Content marketing is a way of getting more people to believe in your business, and to convert to paying customers. While many business owners – especially small business owners – intend to work on creating great content for their business, blog posts, website content, and social media posts often fall by the wayside when they are busy. But that means missing out on potentially lucrative sales, which isn’t great either. A strong marketing strategy keeps customers finding your business, and deciding to engage with you, and recommend you, which is essential for the long term success of your company.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing refers to the creation, and sharing of content. It usually involves text-based, audio, and video content, and is of the type that is designed to attract an audience, to keep them engaged with your business. It isn’t about multiple calls to action and sales type content – rather, it should provide value for potential customers, so that when they need something that your business offers, they will think of you. They will see you as an expert in your field, which tells them you’re reliable, and safe to spend their money with, because you’ve built that trust already.
Which businesses should use content marketing?
Realistically, every business out there will benefit from content marketing. A website and a Facebook page – even one that is updated regularly – simply isn’t enough these days, particularly in fields where competition is high. Today, most marketing professionals recommend a multi-pronged approach to content marketing to increase their business, and when even the likes of Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are doing it, you know they’re onto something.
Why should content marketing be part of your business strategy?
Content marketing will help you reach your goals – whatever the size of your business. Those outbound marketing techniques, such as cold calls and sales emails are becoming less effective than they used to be, due to spam filters and call screening. Content marketing is the answer, because it allows your customers to find the information they want from you on their own timeline, and lets them decide when they are ready, without feeling under pressure.
There are many reasons to use content marketing in your business, but here are just a few of the things it will help boost:
Ensuring leads and prospects can see your most recent products, services and offers
Increasing sales and other conversions
Saving on costs
Helping you to keep customers engaged with your brand
Reaching new members of your target audience and showcasing your products and services
Creating a lasting sense of community for your customers and fans of your brand
It just makes sense to implement content marketing. And all the rest of your marketing activity works so much better with great content: Social media content is supported, and informed by content marketing, SEO results are better when you publish high quality content regularly, and PPC is more effective with great content for customers to find. That’s not to mention that great content will help drive more inbound marketing.
How should content marketing be implemented?
The overall goal of content marketing is to create the sort of content that your target customers WANT to receive, and that they want to share. Going viral isn’t necessary, and in fact, won’t bring customers in the way you want them. Likes and shares are only good if they result in increased brand awareness and conversions. There are three things to consider with this: the type of content you create, the topics you talk about, and how you’re going to deliver the content. Let’s take a look.
Choose the type of content you’re going to focus on
There’s a number of factors that will determine what messages you’re going to share through your content marketing, but you’ll need to start by thinking about what you want to achieve from your content strategy. Start by looking at your target customer(s), and then consider:
Why do your target customers engage with your business?
What can you offer your customers that your competitors don’t?
What are the pain points that your target customers experience?
Why are your solutions the right one for them?
What specifically about your business, and your solutions, will help your target customer overcome their pain points?
When you’re establishing yourself as an expert in your field, you need to provide plenty of evidence that you know what you’re talking about. So, you’re going to need as much content as you can amass, but don’t assume random posts created by ChatGPT are the answer. You need to talk in your tone of voice to your customers, and share the specific advice that you have, that they will come to value.
Find the right topics
One of the biggest challenges many businesses face when they’re thinking about a content marketing strategy is what topics to actually cover. There are a number of ways you can find ideas that your customers are actively searching for.
Initially, a great place to start is with your support team’s inbox. Those frequently asked questions are helpful, since they show you how you need to update the information on your website, and can inform your FAQ page, which most businesses will benefit from too. But those FAQs can be useful, since you can answer those questions in longer form on a blog post, or create an explainer video that you can embed on your product listing. Not only will that help your customers make their decisions more effectively, but they’ll also help your support guys, since they’ll reduce enquiries, and when the questions DO come through, they can link to that content to help answer the queries more efficiently.
You can also look at the content your competitors are posting, and see how you can create your own (improved!) version of this content
Look at what is trending on social media – look at hashtags from the industry to see what sort of content is already out there, and what is missing
Look at question and answer sites like Reddit and Quora – remember to go back to threads that inspire your content and post a link to your content in your answer
See what Google suggests when you search for a question or keyword – scroll down the results and you’ll find the “People also ask” section, which can inform your content
Check out Google Trends – it is a free tool that can help you to find the topics customers are searching for
You might have other resources available to inform your content creation, such as industry-specific databases or websites, but these are a few of the best places to get started.
Decide how you are going to deliver the content
When it comes to content marketing, the great thing is that there isn’t a single perfect formula to how you’re going to share the information, because every business – and their customers – are different. Some will prefer video, others will prefer written content, but the best thing for most will be to create a blend of all these different types of content. Here’s a list of ideas of ways you can create content that is ideal for sharing:
When you’re choosing the best approach for your business, you shouldn’t just focus on what you find easiest to produce – although that might be how you start out. Review your current targets, whether that’s for the next quarter, the year, or maybe the next five years. Are you simply looking to make sales, or do you want to increase the number of subscribers you have? Clearly, increasing your profits is a target, but you can’t increase those unless you’ve looked at your target customer. Reviewing both your company targets and your target customer will help you to establish the best way of sharing information.
Reuse the content for different formats
Of course, one piece of content can quickly become several. Let’s say you interview a client on video, talking about their success after working with you. From this, you can clip the video into a number of social media posts, create text-based social media posts, turn it into a long-form blog post (perhaps incorporating case studies from other clients too), work the information into shorter blog posts or an infographic, and include quotes from the video in a print catalogue, on your newsletter, or podcast. That one piece of content can provide more value than you ever imagined.
Measuring the success of content marketing
You have to know that your content marketing is worth it. Accurately measuring the return on your investment means that you can see your money at work. Setting SMART targets (I know, I groan every time I come across this term too, but they work!) will help you to keep you on track. SMART targets are:
Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
Achievable (agreed, attainable)
Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based)
Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)
Some advocates of SMART targets include Evaluated and Reviewed at the end, to prompt them to do those as well.
After the SMART targets are set, you will want to know how your content is performing, and key performance indicators (KPIs) are the way to do this. They’ll help you to stay on track, and to see which posts work well, so you can repeat the successes, and ditch the ones that don’t. A few KPIs that businesses like to use include:
If you want to increase brand awareness:
Measure traffic to your website
Increases in social media followers
Subscription sign ups (for newsletters etc)
Social media mentions
If your goal is to see an increase in company revenue or conversions:
Shopping cart abandonment rates
Calls to your support team
If you’re looking to increase brand loyalty, trust, and customer engagement:
Mentions on social media
Likes, shares, follows
If you’re also looking to increase strategic B2B partnerships, then the obvious KPI is the number of partnerships that are developed during the period in question. But you could also measure things like phone calls and meetings, as well as mentions and backlinks that could be an indicator that a partnership is on the horizon.
How quickly will we see results from content marketing?
In some instances – such as with social media posts – you’ll see immediate traction, especially if your followers are likely to like and share. But content marketing is a long term investment in your business, and if you’re creating content that is evergreen (that is, won’t date) then potentially you might see returns from your content marketing for years to come. Initially, many businesses don’t see a fast return, particularly if their goal is to increase their profits. Content marketing WILL increase your profits in the long term in a way that other marketing doesn't, but it certainly isn’t a quick fix, so don’t hassle your marketing team.
Do you need a whole content marketing team?
It depends – a large business with a turnover in the millions will almost certainly want a whole team of marketing professionals to help them to achieve what they need. But in many cases for smaller businesses, a whole team won’t be necessary. You can engage a single marketing professional to create what you need. That might be a writer, a video expert, or someone who can do a bit of both, as well as being able to upload to your website and your social media. Finding those experts can be as simple as working with a freelancer that you can find on websites such as Fiverr, or you can work with a local expert that can be a bit more supportive. They will be able to work with the tools available to help create content today – AI tools such as ChatGPT (be sure they will edit what it creates heavily!), as well as the plethora of keyword analysis tools, design tools, and so on.
There’s a lot to think about when you’re running a business. Marketing is one of the things that will help build your success, and done well, the potential for returns is huge. But when you’re pushed to the limit of what you can handle already, then finding time to spend on content marketing can be tricky, and it can end up pushed to the side, nagging at you and making you feel guilty each time you take a break. If this sounds like you, then get in touch – I can work with you to create a plan that will perform for you and your customers, and create written content and social media posts, at a price that makes sense.