Content Marketing 6 min read
10 Practical Content Marketing Tips for Growing Your Small Business
- 14 Jul 2022 7 min read
Content marketing, more than any other digital marketing strategy, is the most accessibly to small businesses owners who want to scale fast
Did you know that the marketing mantra “content is king” is almost three decades old? It was the title of an essay Bill Gates wrote in 1996, published on the Microsoft website.
In that piece, the tech visionary somewhat predicted what is now a norm for people on the internet, today. And that is, as Gates wrote, “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet.”
Knowing what we know now, we can all say he couldn’t be more right.
Why content marketing?
If we dig a little deeper though, content is king because it hits all the digital marketing wins, from better brand awareness down to improved sales. The numbers and statistics prove the effectiveness of content marketing.
As reported by Content Marketing Institute in 2021, 88 percent of marketers claimed that they have successfully reached their goals of creating brand awareness and building credibility and trust through content marketing. Meanwhile, according to Google, 53 percent of shoppers say they always do research (ergo, turn to content) before they buy.
This is true more so in this digital-first era, and audiences are digital natives. Hence, content creation is indispensable to business success. It is, however, not a secret that creating engaging, relevant digital content isn’t easy. The struggle is real, especially for small businesses that don’t have a lot of resources.
Boosting your business with content
The good news is that even though you’re a small business, you can create a robust strategy and make your content reign in the digital landscape. For our marketing team, these content marketing tips are the most important and impactful to business success:
1. Identify your audience.
One of the most important ingredients to content marketing success is knowing who exactly you’re talking to. A lack of understanding of the audience is often the reason many content marketers fail or, at least, find it hard to hit their reach and engagement goals.
The thought here is simple: If your target audience isn’t able to connect with your content, then why would they read through your blogs, let alone share them?
Hence, before planning what kinds of content you should put out, the first question you should ask is: who is our target audience? The more detailed you answer that, the better.
One of the best ways to understand customers is to draft a content persona – a detailed description of someone who represents your target audience. At the minimum, you must be able to fill out the most important information in this profile, namely:
- Demographics: age, gender, education, income level
- Psychographics: personality, lifestyle, interest, opinions and beliefs, values
- Common objections to your brand
Through surveys, online behaviors, and intelligent assumptions, you can create a detailed profile to better understand your audience and refine your digital content strategy.
2. Outline your general topic and then solve a problem
There’s a certain level of trust shared when people buy from a brand. That trust can be earned through high-quality content online. When people see that your brand has expertise and offers authoritative advice on things that matter to them, there’s a greater chance that they’ll do business with you – with someone they trust.
One of the timeless, most effective tips for content marketing is, rather than hard-selling your offerings, talk about topics and issues that your audience care about. Then, discuss people’s common struggles and the ways your brand can address these pain points.
The content persona you created can help in identifying those struggles.
3. Take a look at your competitors’ content marketing strategies
A competitor analysis can help you identify content gaps, the top-performing, which you can adopt and do better, and the low-performing, which you can avoid. Here are some actionable steps for reviewing competitor’s content strategy:
- Jot down all the content types your competitor produces. Take note of the types: text-based (blog posts, white papers, case studies, ebooks), visual (photos, infographics, gifs, memes), video (tutorials or how-tos, product explainers, testimonials, brand films, short-form videos), and audio (podcasts).
- Assess the quality and quantity of the content produced. In a month, how many blogs, podcasts, or memes have they posted? Take note of the blog word count and the podcast duration. Pay attention to the topics your competitors often cover and the manner in which audiences are engaging. These bits of information can help in improving your own content creation process.
- Enumerate the top-performing and low-performing topics. For the top-performing content, find related topics that you can explore further. The unanswered questions from their audience are a good starting point. For the low-performing content, conduct some tests. See if the audience’s response would be more positive if you were to feature the same topic but use a different content type, say, an infographic or a webinar.
4. Pay attention to both industry and content marketing trends
These are rich sources of excellent content ideas. Industry trends are a topic of interest for your audience. Meanwhile, content marketing trends can help you put a new spin to how you present content.
Recently, short-form videos have been the most popular in the marketing scene. TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts have been gaining traction among online users because they’re entertaining and easy to digest.
5. Include calls to action (CTA)
Calls to action are important in any marketing strategy because we want customers to move along the sales funnel and eventually take the desired action. At the same time, people actually want to know what they ought to do next.
This is why in every piece of digital content, whether that is a how-to guide on your website or a funny gif on your social media page, there should be a clear, compelling call to action. Remove the second guessing or confusion on the next step in the process, and you’ll have a better chance at making your content marketing strategy useful for boosting conversions.
6. Create content corresponding to the customer sales funnel
Learning how to do content marketing right involves understanding the sales funnel. Remember that customers are on a journey when they buy a product or service.
They start with the awareness that your brand exists, and then goes down to interest, in which they want to know more about what you offer.
The next phase is consideration, wherein prospective customers further learn about your products and services, weighing if it’s worth buying.
Then they come to the decision and action phase, where they proceed with the purchase transaction.
The digital content you produce must cater to where your customers are in the sales funnel. When done right, this should move them to the next phases until they reach the action stage. In general, you must have top-of-the-funnel content, middle-of-funnel content, and bottom-of-the-funnel content. For a small business selling clothes, a rough content strategy may look like this:
- Top-of-the-funnel content: a 1,000-word comprehensive guide on finding the perfect skinny jeans
- Middle-of-funnel content: social media posts of customers’ reviews, product explainers, short-form videos of influencer partners
- Bottom-of-the-funnel content: email newsletter containing a coupon or discount
The bottomline is that you must have content catering to the needs of your customers, wherever they are in the sales funnel.
7. Create a content plan and calendar
Some small businesses make the mistake of doing impromptu posts, publishing whatever they feel like publishing at the moment. This move isn’t sustainable, not to mention ineffective in making a real, lasting impact on audiences.
What you need is a content plan and calendar, which will make you more intentional and consistent in executing the strategy and help you monitor efforts.
Plot your content topics on a timeline, paying attention to the best times and days for publishing. Consider the special occasions, such as holiday celebrations, so you can join the conversation of the general public online. Include your own brand events as well in the content plan.
8. Diversify your content types
This is not just to avoid monotony in your brand’s online channels. It’s also to cater to different kinds of audiences. Some of your customers may be more engaged in long-form blogs, while others probably prefer snackable content, such as short-form videos and gifs.
To attract as many online users as possible, explore different types of content.
Don’t neglect the importance of repurposing and converting content pieces to other types. A how-to blog, for instance, may be turned into a video. An explainer video may be rehashed as an infographic. This is an excellent move when you’re running out of new content ideas.
Aside from repurposing content, you may also use these content creation tools to overcome the creative rut.
9. Publish content on a regular basis
Publishing digital content regularly on the website boosts search engine optimization efforts, as it builds organic traffic. On social media, frequent posting increases visibility online and helps you build a following. For different social networks, the ‘ideal’ frequency varies:
- On Facebook, one to two posts a day is recommended. Going more than two can turn fans off and make your brand look spammy.
- On Instagram, two feed posts per week and two stories a day can help attract followers.
- On Tiktok, one to four times a day can help in determining which types of content are received well.
Aside from the increased brand awareness, consistent content publishing can help you better fine-tune your content strategy. You’ll be able to find out what works and what doesn’t, as well as which days and times are ideal for posting.
10. Promote your content
You dedicate a lot of time and resources creating digital content, from brainstorming to executing to publishing, but the work doesn’t stop once it’s up on your website or social media page.
You must work equally hard to promote the content. It’s no use having the best content when your target market won’t see it. Here are some platforms you can use to direct attention and traffic to your content:
- Social media page
- Social media groups
- Email blast
- Paid ads
- Guest posts
Remember, as you dedicate a schedule for posting content, include in your calendar the promotion of content as well.
Why should your small business do content marketing?
Content marketing is today’s marketing. It’s tailored to the primary need of modern buyers, which is information. But specifically, it helps in these marketing areas:
- Brand recognition. Your digital content allows you to be on the radar of prospective customers who are always online. There’s a good chance that you’ll be a top-of-mind choice when the need for a product or service comes up.
- Loyal following. When you produce good content, people are going to come back to your online pages for the positive experience. These fans can turn into paying customers.
- Thought leadership. Content marketing gives you the opportunity to show your expertise on matters related to your industry. Over time, you develop a reputable image and forge trust among potential and existing customers.
- Increased leads (and sales). When you’re able to establish a known brand, a huge following, and a trustworthy reputation, customers are more likely to buy from you in the future.
Small businesses aiming to reach success should have content marketing in their priorities. As you embark on this journey, start with these action steps:
- Understand your audience. Your market will dictate a lot of your content strategy, from the selection of topics to the types of content you’ll post. Determine who exactly you’re communicating with.
- Prioritize engaging content. Don’t be afraid to venture into different types of digital content, so you can see which ones are most engaging to your audience.
- Evaluate efforts as you go along. Always measure the success of your initiatives, so you can improve it moving forward. Perform testing and draw insights from those studies.
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