Have you noticed that nearly every company website you visit has a blog? There’s a good reason for that.

Content marketing can increase visits to your site, expand your brand awareness, and convert leads into sales dramatically. We’ve created this guide to show you:

  • How content marketing can benefit your small business
  • Why you need a content marketing strategy
  • How to create an effective content marketing strategy

What Is Content Marketing?

Content Strategy
Source: Martechadvisor.com

Content marketing is an extremely effective digital marketing strategy that revolves around brand-created content pieces, such as blog posts, infographics, or videos. This content is primarily focused on informing or entertaining your audience rather than directly promoting your brand.

5 Ways Content Marketing Benefits Your Brand

  1. It boosts brand awareness and establishes your company as an authority in your industry.
  2. Content marketing builds trust between your business and your target audience. Providing high-value content for free proves that your brand is worth a customer’s time, attention, and money.
  3. Search engines look for fresh, authoritative content to return in users’ search results. When you regularly post high-quality content, you improve your search rankings. This generates more traffic to your website that can be converted into sales.
  4. Quality content answers your audience’s questions and creates a positive experience for them. This helps you retain customers and can even create loyal brand advocates.
  5. Content marketing makes your website “sticky,” meaning customers spend a lot more time exploring your site. The longer a potential customer stays on your website, the more opportunities you have to convert them.

Why Your Small Business Needs a Content Strategy

Small Business Content Strategy
Source: Salesforce.com

To harness the full potential of content marketing, it needs to be thoughtful and purposeful. This isn’t one of those “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” situations.

You need a strategy. A content strategy provides guidelines that ensure your content is relevant to your audience, is produced regularly, and meets your quality standards.

How to Create a Small Business Content Strategy

Crafting a smart strategy at the start of your content marketing makes your marketing more successful and save you and your team time and stress.

Understand Your Audience

The power of content marketing lies in creating content that is relevant to your audience. To do that, you must first understand your audience. What are their interests? What are their pain points? What age group are they in? What are their goals and values?

Document the answers to these questions in your content marketing strategy so that everyone who works on the content team can benefit from the insights. This also makes it much easier to onboard new teammates as your business grows.

Choose Your Topic Categories and Keywords

Your content strategy should include a list of broad topics that content creators can work from. Start with the topics that directly relate to your industry, service, or products. If your company sells beauty products, your topics could be skin care and makeup tips.

From there, you can get more specific with categories. For example, you could create content specifically for different skin types ― dry, oily, or combination ― and makeup looks for different occasions, such as parties, work, or every day.

Once you have your overarching topics, you can drill down the specifics as much as you want. It’s good to have a variety of topics to create content for, as long as they all fall within your main categories.

This is also the ideal opportunity to choose keywords to focus on. Long-tail keywords are a string of keywords or a phrase that users enter into search engines.

If we go back to our beauty brand, an example of a short-tail keyword would be “lipstick,” and a long-tail keyword would be “lipstick for dark skin.” Because long-tail keywords are so specific, there’s less competition to rank well for them, and they also bring more qualified leads ― read: easier to convert ― to your website.

There are countless tools available for keyword research, but you can get started for free without any special software. Go to your favorite search engine, type a short-tail keyword, and see what suggested search terms come up. These are all phrases other people have used to search, meaning their excellent options to include in your keyword list.

Choose Your Content Types

There are many different types of content you can create for your audience. Most content types are versatile and can be adapted to nearly any industry.

Below is a list of common content types and a description of each to help you decide which belongs in your content marketing strategy:

  • Blog posts: Blog posts are one of the most ubiquitous types of content, and they’re appropriate for all industries. Blog posts feature informal writing that provides information to readers. The article you’re reading now is an example of a blog post.
  • E-books: E-books are usually presented as downloadable PDFs, and they can range anywhere from 15 pages to 150 or more. This type of content can be used by any industry and is best for covering a topic in depth.
  • Infographics: Infographics are images created by combining graphics and text to provide easy-to-digest information. Attractively designed infographics that provide good information are very shareable.
  • Videos: The popularity of video has exploded in recent years. Younger demographics tend to favor it over text-based content. Many small business owners are intimidated by video because they assume it’ll be expensive and time-consuming. If you have a smartphone with a decent camera and a video editing app like Quik, you can make a quality video with little hassle.
  • White papers: White papers are a very technical and formal type of content used almost exclusively by business-to-business (B2B) companies, especially those in technology or other complex fields.

Identify Content Roles

Content creation is a multistep process, and it’s important to assign each step to a particular person or department. Consider who’ll be responsible for each of these stages:

  1. Creating: The responsibilities for this step varies, depending on the type of content you create. Most content types require a writer, and others require or could benefit from a graphic designer. Decide which employee is best suited to each type of content you plan to use.
  2. Reviewing: The content you create reflects your business, so be sure someone else always looks it over before it’s published. Typos or other mistakes can hurt your company’s authority. Keep in mind that the person who created the content shouldn’t be responsible for its final review.
  3. Publishing: There should be a dedicated person or department that handles publishing content.

Create a Content Calendar

Content Calendar
Source: Searchenginejournal.com

A content calendar is essential to keep your content marketing on track. Companies generally make content calendars annually or biannually. This bird’s eye view of your content plan gives you the opportunity to incorporate important holidays or events into your publishing schedule. This type of special content is an excellent marketing angle that can result in more traffic to your website.

The content calendar should include the topics you want to cover and the dates you want to cover them. Many teams make their content calendar directly in the company’s shared email calendar. However, using content marketing software provides many additional benefits for your business such as conversion tracking and audience targeting.

Content marketing has the potential to transform your business. Use the information in this article to help you get started with a content marketing strategy today.