Absolutely All the Benefits of a Winning Content Marketing Strategy


by Michael Winter

Content Marketing for Your Small Business

Content is King

Still? Yes!

Here’s why…

If you’re wondering whether or not you need to bother with content marketing for your small business, we’re here to tell you – in no uncertain terms – that you do!

That’s because:

Content marketing is so powerful that, by regularly creating useful and/or entertaining content, people will:

– Be attracted to your website
– Converted into customers
– Maintained over a long period
– Even evolve their behaviours as a consumer

All as a direct result of the words you chose when tapping away at your keyboard.

What is Content Marketing?

The definition of content marketing, as provided by the Content Marketing Institute, is practically perfect.

So, rather than trying to improve upon it – or even trying to paraphrase it succinctly – we’d rather just share it with you verbatim for your viewing pleasure:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

What does that mean?

Well, the overriding concept that motivates content marketing is comes from the fact that, if you can provide high-quality, resourceful and honest information, your customers will respond in two ways:

i. You’ll gain loyalty

They’ll reward your efforts by placing their trust in you and becoming loyal users, fans and customers.

ii. They’ll want to know how they can get more

Not only will they keep returning to your site for their latest dose of your goods, if you offer a paid service or product you’ll create curiosity within them – after all, if the content you’re prepared to share for free is that good, how good must are your paid services?!

Many Types of Platforms, Not Just Blogging

When people think ‘content’ they generally think blogging.

And sure, blogging is the most popularly-used method of content creation, since writing is a more accessible medium than most of the other options (see the list below to see what we mean).

So, people naturally feel more comfortable with the effort and skill set required to write versus some other, more complicated and technically challenging forms of content.

But each format has its own nuances and advantages, so you need to consider the path you want to take.

Now, we’re not saying you need to pick just one format and stick to it.

But, to begin with, there are advantages to concentrating most of your efforts on one or two over the others, just so you can develop your expertise.

Then, as your experience grows, you’ll ideally add more because supplementing your primary content with other formats will provide nice variety for your users and your site will look rich and diverse.

Anyway, let’s take a quick look at some of the options out there…

1. Blogging

Blog posts are written pieces that discuss and evaluate topics closely related to the core message of your website.

They can range dramatically in length, from 100 to 5,000+ words (anything more than that generally falls into the ‘guide’ category, unless you’re Wiki).

2. Magazine Articles

Very similar to blog posts, with the most striking difference being the publication format – blog posts are published digitally, while magazine articles are published in print magazines.

The magazine in question may be your own, or a trade/consumer magazine.

3. Guest Posting

If you can’t commit to regular blog posts on your own site, occasional guest-posting is a viable alternative.

It still requires blog post creation, obviously, but your posts are published on somebody else’s website, allowing you to piggyback their exposure to drive traffic back to your site.

4. eBooks

Generally, very long pieces of content designed to provide education.

Lots of websites offer these as downloads via opt-ins (whether free or paid) but well-written, edited and professional pieces can even be self-published through Amazon.

5. Videos and vlogging

Videos and Vlogging

Producing videos used to be quite expensive, but the camera sitting inside your pocket (you know, the one you use to make phone calls!) is perfectly good enough nowadays.

This is a fantastic medium as videos provide a very personal touch. Plus, there’s a whole host of free and affordable editing software available if you want to fine-tune things.

Of course, you can take the more expensive route by setting up your own little recording studio, but the content is what’s key*. A great video can garner huge interest and boost your brand overnight.

*A quick note on sound quality: people are far more tolerable of poor image quality if the sound is good. Sacrifice the sound quality, however, and people won’t watch your videos no matter how good the images.

6. Images and GIFs

The success of apps such as Instagram and Pinterest provide us with more than enough proof that users are prepared to visit websites regularly to view and interact with imagery-based content.

However, if you’re producing images/gifs as your sole content strategy, you may find it difficult to adequately convey your company messaging.

7. Infographics

Infographics are an extremely popular form of content and we’d recommend you try to produce them for your website, if possible.

Usually, they are visual representations of data but can also be used to simplify the story-telling process by replacing large bodies of text with images and graphics, supplemented with succinct phrases.

8. Classes or courses

Most people will arrive at your site looking to leave with more information than when they arrived.

If your aim is to educate your users with lengthy or complicated information, then you’ll struggle to find a better method than offering a class or course.

Classes would take place in-person, while online only courses have a specific appeal, since they allow students to determine the schedule.

9. Presentations, Speeches or Workshops

Again, delivering your message via an article or blog post is not always the most powerful method.

By preparing presentations (i.e. a speech or pitch accompanied by slides), speeches or workshops – all of which can be done in-person, via live video feeds or pre-recorded and hosted on your website – you’re able portray your passion and enthusiasm far more compellingly.

10. Interviews

Being the sole voice of your message can be draining on your creative resources, so why interview other people?

You could reach out to people in your industry or get imaginative and find unusual links to other industries. Then, prepare interesting questions/discussion points and interview them.

This content can then be written up as a Q&A article, or you could simply record the interview and use as a video or podcast episode.

If you offer to return the favour, you could even answer their questions in the same session, giving you both a healthy contribution of information and insight.

11. Guides and Tutorials

A guide may be seen as a lesson-plan, of sorts, where you lay out the step-by-step process of a particular topic. You can even choose to divulge the ‘what’ but not the ‘how’, directing readers to your paid resources to learn that part of the process.

A tutorial, on the other hand, would take this step-by-step process further by laying out all the necessary information, allowing the reader to take action in every step.

12. Newsletters

Rather than relying on people to come to your site, why not send your content straight to their inbox?

This allows a degree of flexibility as you can either send them your content in full or send them reminders/teasers, encouraging them to visit your site for the rest.

13. Webinars

You can present your information to a live audience using webinars, host question-and-answer sessions or deliver a rehearsed pitch.

It can be just you and your camera, you can share your screen to display a series of slides or a team of people could all be present and freestyle it.

Whatever you end up with, you can always use the recording of the session as content on your website after you’re done.

14. Podcasts

Podcast s have never been more popular than they are right now. And there’s several do-it-yourself software tools that simplify the process.

And here’s a tip: practically any videos you create as part of your content strategy can be re-purposed and used as audio-only versions, giving you a podcast episode without additional work.

Digital Marketing DIY

Small Business Owner who’d prefer to Do It Yourself?

We understand – you need marketing but you may not be able to pay someone to do it all for you. So, you may be interested in our digital marketing courses, where you can learn Digital Marketing DIY

 
LEARN TO DO IT YOURSELF

The Importance of Knowing Your Target Audience

Now that we know what types of content you can create, you need to decide who’s most likely to be interested in it.

And this should be identified very early on because you don’t want to go too broad: the general rule in marketing is…

If you target everybody, you’ll hit nobody

Conversely, pick a target audience that’s too small or not viable and you’ll find it difficult to generate any noteworthy revenue.

As an example:

If you want to get people to read your recipes, targeting the general audience – people who cook – covers the vast majority of people in the world (perhaps excluding students… and me!)

You’re going to have your work cut-out for you if you want to get your recipes and articles ranked for such a generic keyword.

Google currently shows bbcgoodfood.com as the top returning result for the keyword ‘recipes’ and they get 27 million viewers every month. That’s going to be a tough nut to crack.

If you can narrow it down to ‘healthy recipes’ or even ‘healthy recipes below 500 calories’ then you’re focusing on a much smaller target audience and the visitors to your site are more likely to find exactly what they’re looking for.

By narrowing the field even further, concentrating on a micro-niche such as ‘healthy recipes below 500 calories high in protein’ you’ll be able to accommodate your users very specific needs.

With all that being said…

You must bear in mind that you need to choose a group that is small enough for you to successfully target, while still being large enough to meet your marketing objectives.

You need to verify the following points:

  • Can this group of people afford your service/product?
  • Will they find the information you provide valuable?
  • Does your service/product provide a benefit to your potential customers?
  • Can you access this audience through emails or social media?
  • Are they likely receptive to receiving information from you?

Once you’re satisfied the content you present to potential customers covers all the bases, you can feel more confident your efforts will be rewarded.

Do Detailed Research

Do Detailed Content Research

Once you’ve got your audiences’ attention, it’s paramount to take full advantage.

To that end, it’s incredibly important that your content is relevant, accurate, up-to-date and, whenever possible, evergreen.

How can you assure you meet these criteria?

You carry out detailed research; leave no stone un-turned.

Your readers probably consume content from a variety of sources, including your competitors.

If the information you provide doesn’t stack up, you’d better have some pretty good reasons.

But, if you have knowledge that goes against the grain – and, importantly, you can support it – then publish away and await the stampede of visitors and an avalanche of feedback (it won’t all be positive though – consider yourself warned).

Strategy and Objectives

One of the main – if not the single most important – objections of your content marketing strategy is to position yourself in your industry as an influencer; a brand of authority.

Take your core message and develop it into a rich story.

Each piece of content should focus on different parts of the story and your core message should be apparent in each.

If you can provide detailed content that will keep users coming back again and again, you’ll simultaneously drive awareness about your brand and position yourself as a thought-leader.

Do that and you won’t really need to worry about sales – they’ll come naturally as a by-product of the relationship you build with your user-base.

Measuring Performance

Knowing what to measure when it comes to content marketing can be tricky.

There are no click-through rates like there are on emails; there’s no ‘likes’ or followers you can keep track of; there’s no obvious ROI to calculate like you can with PPC

So, what on earth are you supposed to track?

Here’s what we’d recommend:

  • Number of clicks – this will give you a good indication of how strong your headline is
  • Number of Pageviews – the number of people who visit different pages on your site
  • Pages viewed per visit – do your readers look at one page and leave or do they find several of your articles engaging?
  • Duration of visit – how long will a reader stay before moving on?
  • Bounce rate – the percentage of users who leave immediately after arriving on your site, indicating they didn’t find what they were expecting
  • Number of unique visitors – track the quantity of new users
  • Number of return visitors – people who have visited your site in the past and decided to come back
  • Social Media shares – is your content gaining visibility via shares on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.?
  • Number of leads – how many people are giving you their contact info purely off the back of your content?
  • Number of Conversions – of those content-generated leads, how many have converted to paying customers?
  • Revenue generated – calculate the time it takes you to create your content then, if possible, calculate the revenue you’ve acquired as a direct result of those efforts

Digital Marketing DIY

Small Business Owner who’d prefer to Do It Yourself?

We understand – you need marketing but you may not be able to pay someone to do it all for you. So, you may be interested in our digital marketing courses, where you can learn Digital Marketing DIY

 
LEARN TO DO IT YOURSELF

The Many, and Significant, Benefits

Thus far, we’ve covered the bases of ‘what’ and ‘who’ of content marketing.

We’ll now start delving into the oh-so-many reasons behind why content marketing should be one of the most important elements of your digital marketing strategy.

1. Gives Your Website Value

Having a successful business online has changed in recent years.

It’s not enough for your site to merely explain what you do and maybe a bit about how you do it.

People have come to expect websites to deliver information, knowledge, insight, even entertainment.

In short:

You need to be a publisher, as well as what you normally do for a living, to compete at the very highest level.

When a user visits your site or social media page, they need to leave feeling enlightened.

If they don’t, there’s a strong possibility they’ll never return.

Especially considering your competitors will be able to satisfy this particular hankering.

As you build your content catalogue over weeks, months, years, you provide a compelling reason for visitors to keep coming back.

And this helps form habitual behaviours in your readers.

2. Good Content Endures and Boosts SEO

The term ‘evergreen’ for content refers to information that doesn’t decompose (get it?).

Up-to-the-minute news updates, celebrity gossip and other forms of ‘in the moment’ content will lure many a reader, but the stories become old and irrelevant quickly, replaced by the events of the next day and the next day etc.

But some information remains relevant for months, even years.

Think about cooking advice, health and fitness tips, travel guides.

Sure, we’re not saying they’re set in stone – new research, studies or tech can adjust the landscape of such topics.

But the fundamentals largely remain unchanged.

If you aim to write evergreen content, your posts will be pertinent for years to come and all you need to do is direct people to it (as well as making sure it’s always kept up-to-date).

3. Your Content Influences Every Other Marketing strategy

SEO and Content Marketing are intrinsically linked, that is indisputable.

But what may surprise you is that your content creation will have a positive impact on practically every other element of your digital marketing strategy too:

Once you’re satisfied the content you present to potential customers covers all the bases, you can feel more confident your efforts will be rewarded.

  • SEO

    The SEO benefits of content marketing are many and varied.

    We won’t get into it all here (you can read our SEO article if you’d like to learn more) but rest assured that high-quality content, structured correctly and promoted properly, will boost your rankings in Google.
  • Social Media

    Moving right along, a strong content game provides added value to your social media pages.

    Rather than simple images or inspirational quotes, readers will be able to access more in-depth content when they visit your social media pages, which in turn will increase engagement, ‘likes’ and traffic back to your website.
  • Email Marketing

    Consistently strong content will encourage your readers to sign-up for your article updates.It may not happen after they’ve visited your website for the very first time, but readers will soon begin to understand the value of coming back again and again if they learn something new each time.

    Do that and it won’t be long before they’ll want email reminders from you every time you post something new.
  • Lead Generation

    Providing your content is good enough, you can offer content upgrades (such as downloadable PDF checklists that outlines the main points of the article) or even gated content (where some of the content is blocked).

    Then tell your users that they can access the PDF/hidden content by inputting their email address. Lead generated.
  • Conversion Rate Optimisation

    Persuasive (but not sales-y) copy, coupled with a well-placed call-to-action can lead to an increase in conversions.

    The path you’re looking for is readers >> subscribers; subscribers >> customers; one-time customers >> repeat purchases.
  • Brand Recognition

    The more people that visit your site as a direct result of your content, the more they’ll recall your brand with positive connotations.

    This builds your reputation with them and anybody they share that opinion with.

4. Build Relationships by Encouraging Comments and Interaction

Encourage Comments and Interaction

For those of you brave enough, the comments section is a veritable gold mine of information on ways you can improve your business.

Maybe your articles are too short. Maybe you focus on topics that your readers don’t find appealing.

Maybe your points appear to be solid, but you don’t provide enough evidence to support your claims.

Maybe you’re too expensive. Maybe you’re just plain rubbish (hey, don’t blame us, people can say the meanest of things when protected by the anonymity of the internet).

Whatever your readers’ gripes, you can be sure you’ll find them mentioned in the comments section.

If you’re able to cultivate a healthy and supportive community of commenters, readers will come to your website just to read the viewpoints of fellow users.

Once this kind of development occurs, your readers will view your website as a vibrant and valuable source of information and this will only enhance your reputation in their minds and reinforce your burgeoning relationship.

5. Making Your Brand an Authority

Content marketing should be considered a long-term strategy, this is unquestionable.

And one of the major benefits of committing to the long-term game is the establishment of a detailed and varied catalogue of information.

Though it’ll take a considerable amount of time and work, dedicating years to the act of providing quality content will inevitably position you as an authority figure in your industry

Do this well, and it could even lead to you being considered an innovative thought-leader, should your content prove to be consistently of high quality.

Such a reputation will not go unnoticed, as more and more influencers in your industry begin to take notice, linking to your articles in their own and recommending your website as a valuable resource.

Before long, your entire brand will be wide-reaching and recognisable among those who operate in your field of expertise.

6. Your content will provide compounding returns

There’s a little bit of maths involved here, so stick with us:

  1. In year one, we’d like to think you’ll have published at least 12,000 words: one 1,000-word article per month. If you can do more, even better. And, as long as you don’t simply publish and pray (i.e. you actually promote each piece) you’ll see results from SEO/rankings, traffic, sign-ups, conversions etc. equivalent to your output.
  2. In year two, you will again produce at least 12,000-ish words, but this time you’ll see results consistent with two years of content marketing and 24,000 published words, since you started the year with 12k already ‘in the bank’.
  3. Year three will see you again contribute 12k words to your site, only now you’re building on the 24k of years one and two, plus the reputation you’ve built up after two years of consistent content marketing.
  4. And so on and so forth (that was a clever play on words there, don’t you think? Fourth/forth. No? Just us? OK.)

The point is, as long as you don’t let the difficulties associated with consistently producing content prevent you from doing so, your results will improve exponentially, year-on-year.

7. Content is Adaptable to Different Social Media Platforms

Certain types of content convert better on some social media platforms than others.

An in-depth blog post won’t attract too much attention on Instagram or Pinterest, for example. While your avid readers won’t find a product image all that engaging.

(Though you shouldn’t discount the power of re-purposing content from one format to another to suit other platforms.)

As we discussed earlier, your content output can take many forms and it’s something we’d recommend considering.

One size doesn’t necessarily fit all where content is concerned, so varying your content and tweaking it to suit the social media platform you’re targeting will improve user experience and increase interaction across multiple platforms.

Once you assess the social media landscape thoroughly, you’ll begin to understand what content types perform well on each platforms.

You can then match that info with the content types applicable to your company’s message and goals.

8. It Utilises a Reader-Friendly ‘Pull’ Technique Rather Than the Harsher ‘Push’ Strategy

Certain ‘Pull’ marketing is so called due to its technique of appealing to potential customers and luring them to your website (via SEO and other non-intrusive methods).

This is in contrast to ‘pushing’ your product or service under the noses of your customers through paid advertising, discount offers etc.

As you may infer from the names, ‘pull’ tactics are considered more reader-friendly as you are encouraging engagement and participation in exchange for information, rather than forcefully presenting your company where the reader perhaps doesn’t want it to be.

Googling the broad term ‘running shoes’, for example, will return display ads directing you to online stores where you can buy such items, when what you were looking for was a Wikipedia page that details the history of running shoes.

Additionally, advertising saturates the average person’s daily life.

Exposure to adverts, labels and branding in general exceeds the 5,000 mark every single day (please note that other studies suggest ‘specific advert exposure’ is closer to 360 per day, but even if we take this more conservative figure, that still accounts for 22.5 adverts for every hour you’re awake – that’s roughly one every three minutes!)

It’s little wonder, then, that our brains have become accustomed to filtering them out entirely – the banner blindness phenomenon is a good example of this – making the validity and value of paid advertising more questionable than ever.

If you incentivise the process by offering information to your readers in exchange for their attention, they get instant value from visiting your website, increasing the likelihood that

(a) they’ll return again in the future

(b) their curiosity regarding your paid services will be piqued, considering your free information offers so much value, and eventually

(c) they’ll convert to paying customers

9. It’s the Present and the Future

Content will always be necessary.

With the persistent bombardment consumers face through ads every single day, it’s little wonder that the messages these brands are trying to deliver becomes so incredibly diluted and lost in the mire.

Content marketing offers a unique opportunity for your company to resonate on an almost personal level with your customers.

By creating bespoke content which adheres to their interests and needs, and responding to their responses and feedback via comment sections and surveys, you can build strong and long-lasting relationships.

All this while simultaneously conveying your brands message and personality without the need to be blatantly promotional.

So many companies and brands now recognise the importance of content marketing, which is leading to an incredible number of blog posts being published on a daily basis.

Those who choose to ignore this trend will fall increasingly behind; those who choose to forego content marketing entirely are in for an unpleasant surprise.

Do You Lack the Resources to Do It Yourself?

Harking back to the very beginning of the article, we once again reference Content Marketing Institute as, according to them, the biggest challenges facing companies is the time it takes to dedicate themselves to a content marketing strategy or even to produce enough content at all.

We understand this and it’s the very reason we include content marketing in our Premium and Ultimate packages.

We wholeheartedly encourage to take apply content marketing in your company.

But, if you’re like the many companies unable to spend the necessary time creating the content your company deserves, we strongly recommend you find an agency who can help you.

Do your research to find a company that suits your needs, and if that ends up being us then great; get in touch so we can get the ball rolling.

How did we do? Have we convinced you that a content marketing strategy is worthy of your time and money?

Small business owners…

Want to learn how to get more traffic, more leads and more sales?

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