If you’re anything like me, a small business owner who wishes to grow his company, you’ll know just as well as I do that day-to-day operations can get in way of marketing (yes, even for a digital marketing agency, sometimes we are too busy to just think about our own marketing!)
So generally, what happens is that we have a web presence, we’re on social. But we don’t seem to be making much of an impact in terms of new customers, or an increase in sales. Eventually, we see our analytics remaining the same; we neither decrease or increase our site visits; new customers, online orders or attention gathered online. We get comfortable with our number, and we try our hardest to maintain our current internet presence (some social posts, a website update once in a while, we’ll retweet someone’s post, perhaps.. )
Now, I’m here today to tell you over a better way. If the above story sounds anything like you (you run a small business with an online presence that doesn’t attract much attention), I think it’s time you understood the true value of content marketing and how it could be the key to your long-term success when it comes to attracting new customers and developing your brand online.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the process of creating content that is related to your target audience, and will help them with their problems. The idea is simple; you listen to the problems your customers are facing, and offer advise and guidance on those subjects.
Similar to what I am doing now – you are offering content (for free) on your website for everyone to read, in order to help your target audience solve their problems. This can be recipes, how-to articles, advise and guidance, it could be a perspective. Generally, you want to be informing your audience around issues in your industry in order to get them to understand why they should take action.
This content could be anything from video, written blogs, online guides, e-books, case studies, infographics, templates, downloads and could be used in a range of context (as above – recipes, how-to guides, perspectives, best practices, tutorials). Which is why I wanted to speak more about it today, as you can only imagine how important that can be to your online branding.
That little bit more…
Content marketing should be the complete drive behind your online marketing. Content marketing is important not only because it allows you to showcase your company (imagine case studies, testimonials, blogs, promotional videos) and mostly your expertise as a business. Not only that, as we mentioned in our article last week, companies that produce content frequently often generate many times more leads than those who don’t produce or produce very little content (16 blogs per month compared to 4 blogs per month, there was a 450% increase in leads).
As well as that, content marketing is the foundation of your brand online as it allows you to continuously promote yourself. The thing is about your content; it is there. Forever. That means content marketing can drive traffic to your website through organically growing your Google listing results (content marketing should be heavily researched using Google Planner). Put it into these terms; if you are producing sixteen blogs per month, how could that help your social media?
The content becomes a permanent fixture in your company. You can promote that content forever, throughout all your channels. It’s true that one piece of content can bring in many hundreds of thousands of people to your website, and if you do a good job you’ll at least convert a few of them into customers. Think about it; how many people are searching for problems in your industry? To find out which keywords people are using and to create a keyword-rich piece of content that will be found by your customers through google, you can always use the Google Keyword Planner to enhance your content strategy. More on that in a separate article.
The Underlying Purpose
Content marketing eventually becomes your unique touch on the world. It’s who you are; you are promoting yourself, your business, your perspective and most importantly showcasing your knowledge and expertise in your industry. By continuously writing about new updates in your industry, about best practices you are using, providing value to your customers, you are telling the world I am ready; I’m here, I know what I’m talking about, let’s do business.
If you’re a brand or company, content marketing will also allow you to showcase your team, your culture, the ways you work. Most importantly, it will allow you to keep up with the competition. The fact is, content marketing works. If you’re not there to answer your customers questions, your competition will be. And when that same customer is ready to buy, where will they be in your sales funnel? Because I guarantee, to work with you, they better have heard you before, they better be fimilar with your website; your brand, your expertise and your knowledge.
What did we say content was useful for again….?
Think about it; your content is found online, you are talking about issues that your customers resonate with, you are providing them with solutions for free to work with themselves. Eventually, that will turn into business, no doubt about it.
How Can I Use Content Marketing? Five Steps:
Step One: Determine What Your Customers Problems Are
I imagine you are in business to solve a problem. Generally, as a small business owner you should be very intact with your customers and know common problems that they face. A good way to get started is to brainstorm, take down some notes on what exactly you are looking to achieve as a business owner, the problem you are trying to solve.
For example, I am bringing small businesses online and helping them drive traffic to their online presence through the use of digital marketing. I know the problems my customers face are promoting themselves effectively online; they need an optimised website, they need to drive traffic to their website, they need branding, they need content. I try to advise on those problems in my blogs, what could you advise on?
Another great way is to ask current customers. Phone up your clients, talk to your customers in the shop. Why do they shop with you, what made them make the decision to purchase your product or service? This can help tremendously as it can help you come up with ideas to write blogs about, in the hopes you will reach your target audience and be there for them when they have a problem (your e-book could offer some solutions, or your blog could have some articles guiding them to the right way..)
I will cover Google Keyword Planner in more depth in a further article, but one way to determine what your customers problems are, particularly what they are searching for online, is the Google Keyword Planner. The Keyword Planner will allow you to see how you rank on Google currently, what your customers are searching for, how your competitors rank in certain searches. You should find your niche, find gaps in the market for different areas you specialise in and concentrate on building your content around those ideas.
Step Two: Find A Platform To Voice Your Knowledge
The practicalities of starting a blog are not tremendously complex. You can start simply with a Tumblr or LinkedIn account, both of which give you access to blog writing capabilities that can share your professional profile.
Our best advise would be to start a blog from within your website, preferably. If you don’t have a website, a simple WordPress site can be installed without much effort, which will allow you to start your blog straight away, or if you truly want to showcase your work, your website should showcase all your services and portfolio whilst the blog is just one section that allows you to share your ideas and thoughts on your industry and create the content that will generate the right audience to your site.
If you are going for infographics, e-books or any other online format that will help you increase your arsenal of marketing material, you should perhaps contact a company to help you redistribute your content effectively and professionally.
Step Three: Continuously Produce Content
The thing is about content, you need to continuously produce it. We are aiming for a blog every two days in order to get our name in the market. You should post a similar amount if you want to expect some good results. Spending one hour per day should allow you to produce the content needed in order to promote your company much more effectively online. It will allow make you more confident, give you more experience writing (or shooting videos, whatever your platform is) and give you more content to work with long-term (think redistribution – turn your blogs into E-books and info-graphics)
For example, if you were a gym, you might promote a healthy lifestyle in other areas and share good diets, you may also have how-to articles (videos perhaps) that instruct your audience how to take on certain postures, or do certain routines. If you were a yoga instructor, you could have videos on different postures, how-to articles on a vegan lifestyle, information on yoga’s influence on the mind and soul. There are many examples from a multitude of different industries, you should perhaps look at your competitors and how other industry leaders use content to generate interest in their brand to get a good idea of how content is used in your industry.
Step Four: Engage With Your Audience
Now that you have the content, you can engage your audience with it. Google will eventually pick up your articles, but the thing is about content marketing, it can really drive your social media. If you’re publishing a blog every two days, that gives you something to talk about on social media. Consider this; after three months you will have 45 articles, videos, or pieces of content to promote on your social media page. Another three months, you’ll have 90 pieces of content and within a year you’ll have over 180 – at one every two days. One hour every day.
Eventually, you need to engage your audience with your content. You should be continuously promoting content. Try to make content that does not become outdated too early; not every piece will be timeless, but it’d be great if you could still promote the same piece of content a year down the line and get the same response (not always possible, depending on your industry…)
Step Five: Analyse & Adapt
If you are planning on creating content, there are many factors that determine how well your website ranks with Google and it may not have an immediate result, it is something you have to continuously work on; new articles, researching, analyzing your results, adapting your writing style. It can be time consuming to create well written, valuable articles that capture the attention of your audience and promote you in the right way.
Analysing and adapting your written content based on results is incredibly important. Google Analytics is a great tool to look at the response times for each article; how long are they viewed for, do people stick around your website afterwards, are you being found through social media or through google search? All of these are excellent pieces of information to look at the results of each written piece of content, how it’s performing. Most of all, use that to drive your next piece of content; which worked best, what subject, what writing style? All of this can be used to generate better results long-term.
Content Marketing. Can your small business use it? The answer is YES.
As a way of building trust, generating new traffic to your website and establishing your online presence, content marketing is probably the most cost-effective in the long-term, as your content will be available to your customers forever, and with the right target audience research, there is potential to help millions of people solve their problem.
And for those in business, you know that solving problems is what ultimately brings in revenue.
Do you need help establishing your online presence? Are you a local entrepreneur or business owner that wants to go digital and attract new customers?
SME Social offer bespoke packages that is personalised to your business needs. A specialist in helping local businesses improve their digital branding, with services including website design, content marketing, social media marketing and pay per click advertisement, you can contact me today for a free consultation below.