Content marketing holds promise for small businesses. In this in-depth article, we look at the opportunities with content marketing and look at the best content marketing strategies. Did you know 90% of marketers rely on content marketing? Are you aware more than 60% of marketers plan to increase spending on content marketing in 2023?
Content marketing is the easiest path to success as businesses get more digital in the post-covid world. Building brand awareness, boosting sales, and increasing engagement are the primary goals behind running content marketing campaigns.
Content marketing has been the backbone of digital marketing for more than a decade. However, in recent years small businesses have realized the opportunities with this marketing strategy. Small businesses that deploy effective content marketing strategies gain an edge over their competitors. It helps them carve out a niche space for themselves in the competitive market.
From building trust to generating leads and increasing online visibility, content marketing is the most effective digital marketing strategy for small businesses. In this detailed guide, we shall discuss the importance of content marketing for small businesses and look at the best content marketing strategies.
What is Content Marketing?
Before we look at the benefits of content marketing and discuss the best content marketing strategies, let us start by defining content marketing for the uninitiated. It is a strategic marketing approach that relies on content creation and distribution to promote a brand and its products and services. In this marketing strategy, brands communicate their story, ideas, and vision to the audience using content.
Content marketing establishes a business as a thought leader and helps build trust among the target audience. While content marketing has become the go-to marketing tool in the digital world, it predates the Internet. Businesses have used offline content marketing strategies such as promotional newspaper articles, billboards, banners etc. When done right, content marketing adds to brand equity and brand trust.
Why do Small Businesses Need to Invest in Content Marketing?
All businesses have two primary goals – to increase sales and profit and increase their customer base. Content marketing is the easiest path to both of these goals. Here are six reasons small businesses need to invest in content marketing.
- Boosts Visibility
You know the importance of online visibility in the digital age. Like other small businesses, you need to run an SEO campaign to make your brand discoverable to potential customers. Google and other search engines value high-quality and unique content. Hence, content marketing is the best way to increase your website’s search engine rankings and traffic. Your website can rank high on the search engines through content marketing.
- Builds Brand Authority
The small business ecosystem is inherently competitive. To stay ahead of this competition, you must build brand authority. By employing the right content marketing strategies, you build your brand authority. Large enterprises spend millions of dollars on advertising. Since you don’t have the same luxury, content marketing is the best approach as it helps earn customers’ trust and sets up your core competence in the market.
- Increase Sales
The health of your business is judged by its sales figures. More sales equal more profits and an increased share of the market. Quality content acts like a magnet and generates high-intent leads. Quality content attracts customer attention, and when they read your blogs or other content materials, they know your products, expertise, and USP. It is easier to convert such leads than sell your products to uninitiated people.
- Improves ROI
Like most other small businesses, you have a limited marketing budget. The success of your marketing campaigns rests on how well you are spending this budget. Content marketing is the most cost-effective means of marketing. Unlike ads which are displayed for a limited time based on the platform and your budget, content is forever, and hence it offers recurring returns.
- Market Exploration
Most small businesses have an extended market segment within their industry that they don’t explore. For instance, selling seeds and plants might be a natural extension if you run a gardening tools store. Your lack of presence in this market may be due to your lack of awareness of the demand. Content marketing allows you to explore new markets. You get a sense of the demand if you see engagement on your content related to markets you wish to explore.
- Generates Income Stream
Content marketing can create a new stream of income for your business. Developing quality content needs research; over time, you can build a goldmine of information for your target audience. For example, if you publish blogs on gardening tips and have dozens of informative blogs, you can convert it into an e-book and sell it to interested people. If you explore these options creatively, you can have a new source of revenue.
Content Marketing Strategies to Explore
Content comes in different forms, and audiences respond to them differently. Some forms of content may cut ice with certain audiences, while other businesses must explore different options. Depending on your business type and your target audience, here are the content marketing strategies you can explore.
It is the most widely used content marketing strategy. Blogs are low-hanging fruit in content marketing and allow your business to increase online visibility and authority in the market. Publishing informative and engaging blogs increases your website’s traffic and helps earn the target audience’s trust. Find the highest-searched keywords related to your industry and products and create blogs around them. It has the potential to turn a random visitor into a paying customer.
- Social Media Posts
Social media posts are a great way of increasing your brand’s following and engagement among the fast-growing online community. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn have billions of users. Posting news and information on your products or commenting on the latest industry developments is an excellent way of engaging users. Understand the dynamics of these mediums to leverage them. Facebook and LinkedIn are good for long-form content, while Instagram and Pinterest are excellent visual mediums.
Listicles are popular as people constantly search using keywords such as “5 best ways…” or “Top 10…”. Websites like Buzzfeed have built an audience using this strategy, and you should try the same. Choose trending topics and create listicles around them. It is the best way to make your content viral and grow your brand organically in a competitive world.
When it comes to explaining complex topics, you can try Infographics. In this content marketing strategy, you use visuals and a few lines of text to explain complex ideas. Stats, product features, and installation guides are best delivered using infographics. They are user-friendly and easy to understand, making them go viral on the Internet.
- Interactive Content
Interactive content has gained currency in the last few years and enjoys a higher engagement rate than static content. This type of content is best for users interested in your products. Adding forms to your website or using a quiz or other forms of content adds to the user experience. Interactive content lets you collect your users’ contact information and increases sales prospects.
- How To Guides
Most people turn to the Internet to find answers to their problems. From a malfunctioning laptop to a gardening tool that has gone wrong, people need solutions to their problems. Create how-to guides aligned to your core business and help users with their problems. It proves your expertise and can attract new customers to your door.
YouTube is the second most popular website in the world after Google. Videos account for 80% of consumer Internet traffic. Faster data and increasing penetration of smartphones have made videos the most widely consumed content on the Internet. Add the new craze of reels and other short videos, and you have the perfect recipe for success in promoting your business.
- Case Studies
Customers demand social proof, and it is best delivered using case studies. Case studies are the best way to portray your expertise in the industry. In this form of content marketing, you use your business’ success stories to attract new clients. You highlight a problem the client faced and how your products or services solved it.
It is one of the newer forms of content marketing gaining fast popularity. It requires minimal investment and can help explain complex topics and ideas to your audience. However, this marketing strategy doesn’t help all businesses, but when it does, it can bring you new customers and create business opportunities.
Whitepapers have detailed information on a subject backed by research, data, and stats. They discuss the subject in greater detail than an average blog. While this content marketing strategy isn’t practical for all small businesses, if your business is in the tech or scientific research industry, it can be an excellent tool to attract attention and open up new business opportunities.
They are one of the oldest types of content marketing strategies. Newsletters are a powerful tool as they are delivered to the mailbox directly. You don’t have to wait for your target audience to discover them, as with social media posts or blogs. To succeed with newsletters, you must focus on increasing subscriptions, choosing optimal frequency, and delivering informative and value-oriented content to your subscribers.
How To Implement A Content Marketing Campaign
We have already looked at the benefits of content marketing for small businesses and discussed the different content types to explore. It is time to build a content marketing plan that helps your business gain a larger market share and increase profits. Here’s a 10-step plan to implement a successful content marketing campaign –
1 – Set Business Goals
A content marketing strategy pays back when you have clear goals. Start the campaign by setting business goals. These goals can range from growing sales to increasing newsletter subscriptions or followers on your social media handles. The absence of goals will prevent you from measuring the success of your campaign.
2 – Predefine KPIs
Once you have set your business goals, you need to define your KPIs. Key Performance Indicators help measure the performance of your content marketing strategies. They let you make strategic decisions based on the campaign’s performance and offer insights into its progress towards intended goals. Depending on the goals of your campaign, you can track the following KPIs –
- Traffic/Page Views
- Downloads & Subscriptions
- Leads & Conversion
- Engagement/Time Spent on Page
- Bounce Rate
- Followers and more…
3 – Identify Target Audience
Once you know whom to target, you can create tailored content marketing campaigns. Identifying your target audience is key to success in any marketing campaign. While a big audience would see your content, you need to identify the ideal customer based on their needs, preferences, purchasing power, and other demographic factors. For example, if you run an Italian restaurant, you will waste your time targeting people who are looking for Mexican food! So, carry out thorough market research and identify your target audience.
- Research Your Competitors – Your campaign doesn’t run in a vacuum and will always be benchmarked against your rivals. Study your competitors’ content marketing strategies and learn from their strengths and mistakes. It is important to understand that you won’t be up against only your traditional rivals within your geography but many others in the digital ecosystem.
- Choose Content Channels – Choosing the right channels for delivering the content is critical to the success of your campaign. The best content marketing strategies can fail when you choose the wrong channel. For example, if you are a B2B business, LinkedIn will be a better place to share your content than Instagram! When you wish to share visual content, Instagram and Pinterest are the best options. In short, choose the delivery channel based on where your target audience is and the type of content you are marketing.
- Content Development – This is the most crucial step in your marketing campaign. Your content must resonate with the audience and trigger a desire for your products and services. Depending on the type of content you choose for your campaign, it can take days and weeks to create them. For example, a social media post may take minutes to draft and post, while whitepapers and case studies take weeks. The audience will judge your campaign and your brand on the quality of the content, and hence you cannot make any compromises.
- Setting A Schedule – Scheduling content is vital for the success of your campaign. Depending on the goals of your campaign, you must create a schedule and follow it religiously. If you are publishing blogs, you need to do it once every week. Publishing occasionally won’t attract your audience or impress Google’s search spiders. Publishing too many too often may see your regular readers skip them. For seasonal campaigns like Black Friday sales, you must create the buzz weeks in advance and build audience interest. As the day nears, you need to go aggressive with the campaign.
- Content Testing – Not all content marketing strategies work equally for all businesses. For instance, a company selling scientific tools would do well to create long-form blogs with detailed explanations. In contrast, a travel company may see more engagement in posting stunning images of destinations on Instagram. Hence, you must test different types of content across channels and measure the engagement and conversion rate. Run an A/B Test to find your business’s best channels and content marketing strategies.
- Tracking & Analytics – Content marketing is a long-term strategy, and you must track the progress and success of the campaign at various stages. Measure the campaign’s success against the predefined KPIs using the best analytics tools. Track KPIs such as growth in traffic, engagement, and conversions as they signal the success of the campaign. Benchmark your results against industry standards to get an accurate picture of your campaign’s progress.
- Refining Strategy – No content marketing strategy is perfect, and your campaign always has room for improvement. An in-depth analysis of the campaign gives you insights into its strengths and weaknesses of the campaign. Identify the missed opportunities and refine your campaign to leverage them. If specific strategies and channels aren’t performing as desired, focusing on channels and strategies delivering returns would be wise.
Content marketing is one of the most powerful marketing strategies. It has a low entry barrier and is highly cost-effective when you put your heart into the campaign and work on the most rewarding content marketing strategies. However, content marketing doesn’t promise returns unless you know your audience, create the right message and choose the right platform to deliver them.
Like most small business owners, you may find content marketing detracting you from the day-to-day affairs of managing your business. Hence, you must hire a professional team to ideate and execute your content marketing strategies.
If you are looking for a partner to turn content marketing to take your business to the next level, at Cyrusson Inc., you have the perfect fit. We are a full-stack marketing agency specializing in content marketing, SEO, Social Media Marketing, and Reputation Management, to name a few. We stand apart from the rest with our expertise in managing campaigns for small businesses. Call us for a free consultation now, and we will take your story to the customers with tailored content marketing strategies.