What Does Content Marketing Mean, And How Will You Use It For Your Small Business?
If you do a quick content audit of your favorite brands, you will notice they have loads of content. Truly great brands connect every blog, podcast episode, social media post, and email into a more encompassing strategy known as a content marketing plan. We see it all the time in successful businesses, but do you know why content marketing is important for your growing your brand?
What Does Content Marketing Mean?
We’ll take it from the Content Marketing Institute itself. Content marketing is:
“a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Content can and will drive sales, create connections with your audience, and deliver value that’s worthwhile to your customers if a proper content strategy is planned and executed.
It might seem that content marketing for small businesses can seem a bit far fetched and overwhelming as a small business owner–especially if you don’t know where to start. You may also assume it’s too expensive or seem like it’s a time suck with no clear benefit.
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 three times as many leads.
Content marketing is modern marketing, so it can’t be pushed aside any longer. It has fostered the reality we’re now operating in. From well-researched papers to your favorite podcast series, content is changing the relationship between brand and customer.
As a business, investing in high-quality content can lead to major growth. A well-strategized marketing plan generates leads, retains more customers, and builds more customer loyalty through genuine relationships and engagement.
Content Marketing For Small Businesses: How To Get Started
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 memorable, engaging 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
Before you jump into a blank Word Doc, give your content direction. If your blog posts seem to wander aimlessly around vaguely relevant topics, then it’s harder for your audience to latch onto your brand’s voice, or what you’re really about. 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.
- 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 over time in order to successfully engage with your audience and stay relevant. 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.
Develop 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 fit in one of three stages: Awareness Phase, Consideration Phase, or Decision Phase.
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:
The buyer is actively looking for answers, resources, education, research data, opinions, and insight. Focus on providing more information about your products and brands. Create and distribute: eBooks, Webinars, Checklists, How-To Videos, Long-form Blog Posts
At this point, potential customers are evaluating your brand and solutions further. Provide more detailed information that displays the value of your brand on a deeper level. Create: Product Webinars, Free Samples, FAQs, Free Demos, and Infographics.
At this phase, customers are preparing to make a purchase. Help them make the purchase by creating Free Trials, Demos, Calls to Action, Micro-conversions, and Downloads.
If you create more engaging content to guide people to a purchase (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, podcasts, blogs, 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 counterintuitive 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 for small businesses can bring traffic to a not-yet-established brand. It can progress 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:
Join groups that are relevant to your brand, be part of 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
- Number of shares
- Amount 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: An 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.
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 are experts in content marketing and understand why content marketing is important small businesses. We can craft your content marketing plan, engage with your audience and help your business grow.