Whether you’re launching a startup or already have an established business, a strong online presence is a must. Just relying on word on mouth alone isn’t enough.
More than half of shoppers say they use Google to discover brands. The data points to the importance of a digital marketing strategy.
If your target audience can’t find your business online, your competitors will happily grab those sales. So how can you attract prospects and bring in more sales?
The answer is with content marketing. Not sure what that is or what it entails? Don’t worry — we’re about to take an in-depth look at what content marketing is and how to get started.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing engaging content. The goal is to attract prospects to your site and convert them into customers.
The average consumer today is constantly bombarded with ads. Content marketing is effective because it doesn’t take this aggressive approach.
Creating engaging content means you’re attracting prospects to your site and helping them address their issues. That in turn can help you establish credibility and build trust with your audience.
Publishing content on multiple channels can increase your reach. But as a small business, you may have a limited marketing budget. The good news is that content marketing is highly scalable, so you can start small and gradually ramp up your efforts.
Now let’s look at how to grow your small business with content marketing.
1. Define Your Content Marketing Goals
Content marketing is most effective when you have clearly defined goals. These should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. In other words, use the SMART goal setting methodology to bring structure to your marketing objectives.
For example, simply saying you want to increase traffic is too vague. A better goal could be increasing search traffic by 10% within the next three months. A goal like this makes it easier for you to measure your progress and pivot as necessary.
2. Identify Your Target Audience
Identifying your target audience is key to developing and implementing an effective content marketing strategy. If your content doesn’t resonate with your audience, they’ll likely move on and take their purchase elsewhere.
Start by creating a buyer persona — a profile that depicts your target customer based on market research. A buyer persona includes details like background, demographics, behaviors, motivations, and goals.
Collect data about your audience using platforms like Google Analytics. You can take your research even further by surveying your existing customer base.
Developing a buyer persona may take some time. But it allows you to get a clearer sense of who your audience is, and create more effective content.
3. Decide on Content Types
The next step is to think about the types of content you’ll create. Publishing blog posts is a good place to start. This type of content is relatively easy to produce and it gives you the opportunity to share your expertise.
You can also use guest blogging to build backlinks and increase your Domain Authority. Guest blogging is when you publish content on other sites. It can drive referral traffic to your site and help you build a quality backlink in the process.
Other types of content you can create include ebooks, infographics, videos, webinars, and more. Revisit your content marketing goals to help you decide on which formats to focus your attention on.
4. Select Your Marketing Channels
Publishing content on your site is a great way to establish your business as a go-to resource for helpful information. But you’ll be severely limiting your reach if you rely solely on your site.
Social media is one such marketing channel you don’t want to overlook. With an estimated 3.6 billion people on social media, there’s a good chance your audience is on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Be strategic about which channels you market on. For example, Twitter may be a popular social platform, but is it where your audience is on?
Refer back to your research on your target audience. What channels do they actively use? This is important because those are the channels you’ll want to focus your efforts on.
5. Create a Content Calendar
Content marketing takes ongoing effort to be successful. You can’t simply publish one blog post and expect traffic to suddenly flood your site. At the same time, it can be overwhelming to keep track of everything.
A content calendar is a document that outlines upcoming content for the coming weeks and months. It details everything from the types of content you’ll create to when and where you’ll publish it.
Using a content calendar is a great way to keep all your content organized. Instead of starting from scratch every day, you can simply refer to the calendar and get started.
6. Incorporate SEO
SEO or search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your site with the goal of ranking higher in the search results. There are two aspects of SEO: On-page and off-page.
On-page SEO refers to optimizing individual aspects of a page like titles, headers, meta descriptions, and the content itself for certain keywords. Optimizing on-page factors helps search engines understand what a page is about.
This LastPass review is a good example of a well-optimized page. It includes the target keywords in the title and it’s broken down into sections that are easy to read.
As you optimize your pages for SEO, always focus on your visitors. Spamming your content with keywords doesn’t work, and may incur a ranking penalty. Be sure to use a grammar checker before you publish to make sure that your content still flows well after optimization.
With off-page SEO you’ll focus on external signals like backlinks, which are a major ranking signal. Google sees links from other sites as a vote of confidence. Building backlinks to your pages can improve your overall rankings.
7. Scale With a Content Team
There’s only so much you can do on your own. Eventually, you should consider building a content team to scale your content efforts.
Use platforms like Upwork to find talented writers and editors who can implement your content marketing strategy. You can use Google Docs to write your content and automate with Wordable to automatically upload to WordPress.
Content marketing is a key strategy that can raise brand awareness and establish your business as an industry authority. It can also help you turn more visitors into customers. Implement the tips laid out here to grow your business with content marketing.