You may think content marketing is simply writing a couple of blog posts and publishing them on your website in hopes to draw in traffic.
But it’s so much more than that.
Content marketing is a strategy that involves creating, publishing, distributing, and managing content online.
Unlike traditional advertising, the content you put out serves a purpose: to provide relevant, valuable, and reliable information to your audience.
Does Content Marketing Actually Work?
From Xerox’s digital magazine Real Business to Coca Cola’s Content 2020 marketing statement — you see big brands leveraging content marketing everywhere.
Through the content they share, these brands spark conversations and eventually generate new leads.
If you’re a small business owner, you may be wondering if content marketing works for you.
The quick answer? It does.
For one, content marketing helps you build a strong brand identity. It also gives you the chance to share your expertise on topics within your niche, giving you an edge over competitors. It even helps in generating new leads for your business — more leads, more potential sales!
And would you believe these perks don’t need a huge budget?
If all these have piqued your interest, read on for some useful tips in crafting out a successful content marketing plan.
Content Marketing Tips to Boost Your Small Business Growth
We’ve mentioned this constantly in our posts: always have a goal in mind when creating any marketing plan. Or any plan, in general.
Your goals give your content marketing strategies direction — your North Star, so to speak. They let you visualise where you want your content marketing strategy to go. They also help determine if you’re making actual progress.
In setting your content marketing goals, keep two categories in mind: short-term and long-term goals.
Short-term goals, from the term itself, are completed in a short amount of time — be it days or weeks. These are the quick wins your business earns on a regular basis. They include but are not limited to:
- Higher website traffic
- More paid conversions
- Better engagement rates on social media
Meanwhile, long-term goals can take many months or even years to achieve. They’re usually the big picture your brand aims to build. Here are some examples:
- Increased brand awareness
- Better search engine rankings
- A loyal customer base
Short-term and long-term goals go hand in hand. Usually, short-term goals are set to support long-term ones. With this, it’s essential to establish both for your content marketing plan to succeed.
A fundamental step in creating a content marketing plan is knowing your audience. This makes it easier to create content that’s more personalised and relatable to your readers.
Start by setting a target audience.
And no, don’t just say you want to target everyone to cover all bases. Even the biggest businesses can’t afford that.
To identify your target audience, ask yourself: Who are your customers? Why would they buy from you?
Let’s imagine you’re a cafe business.
Your target customers could be anyone, as most of us drink coffee. But to narrow it down, focus on a specific demographic — like college students aged 18 to 20, or young professionals aged between 21 to 35.
Take it a step further by creating a persona out of each customer.
List their attributes — age, gender, profession, behaviour, pain points, aspirations, and the like. This will help you come up with content they can relate to.
Here’s a sample persona for your cafe business. Add as many sections as you want, as long as you paint a clear picture of what your customer is like.
|Age||25 years old|
|Profession||Senior account manager|
Have you found yourself in a store, straying away from salespeople who practically shove their products to your face?
This is how traditional marketing works.
Long ago, marketing methods usually involved hard-selling one’s product or service. One would think billboards, TV and radio ads, brochures and posters, cold calls, and others.
Most people have found this pesky and annoying, especially if they want nothing to do with the product.
This is where inbound marketing has changed the game.
Inbound marketing is a strategy that does not demand customers to pay attention to your product or service. Rather, it focuses on creating something they actually want to give their attention to. How? By creating relevant, valuable, and reliable content.
Content marketing, ideally, is a practice of inbound marketing.
Lay out a content marketing plan that aims to provide useful information to your target audience. Go back to your personas and focus on their pain points and aspirations. How do you solve those pain points? How do you make those aspirations come true?
Formulate content that answers those questions.
When you present content that serves as solutions to your audience’s problems, you will have their attention. They’ll perceive you as trustworthy and credible. And naturally, they’ll be more likely to do business with you.
Content marketing doesn’t just involve blog posts, but also many other types of content.
Take advantage of different types of content, and don’t be afraid to mix them up! Diversifying your content makes it dynamic and enjoyable for your target audience.
Start from these high-performing categories:
- How-to posts. Action guides or tutorials on how to do stuff. It’s a great opportunity for you to assert your authority and expertise in your niche.
- Listicles. Short for “list articles,” this content is… an article that features a list. It serves to break down huge pieces of information for it to be more digestible for readers.
- Case studies. Feature your loyal customers and how your business has helped them solve their problems. This is a good way to show your potential customers your credibility as a business.
- Infographics. Sometimes, too many words can be hard to read. Infographics serve to be a visually appealing way to convey data, so readers can appreciate it more.
- Videos. Videos deliver a message in a compact but entertaining way. Like infographics, they provide visual appeal to your content — as well as auditory.
- Company announcements. Update your customers on new product releases, events, or any announcements related to your business.
- Industry news. Write about current events within your niche to drive traffic to your website.
A content mind map lays the foundation of your extensive content plan. It also helps when you run out of ideas.
To start a content mind map, think of an umbrella topic you want to tackle. Break these umbrella topics into topic clusters. Then, break the topic clusters into pillar posts, then the pillar posts into subtopics.
Basically, break down every topic bit by bit until it becomes specific and targeted enough to write about.
Let’s go back to your cafe business.
Naturally, your umbrella topic would be the cafe industry. Break this down into topic clusters, and you get coffee, pastries, desserts, etc. Let’s go for coffee for this example.
Then, break down the coffee topic cluster into pillar posts: history of coffee, types of coffee, etc. Let’s choose types of coffee.
Finally, break that down into subtopics. You may have types of coffee according to ingredients, types of coffee according to coffee grounds, and many others.
Once you’ve determined your topics, try to assign what content format would be best to tackle them (A listicle? An infographic?). Then, map them by considering your marketing goals and the buyer’s journey. Here’s a guide:
Now you’ve got an array of topics to derive content from, it’s time to create a content calendar.
A content calendar gives you a bird’s eye view of your overall content plan. It also makes it easier to maintain a consistent flow of content.
Determine a schedule for you to produce content, as well as the day and time for you to publish them. Make sure to keep a regular schedule and follow it as faithfully as you can.
In creating a posting schedule, assess when you can earn the greatest amount of traffic. The average blog post receives the most traffic on a Monday and at around 11 am. Take advantage of what works best for you!
But, don’t hesitate to adjust your schedule if it suits you better. Test your schedule regularly to determine when your posts get the most traffic.
Also, use online tools to help you maintain a content calendar. For blog posts, use content management systems like WordPress. For social media posts, take advantage of apps like Hootsuite and Buffer.
If you have a target audience that’s specific to a region, localising your content is essential.
Content localisation involves adjusting your content for a specific locale. It includes translating the content to their local language, as well as changing some terms that are specific and sensitive to their culture and lifestyle.
This task may be delicate. One wrong move may result in offending a section of your target audience and losing them altogether. But it doesn’t need to be complicated.
So what are the areas that you need to focus on when localising your content?
Language doesn’t just mean choosing from English, Bahasa, Mandarin, or others. It also calls for changing the spelling of words, such as localization (U.S.) to localisation (British). You also need to assess idioms and expressions that may mean something for a region but not for another.
Localisation should not only affect your textual content. Your visuals should also cater to the cultural sensitivities and lifestyles of your target audience.
For example, the owl is a symbol of wisdom in the United States and some parts of Europe. But in other cultures, it signifies death and witchcraft.
Another example is the Disney film Inside Out. One scene shows the young main character showing disgust for broccoli pizza. But in the Japanese version of the film, the artists swapped the broccoli to green peppers. Peppers are generally considered disgusting for Japanese kids compared to broccoli.
Design and layout
Yes, the design and layout of your web pages, infographics, videos, and other types of content are also covered in content localisation.
To give an example, Western cultures read from left to right, while Middle Eastern and East Asian cultures read from right to left or from top to bottom. Consider this in designing content that’s easily readable to them.
Think of cultural sensitivities also when choosing colours to use in your design.
For example, the colour black means intimidation, death, and mourning for Western cultures. But it’s associated with health, prosperity, and stability in Far Eastern cultures.
You may be surprised to learn that using common, generic keywords don’t always work in your favour — unless you’re a well-known brand.
Instead, focus on long tail and localised keywords. Only a small part of the market use them, which means less competition and more chances to rank higher in search results.
For your cafe business, using the word “cafes” generates loads of results in search engines. There’s less chance for you to be seen out there. However, by making it more specific — say, “cafes in Jakarta” — search results become more specific, and you get a greater chance of visibility.
But! Don’t aim for long tail keywords that are downright ridiculous, like “cafes in Jakarta with red velvet cheesecake and caramel macchiato”. You wouldn’t imagine someone typing that in search engines, would you?
To make things easier, make use of keyword research tools online. Google Keyword Planner, Keyword Tool, KWFinder, and Moz Keyword Explorer are some examples.
Of course, what use would your content have if you don’t deliver it to your audience?
Promote your content through these following methods to reach as much audience as possible:
SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, involves applying a set of best practices to improve your ranking in search results.
These practices vary — from crafting the perfect meta title and description, using the right keywords, link building, and more. When done right, you see your website dominate the first page of search results in no time.
Performing these practices is tedious, as the payoff happens over a period of time. But it only involves minimal to no cost.
Paid ads, meanwhile, provide a shortcut to landing on the first page of search results.
Instead of going through a checklist of practices to do, you just have to pay an amount for your website to be a sponsored result. Sponsored results are placed on top of the other search results.
It serves as a costly way to shoot up your search ranking, as you have to pay for every click your website receives from search results pages. The cost can also go higher if you choose a more competitive keyword. But when done right, the results are almost immediate.
Everyone is on social media now. That said, the platform provides an affordable yet effective way to reach your desired audience.
Here are some best practices for you to take note:
- Choose the right social media channels. Managing content for several channels takes a lot of time and effort. Use only those that suit your content marketing plan.
- Determine your content formats. Each channel specialises in different formats. Facebook works best for videos, photos, and blog posts. Instagram is ideal for photos, videos, and stories. LinkedIn is good for high-quality blog posts and company news. The list goes on!
- Create a posting schedule. Like your content calendar, consider the time your social media content gets as much reach and engagement as possible.
Finally, don’t forget to assess if your content marketing strategy is performing well and if you’re meeting your goals.
The right analytics tools help you test, analyse, and measure the performance of your campaigns and strategies. Here are some tools to start with:
- Google Analytics can be integrated into your website to let you know how much traffic you’re earning and where they’re coming from. From there, you can analyse the number of leads, the amount of your traffic, and how you can leverage them.
- Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have built-in analytics tools that let you track your posts on each platform. Measure your peak times, figure out the posts with the most reach and engagement, and analyse how these affect your business.
- Hubspot Marketing is an all-in-one content marketing tool that gives you the ability to see where your leads come from and what their interests are. It also lets you analyse and improve your conversions.
- KissMetrics gives you access to information about how your visitors are interacting with each feature on your website. This helps you increase user engagement and, in turn, your conversion rates. It also allows you to conduct A/B testing of any changes you make to your website.
Content is king — but why not let your content be the king? Create a winning content marketing strategy with these tips, and see your business rise to the top.
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