Content Marketing for Small Business
Content marketing is a form of digital marketing that involves businesses creating unique, informative content that educates their target audience and indirectly incentivizes them to purchase specific products and/or services.
Content marketing has many exclusive advantages, including its unique ability to build brand loyalty and its low cost. In this guide, we break down what content marketing is, how it works, and ways to build a strong content marketing strategy as a small business.
What Is Content Marketing?
Unlike other forms of advertising, content marketing takes a more “guide-like” approach — rather than acting as a direct sales pitch.
Content marketing needs to be created in a way that makes it highly relevant to your target audience in order for it to be effective. This is because the individuals who will use your content will be the ones who are actively looking for information on a given topic and/or product.
The effectiveness of content marketing stems from two key rationales:
- The more informed a consumer is with your brand, the more likely they are to purchase one of your products. (Of course, the extent that this is true will vary from business to business.)
- Content marketing allows businesses to target consumer demographics from a more genuine and direct angle.
As we will see below, content marketing is also a great means of improving your SEO marketing, which can translate into a better marketing campaign return on investment (ROI) holistically.
When it comes to creating content, it is important to consider your business plan, which should set out your marketing and long-term goals clearly (e.g., for increasing sales, increasing traffic, etc.).
Depending on the type of content that you are creating, you may also want to consider what your consumers’ goals are (i.e., what they will be reading your content for, what information they are trying to find, etc.).
This will all help you craft thorough content that will be genuinely helpful to your readers. Remember, when it comes to content marketing, it is important to maintain a “value first, sales pitch second” approach.
How Does Content Marketing Work?
You can go about creating content in several different ways for content marketing:
- Written content: These include short reviews of your latest products, recommendations, or guides which explain how your products and/or services work. Unlike PPC advertising, these can be read an unlimited amount of times for free after they have been created. This means that you will be able to consider them assets rather than costs.
- Videos: Unlike paid advertisements on YouTube (or other similar video outlets), you can create organic YouTube videos that your users will actually want to see. This means that they will be less likely to skip them and more likely to find your site and enquire about further information.
- Podcasts: Similar to written content or online videos, podcasts can be used to offer informative content to a business’s viewers. Since you are betting on users actively listening in, you need to make sure that it is as engaging and concise as possible.
- Infographics: Through visuals (e.g., diagrams, charts, statistics, etc.), businesses can explain relatively complex topics to their audiences. This benefits them by allowing them to increase their website’s online traffic, which they can then use to advertise products or affiliations.
You don’t have to create all of these types of content as a small business, and you should instead want to focus on the content that your target audience prefers and content that is suitable for both your industry and niche.
This will allow you to engage with your audience as effectively as possible, which can then translate into:
- Improved brand image
- Increased sales and conversions
- Increased revenue
Content Marketing, Link Building, and SEO
This point may seem slightly obvious, but it should be noted nonetheless. When it comes to creating new written content, you will also be able to increase your traffic through increased link building that directs users towards your website, as well as increased search engine optimization (SEO) benefits.
This is because you will have more content on and off your website to work with, which is a key criterion for ranking well organically on Google and other popular search engines.
Tip: Content marketing works best when used in conjunction with SEO and other digital marketing alternatives.
Benefits of Using Content Marketing
There are several benefits that content marketing can bring in for small businesses, including:
Content marketing is great for increasing sales because it can help businesses educate consumers until they are actually ready to make a purchase (i.e., until they know enough to make informed decisions about why they may or may not need a business’s product).
With descriptive, informative content, you can give your audience a better chance of understanding exactly what you are offering, how you are different from your competitors, and why they may benefit from working with you.
Improved Brand Loyalty
Since internal content inevitably feels more engaging than a sponsored editorial or a paid PPC ad on a website, it is more likely to resonate with your target audience.
This can mean that your audience learns about (and remembers) your brand faster and is more committed to it in comparison to alternative options.
Unlike other forms of digital and printed advertising, content marketing has no direct cost besides creating content. This can be relatively cheap, particularly when it comes to written content. If you make the content yourself, the only real cost will be your time.
After your content has been created, there is no cost attached to it. You will not pay anything “per click,” and you will not pay for having it up on your website or in any other outlets (e.g., YouTube, etc.).
This is pivotal from an accounting point of view, as it essentially means that your advertisements will become a business asset down the line. You will be able to leverage your prolific content to obtain better affiliation and sponsorship deals as well as propel your popularity as an industry leader in your field.
Every new piece of content that you share with your audience should be SEO-optimized.
For example, if you write two short blogs a week for your website, that will give you over 100 distinct articles a year, which may rank well organically on Google and increase your brand’s online authority within your first year. This can go a long way in increasing your business website’s total traffic and can translate into even more sales and revenue.
Creating a Content Marketing Strategy
Determining a content marketing strategy is by no means easy, so we have provided a few helpful tips to help “guide” you along the way:
Understanding Your Audience
This is a critical step in any marketing strategy. What is your key demographic? Who are you speaking to? It is important to understand from the get-go because it will likely play an important part when you are deciding what type of content to create.
It is also useful because by fully understanding your audience, what they need, and why they will be interested in reading your content, you are more likely to tailor-make your content so that it is actually informative enough to solve a specific problem.
Generally speaking, when it comes to content marketing, creating content that is helpful for everyone is actually creating content that is helpful for no one. You need to be specific, and a prerequisite to that is understanding your audience.
What information, specifically, will your audience need to know?
You should plan this proactively in order to ensure that your content is always fluff-free and to the point. This is particularly important when it comes to written content, as anything that is unnecessarily long or irrelevant is seldom read.
Determining What Content to Create
The type of content that you will create should reflect your industry and niche. Find what resonates best with your target audience and stick with it. This may be one specific type of content (e.g., blogs, etc.) or a combination of different types of content.
You will also need to decide what “voice” you will use in your content. Will you be formal, casual, satirical? Once again, this will ultimately depend on your target audience.
Should I Use Content Marketing for My Small Business?
Whether you should use content marketing or not in your small business is ultimately up to you, but it is highly recommended for the following reasons:
- It is very affordable
- It facilitates SEO and organic growth
- It builds brand loyalty
- It increases sales and total revenue
All in all, content marketing is a great option when it comes to advertising your products and/or brand digitally. When you consider that it works best when used in conjunction with other digital marketing means (e.g., SEO, etc.), there is really no reason not to incorporate it into your small business.
Having said that, you should note that creating an effective content marketing strategy can be an extremely lengthy and time-consuming process, and its effects are not as “instantaneous” as other forms of marketing (e.g., PPC, etc.). This can make it a less-than-ideal option for some business owners.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between content marketing and SEO?
The difference between content marketing and SEO is that content marketing is the process of creating organic content (e.g., blogs, videos, podcasts, etc.) that advertise a business’s products. In contrast, SEO is the process of optimizing that content so that it ranks well organically in popular search engines (e.g., Google, Bing, etc.).
Is content marketing expensive?
Generally, no. There is no direct cost to content marketing other than creating the content itself. Even though this can be expensive (e.g., when creating YouTube videos, hiring writers, etc.), it is generally a very affordable process compared to other advertising means.
This is particularly the case when you consider that, after you create your content, it remains free indefinitely — no pay-per-click cost attached.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is a form of marketing. It involves social media, mobile devices, search engines, and the internet and can allow businesses to target key demographics very accurately.
The most common types of digital marketing include:
- Pay-per-click (PPC)
- Content marketing
- SMS messaging
Should I use content marketing or PPC?
The type of digital marketing strategy you use will depend on your business, budget, and industry. Generally, however, you should use both if your budget and time allow. This is because using PPC for paid advertising while creating content that ranks well on popular search engines organically can significantly expand your advertising reach as a business.
This approach is also a relatively safe option, as it means that you are not relying too much on any one form of advertising.