Content marketing. The word gets dropped more times than the bass at a Skrillex show (timestamp 1:19 if you’re looking for it). So, naturally, you’re curious how to put this black magic to work for you and your small business.
If you do a Google search for best content marketing examples, however, there’s no shortage of big brand examples.
Sure it’s cool stuff, but can the average small business owner really pull off these expensive and involved omni-channel campaigns?
Uh, no. Not likely.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t be super successful with content marketing in your own way. We talked with five small business owners to find out how they have supercharged their business with content.
Strollers and car seats are some of the most important and most confusing products that every new parent needs to buy.
Strolleria, sells high-quality baby gear in an online and a Scottsdale, Arizona store. Co-owner and chief marketing officer Amy Venzke has gone full in on content marketing to help parents choose the products that are right for them.
Strolleria’s content largely falls into two categories: product comparisons designed to attract organic search traffic and educational resources designed to educate email subscribers through what can be a months-long buying decision.
Some examples of particularly high-performing content include the “Ultimate Stroller Buying Guide,” a quiz called “Which Stroller is Right for Me?,” and a product comparison between UPPAbaby VISTA and City Select strollers.
Venzke uses these content pieces, and others like them, as ads on Facebook and Pinterest.
On Facebook, the stroller quiz targets moms-to-be in the Phoenix area, helping raise awareness of the local store.
On Pinterest, a promoted pin for the stroller quiz targets product keywords on a national level. Pinners searching for a brand carried by Strolleria see the pin in their search results and take the quiz to find out which stroller is right for them.
This strategy has proved extremely effective for Strolleria. The SEO-optimized content, launched less than a year ago, allows them to compete with much bigger, more established brands.
“We rank on page one for numerous content pieces such as the UPPAbaby VISTA vs. City Select comparison, which attracts more than 700 page views per month,” shares Venzke. “On Black Friday, our landing page for stroller sales outranked the likes of Walmart, creating more demand than we could handle and leading to record sales and sellouts.”
Venzke's advice to other small business owners?
“Like all small business owners, I have far more ideas than time to execute them. Instead of churning out as many blog posts as possible, I focus on creating various types of content that serve different purposes in our marketing strategy. A product comparison generates the most organic page views, but it’s probably too specific to help us generate leads from Facebook ads or educate new prospects in an email series. Knowing I can’t do it all, I try to keep a balance between content types and prioritize work based on the business need it serves.”
Rehab Financial Group
Rehab Financial Group, LP (RFG) makes secured first lien loans to real estate investors requiring capital to acquire, improve, own, operate, manage and sell one to four family residential rental properties in fifteen states.
Wanting to increase their web traffic and lead generation, RFG worked with Brolik, a Philadelphia-based digital agency, to create an online guide called, “Flipping Houses 101.” The five-chapter guide walks customers through the entire process of finding, buying, fixing, and flipping a house.
Brolik used keyword and customer service data to create a list of popular questions and topics, and that list was used to develop the chapters within “Flipping Houses 101.”
As a result of this one asset launched in 2014, RFG has seen a 5,000 percent increase in organic website traffic. Even better, the company’s annual loan revenue grew by over 110 percent over 2013.
Brolik’s key takeaway for small business owners?
“‘Flipping Houses 101’ was built as a resource first and a content marketing initiative second. It answers the most popular questions from the target audience in a helpful, non-salesy way. That's why it's been so effective.”
Keith Bergstrom, president of Prestwick House, an educational publisher focusing on high school language arts resource that’s been in business for about 30 years, faced an interesting challenge.
“Education is an interesting market because the people doing the ordering—school secretaries and purchasing departments—are often very different from the end users and those doing the decision making,” says Bergstrom. “Over years of optimizing our site for ease of the purchasing group, we found that we hadn’t been providing an opportunity for our core customer group, the teachers themselves, to visit our site regularly.”
With this in mind, Prestwick House built a resource called the English Teacher’s Library.
The library houses custom-made free resources for teachers, including ready-to-print posters, free lesson plans, e-books on some of Prestwick House’s core products, and supplemental puzzles that teachers can use in teaching novels and other books.
Since the launch of the program after the first quarter of 2015, website visits have grown from 34,000 to 70,000. Additionally, over 200,000 resources have been downloaded.
Prestwick House has integrated the library into its broader marketing plans. “Most of our free library products correspond to multichannel campaigns, so while we’re launching a catalogue, email series, and web ad series focusing on our core vocabulary program, we might also create a poster series, some crosswords, and/or an ebook in support. This helps build our credibility as an expert in the field,” says Bergstrom.
Derek Miller is a content strategist for CopyPress, a content marketing business in Tampa, Florida with about 20 employees. You’d think that being an agency specializing in content marketing they’d naturally excel, but CopyPress is unique among agencies, who typically suffer from “roofer’s roof.” Most agencies are so busy doing client work, they often have a hard time doing for themselves what they preach to their customers.
Miller shares how he helped build a content marketing machine for his content marketing agency.
“Our program is pretty simple. We built a lead funnel marketing strategy that used gated content as the foundation with targeted drip campaigns after. The process worked liked this:
- We chose a topic for the month to cover (How to Do Curation)
- We create a lead form for a webinar on that topic
- We create a white paper on that topic that is resourceful and valuable
- We use the information from the white paper as the basis for the webinar and then also send the white paper to the webinar list
- All people who signed up for the webinar or white paper receive a drip email campaign targeting that topic as it relates to our industry/company
- We take all the information from the white paper and webinar and put it into an infographic
- We conduct outreach syndicating the infographic and driving attention back to the white paper sign-up page.”
As a result of this system, CopyPress has garnered earned media from such sites as Search Engine Journal, Marketing Profs, and Atomic Reach.
Additionally, since the launch of this program in October 2016, they’re SEMRush metrics have grown by 240 percent and they’re averaging almost 10 new leads per day.
Miller’s advice to small business owners?
“Our biggest takeaway is that content marketing takes consistency. If we would have only stuck with this for one month, we might have considered this strategy a failure, but because we stuck with it, we have built a scalable way to grow organic traffic and tangible leads. Not only has our results improved month over month, but we have adapted our program as we've continued so that we can turn these pieces of content out more quickly and at a lower cost. If you have a content marketing strategy, you have to be willing to invest several months before you start reaping the rewards.”
Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal, considers his business to be the Uber for lawn care. The company matches service providers with clients in seven U.S. cities.
His content strategy centers on creating quality content for local-based service providers.
“The way we come up with ideas and create content that people will like is we join local Facebook groups and post a question in the group asking people what are their questions about how to best maintain their yards and gardens,” says Clayton. “We then use the discussion that ensues as a jump-off point for creating a locally-based post. We even quote local business owners in the post to boost local relevance signals.”
Out of these efforts, Clayton and his team discover surprising questions people are asking, like, “When is the best time of day to mow your yard?”
“Simple question, but I never knew people were asking it,” says Clayton. The resulting blog post received over 10,000 views.