As a small business, what’s your biggest challenge when it comes to your online marketing efforts? Is it increasing brand awareness and engagement or a lack of conversions and sales, or is it simply that you don’t have enough hours in the day to dedicate to planning and producing enough content? It takes patience and time to build an integrated strategy combining digital and content marketing. This latest blog is designed to give you a Finer Point in the right direction.
So what is content marketing and why should you care? It’s all about building a reputation, building trust and educating people on what you have to offer. People need to believe in the value of you. You need to reach more people, initiate a relationship and educate them on why your product or service is right for them.
Content marketing is a process therefore you need a strategy. It’s a long term game.
It’s not as simple as creating a few sporadic posts on social media or putting out a couple of sponsored ads. It needs to be a sustained and targeted effort if you want to increase brand awareness, drive engagement, generate leads and increase sales.
Content marketing done right has a great ROI and if you’re consistent, it will add tons of value to your business.
You need to create content that your audience will love.
To do this, firstly, you need to:
- Define your target audience – who are they? What are their problems and pain points? How can you solve them?
- Attract them with your compelling free content that people will find valuable. The key is to be helpful and be useful. There are lots of different types of content you can create which I’ll cover later in this blog.
It’s tough, you’re a small business, there’s so much to think about and lots of stuff to do and you want to focus your attention in the right areas. How do you know where to begin?
Here are 8 ways that you can grow your business with the awesome power of content.
1. Make sure you have a website
If you’re a sole trader, a micro-business, an agency or a freelancer and you have a brand then you need to have a website and if you already have a website, it’s really important that it’s up to date and is hosting a fresh stream of content.
Why do you need a website? Well, quite simply, your customers expect it. Consumers these days are very digital savvy and will Google everything to find out more about the products and services they want. Having a website will help you to increase your visibility to potential customers.
Having a good website is an easy and effective way to gain trust and build your reputation. To survive and grow, you have to have an online presence and relying on being active on social media is not enough. Platforms like Facebook have extremely complicated algorithms that are constantly changing and can dramatically affect the reach of your posts. Social media is great but it shouldn’t be a substitute for a website. Your website needs to be the hub of your online presence.
In business, we’re all selling something. Your website is your shop. If you have a website then your shop is always open and this will allow you to reach a larger audience, plus, if your competitors have a website and you don’t then you could be missing out on business.
Setting up your site is easy. You can create a beautiful site in less than an hour with no technical skills at all for very little cost.
2. Hire a Copywriter
Copywriting is salesmanship in text form. It’s writing in the context of marketing and advertising. Writing is the basis for most of the content created for business. It can take the form of things like blog posts, articles or the landing page text for your website.
The written word is the cornerstone of content marketing but there’s writing and there’s effective writing. A copywriter will be proficient in the art of word weaving and they can help you create a personality, a tone of voice and a unique authentic style that truly reflects your brand by using the power of the written word.
The world of web content is more crowded than ever before. You want your content to be the diamond amongst thousands of ordinary rocks and stones. Effective writing can help you to achieve just that.
Tone and vocabulary are very important, particularly for inspiring trust in your audience. Good copywriting can help you to grab those prospects or casual visitors to your website and pull them into your ecosystem, get them actively engaging with your brand and ultimately buying your products and services.
3. Don’t underestimate the value of blogging
Many small business owners don’t realise the benefits of having a blog on their website. Having a regular blog keeps you and your brand at the forefront of people’s minds. It helps to boost your online visibility.
If you’re regularly posting quality written content on your business blog then this will help you to be seen as an expert in your field. If you’re consistently providing value, helping your audience solve their problems and writing about what’s important and relevant to them, this can be powerful when it comes to influencing sales.
People have a lot of choices when it comes to how they spend their time online and as consumers, we like to read blogs. 77% of internet users read blogs. Search engines love blogs too which increases your chances of being discovered.
Having a blog sets you apart from others. It adds to your USP. Check out whether your competitors are blogging and if they’re not, it’s a chance to differentiate yourself.
No matter what your niche is, there are lots of things you could be blogging about. A good way to start is to list all the topics you know about. Ask yourself, what am I an expert in? What do I have to offer in terms of my services and what does my audience need help with?
Blog content helps to build trust within your target market, it’s a strong reputation enhancer and helps you build real brand authority.
4. Have a strategy for your social media marketing
Using social media to promote your content is a lot more involved than just posting a few links and photos.
Every social media service has a different audience and a different style. It’s important to understand the unique nuances of each platform and how to create quality native content that speaks directly to those audiences. It’s important to produce content that matches the style and tone of what’s expected of you. For example, LinkedIn has a very professional feel whereas Instagram is more fun and quirky.
Defining your goals is the first step in any social media marketing strategy. Your aim should be to actively engage with and provide value to your audience. Aim to produce ‘micro content’ – things like images, brief videos, checklists, quotations and other short text posts, specifically to support the platforms you are using.
Your presence on any social media channels should support your overall brand message. Your brand has the same story, your business has the same goals, you’re just going about it differently.
So which platforms should you be using? Should you be everywhere or just on one of two key services? The short answer is you should be where your audience is. Where do the people in your target market hang out? Only work with platforms where you can execute well.
If you’re already using social media for your business, then it’s a good idea to review and evaluate your efforts so you can see what’s working for you and what’s not.
5. Make email marketing a priority
One of the most important goals of a good content marketing strategy is the growth of an email list. Even today in the world of social media, email is 40 times more effective in terms of customer acquisition that Facebook and Twitter combined.
Almost everyone checks their email daily and people have to opt-in to be part of your list, meaning that everyone on your email list wants to hear from you. They’re genuinely interested in your brand, your content and what you have to offer. Your list is your most powerful asset for building a strong community and a profitable business.
A good email marketing campaign begins with a good list. You want real information from real people who check their email regularly. Growing a good email list organically starts with producing epic content. You can then use email subscription forms and opt-in incentives to encourage people to join your list.
There are a lot of email marketing platforms out there, one of the most commonly used is Mailchimp and by using this tool, it’s easy to add an email sign up form to your website if you haven’t already done so. From here, you can create highly effective email marketing campaigns that will help you drive traffic to your website and sell more of your products and services.
There are several different strategies you can use to grow your email list quickly and effectively by using the power of content. The idea is you offer something of value in exchange for an email address. These are what we call lead magnets and it’s this content that sets the tone for the relationship you will have with your email subscribers.
6. Dedicate some time to generating content ideas
There are a variety of tools and strategies that you can apply to come up with ideas for content. Always keep in mind that the aim is to provide value and solve people’s problems.
Firstly, think about the type of format you want to use. You can use standard written content, videos, audio or infographics for example. If you create a piece of content in one format, there’s a huge opportunity there to repurpose that content and then share it again in a different format. This way you can promote your original content and also deliver the same message to a completely different audience. For example, you could turn a short video into a mini-blog and then turn that blog into a series of social media posts as short extracts or quotes.
Repurposing is one of the most valuable secrets in content marketing as it’s a simple and effective way to extract additional value from your existing content and it allows you to grow your audience by reaching people who prefer a different format.
For additional ideas, you can check out platforms such as Buzzsumo. Buzzsumo is the number one tool for content research and competitor analysis. It’s a good way to understand the mindset of your target audience and to see what content they’re consuming. Quora’s Q&A platform is also a good asset to support your content creation efforts. It allows you to see what questions people are asking about your industry.
There are lots of different ways you can generate ideas for creating content. The possibilities are endless.
7. Get savvy about SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and very simply, it refers to the ability to get visitors from the search engines like Google to your website. Most websites rely on search engines like Google as a primary driver of traffic. You’ll know from your experience as a user that the difference between appearing on page 1 and page 2 of the search results can make a huge difference between the number of impressions, page views, leads and potential sales.
SEO is a really hot topic in content marketing and it’s all about maximising your exposure but are you following all of the best practices that Google and other search engines come to expect?
The currency of SEO is what we call is backlinks. Backlinks are created when one website links to another. Pages with a higher number of backlinks tend to have higher organic search engine rankings. You can get plenty of backlinks by earning them over time by promoting optimised quality content.
It’s a good idea to have a strategy when it comes to SEO and you can start by knowing what keywords you want a page to rank for. Keyword research is the process of finding and analysing actual search terms that people enter into search engines. There are lots of different tools that you can use for this and the insight you get from it will help you form the basis of your content strategy.
8. Measure your results
Content marketing is a long term approach that drives results over time. How do you determine what’s working and what’s not? It’s incredibly important to collect and analyse data so you can adjust your strategy accordingly. You don’t want to be dedicating time and effort to content that is not driving your business forward. So what exactly should you be tracking and how should you respond to your findings?
Start by considering your goals. What is most important to your business? Are you most concerned with brand awareness, increasing engagement, generating more leads, driving more sales or getting more traffic to your site?
For example, with brand awareness, you would use metrics such as the number of social media followers you have, online reviews and website backlinks. To measure engagement you can track how many likes, shares, comments your content is getting. If you’re focused on lead generation then your metrics would be lead magnet performance and opt-in figures.
In terms of increasing sales, you always want to make sure you’re generating a positive ROI with your content. You can do this by comparing your revenue with your content production expenses. What’s your ratio of leads to sales?
Website analytics can tell you a lot about the effectiveness of your content and your content promotion strategy. You can install Google Analytics which will give you data such as the number of visitors to your site, page views and other contextual information such as audience demographics. All of this will tell you where best to focus your efforts and resources to increase your ROI. From here you can compare the data with your business goals, look for patterns and trends and make adjustments to your strategy accordingly and create an action plan for future goals. Different approaches will yield different results.
Now it’s time to find your own way to shine and discover what really works for your brand. Remember, it’s all about playing the long game. Now you can start putting all of this into action, inspire and galvanise your audience and grow your business with the power of content marketing.
If there are any topics I’ve covered here that you’d like to know more about then please share in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.