Content marketing is creating, publishing and promoting value-based content to:
- Attract your target audience
- Position you as a trusted expert and advisor in your industry
- Build your online brand presence and
- Drive more traffic to your website
Content can be blog posts, videos, white papers, eBooks, eNewsletters, infographics, case studies, presentations or other information products that focus on the problems your customers face and you can help them solve.
News and information about your business is not interesting to your visitors. Good content marketing is meant to help, not sell, which draws your target to your website and builds relationships. And we all know that people buy from those which they know, like and trust.
The challenge for most businesses is to provide enough quality content on a consistent basis that attracts and interests your target audience.
Start by adding a blog to your website
A website is great and if done right, it can help visitors determine what you do and why you are the best for their needs. However, a static website alone will not create much visibility for your business. In the eyes of the search engines, a website without new content will get pushed further down in the search engine results pages and minimize your chances of being found.
Every small business needs a blog. A blog is where you can create your epic content that your target audience wants and that you own and control. It helps you gain trust, visibility and create a solid brand image.
Ensure your content is well optimized
Search engines rank and promote websites in part based on the freshness of their content. For each new blog post, you are adding one more page that can be indexed by a search engine, expanding your digital footprint and tremendously increasing your visibility. Keep the search engines coming back to your website by adding fresh content, communicating that your business is a relevant and authoritative source on topics related to your business.
Create a content marketing plan
Before you dive too deeply creating content, you need to develop a content marketing plan to make sure you are creating and promoting the content that resonates with your target audience. Your plan should include:
What do you want to achieve?
Before you start writing, set some goals so the content you write delivers actionable results. Some goals could be:
- Develop an expert reputation
- Build brand awareness
- Drive more traffic and generate leads
- Reduce customer service calls
- Retain more customers
- Grow your email list.
Then you need to match your content to your goals.
Blog posts drive traffic, help you build brand awareness and develop an expert reputation.
Downloadable products, like eBooks and whitepapers help grow your in-house email list and generate leads.
A customer eNewsletter may help retain customers because it provides a connection between them and the business.
What does your target prospect want?
Understand what your customers need, what questions they have and what challenges they face. Educate them with your content. If the content doesn’t help your target audience in some way, then it’s not worth producing.
Create content so useful that you demonstrate your expertise and your business gets viewed as an authority. People will be much more likely to pick up the phone when you help them solve a problem via your content.
How often will you publish?
Finding the time to create quality content is the number one challenge of most marketers, but the key to success is to do what works for you. There is no perfect formula and with limited resources, small businesses need to create a practical schedule and a content plan to help stay focused on providing quality content on a regular schedule.
Where will you promote your content?
Your strategy does not benefit by great content that is hidden. Determine where you will promote it and make it easy for others to share. Add a visible subscribe button on your blog. Add social share buttons to your website so visitors can like, share, tweet and +1 your content to their friends and followers. In turn, share your new posts on your social media sites as well.
How will you measure your effectiveness?
Measuring the effectiveness of your content marketing should tie back to the goals you set. Measure your results based on what is important to you:
- How many inbound leads you get,
- Whether visitors sign up for your mailing list
- How visible your brand has become or
- Whether you reduce costs because your content is eliminating customer service calls.
Creating unique and valuable content has the power to enhance your brand image and increase your visibility in search engine results. Good content gets found, consumed and shared, fueling more traffic to your website and giving you an opportunity to build trust, credibility, and authority for your business.
Have you implemented content marketing for your business? What’s holding you back?
Debra Murphy is a marketing coach and consultant who helps small businesses navigate the complex maze of online marketing. Experienced across all traditional marketing channels, Debra specializes in inbound marketing, a combination of search, social media and content marketing, to help small businesses effectively utilize this new media to gain visibility and generate inbound leads. Debra regularly writes about small business marketing on her Masterful Marketing blog and contributes to thought-leading resources like Business2Community and Social Media Today.