Content marketing for small businesses is a potential game-changer. When done correctly, this increasingly popular marketing strategy can establish your business as an industry leader and provide information of value to your customers.
Other content marketing benefits include:
- More eyes on your website. High-value content to targeted customers generates greater inbound traffic.
- Increased sales leads. Rich content engages more people and produces more sales leads.
- Promotes brand awareness. A growing reputation as a thought leader (based on the high-quality content you deliver) will favorably influence purchasing decisions because consumers want to buy from a brand they trust and respect.
- More cost-effective than other forms of marketing. Often, content marketing can be implemented internally, using material from brochures, videos, and other marketing material already in existence, thus saving money spent on hiring external resources.
Here are tips on content marketing to engage potential customers:
Always opt for quality over quantity. Some small businesses new to content marketing adopt a "deluge" strategy, where they simply dump every existing piece of content they have on their websites and social media platforms. Too much content generally indicates low value - particularly if people have to spend time hunting for morsels of value - and, in fact, will give your business a bad reputation.
Instead, focus on providing content of high-quality; information presented in an appealing, and engaging manner helps your target audience solve problems and exploit opportunities for growth. Use relevant facts and research, as well as supporting links, to make your case.
Organically engage potential customers. It's important to optimize your content and make it easier for people to find online. To achieve this goal, think about the words or phrases people might use to search for the topic you're writing about. When you've compiled a short list of these keywords, include them in the blog post or article organically, which means, make sure they fit with the flow of your piece and don't appear as "keyword stuffing." Resources like the Google Adwords Keyword Tool can help you select the best words and phrases related to your topic and industry.
It's also a good idea to reference other blogs or articles that support your topic. Including links to these sources can help lessen your bounce rate (the number of people who exit your site without viewing other pages) and may result in a higher search engine ranking that drives more traffic to your site. If you choose to link to blogs and articles, it is best practice to seek out any permissions that you may need in order to do so; an on-page contact form, or contact information for the site owner or writer is often provided.
Avoid self-promotion (but don't forget a call-to-action). Content marketing is all about educating and sharing information with your target audience. Don't make the mistake of trying to sell your business or products at the same time. Consumers can quickly determine if your intent is to promote, rather than inform. If they come to that conclusion, they're unlikely to return to your site in the future.
It's fully appropriate, however, to include a brief mention of your business at the close of your article, blog post, white paper, etc. This is also the place to include a call-to-action, which can vary from adding a link that takes them elsewhere on your site to giving readers an opportunity to comment on your piece or sign up for your email list.
Edit ruthlessly. By committing to a content marketing strategy, you must also commit to ruthlessly editing your own work (or the work of outsourced contributors). Nothing damages the credibility of an article or blog post like poor grammar, misspelled words, and typos. Focus on getting the piece off to a good start with an intriguing opening and ending on a strong note (with, as noted, a call-to-action).
Repurpose content of value. Once content is produced, it's often applicable to more than one venue. With some tweaking and minor reconfiguring to a blog post, for example, you can repurpose that content to use in podcasts, a YouTube video, infographics, interviews, webinars, and more.
Promote your content on social media. Chances are, you've built a solid network of fans and followers on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others. When you post new content (in whatever form), alert your network and invite people to read and share it with others in their networks. Easy-to-use programs like Hootsuite enable you to schedule your posts on each social media site so they appear at the best times for that audience.
Content marketing requires time and effort, but in terms of building a fan base, broadening the appeal of your brand and establishing yourself as a thought leader, the ROI is well worth it.