As a small business owner, you’ve probably heard that content is king. What exactly does that mean in terms of conversions and profitability? Can content marketing for small businesses result in effective revenue generation and long-term stability? Let’s see what the data says:
- In the B2B realm, 75 percent of buyers say that their decisions are influenced by content (nearly 93 percent of customers report that they value vendors capable of demonstrating their knowledge and experience through content creation)
- 47 percent of buyers view anywhere between three to five pieces of content before contacting a sales rep
- In 2017, 53 percent of marketers said that quality blog post creation was their top inbound marketing strategy
All of these numbers sound really promising but the picture may look somewhat different when you have a small online business or a local shop and you can’t afford to compete with larger companies or entire marketing teams. The truth of the matter is that you don’t have to!
Content marketing for small businesses is all about demonstrating your knowledge, values and passion. If you’re willing to share this knowledge with prospects, you’ll be investing in the long-term establishment of brand recognition.
In the beginning, reaching your content marketing goals is not going to be an easy task. Engaging content that is tailored to the company’s specific needs can be difficult to produce, even for experienced marketers. Still, the benefits of content marketing far outweigh the costs, which is why you should give the inbound strategy a try. The following guide will acquaint you with some of the best content marketing benefits for small business practices.
Content Marketing for Small Businesses: Why Get into It?
How is content marketing different from the traditional outbound advertising activities (like TV spots or print ads)?
The answer is simple – the content you create gives something to your clients. It turns them from prospects to an engaged audience. As a small business owner, you know your clients better than anyone. This is your biggest strength. You can create blog posts, infographics or a shopping guide that will provide real value and even more – it will build trust.
The needs of customers today are specific. Internet users are more discerning that ever. If you just bombard them with advertising messages, you’re not going to establish the emotional connection required to make your brand stand out.
You build trust, you establish an emotional connection and you get people to invest time on the words and the images you’ve crafted. Eventually, these people will remember you when needing relevant products or services.
In order to develop a long-term strategic plan that will work, you’ll have to ask yourself one very important question – what are you trying to accomplish?
Step 1: Determine Your Content Marketing Goals
Researching, writing and promoting content are all processes that require time and dedication. In order to get a good outcome, you need to pinpoint the aim of the campaign. Your marketing priorities depend on your budget, the expected return on investment, whether you’re attempting to attract a new audience, to boost brand recognition or to accomplish another tangible result that can be measured through the selection of the right metrics.
If you want to get the most of your efforts in content marketing, think about your audience. Your content has to be valuable:
- to solve problems
- to answer questions
- to help customers reach you easier
Once you determine what your content marketing goals are, you can go a step further and choose the content marketing approach that’s best suited to your needs.
Step 2: A Content Marketing Strategy Should Be Comprehensive
There are more than 100 types of content that you can use. That sounds like countless opportunities, but you don’t need to overwhelm yourself and try it all. Evergreen content comes in many shapes and sizes.
Experimenting with formats is ideal for those who don’t know their ideal target audience yet. It also allows for the utilization of multiple channels and communication opportunities. What matters the most is consistency – the quality, the tone and the style should follow your branding guidelines, regardless of the format.
To accomplish your content marketing goals, you should consider incorporating the following in the strategic mix.
Long-form content is the most popular option for content marketing. There’s a reason why. Long blog posts give you a chance to explore an in-depth topic and to ascertain your reputation in the field. Additionally, it tends to rank better in search engine results.
Try the following: tell your business story, write how-to guides, industry overviews, interviews with experts, explanatory series that take an in-depth look at the topic. Make it informal and casual. When you find yourself capable of presenting complex ideas in a simple way, you will begin building a loyal audience.
Listen to your clients, pay attention to every comment and review. Customers believe reviews and testimonials as much as they believe in personal recommendations, so it’s up to you to make the communication stronger.
Try the following: always reply to customer reviews, no matter how positive or negative they are. Stay polite and be respectful. Encourage people to share their experience with your service and you may also want to provide stimuli for check-ins at your local store, product photo posts and shoutouts. Use their images or videos after they give you permission.
Visual content is one of the most powerful tools you can rely on to boost engagement. Statistics show that 45 percent of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos per week. This content is easily perceivable – the brain is much more skilled at processing visual information than text.
Start by building a YouTube channel and featuring product/how-to videos on your website. By the end of 2019, video will account for 80 percent of all online traffic, which is why you may want to jump on the bandwagon right now.
Try the following: you can make a Q&A video for a new product/service; present the team behind the brand and show the human face of your business. Create a behind the scenes series, revealing processes and intriguing information from the kitchen.
Photos and Inforgraphics
Visual content is the future of storytelling according to Forbes. Words remain super important, but photos, infographics, memes and other visual elements can make the text more appealing.
Try the following: use free stock photo websites (Pexels and Pixabay are two excellent choices) to get quality images that can be altered, put into galleries or turned into collages. Use online editing tools like Canva or the filters of your smartphone to improve your own photos.
There are free infographic creation tools out there and even if you don’t know how to handle the process, you can hire a freelance graphic designer to do the job. It doesn’t cost a lot and the return on investment will be high.
PowerPoint-like presentations are also a great option in terms of visual content generation. Use SlideShare to upload presentations you may already have and use the links in your social media marketing campaigns.
Leverage the Power of Influencers
An influencer is defined as person whose online presence has the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others. An Instagram celebrity can be an influencer. The same applies to an industry leader who has a well-established and popular website.
Forging partnerships with influencers can be mutually-beneficial – they will be getting a chance to try out something new and create content while you will be getting exposure to their audience. What matters the most is allowing an influencer to build their own content without insisting on a positive spin. If you do, the message will carry a degree of fakeness that the audience will recognize immediately.
A partnership with a business expert or a social media celebrity will bring credibility to your service.
Whitepapers and eBooks
These long content formats are becoming increasingly popular in terms of building an effective content marketing strategy. As a part of content marketing for small businesses, ebooks can be used particularly well for B2B interactions, as well as for establishing your reputation in the respective field.
Try the following: you can turn a series of “how to” blog post in a short ebook that unifies all information and gives your audience a compete overview. While whitepapers are shorter, you can use them to focus on a specific topic that your customers are interested in.
To accomplish your content marketing goals, you have to put together a comprehensive strategy. A single format isn’t going to cut it because you can’t accomplish all your marketing tasks through it. Take some time to think strategically about what you’d like to do and who you will be addressing. Based on this information, both the relevance and the effectiveness of your content can be increased.
Step 3: Avoid These Common Content Mistakes
If you want to achieve your content marketing goals, avoid some of the most common mistakes in the world of content marketing:
- Avoid huge chunks of text: reading on a screen isn’t the same as reading a printed page. The eye gets tired easily so short paragraphs and proper formatting are incredibly important. Keep the text concise, the paragraphs – short. Use bold and italic to highlight your most important claims.
- Avoid over-promotion: today’s internet user sees 11,150 ads per month! You don’t want to be adding to this digital clutter. When creating content, focus on building relationships and eliciting an emotional response from your audience. When you have the trust and the loyalty of website visitors, you can move on to other forms of promotion.
- Don’t be everywhere: promote your content where your audience is – a few social media channels are enough. Be consistent and choose the platform that will be most helpful in terms of accomplishing the specific goal.
The most important goal of creating content for your small business is to lay the foundations of a conversation with audience. Pay attention to what’s going on and engage with people! Writing a text once and putting it online doesn’t get the job done.
Content marketing is a highly effective, approachable inbound approach. Investing in quality content creation will pay off almost immediately. Think about partnering with experienced professionals – they can help you go beyond and above the original expectations.
Phoenix Digital Solutions specializes in content marketing creation, SEO and the selection of the right digital strategy for every single client. Whether you have a small home-based business or a larger corporation, we know what it takes to reach the right online crowd. Contact our team today and don’t hesitate to let us know a bit more about who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish!