep insights about your customers, develop content that resonates with them on different stages of the buyer’s journey. A buyer’s journey involves a systematic pattern that includes collecting information about products, comparing different products, analyzing the products, then finally making the buying decision. When creating content for every stage of the buyer’s journey, you will notice they will be in one of three stages:
- Awareness: The buyer is actively looking for answers, resources, education, research data, opinions, and insight
- Consideration: The buyer’s doing heavy research on whether or not your product or service is a good fit for them
- Decision: The buyer is figuring out exactly what it would take to become a customer
Once you understand your customer’s unique process through these stages, you can lead them to conversion successfully.
Here are some examples of content for each stage of the buyer’s journey:
- 15-second videos
- Customer stories
- Free downloads
- Free trials
If you create more engaging content (think yellow brick road versus boring old cobblestone), you will find that it will have a positive impact on your customer relationships.
Tell a Story
Humans are wired for stories. A good story provides us with an entertaining context for learning something new. When people connect to your brand’s stories through video, podcast, blog, or social media, they connect to your brand message on a deeper level.
In order to engage your reader, tell a story that takes the reader on a journey. Frame your calls to action within an emotionally evocative story that touches on your audience’s pain points and needs.
This will help you deliver content that doesn’t feel like marketing. Craft stories that inspire awe, laughter, and amusement, as these are the most “shareable” emotions. Emotions are the key driver in why we share content.
Keep your ears tuned into the buzz in your community (neighborhood, city, state, nation). When you hear the buzz, it will help you create more timely content that’s based on relevant news, holidays, and events.
Use social media “live” features to show your attendance at community events and create timely content. Also, when commenting on other brands posts, don’t be afraid to call upon your wit. Humor is tied to authenticity, which is huge for growing your business through content marketing.
Remember to keep the dialogue running and engage with your audience through comments and DMs as well. A word of caution: stay away from controversial and political issues if it does not align with your brand.
Pitch With Personality and Emotion
No one wants to follow a brand that only pitches products and services to them. People follow a brand because they can identify with what the brand stands for or represents to them. You might think that it’s counter-intuitive to let your guard down when creating content, but authentic emotions effectively connect businesses to their customers.
When customers are researching brands, they focus on the brand’s philosophy and whether or not they are being authentic in their storytelling. If your message is direct and energetic, fueled by empathy and authenticity, then your customers will assume your business is the real deal.
Optimize Your Content
After you have created your content strategy plan, it’s time to optimize your content. An effective strategy for optimization is to start with keyword and user intent research. Once your keywords and local SEO is dialed-in, your website will guide users through the funnel so they can locate content that will most effectively lead to conversions.
Promote Your Content
Content marketing can bring traffic to your brand and progress your business goals, but only if you take the right steps. If you want your content to find the people who need it, be proactive with promoting content.
Here are three promotional tactics to get your brand noticed:
- Social Media – Join groups that are relevant to your brand, join their conversations, and suggest your content naturally. Facebook is a great way to dig deeper into a social platform and target your niche audience.
- Sign Up For Speaking Engagements – Promote your brand through industry events, conferences, festivals, TED Talks or online through webinars and videos. Give your customers insight and engage with them to create conversations about your brand.
- Connect With Influencers Outside of Social – Social media is not the only place to target influencers. Write a blog for a brand that promotes the same values as your business, and partner with brands within your community.
Some strategies may work better than others, so adjust your strategy as you go.
Measure Your Success
What do you mean your content strategy isn’t “working?” In general, this means you need to measure your success. Measuring content effectively can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. The most effective way to measure your success is to establish KPIs and monitor them. Knowing your core KPIs is critical to understanding how your work impacts overarching company goals. Some standard KPIs include:
- Average clicks per minute
- Average shares
- Number of followers gained/lost
- Leads generation through content
You can measure your KPIs through website analytics and intelligence software. There are plenty of tools to help you stay on top of your content marketing. Of course, if software isn’t your thing, or you don’t have time to track your progress, you can hire brand marketing specialists to help you stay on track.
Here are a few analytic programs to help measure your success:
- Google Analytics – Using Google Analytics will help you understand your websites traffic, navigation summary, traffic from organic search, and conversations your customers are having.
- Email Marketing Analytics – Your email list consists of people who signed up because they are interested in your brand. Your brand is six times more likely to get a click from an email campaign than a tweet.
- SEO Research Software – Knowing which keywords or questions to add into your content will help your brand stand out. Use SEO software to help you know which keywords will drive the most traffic.
- Social Media Analytics – As social media marketing has grown, the number of tools to analyze your efforts has skyrocketed. Whether you want data on your brands performance on a specific campaign, social media analytics will help you grow your brand.
Looking For Content Help? That’s Us!
If creating and executing your own content marketing plan gives you the willies, we can help. Our strategists and storytellers specialize in content marketing for small businesses. We can craft your content marketing plan, engage with your audience and help your business grow.