Content Marketing for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs
The technological advancement in communication and transportation during the 19th century gave rise to content marketing. This marketing technique enabled businesses to reach out to their customers and develop a strong relationship with them by making use of content. Content in the form of text, images, and videos showcasing products and services has been a powerful medium to bridge between businesses and their consumers ever since.
Definition of Content Marketing
According to Content Inception, the definition of Content Marketing is –
“A strategic process to develop and deliver relevant and valuable content presented effectively to reach a group of pre-defined audience to maximize the business growth.”
Content is the bridge between the brand and the customers. Content needs to be developed not only considering the business goal but the needs and emotions of the end-users as well. An informative piece of content that addresses the pain points of the target customers brings customers’ trust and loyalty toward the brand.
Types of Digital Content
Content can be presented in various formats like blogs, articles, videos, e-books, infographics, podcasts, case studies, email newsletters, etc. on the digital channel. An effective content marketing strategy focuses on not just the value of the right content but a correct format and a proper channel too to get the attention of its intended audience.
As an inbound marketing strategy, content marketing approaches the prospects indirectly, by satisfying their quest for information and solving their issues. Over the period, the value provided to a user creates brand awareness, credibility, and trust.
Who Is Using Content as Part of Marketing Strategy
Today, businesses are using Content Marketing as their long-term strategy to promote their products and services by attracting, engaging, and retaining their targeted audience which helps them in fetching business results in terms of attention, awareness, lead, and sales.
The latest content marketing industry stats show that 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing and 86% of B2C marketers believe content marketing is a key strategy.
The survey shows that among the B2B marketers, 37% have documented content marketing strategies. 63% of the marketers still don’t have a documented strategy but want to know how to build a better content strategy. Among the B2C marketers, 60% are committed to content marketing. This shows, overall, 72% of the marketers believe and say that content marketing increases engagement and eventually the number of leads.
Benefits of Content Marketing
Increases Website Traffic And Visibility Of The Brand
An effective content strategy captivates the target audience and brings more traffic to the website. Informative content has the potential to drive more organic traffic to the website, providing value and solving the issues of the potential customers that eventually results in brand visibility and an increase in customer base.
Content developed with a “Customer-Centric” approach defines its value and relevancy for a customer. Be it a small piece of how-to text or an explainer video, content that is useful keeps its customers engaged and builds a relationship that lasts longer. The survey shows that 72% of marketers agree that content marketing increases client engagement.
Lead Generation and Increase in Sales
Whatever be the business model, Content marketing has proved itself,’ the King of Online Marketing’ for many years. Content developed with proper research and presented in a logical way to its segmented audience can generate leads in a large number compared to other marketing mediums. This has been agreed by 72% of the marketers. It pushes the customer to move through its purchase decision more quickly, resulting in an increase in the number of sales and high ROI.
Brand Awareness And Recognition
Fresh, unique, interesting, accurate, and useful content is paramount to attract, retain, and increase the customer base to create brand awareness among its audience. Tell your story in an effective way to get consumer recognition and position your business as an expert in your industry – and it’ll do the magic.
Social Media Awareness
An effective and valuable content gets recommendations from its users that trigger a sharing behavior in them. Social shares, reviews, and comments open a channel of communication that brings media awareness. The Twitter stats show – 94% plan to purchase from a business they follow, and 69% bought something because of a tweet, which shows a great ROI through social media.
Why Content Marketing For Small Business Is The Most Effective Marketing Medium
Marketing helps in drawing the attention and remain visible to the intended audience group, hence is vital for the success of any business. For a small business, Marketing becomes a challenge due to the following constraints:
- Lack of funds
- Lack of access to bigger and trained staff
- Lack of needed experience and knowledge to create and execute a marketing strategy
It would not be wrong to say – ‘Content Marketing is a boon for small businesses due to its cost-effectiveness and high ROI.
The research from Kapost and Eloqua shows that content marketing costs 31% less than paid search for mid-size businesses. Online marketing through content costs less than other forms of advertising as it is executed in an economical way for consumers as well as providers due to its diversity of approach, social media effectiveness, and access to free content. Providing content to a customer, which is informative and valuable increases the cost of the message bringing an increase in sales, revenue, and profit.
A good piece of content helps in building a relationship with the customers that last for years, steadily increasing the customer base through content sharing. Also, for a website visitor, the free content allows easy access to useful information, and if the visitor finds it relevant, there is ample chance of a new lead.
Why Paid Ads Fail
Many people feel that paid ads would do wonders for lead generation with high traffic to the website. However, the fact is paid ads will be helpful only when the target landing page and other pages on the website are in a good position to address visitors’ queries. Or else, you might generate traffic to your website, but lose out on conversion and still keep paying for the ad clicks.
Moreover, the chances of your ads being shown on Google also depend on the bid value and the quality score of your target landing page. If the content quality isn’t good, to showcase your ads, you need to bid high and still fail to generate leads even though you might receive adequate traffic. So, irrespective of the size or brand of a business, you need quality content to get ranked in the search engine organically or good conversion with paid ads.
Steps To Create An Effective Content Marketing Strategy
1. Identify The Key Brand Differentiator
The unique feature or the benefits delivered by the business through its product or service differentiates it from the other competitors. For competitive advantage, it is critical for any business to identify its unique feature and position it as the base of the content marketing strategy.
2. An In-Depth Research Of The Prospective Customer
To create effective content, it is important to know, “who your audience is?”. The ‘demographics’ (like age, gender, location, income) and the ‘psychographics’ (attitude, belief systems, values, and interests) of the audience needs to be dug and mapped to understand their need and requirement. Research helps in developing a persona of the specific group and gives an overview of their buying habits and expectations.
3. Create Effective Content
The right set of keywords, type of content, and brand voice are keys for an effective piece of content. Audience Research helps in listing the Keywords used to search information by the search engine user. The straight and simple suggestion is to be the search engine user yourself and then optimize your content with the keywords for better organic traffic. Your page will have the natural strength to rank higher and get discovered by users.
4. Choose The Right Platform For Content Promotion
Today, we use several platforms to fetch information, such as social media, blogs, e-mails, advertisements, etc., depending on our choice and interest.
Identify how and where your target audience is viewing the content, analyze the best way to present information to them, before choosing a content platform. Content on the right platform can have the maximum impact on its audience.
5. Consistency In Content Delivery
Publish your content regularly to measure its effectiveness. Follow a content schedule or maintain a content calendar, like Google Calendar to maintain uniformity. The audience will start to follow the brand on social media and bring brand awareness.
6. Monitor The Results
Track the results of content marketing through the number of clicks, views, user comments, or other statistics to analyze the marketing efforts and make changes and improvements accordingly.
How To Measure Your Content Marketing Efforts Vs. Results
For a business, objectives to attain through content marketing strategy can be Customer base, Brand Awareness, Engagement, Lead Nurturing, Sales, Customer Retention, or Subscription Growth.
Monitor, measure and evaluate each step of your goal-focused marketing strategy to decrease overall risk and ensure its success. The journey of content can be integrated into; Discovery, Engagement, Conversion, and Sharing. At each stage, results can be tracked with proper metrics to measure the impact of the digital marketing strategy.
Steps To Measure The Impact Of Content
Is The Content Discovered By The Audience?
Content optimized by SEO practices has more probability to get discovered by its audience in the Google search. The metrics Impressions, Clicks, CTR (Click through Rate), and Site Visitors help to track the content at this stage.
What Is Impression – This metric helps in identifying if the search engine found the content relevant to search Keywords and if yes, then the number of times your content appeared in the SERP (Search Engine Result Page).
What Is Click – It measures the number of clicks a content gets after appearing in the SERP and defines its resonance on a search user.
What Is CTR – CTR is the number of Clicks per Impression, the rate helps in determining if the resonance of the content is improving over time or not.
What Is Site Visitor – It helps in tracking the growth in the user base, the influx of new visitors, and regular visitors.
Is The Content Able To Engage The Audience
The engagement level of content can be measured through metrics; Time on page and Bounce Rate. Get to know, how long a user stays on a page through Time on-page. Bounce Rate measures whether the content of the page created interest in the site visitor to explore pages of the website or made the visitor jump to another website for a particular session.
Is The Content Able To Make Conversions
Convert a user to a customer to generate leads. A high conversion rate will have a high volume of sales. Conversion can be tracked through the number of sign-up, subscriptions, form fill-ups for any web page or blog or click on any call-to-action in an email, etc.
Is The Content Shared By The Audience?
Content is shared if found valuable to its user. Email forwards, social media likes, and shares are the main sharing metrics to measure the value of content. Evaluate your strategy at each step and take effective steps to iterate success.
How To Approach Content Marketing For Your Business
If you are a Small Business, then content marketing should be a crucial part of your digital marketing strategy to get noticed by your ideal customer and drive a profitable customer action in a cost-effective manner. Defining or targeting a particular group of audiences aligned with the business goal is the stepping stone of a content marketing strategy.
For small businesses a potent approach for content marketing should include:
- Develop Process plan: Develop a process plan for your content strategy in order to hit the targeted audience with the right content, get steady traffic, and leads; cost-effectively.
- Idea Generation for Content: Before developing content generate ideas for Content through Google search, online industry-relevant blogs, Quora, BuzzSumo and Google alerts.
- Choose a Content-Format: Plan to convert your content into various formats like video, infographics, podcast, etc. to reach the targeted audience.
- Publish Content: Promote your Content through Social Media, Emails, etc.
- Measure Results: Analyze and measure which content is resonating with your audience and is effective.
To get the attention of the audience, use your content to tell a story, develop an emotional appeal, empathize and provide solutions. If you are new to content marketing or not comfortable in writing, approach a content marketing agency to help you, grow your business with growth in traffic, lead generation, and better ROI.
Case Studies Of Businesses Getting The Benefit Through Content Marketing
Lead pages is a digital marketing company founded by Clay Collins in 2013. Based in the US, the company designs customized mobile-friendly landing page templates and offers testing services in the digital domain to businesses.
Challenges Before Lead Pages: Being a start-up, the founder of Lead Pages did not have enough money to spend on customer acquisitions compared to its competitors. He decided to adopt inbound marketing and beat the companies working with conventional outbound marketing.
Content Marketing Strategy: The company believed – “a content team of 4 people can outperform a sales team of 80 people at conventional companies”.
It started building its own marketing assets as marketing courses, e-books, case studies, and info-graphics and offered them free-of-cost.
Blogs on popular marketing topics like lead generation, a/b testing were published to attract customers. Organized weekly webinars on various digital marketing topics and a marketing podcast “Conversion Cast” was also run.
Results: In three years, the company registered 35,000 customers with a low acquisition cost. Revenue of $16 million was generated by the company in 2015. The business growth was phenomenal and was declared the #148 fastest growing company in the US.
Airbnb, founded in 2008 in San Francisco is a peer-to-peer online marketplace and home-stay network, enabling people to list or rent short-term lodging in residential properties.
Challenges: Airbnb depends on two components, hosts and travelers for its business. As a start-up, the company wanted to build a customer base by reaching and encouraging maximum people around the world to become hosts and travelers.
Methods: Airbnb relies primarily on user-generated content, it is developed in the form of beautiful images and videos other than blogs. To attract more guests to its platform and strengthen its community, it focuses on shareable and evergreen content. They are the personal stories from their user-base and stories of City and country guides, reviews of local restaurants and attractions respectively.
Airbnb believes in developing great content that is engaging, valuable, passionate and builds a community, and strengthens the bond.
To create demand around its product or service the company uses channels like social media, blogs and has collaborated with Google to create Google Ads and integrated with Craigslist as well.
Results: The content marketing strategy has boasted around 150 million users, 4 million listings, and a total valuation of $31 billion in 2017. Airbnb has become one of the highly appreciated content leaders in the industry.
Slack, launched in 2013 by Stewart Butterfield, is a cloud-based provider of a set of proprietary team collaboration tools and services. The company is a brand personality in messaging app space.
Challenges: Slack wanted to gain a new space in the messaging app space by providing a better medium for communicating rather than emails that are quick, reliable, and useful.
Methods: Slack adopted a marketing strategy based on Customer Relations. The company started delivering a high-quality customer experience. Today, it not just receives but responds to 8,000 help desk tickets and up to 10,000 Tweets each month to solve the problem of its customers. It also shares emotions with its, Wall of love.
Focused on Humanity, Slack creates content that is clear, and concise to educate and build trust with its customers. The data-driven approach to developing content maintains the Integrity of the company. The company believes in repeating important information by posting blogs on its website.
Result: The number of users has increased from 15,000 in 2014 to 2 million active daily users, and it is now a $4 billion company. The content strategy has evolved from a single page to a media company.
The Future Of Content Marketing
With the increase in the number of internet users (which is approximately 4 billion globally) and tremendous growth in Content consumption, businesses have realized the need to integrate great content in every part of their marketing and communication strategy to achieve growth.
The channels, tactics, and tools used in content marketing keep evolving and will continue with the changing technology and search engine.
The interactive video, reactive social video, mass participation, and live videos are replacing the traditional marketing videos and taking them to a new level. 93% of the marketers agree that interactive content is more effective than static content.
Moreover, a whopping 88% of the B2B markets are planning to make their content interactive by 2018. Amidst all these stats there is one underlined statement – Content Marketing is the future of marketing. Craft a powerful content strategy to increase your sales and forecast the growth of your business, consider the technological changes, scrutinize the barriers, and adopt the methods to overcome them. Content is and will remain one of the powerful digital marketing tools for the internet generation in the coming years as well.
Research shows – a staggering 87% of marketers now use videos in their content marketing, weekly 78% of people watch videos online that increases conversion rates on a website’s landing page by 80%.
The use of immersive content is growing with ad spending hitting $12.8 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $143.3 billion in 2020.
Statistics show 26% of desktop users and 15% of mobile users are browsing the web with an ad blocker installed. Hence, Added value content like Native advertising, Progressive web apps, Amazon Echo, and Google home are trending as great ways to produce informative and branded content. The bottom-line is content marketing has given traditional marketing new wings and in coming years, this new-age online marketing strategy powered by analytics will pump in more power to businesses’ digital marketing campaigns for sure.