How to Create an Effective Content Marketing Strategy: for Small Businesses
Content marketing for small businesses is a must.
Launching a successful marketing campaign is the goal of any small business that wants to grow and build a solid customer base. Without effective marketing, there are zero chances of getting the right customers and creating a long term business.
However, since small businesses do not enjoy the luxuries of big, more established enterprises. They may find it more difficult to make their marketing campaigns pay off. They’re forced to stick to limited strategies due to the lack of funds and access to a bigger, trained staff. It’s also possible that they don’t have the needed experience and knowledge to strategize and execute their marketing efforts. This can become a major hurdle for them.
The good thing is, the challenges a small business faces can be overcome with a bit of planning and proper strategizing in the right direction. While there are many marketing methods your business can experiment with, content marketing for small businesses is one method that is not only cost-effective but also highly result oriented. In fact according to recent reports, more than 90% of online marketers are using content to make their first move on their audience. And 72% of them stated that their engagement has improved because of it. Indeed, a small business can launch a content marketing campaign and expect growth with a minimal investment.
Content marketing for small businesses can help you:
Establish and maintain a successful brand identity that your audience connects with
Gain competitive advantage over competitors not using content marketing
Create a long-term, trustworthy relationship with customers and prospects
Position itself as a field expert or thought leader in the minds of customers and competitors
Consistently generate more website traffic and better exposure to products/services without a huge investment
Convert more website visitors into leads and sales. According to a research done by Demand Gen, 66% of consumers are doing product research first before purchasing. This figure has increased up to 5% which means there are more consumers now who see the value of product research.
Achieve higher media visibility and a better return on both, monetary and time investment
But still, there are areas of content marketing that may feel alien or difficult. This is why it makes sense to have a strong strategy in place that can help your small business propel without any big risks.
In fact, according to a research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, having a documented content marketing strategy lets you:
Change your mindset and gain more confidence in your ability to do content marketing
Find the overall idea of content marketing easier and less challenging
Achieve better clarity and see yourself as more effective when working with content marketing
Get more comfortable investing a significant part of your market budget in content marketing
As time goes by, you can re-invest in content marketing to get even better results.
What is a Content Marketing Strategy and Why You Should Have One?
Content marketing, as defined by the Content Marketing Institute, “is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Content marketing for small businesses gets less tricky when you have a strategy that embodies your overall vision. And gives you the needed clarity on how to execute your campaign — right from how you will go about creating content to publishing it to promoting it.
When it comes to content marketing for small businesses, the benefits of having a strong strategy are many. Let’s look into three of them:
1. Your content marketing efforts will give better results if you know what types of content to create and make sure it matches with the expectations of your target audience. Having a firm content strategy helps you do just that.
2. Since content marketing requires an investment of time and/or money, you have to ensure that you’re doing it right. Your content strategy lets you plan your content and make it stand out from the competition.
3. Last but not the least, a proper content marketing strategy gives you a bird’s view of your business goals and a better understanding of what your audience wants. This way you won’t be aiming in the dark with any of your marketing efforts.
According to Hubspot, only 37% businesses claim to have a content marketing strategy in place. Which means, by creating and executing a content marketing strategy, you can potentially gain a definite edge over your competition.
5 Essential Steps to Creating an Effective Content Marketing Strategy
Building strong relationships is the goal of any business that wants to flourish. And starting great relationships begins with being helpful to your target audience. By creating content that your community can connect with, your brand becomes more relatable.
The level of relationship that you share with your audience depends on how consistently you are able to provide useful content to them. Being there for your community when they need you and answering their questions on a consistent basis helps your brand create an aura around it that your followers can rely on. This in turn benefits your business because your target audience begins to trust your brand.
Being a business owner, you should know that people are comfortable buying products and services from brands that they trust. Your content becomes a bridge between your brand and your audience. And in the process improves your sales numbers. Content marketing for small businesses is a process that only gives results when approached strategically.
So when you are creating content, you should create it because it is necessary for solving a problem. It has to be needed by your target audience and actually be helpful.
However, when it comes to using content marketing for small businesses, you cannot just rely on creating great content. You need to consider more important things and go deeper in order to take steps that truly benefit your business.
Your content marketing strategy should give you the clarity that is required at each step of creating, sharing and promoting your content.
Given below are 5 essential steps that you need to follow to create a small business content marketing strategy that works.
Step #1: Define Your Content Marketing Objectives
Creating great content is definitely a part of a successful content marketing strategy. However, content marketing for small businesses goes beyond creating content. Because it is not enough to create. It is also important to know what you are creating. And how you will be achieving your business goals with the help of your content.
Content marketing can get complicated if you are unclear about how you want to go about it. Getting utmost clarity is extremely important, which is why you should outline your content marketing objectives and define them before actually starting work on your content.
Now, the question is how do you create content marketing goals objectives that align with your overall business goals? How do you focus on reaching these objectives once you have set them?
Here’s how you define your content marketing objectives:
1. Know the Purpose of Your Content
2. Create a Detailed Plan of Action
3. Have a Backup Plan In Place
While producing quality content should be one of your top priorities, it should not be done at the expense of defining your content marketing objectives. Your content marketing strategy can make or break your campaign, which is it should be carefully crafted and executed.
Step #2: Know Your Target Audience
Understanding your target audience and their wants is crucial for finding success with content marketing for small businesses. It’s one of most important steps you need to take to create a solid foundation for your content.
Here’s are three things you need to do to learn more about your target audience before moving to the next steps.
1. Focus on Your Best Customer First
If your content marketing is focused in the wrong direction, you will find it difficult to see results. This is why it makes sense to choose one customer segment with your most appropriate or best customer, and focus on it. By doing this, you will be able to tailor your marketing efforts better by creating a proper buyer persona.
2. Know What Your Customers Truly Care About
One advantage of using content marketing is that it can help you gain more awareness of your customer’s journey towards a purchase. How? When you create content, you are forced to learn about their unique situation or what they stand for. You will surely not do it based on assumption.
You may want to go a step further and try to understand what your customers care most about. Try to look into their problems, agitations, motivations and pain points. You can do so by creating buyer personas and analyzing their buyer journey.
3. Have Small Conversion Goals
Knowing your customers and their buyer journey is useless if you don’t know what actions you want them to take after reading or viewing your content. Every action that leads them towards a purchase, becomes a conversion.
The goal of your content marketing campaign is to convert more of your prospects into customers, which is why your content marketing strategy should have small yet clearly laid out conversion goals.
Here’s what a typical content marketing conversion funnel looks like:
The content marketing strategy that you create for your small business goes a long way in getting you the results your company needs. And like any small business these results lead towards converting and retaining customers. Which is having meaningful conversion goals is a must.
Step #3: Create Content for Each Business Objective
Day by day, content marketing for small businesses is becoming important for generating quality leads and higher sales. Which is why your business should seek to incorporate well-crafted content into your marketing strategy.
However, the content that you create should help you grow and reach business goals. You need to connect your content marketing efforts to your main business objectives. Or else there’s no use producing it.
While it is critical to create good content, it should not be done aimlessly. Your organization or business should also have a solid intention behind creating it. Don’t create it just for the heck of it.
Aim to publish content that helps you achieve the following three real business objectives:
Objective #1: Generate Awareness
Creating awareness is the first step towards building the relationship with your target audience. If your audience is not aware about your product or the company behind it, then it will be difficult for you to generate leads and close sales.
In order to create solid awareness, you should work on producing informative content around your target keywords or topics. Because that’s the only way you will be able to attract prospective customers who are already looking for a product or service similar to yours.
Examples of such content include social reviews comma blog articles and positive customers’ testimonials.
Objective #2: Demonstrate Expertise
Showcasing your expertise in your niche will help you connect with your audience on a higher level. Your target customers will see you as someone they can trust and do business with. Every organisation or company has a unique solution or story to share. And yours is no different. Which is why you should create content that educate your audience and help them realize that what you offer is different than your competition.
If you fail to educate and teach, your prospects will start comparing you on other grounds such as pricing. Your aim should be to use content to demonstrate your knowledge and industry experience so that it becomes easy to convert more of your prospects into customers. Doing content marketing for small businesses becomes easier after building authority.
Examples of such content include eBooks, case studies and newsletter.
Objective #3: Get Referrals
Every business needs referrals to grow. The whole process of getting a referral from your customers become simpler when you have a formalized process laid down.
Remember, when you interact with your prospective customers, you have the opportunity to use or integrate referral content into each of your interaction. This not only helps you to generate more referrals but also creates a positive image in the minds of your customer. They begin to see your referral content as a way to help others in their network.
Examples of such content include gift certificate, coupon and referral videos.
Step #4: Aim to Produce Shareable Content
Look around social media, and you will find one thing common amongst its users and that is the desire to share content that is worth it. Content marketing for small businesses works only when you produce such shareable content.
While there are many reasons for people to share social media content, there are certain triggers that motivate them to do so. Being a business, you should utilize the following triggers to increase the chances of getting more shares for your content.
1. Social Validation
There is a strong and undeniable desire inside all of us to seek approval from others. Or a need to be accepted amongst peer groups. Which eventually pushes us to take decisions and form opinions. This is the exact need that makes us look for social validation around us.
You can boost the number of shares your content receives by making sure your sharing button displays the number of total shares received. These buttons also need to be clearly visible to anyone consuming your content.
A study carried out by Ipsos shows that 61% of social media users share things that are interesting and 43% share things that are funny. The remaining 29% tend to share content that they find unique.
Content that brings out strong emotions such as excitement, delight, astonishment and anger happens to get shared more on social media networks. Any content that evokes low or demotivating emotions like sadness doesn’t get as many shares.
As a company, you should try to create content that is reactive in nature. In other words, try to tap into the right emotions in your target audience with the help of your content. Write headlines that are not only attractive but also create a sense of curiosity. An effective way to touch the emotions of your prospective customers is to share stories with your content so that it becomes more shareable.
3. Practical Use
Many social media users are motivated to share content based on how useful it is. People want to help their network and add something positive to the lives of others comma which is why they give importance to the usefulness of the content before sharing it.
This just goes on to show that creating helpful content such as a how to guide can prove to be a great way to generate more social shares. See to it that the content that you create answers the burning questions posed by your target audience. And at the same time teach complex ideas in an easy to understand manner. This gives your social media followers a reason to share your content, and at the same time helps attract search engine traffic.
Step #5: Track Content Marketing KPIs
Content marketing for small businesses is a game that cannot played blindly. You have to ensure that every step that you are taking with your content is calculated. This helps brings down the overall risk of putting efforts in the wrong direction.
Regardless of whether your business has been using content marketing extensively, or you are completely new to it, you have to keep critical data and analytics in the forefront. This is the only way that you will be able get a better return on your investment in the long run.
Key performance indicators or KPIs are crucial for executing a successful content marketing strategy. In order to generate the right kind of results you need to know and evaluate the proper metrics on a regular basis.
KPIs may seem complicated at first but once you understand them, you’ll see they’re simple. These metrics are the backbone of any content marketing plan. Identifying and tracking your KPIs will give you more clarity and equip you with knowledge that is necessary to make your content marketing work.
Let’s look into some of the common key performance indicators that you should use to measure your content marketing efforts.
KPI #1: Total Visits
The number of people that visited your website and consumed your content is a crucial KPI to keep a tab on. Your objective is to create content that helps you consistently increase the total number of visits that your website receives on a monthly basis.
If your content fails to attract targeted traffic, then the next step it be to tweak it to help you achieve your goal. Although the total website visits may be impacted by other external factors, but by measuring this KPI you will specifically know how your content is performing.
KPI #2: Bounce Rate
A lot of business that use content marketing ignore the importance of bounce rate — which is nothing but the percentage of visitors that hit the exit button without exploring other pages on your site. Having a high bounce rate means your content is not performing the way it is to perform.
However, there is no optimal percentage of bounce rate as it is influenced by multiple factors. Your bounce rate may vary, depending on the type of campaign you’re running and the industry that you’re operating in.
KPI #3: Conversion Rate
Tracking the conversion rate is important for any business that wants to improve its sales numbers with the help of content. The conversion rate is simply the percentage of users who take action that you want them to take such as join your newsletter, buy your product, etc. Your aim should be to achieve a conversion rate that matches or is higher than industry standards.
Doing content marketing for small businesses is one thing. But getting successful, measurable results is something else. In order to make sure your content marketing efforts pay off, you need to create content that not only attracts customers but also helps you retain them.
Knowing how to execute a content marketing strategy for your small business is definitely something that every small business should aim for. However, do keep in mind that even after you plan every step of your content marketing journey, there will be uncertain times. So you should be ready to face obstacles and challenges that you didn’t plan for.
Sometimes you may have to change the course of your action and move in a direction that was previously unknown or uncalled for. Which is okay as long as you’re progressing. This is the only way you will be able to stay ahead of the competition and create a strong foundation for your content marketing endeavors.
If you need help implementing your content strategy, contact us today!
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Zinora Media.