It’s no surprise that small businesses face numerous challenges, especially when they are just starting out. With limited resources and high competition, many businesses find the challenge of marketing their company nearly insurmountable. In fact, 60 percent of these businesses have no information listed online.
Content marketing can come to the rescue here—it can result in conversion rates that are six times higher as compared to non-users, as per a report by market research firm Aberdeen Group.
In case you are not totally clear with what it involves, content marketing is a way to share information and engage with customers, usually in the form of written articles, podcasts, videos, or social media posts. Content shared by businesses are meant to build trust and credibility, while strengthening brand recognition.
If you’re new to the marketing world and you want to launch a content strategy for your small business, here is how to do it.
Understand your audience
You don’t want to waste your time producing content of which is uninteresting or irrelevant to your customer base. You must conduct in-depth research on your audience to make sure you truly understand them, their interests, and their buying habits.
There are a lot of ways to collect data to get a better feel for your core audience. One way is to conduct questionnaires with current customers. Ask them about their opinion on your business, service, and overall message. In this process, try to learn as much as you can about who your customer base is. Getting information in relation to the average age, sex, income, and purchasing habits will help provide inspiration for your content creation.
If you are having a hard time getting customers to take surveys, try sharing them through social media or e-mail. Or, consider offering an incentive, like a coupon code or free item. Additionally, make sure your questionnaire is short enough so the audience can fill it out quickly while still giving you valuable information. Typeform is a fantastic tool to use for creating surveys with an appealing look. It also features a wide variety of templates to choose from, so your questionnaires can blend in with your website.
To get a little less direct, you can look for insights by checking out your competitor’s audience. If your competition is successful, scope through their social media followers, see what kind of content they utilize. Keep an eye out for the way they target customers through ads and posts.
You should also investigate companies who are not doing well and learn from their mistakes. Evaluate their social media presence, scope out their website, and try to determine why their marketing strategy is not working.
Build a conversion-focused website
Your website is essentially the home base for your entire content marketing strategy. Cutting corners here can easily turn people away in droves. With over half of all customers researching specific businesses online before making a purchase, having a high quality, reliable platform is vital for tiny start-ups all the way to giant enterprises.
Building a great website is not easy, especially if you are not trained in coding or web design. There are lots of little details of which can make or break your site. For example, speed is a big one. If your website takes longer than three seconds to load, most customers will leave. Other reasons for high website bounce rates include no mobile optimization, uninteresting web copy, broken functionality, and unclear navigation.
Choosing the right hosting company plays a huge factor in how your website performs. Take your time in finding one that fits your exact needs. For example, LCN is a highly-versatile hosting provider purpose-built for small businesses. It offers high-speed loading times and an on-call support team. You even get free SSL encryption (HTTPS) for added security and a one-click option to install WordPress, the bread and butter platform of content marketing for small businesses.
Make your content easy to find
Whether you want your content marketing to increase sales, attract new customers, or grow brand awareness, the best way to accomplish your goal is by providing content your customers can use to improve their lives. Once you have determined your audience base and you’ve set up a great website, it’s time to create content that draws people to your platform.
Although you want customers to learn about your company through your content, try not to come across as sales-y or overly self-promoting. This can really turn customers off. Instead, write about the industry, interesting studies or statistics, or actionable advice related to your business.
Even more, you must incorporate words and phrases that connect your audience to the information they are searching for. This is the very core of online marketing, so always be sure to research keywords before creating content.
Further, you need to use analytics to justify your choice of channel, such as social media, SEO or PPC. SEMrush’s Content Template tool will analyze your competitors’ data on organic search and tell you the best keywords to use, the ideal content length, where to get backlinks from and help you choose the platforms to target.
Ultimately, the most important aspect of branded content is the value it provides. The information you provide should aim to identify a certain problem, then offer expert advice on how to solve it with a personal touch.
Posting great content on a consistent basis can be tedious, which is why setting up a concrete strategy is important. Create a schedule of how often you want to post, what kind of content to share, and how you are going to track your results. There are plenty of free tools you can use to measure how well your content resonates, but good ol' Google Analytics is the best (and free) for small businesses.
Content marketing offers a lot of benefits to businesses of all shapes and sizes. If done correctly, it can increase brand trust, sales, and number of return customers. Creating and implementing a content marketing strategy is no small task. With careful planning, research, and a focus on superior content, it can make a huge difference for your small business.
Pratik Dholakiya is the co-founder of E2M, a full-service digital marketing agency and PRmention, a digital PR agency. He regularly speaks at various conferences about SEO, content marketing, growth hacking, entrepreneurship, and digital PR. Pratik has spoken at NextBigWhat's UnPluggd, IIT-Bombay, SMX Israel, and other major events across Asia. As a passionate marketer, he shares his thoughts and knowledge on publications like Search Engine Land, Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, The Next Web, and the Huffington Post to name a few. He has been named one of the top content marketing influencers by Onalytica three years in a row.