Content Marketing for a Small Business: What, How, and Best Practices
Running a small business is challenging. You are constantly fighting to keep your revenue ship floating. You are also constantly challenged by Time, Resources and Budget.
This means, in order to survive, a small business needs to be visible to its target audience, needs build trust regarding its service and products, needs its marketing to work and attract traffic into its sales funnel and finally convert those leads into sales.
That is exactly where content marketing can work. We have seen it happen multiple times. Yes, it’s not an overnight result, but the results are real.
So if you are small business owner, this blog should be a good read. It covers the following –
- What is content marketing?
- Why is a content marketing for your small business important?
- How to create a content marketing strategy for small businesses?
- 7 Best Content Marketing Practices For Small Businesses
So, let’s begin.
What is Content Marketing for Small Business?
Content marketing is a strategic marketing technique which involves the creation and distribution of valuable content, on a sustained and regular basis, for a targeted audience. Finally, the action should lead to profitable user action.
For small business owners, the main points to remember are –
a. Create content that consistently answers and solves the queries/pain points of your target audience. Be helpful to your audience.
b. Distribute content through various channels so that it reaches the right audience.
c. Make sure that the whole process is backed by a proper strategy.
d. Making sure that the process is done regularly to attract a particular audience who might need your product.
e. Ensure regularity of the entire creation and distribution process for successful results.
Content Marketing for Small Business: Why is it so Important
Every business needs content marketing — no matter their size. If want to know why, here are the list of reasons.
1. Better SEO: More Search Visibility and Higher Organic Traffic
Keywords help search engines determine what a page is about and its intent. As “content” is the foundation of content marketing, you uncover enough opportunities for keyword optimization and improve your SEO.
When you market your content and continue optimizing it with relevant keywords, your website appears more often in the SERPs (search engine result pages), leading to a sudden spike in your organic traffic.
2. Greater Impact with Growing Brand Awareness
Most people don’t search for products and services specifically. Instead, they search for a problem and then run into a product/service while exploring the solution.
For example, you need help in promoting your small business through content marketing. So you start searching for a solution – in this case its content for marketing for small business (and how to do it). So, you will search for “how to do content marketing for small businesses?” on Google and discover this article on Justwords. You will also find that we offer content marketing for small businesses to help them grow their traffic and ROI.
Now, people who didn’t even know that Justwords existed are aware of our services because they searched for a “problem,” and we had written an article about our audience’s pain point. The article, which answers the queries a business owner (our target audience) has about content marketing, helps in building brand awareness and the prospect enters the “Awareness Stage” of the buying journey. Continue doing this, and more people will become aware of your brand over time.
What is a buyer journey and what are the different stages of a prospective buyer’s journey? Read more in our blog “What is the buyer journey today”.
3. Content Marketing is Economical and Drives Higher ROI for Small Businesses
When we talk about content marketing for small business, it means you don’t pay for the traffic that you get. You earn it. And content marketing falls under organic marketing, meaning no paid efforts are involved.
Although, you might invest in your team, SEO tools, or digital marketing agencies, you’d hardly need any big investment — as you would in paid campaigns.
Moreover, if you are consistent with your content marketing efforts, you’ll generate more quality leads followed by conversions and eventually drive higher ROI than paid.
Here are some facts to consider –
- Content marketing has a conversion rate of 14.6% as opposed to .71% of paid advertising. (Hubspot).
- Content marketing drives 3x more leads than paid. Also, the per lead cost would be 62% cheaper if you are using content instead of traditional paid advertising. (Hubspot).
- Before they actually go and purchase something, 81% shoppers research online (Adweek). Here is where content marketing can influence their buying decision with proper content that aligns with the buyer’s journey. Hence leads coming through your content marketing campaign have a much higher rate of conversion, giving you much better ROI.
The basic difference is that when your prospect finds you through your content, you are not paying anything to Google or Facebook, or any other platform.
What this diagram shows is that your lead acquisition costs drop through content marketing in the long run. Through content marketing powered by SEO, you can get your content pieces to rank in the top of Google. Once they rank, the traffic that starts coming in is free. And that is how content marketing becomes cheaper in the long run.
4. Build Customer, Trust, Respect, and Loyalty
Unlike traditional marketing, where brands promote products aggressively, content marketing reaches it prospective audience through building trust.
Content marketing focuses on helping people find the right solution to their queries at every stage of their buying journey, Awareness, Exploration, Desire, Purchase. At stage, there is trust built through the right piece of content.
Whether you are B2B or B2C, you need to create content that will help buyers trust your brand. Give them the reasons to choose your brand over someone else. Continue to do so, and you’ll establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry. People will begin trusting your content, and you’ll earn their respect and loyalty.
5. Content Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses Help you Understand your Audience is
Content Marketing often helps you discover the interests of your audience. For example,
- You discover the content they enjoy reading more
- Or the content they share more often than others
It works not only for your website content but also for your social media posts.
Google Analytics and respective performance analysis tools of social media platforms can help you uncover this data. Analyze the data, and you’ll identify:
- What your audience’s likes and dislikes (which will help you create more of that stuff)
- Whether you are targeting the right persona or not
- How to personalize your content for your target audience
6. Grow Your Domain Authority
Domain Authority (DA) is a score out of 100 that showcases the credibility of your website.
The DA score heavily relies on your website’s backlinks — more quality backlinks imply that more people trust your content.
Content quality is another factor that influences your DA. So, you must ensure that your content is well-researched and solves a problem.
Luckily, quality content and backlinks are crucial to a successful content marketing strategy.
So, let’s explore how to create a content marketing strategy for small businesses.
How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy for your Small Business?
Follow this 7-step process to create a successful content marketing strategy for your business.
Step 0: Get Everything in Order before Creating a Small Business Content Marketing Strategy
Before rushing into creating a content marketing strategy for your small business, you must ensure that every element is up and running. This way, you can reap the full benefits of your content marketing strategy.
Ask yourself these questions and only go ahead with the next steps if the answers come out positive:
- Do you have a website?
If you don’t, you need to create your website right now. Consider it your online home. If you are doing marketing without a website, where are you going to invite your guests to come? The only way to leverage online marketing for your small business is to first have a website.
- Do you have a blog?
After creating a website, you need a blog, too. It’s the best way to market your products and services. It is also the fastest way to get traffic to your website.
- Do you have a social media presence?
If not, create your brand accounts on popular social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and more. Your customer will check out your social media channel before they buy from you. If you are a small B2C or B2B business, your social channels could also be a way your brand gets discovered. So do not ignore your social media presence.
- Do you have a team of writers and SEO professionals?
To create quality content and ensure that everything you do is SEO-friendly, you need experienced writers and SEO executives. You can also hire content marketing agencies to do the job for you. If you want to more about what a content marketing agency does, head over to this page.
- Do you have a conversion strategy in place?
Let’s assume you have a website, a blog, and a team of professionals, and you are able to drive traffic to your website. But, what happens after? Do you have a conversion strategy in place to ensure that each visitor seamlessly transitions from one stage of the marketing funnel to the next? If not, you need to create a conversion strategy as well.
- Do you have Google Analytics implemented on your website?
This is a very important thing to consider. If you do not have a website analytics tool tracking your site’s performance, you’ll never identify improvement opportunities and create data-driven strategies. You will just be creating content and not actually marketing it.
Step 1: Start by Defining your Goals
Without setting your goals, how do you plan to work towards achieving?
Hard to answer, right? Because like all strategies, you must have some predefined goals. And you must ensure that they are:
If these are the foundation of your goals, you’ll achieve them. Initially, you can define easily achievable goals, including (but not limited to):
- Increase conversions by 10%.
- Publish 10 blog posts in 30 days.
- Improve search performance by 10% within the next 3 months.
Step 2: Identify Metrics to Measure your Content Performance
On Google Analytics, you’ll find several metrics to measure your content performance. Monitor them intently to know how well your content is doing.
These metrics include (but are not limited to):
- Page views: total number of people visiting your website with recurring visits and unique page views listed separately.
- Session rate: average time that visitors are spending on a page.
- Bounce rate: average percentage of people leaving a page and accessing a different page on a website.
Apart from that, here are a few other metrics you should track:
- Click-through-rate (CTR): total number of people who clicked a link on your website and social media platforms.
- Social media engagement: the number of likes, comments, and shares you receive on your social media posts.
- Inbound links (or backlinks): the total number of websites linking to your content.
- Page Authority: the total authority score of a single page on your website showcasing its credibility.
- Domain Authority: the total authority score of your entire website showcasing its credibility.
Step 3: Define your Target Audience and Content Formats
If you are targeting everyone, you are targeting no one.
That’s true. If your content targets everyone, its impact would reflect in disinterested leads and a higher bounce rate.
Define who you want to target. For examples, what age, gender, location, or designations (more for B2B). Once you know who to reach, you will know what content formats to offer. For example, if you are selling digital marketing services to manufacturing companies, you will be targeting marketing heads, IT heads, and often owners themselves (if it’s a startup or SME). These people are most likely to read a white paper or a case study or an ebook written by you on topics that are relevant to them. They might also consider attending a webinar you might have created specifically to their pain points – like for example how to increase lead generation through email marketing etc.
If they move to the next stage of the sales funnel, they would like to see your case studies and read more about your experience in the industry etc.
If you are a B2C brand, you are most likely to reach out to your audience through social media copy, podcasts, informative blogs and videos, emailers with offers etc.
Bottom line: You need to define your target audience better and then work on your content formats.
Recommended reading: A Guide to Choosing from 12 Different Content Marketing Formats
Step 4: Create a Content Calendar
Measuring actual growth without a schedule is next to impossible because you can’t “plan” it.
Nearly 63% of businesses lack a documented strategy. And it’s not the best idea to just wing it.
By creating a content calendar, you (and your entire team) can plan what you will do next and ensure that your content marketing strategy is successful.
A content calender tells you what content you are going to create, what are the topics, what are the keywords, which pages are you going to target, what optimisations have to be done, who does it, who writes what, who edits what and when does each piece of content go into publication. If you have this, you have a plan.
Recommended Reading: 10 Steps to Create a Content Calendar
Step 5: Develop Content that Adds Value to your Target Audience
When you know your target audiences, make sure you create content that provides value to them. That means no generic content.
For example, if your target audience is Digital Marketing Heads or SEO Managers, you will not create content on “A Detailed Guide To SEO.” Such a topic won’t interest them; hence they won’t engage with it. For them, a suitable topic would be “SEO Trends To Look Out For In 2023” or “Latest Google Algorithm Update: What To Expect?”.
Simply put, you must choose topics your target audience finds fascinating. Search for an industry term, like “Advanced SEO,” and scroll to “Related Topics.” You can choose any topics you find suitable and create content around them.
Here are two Guides that will help you choose better topics
Step 6: Distribute your Content across Channels
Content distribution is as important as content creation.
You may create content and ensure that it is SEO-friendly, but without distribution, the traffic would increase, matching the speed of a snail.
By sharing your content across all your social media channels, forums, and guest domains, you ensure that your content receives maximum traffic and it’s quickly discoverable by the search engine bots.
Recommended Reading: A Complete List of Best Content Distribution Platforms
Step 7: Repurpose and Refresh Content the Performs Well
When you have enough content on your website, you can conduct a content audit. During this audit, you can remove outdated content with zero backlinks and page views.
You can also list content that performs well and maximize its success by repurposing them.
Repurposing means reusing content most visitors engage with into different formats: eBooks, infographics, podcasts, social media posts, videos, and more.
Repurposing has excellent potential because your data predicts that your target audience likes that content and will engage with it.
Recommended Reading: 9 best ways to reuse that blog pile in your archive and get more traffic
7 Best Content Marketing Practices for Small Businesses
Isn’t content marketing fascinating? You can achieve your marketing and sales goals with content, and that too under lean budgets.
But why stop there? Let’s take it a step further.
Listed below are seven best practices to get the most out of your content marketing strategies and help spike your small business growth.
1. Create Content around What People Ask
As discussed earlier, “Most people don’t search for products and services specifically. Instead, they search for a problem and then run into a product/service while exploring the solution.”
If that’s the intent behind your content, it’s crucial to identify what these “problems” are.
Three words: people also ask.
Search a topic on Google, and you’ll find a “People Also Ask” section. As you click on one question, more related questions get added to the list.
Google creates this section based on the common queries people search for around the searched topic.
It will help you discover your target audience’s problems and base your content around them.
2. Publish an Exhaustive List of Statistics and Glossaries
People always look for statistics and data to support their claims. That’s why you’ll find several businesses publishing case studies, research papers, statistics, and glossaries.
Recommended Reading: How to Write a Case Study to Convince and Convert Prospective Customers ?
Such content pieces can be link magnets that attract other websites. As more websites link to your pages, their DA increases, improving your site’s credibility.
3. Become a Guest Author on Other Industry-Specific Websites
Guest posts are a solid way of earning backlinks. They also help boost your brand awareness, authority, and credibility.
Recommended Reading: Off-Page SEO Tricks – Steal Your Competitors Backlinks
Identify websites in your niche and reach out to them seeking guest posting opportunities.
Follow these tips for a higher success rate:
- Pitch them topics they haven’t covered on their website.
- Analyze the referring domains of your competing websites and reach out to those domains.
- Use Hunter to extract the email addresses of the referring domains.
- Add backlinks to your products, services, or blogs.
- Optimize it with relevant keywords.
4. Study and Compare Different Products
When you are confused between two products, what do you do?
Generally, people would search for “product 1 versus product 2” or “what is better: product 1 or product 2?”
For example, when planning to purchase a new smartphone, you may search for “Android versus iOS” or “what is better: Android or iOS” on Google.
Recommended Reading: 7 Tips to Write Product Descriptions That Convert Potential Customers
Similarly, you can create comparison pages on your websites relevant to your industry.
5. Do Expert Interviews and Post it on your Website
It’s not always possible to create unique and completely original content.
But there’s an intelligent way to ensure that your content resonates with your audience and provides value to them.
And that’s expert interviews.
Reach out to the experts in your industries and share their opinions as blog posts and YouTube videos. You can choose topics on which people seek expert advice.
As experts drive the content in interviews, your site’s credibility increases (it’s no less crucial than a statistics page). Moreover, bloggers can quote experts from this interview and give you a backlink.
6. Monitor Latest Trends and Create Content Around Them
People have the attention span of a goldfish, which is not more than 8 seconds. Hence, it is perfectly normal that they attentive at one moment and utterly disinterested in another.
Their behavior is often unpredictable. But, you can prepare yourself ahead of time to reduce its influence.
The easiest way to do this is by updating your strategies based on the changing trends. You can identify these trends by reading research and interviewing experts.
Recommended Reading: 15 Content Marketing Trends that are Working in 2022 and will Stay On
7. Utilize User-generated Content (UGC)
Whether customers are happy or unhappy, they leave a review about your brand online.
You can respond to unhappy customers and give them a solution. But what about happy customers and their reviews? Think beyond just thanking them for their support and use those reviews to market yourself.
Recommended Reading: The Power of User Generated Content on Instagram and How to Use It Effectively
List the best positive reviews and quote them on your website as testimonials. You can also repurpose them on your social media platforms or create a blog entitled “why do people love [your product]?”.
Free content. Free publicity. Free credibility.
Executing your Content Marketing Strategy: DIY or Outsource
Let us understand one thing. Content marketing for small business is not one month project. You’ll have to constantly keep at it to see results. If you are someone who can multitask with ease and manage your SME marketing while you do other things, you can try a DIY. This is usually not the case since most small business owners have numerous challenges to tackle with limited resources.
The other option is to hire a digital marketing specialist internally to execute your overall marketing plan including content marketing. If you are committed to the long term, this works great for SMEs. This apart, you will also need a content writer to support all content marketing requirements.
So you can begin by hiring a mid-to-senior level digital marketer who has a good knowledge of SEO, content marketing, and Social Media to start the marketing campaign. You will also need a good content writer, who can work with your digital marketer to create various content marketing formats. This is a good start, if you think you can manage the team and understand the data. If you or your team have no knowledge of digital marketing or have no time to sit with your team to discuss or share marketing ideas, this might not be the best approach.
Hiring a Content-driven Digital Marketing Agency
Working with a content marketing agency can take a great load of your hands. Since execution of your small business content marketing strategy is extremely important for traffic, visibility and leads, a strong team is needed to drive the whole marketing plan.
With expertise in both SEO and marketing and a goal-oriented strategy, a content marketing agency can ensure that results are delivered within finite timelines. If you plan your strategy correctly, the ROI from the marketing will justify your budget allocation to the activity.
From strategizing to best practices, this article covered everything you need to know about content marketing for small businesses.
But don’t believe that these will perform optimally forever. Who knows? They might. Yet that doesn’t mean you can risk not improving them — what worked yesterday might not work tomorrow.
If you want your small business to grow, you must measure the performance of your content marketing efforts and update your strategies with the changing trends.
Also, one final piece of advice: be patient.
Content marketing may take time to show results. But it will. So, be patient and consistent.
Download our free Ebook on SME content marketing. Hope this helped you.