No matter what kind of online business you’re running, you need to rely on an effective content marketing strategy to drive visitors. Aside from attracting a wide audience to your website or social media account, content is also a great way to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Unfortunately, making high-quality articles, videos, or images is much harder than you might think. First off, you need to understand user intent to create posts that would cater to a target audience. Not only that, but you need to do so consistently. Any change in format or quality can alienate your brand from loyal fans, subsequently leading to the company’s demise.
In this article, we’ll talk more about content marketing and, in particular, its impact on small businesses. We’ll also share some tips that will help you implement this digital strategy.
How do we define content marketing?
Content marketing is a digital marketing strategy where a company creates various types of content and distributes them online and offline. Its main goal is to increase the traffic of your posts, which would, in turn, increase brand visibility and profitability.
Most people make the mistake of thinking that content marketing ends once you write awesome articles. But this is just the beginning. You should always consider your overall business strategy when making these pieces. In the end, if you can’t convert, there’s no point in creating content in the first place.
To establish an effective content strategy, you need to set viable goals and fulfill them. Your performance is usually measured by things such as click-through rate and time spent on page, but also some other more important metrics. In some cases, even if you manage to get lots of unique visitors, that doesn’t necessarily mean you were successful.
How does content marketing work?
We might argue that content marketing is more important for small brands than for big ones. In the end, large organizations have already earned the trust of their customers, so they don’t need to provide extra value to increase their revenues.
Content is vital for a small organization as it allows them to connect with the target audience. Depending on the nature of your business and marketing approach, you can leave a long-lasting impression on people who consume your videos and articles.
If we were to sum it up, content marketing allows you to:
- Increase conversion.
- Increase brand awareness.
- Boost other marketing methods.
We will get back to this in the following paragraph.
The important thing to note is that quality content stays online forever, in one form or another. Creating these posts isn’t a short-term strategy meant to increase your temporary revenues. Instead, it’s a comprehensive brand-building approach that can reap benefits for years to come.
Most notably, with each post that you create, you have the chance to increase brand awareness. It can also boost your other marketing efforts, thus providing a cumulative effect. You can use it to increase positioning on the market, diversify your marketing channels, and reduce overall advertising costs.
Companies that are good at creating effective content marketing strategies can easily overtake larger brands with enormous budgets. In that sense, it’s one of the activities that have the highest potential ROI.
10 Most common types of content
As you can presume, content creation is the focal point of content marketing for small businesses. Even if you’re great at promoting articles and videos, you won’t get far without quality posts.
Here are the most common types of content used online:
1. Blog posts
Blog posts, or simply articles, are the building blocks for any website. They are the main ingredient of the search engine optimization process, allowing companies to reach top spots in Google and increase their organic traffic.
An article needs to provide unique information or to have enormous entertainment value. Most importantly, it needs to be sharable and enjoyable to the majority of people who land on the page.
2. Product pages
Marketers usually forget that product pages are also a type of content. In fact, they are probably the most important piece of writing on your site. Product pages help conversion by building a bridge of trust between visitors and the brand.
Videos have become one of the most sought-after content types on the web. They’re extremely popular among younger generations who prefer visual and engaging formats. You can rank videos within Google search, but they’re much more important for YouTube and other social media.
Companies can also embed them into their articles to provide extra value to readers. Aside from helping your boost website sales, you can also use videos to make revenues from social media.
Ebooks are sharable, digital content. They are somewhat similar to articles but are usually much longer. Companies often use them to increase their subscriber list and only share them with followers. They don’t have to be especially thorough, but they should still be longer and better than the regular website content.
Newsletters are excellent for communicating with loyal fans. Influencers often use them to provide subscribers with exclusive news regarding their whereabouts and future projects.
Some companies use newsletters to continuously spam previous customers with new offers. You can also use them as digital brochures of a sort, the same way we used fashion catalogs in the years prior.
Infographics are a link-baiting type of content. These are large images spread across a web page that use interesting graphics to break down complex topics. They’re fantastic for outreach campaigns, and marketers frequently use them to build links to their sites.
7. Case studies and research
Businesses often use case studies to increase their reputation and authority within an industry. They’re a unique type of content that explores a specific topic within the field. Aside from building your brand, they’re excellent for acquiring backlinks from other blogs.
Tutorials are short videos, articles, or a combination of pictures and text that explain how things work. Companies often place them on the homepage to help potential customers who are interested in their products and services. Unlike some other content types, they don’t increase organic traffic, nor do they help build links. Instead, they’re crucial for conversion.
You can use images just about anywhere. They’re perfect for your blog, social media accounts, and also emails. Images can also be great if you wish to build a presence on platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest.
10. Small tools
Some businesses create free tools, which they post on their site. Occasionally, these apps become more popular than the company itself. Their main purpose is to increase brand visibility and provide organic and direct traffic.
If you’re a small business that has just created a website, we recommend that you start with articles. These are usually the cheapest type of content that you can create relatively quickly. Of course, you’ll also need things such as product or service pages.
When you get accustomed to digital marketing, you can try out more complex forms of content, such as infographics and case studies. Videos usually make sense if you wish to create a YouTube channel and other social media. Similar can be said for images.
What are the advantages of a content marketing for small businesses?
If we were to summarize it, small business content marketing helps you sell products and services. However, the list of potential benefits is much longer than that. Here are all the advantages that a small brand can reap from implementing an effective content marketing strategy:
1. Reduce overall marketing costs
The main reason why you should go with content is to avoid the high costs of traditional marketing. Being featured on TV, radio, and on local billboards can be very expensive. To make matters worse, these approaches provide lower returns compared to their digital counterparts.
2. Differentiate your brand
When you’re a small company, there’s little that makes you stand out from the field. Unless you have a revolutionary product or a service, you’re doomed to remain in obscurity. Articles and videos give your brand a flavor, allowing you to create a competitive advantage.
3. Build relationships with the target audience
The main issue with traditional advertising is that it often feels impersonal. A company sends its message into the ether and hopes that people will care about it. With content marketing, you can bring yourself closer to your visitors. This is especially true when creating videos and interacting with people via social media.
4. Utilize channel variety
Another fantastic thing about content is that you can use the same message throughout different channels. Post a video on Facebook, YouTube, and your blog. Create an article on your blog, and share it on social media and newsletters. Channel variety is especially important for diversification. Even if you don’t get results on one platform, you might find success on another.
5. Reduce sales cycles
You can use blog content to talk about your company. Among others, you can share valuable information about your products and show people how to use them. This way, you can reduce call center costs and reduce sales cycles. People will get all information on demand, something they couldn’t get while watching a TV or radio ad.
6. Establish thought leadership
If you’re good enough at your job, people will start flocking to your brand. As a small entrepreneur, you can make waves within an industry by simply sharing your thoughts and ideas. Creating a quality, relevant content allows you to increase your brand’s reputation, trustworthiness, and authority. All of this will lead to higher conversions and larger profit margins.
7. Scale your business
Content marketing is one of the best and easiest ways of scaling a brand. Although this approach requires a hefty initial investment, it starts providing excellent returns after some time. In fact, if you reach the top spots in Google, the process will almost go on auto-pilot. From this point onward, you can spend lower amounts of money to keep the ship afloat.
Should I start using content marketing for my small business?
The answer is a resounding yes.
Regardless of your industry, content marketing can provide tangible benefits that you won’t get from traditional marketing. In the last ten years, the internet has become the main source of entertainment. In fact, if you’re below the age of 30, you’re probably using TV just to play games or watch Netflix.
Companies can use content marketing for just about anything, from web pages to social media posts, emails, newsletters, etc. It’s an integral part of SEO, allowing businesses to rank their site in search engines.
Almost every written word we post online can be considered content for all intended purposes. So, this term is extremely comprehensive and can refer to just about any online promotional activity.
Ideally, you should start this activity as soon as possible and invest heavily in it. Content marketing can be painful at first until you get the ball rolling. Always remember that it takes time to reach the top spots in Google or to acquire 10,000 subs on YouTube.
However, once you acquire enough followers, you will start getting enormous returns. If you wish, you can reduce your marketing budget, but we recommend that you retain the same level of investment or even increase it.
How to set up your small business content marketing strategy?
By now, we’ve probably convinced you that creating quality content is the right way to go. Here are a few easy steps that will allow you to create an actionable long-term small business content marketing strategy:
1. Create a basis for success
One of the common mistakes companies make is rushing the process. Whatever you plan on doing, take your time to create a sound basis that will guide you throughout. Here are a few things to consider:
- Create a site that works according to best search engine optimization practices.
- Optimize your social media profiles to reflect your brand image.
- Create Google My Business for local SEO.
- Set up Google and social media tools that will help you throughout.
Widely-accepted small business content marketing strategy teaches us that you shouldn’t spread your resources thin. If you have the capacity, create a website and a few social media accounts where you will share content. If you don’t have time or money, you should focus on your site.
2. Hire a dedicated team
Content marketing, as a service, is different from website building or outreach. You need to have a dedicated team who can continuously produce articles, images, and videos. Although these individuals don’t necessarily have to be a part of your company (i.e., permanent employees), they need to act as ones.
In other words, they should be available for Skype and Zoom calls throughout the day and willing to deliver a certain number of posts each week. Platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiver are great places to hire these marketing professionals.
3. Create a budget and calendar
The issue with small businesses is that they usually don’t have a marketing budget. If they have never advertised before, they don’t know how much money they should set aside for content marketing. Here are a few tips that will help you organize the whole process:
- Set aside a marketing budget and stick to it throughout the year.
- Create a list of content marketing ideas and prioritize articles based on metrics.
- Create a calendar that will organize content creation, posting, and promotion.
- Analyze your performance each month by performing content audits, and make tweaks when necessary.
Generally speaking, you will make a lot of changes as you go. However, by using the same monthly budget throughout the year, you can have better performance insights. The worst thing you can do is reduce your funding just as you were close to making a breakthrough.
We’ve seen too many businesses pull the plug on the process for fear of not getting the required results. The thing you should always remember about digital marketing is that it’s a marathon and not a sprint.
So, as long as you nailed the previous steps and have a good team in your corner, you should have more faith and let things run their course.
4. Learn more about user intent
Creating highly-converting content usually isn’t enough. You also have to learn more about the target audience’s preferences. Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Trends can be of great assistance in doing so.
Basically, you should create content according to your ideal customer persona. Unless a visitor is a potential customer, there’s no point in driving traffic to your platform. Among others, this would help you save money while providing better results.
5. Find optimal content
In theory, a business can tinker with all sorts of posts. You can create articles on your blog, videos for your YouTube and TikTok, and images for your website/Instagram. In reality, the majority of small businesses don’t have enough money to implement all these methods.
So, instead of trying everything at once, find the channels and content types that are optimal for spreading your business message. Here are a few things you should focus on:
- Find the optimal content channel.
- Focus on a few specific types of content that are most suitable for your industry.
- Use keyword research to discover phrases with lots of search volume and low difficulty. Read our article about Long-tail and Short-tail keywords.
- Create topic ideas that can convert within your niche.
- Spread the articles/videos on platforms that convert the best.
If this is your first time creating a content marketing strategy, there are lots of things that can go awry. Our suggestion is to try several approaches and see which ones work the best. Alternatively, you can check out what the competition is doing and use their ideas.
Also read: Content research for your marketing
6. Create a universal brand message
This is another thing that small brands often get wrong. When making articles, they usually focus too much on sales and how these posts affect their bottom line. They might even invest in conversion, but while doing so, they rarely think about the brand image and the message they’re sending to the audience.
While a short-term approach can provide excellent results, it usually falters after a while. Scrounging from day to day will help you stay afloat, but it will ultimately be your demise. Simply put, you can’t have great results all the time without scaling the process.
By using the same voice and visuals throughout the content, small business owners can significantly increase brand awareness. This will allow them to generate higher revenues and profits over time while lowering overall marketing costs. Furthermore, it will help visitor retention as people get used to a certain content type.
7. Start sharing your message
In an ideal world, potential customers should find your articles without additional involvement. Unfortunately, due to the competitive nature of digital marketing, you need to promote these posts to increase their visibility.
Depending on your preferred channel, you should have to pay attention to different things. For example, click through rate and retention are extremely important for YouTube. When promoting web blogs, you should also put focus on link building. Shares and likes are crucial for some other platforms.
Whatever the case, here are a few promotional strategies that can help you out:
- Use email outreach to connect with other bloggers and news outlets.
- Run HARO campaigns to be featured on a news post.
- Gain links with broken link building.
- Use influencers to promote your content on social media.
- Use catchy titles and thumbnails for your videos and other social media posts.
- Use different strategies to promote sharing and liking.
- Write guest posts on large sites.
Some companies focus on content that is sharable while omitting all other approaches. In other words, they create articles and videos that have the highest chance of going viral. These posts can be provocative, controversial, or extremely entertaining.
Whatever the case might be, their content often outshines the very brand that created them.
8. Monitor and edit
Your job isn’t done even after the promotional campaigns. Instead, you should periodically check these pieces for performance and make tweaks when possible.
Analyzing your content is especially important for detecting patterns. The process can help you figure out what types of posts are popular among your audience and what are the perennial flops. However, don’t rush to conclusions even if an article doesn’t perform that well from the get-go. In some cases, they need time to catch fire.
Small brands that mastered content marketing
You might be overwhelmed by all the information mentioned in the previous sections. Still, that doesn’t mean you should give up before trying. To provide additional motivation and inspiration, here are a few examples of small brands that have mastered content:
Bravas Food is a small business that uses funny visuals and street lingo to attract its customers. They’re completely different from large brands that are trying too hard with their presentation. If you check their site, you’ll notice that it’s completely minimalistic, and it might even remind you of old 30s and 40s cartoons.
Strolleria is a brand that specializes in baby strollers and car seats. The company has created a user-centric content strategy where the majority of their post are meant to educate visitors. They make comparisons between different products on the market and try to help new parents by providing relevant information.
As the name implies, these entrepreneurs are promoting a minimalist lifestyle to everyone who would listen to them. They use seven social media, attend events, write books, and have their own podcast. They use white and black colors for all the visuals, which fits perfectly with their brand identity.
This company sells organic, natural food products. Their site is a reflection of their brand message, not necessarily a vehicle for selling items. They have numerous links to useful content on their homepage, teaching the visitors about gluten-free, keto, and vegan diets, as well as energy and beauty.
Unlike most other companies that hide their pricing, GreenPal openly reveals them to all visitors. GreenPal relies on a nifty tool prominently placed on its site. You can input your home address to get an instant quote. It’s a no-nonsense approach that saves everyone’s time and leaves a great impression on the brand.
MiroMind provides affordable SEO services for small business organizations, and you can contact us today for a quote!