To say the battle for consumer attention is incredibly competitive is an understatement. According to Red Crow Marketing, consumers see an average 4,000 to 10,000 ads every day. This number is staggering, not only for consumers but for small businesses trying to break through and differentiate themselves. Direct marketing, ads, and word-of-mouth are all traditional methods that can be effective, but today, consumers are looking for content that speaks directly to them. Content marketing can be the great equalizer between small companies who have something to say and large enterprises that have the resources to reach through the void. However, before going into the principles of content marketing, it makes sense to define what it is.
What is Content Marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is “is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” Content can be anything from a blog post to a video message. It is the creative dialogue that businesses use to make a solid connection with customers. Instead of pushing out ads and sales pitches to customers, content marketing gives small businesses the foundation to create content that adds value to consumers and solidifies their trust. A great content marketing strategy can pierce through the noise of those thousands of ads a day.
What are the Effects of Content Marketing?
So, the idea of content marketing is that it can present small business’ with an opportunity to create lasting connections with customers that lead to increased conversions. However, is it effective? Does it benefit you to create a team that develops a content marketing strategy? Is this a trend that is likely to go away? Well, the following numbers speak to the longevity and effectiveness of content marketing.
- According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing offers three times the leads of traditional marketing, while costing 62 percent less. (Source)
- 78 percent of buyers read consumer case studies before making purchases. (Source)
- Small businesses with blogs get 126 percent more lead growth than small businesses without. (Source)
Consumers want a multi-faceted marketing approach to get their attention. They don’t just want ads and constant messaging with urging to buy a product or service to benefit a company. Consumers want to know how a good or service will solve their problem, and a well-designed infographic, detailed blog post, video tutorial, or case study are excellent resources for accomplishing this. What are some other ways small businesses can utilize content marketing to spur conversions?
How Small Businesses Can Use Content Marketing to Drive Growth
The first step to any content marketing initiative is to create a comprehensive plan. However, what should the components of this strategy be? This will likely depend on the industry and target audience of the small businesses, but there are some general tactics these organizations can use fill out their content marketing strategy to increase growth.
Increasing the Use of Email Marketing
Email is still a major source of outreach for most companies. According to Campaign Monitor, highly targeted email campaigns that use segmented lists can generate up to 760 percent more revenue than traditional mail blasts. Email allows small businesses to put their most relevant content in front of those who are most likely to respond favorably. Instead of putting out blog posts into the void, small businesses can target their content to those who have already shown investment by joining their email list.
Starting a Blog
As mentioned above, small businesses with blogs receive 126 percent more lead growth than small businesses that do not have a blog. Blogs not only talk about what your business does but why it can help customers solve their problems. Blogs also give small businesses an outlet to talk about something other than themselves, whether it be current events, industry happenings, customer success stories, or providing advice. The blog should be a place where most of your custom content comes from, and connecting this content to an email campaign will drive customers to your website.
Know Where Your Audience Is
Social media is essential, but it is not always necessary to push out content on each platform. This requires some in-depth research and time to see where your content is having the most impact. Is your demographic between 18 to 29 and female? Instagram may be where you want to put most of your content. If your audience is college-educated males, then LinkedIn may be where you want to focus a part of your content marketing strategy. Get to know your audience and focus in on the top two platforms where they go the most. You may not have the budget or resources to focus on all social media platforms, so only spend time on the ones you know your audience is likely visiting.
On Twitter, 49 percent of users rely on recommendations from influencers. On Facebook, 19 percent of consumer purchasing decisions are based on Facebook posts, this number is 18 percent on YouTube. Consumers care about what others have to say regarding the products they buy. This is great news to a small business. If you do not have the budget or resources to hire a team with a focus on content marketing, enlisting the help of an influencer can help create visibility for the content you create. These are not necessarily individuals with the highest followings, but they have demonstrated authority on and off social media platforms and have high levels of engagement with their audiences. Find the influencers in your industry and see how you can establish a mutually beneficial relationship.
Always Provide Value
Whether you choose to incorporate more videos into your content marketing strategy, enlist the help of an influencer, or disseminate research-backed white papers, the goal is to always provide some sort of value to your customers at every stage of the sales funnel. A free spreadsheet, ebook, webinar, or detailed infographic can do the trick. However, you have to understand what your customers are looking for, and how your content is going to provide that for them. Before you post any content, you should always ask if this will create value for your audience. What can they stand to gain from hearing what you have to say? If the value is there, then your content marketing strategy is more likely to succeed.
Who Is Doing It Well?
There are a lot of individuals out there who are ramping up their content marketing efforts, but not everyone is doing it effectively. Here are a few examples of small businesses that are creating value-added content that is keeping customers engaged. Going by the general definition of a small business as indicated by the Small Business Association, these are companies with fewer than 1,500 employees.
MailChimp is an email client software that allows companies to not only send out mass email messaging but to also segment their email lists and conduct multiple types of email marketing automation. MailChimp has one of the best knowledge bases and tutorial resource websites in the industry. Not only do they teach marketers how to use their product, but they also give some insight into the importance and principles of email marketing as a whole.
Moz is a one-stop-shop for anyone looking to learn more about SEO or take advantage of some helpful products to boost your website rankings. Moz offers a considerable amount of content to help marketers navigate the complex road of SEO. These include community forums, instructor-led classes and seminars, and a learning center. However, one of the best free SEO resources out there is Moz’s online ebook, The Beginner’s Guide to SEO. It offers visitors an in-depth look into how SEO works, why it is important to grasp, and the detailed tactics marketers should use to push their SEO strategy. It has been read over three million times and is 100 percent free.
We are a company that helps small businesses use content marketing to increase their conversions. From helping with blog headline optimization to ad A/B testing, we are a full stack solution for holistic content marketing strategy. While we do offer a free ebook, our blog delves into detailed ways for businesses large and small to develop their own content strategies.
At its core, content marketing is very simple. It requires you, as business owners and marketers to do exactly what you would want someone to do to you, add value to your professional or personal lives. It allows you to steer away from ads and establish a recognizable and human-side of the company. The purpose is clear, but the execution can be challenging and complex. As long as you keep in mind who your target audiences are and create content with their needs in mind, then it becomes easier to turn leads into lasting long-term customers that trust what you, as a small business owner or marketer for a small business, are presenting to them.