Content marketing is essential for small business success. Whether you are a pure online business or using the Internet to promote your products and services, you need to have a solid and realistic content marketing strategy that works.
In the past we used to say that ‘everything online starts with a keyword’ and while this is still true, we can also add that behind each keyword there has to be a content marketing plan.
A keyword or better an endless list of potential keywords cannot be useful for your business unless you have a strategy (which is usually a long term) on how to take advantage of those keywords to meet your business goals.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is one of the tools you can use to implement your overall digital marketing strategy. As the name implies, it is marketing through content. In other words you use content (any type of content including text, images, audio and video) for marketing purposes.
Take a moment and think what does the Internet actually offer to people – it’s various types of content through different channels (websites, social networks, email, apps, forums etc).
Content marketing makes this kind of communication more official i.e. instead of just publishing content on the Internet with no purpose, you create and distribute content for satisfying marketing objectives.
Let’s see below the 5 essential content marketing tips small business can use to make the most of their content marketing efforts and also why most of them fail.
#1 – Blogging is a very important part of content marketing but that’s not the end of the story
When we talk about content marketing most people think about blogging. This is not wrong but it’s not only about setting up wordpress or any other blogging platform and start writing.
Blogging, especially if we are talking about business blogs, is one the mediums to execute your content marketing plan. Before deciding what to blog out there are a number of questions to answer and usually these answers are in a well constructed plan.
#2 – Not all content is equal
The type of content you need to publish is also something that is part of your plan but not all content has the same effectiveness. For long term success you need evergreen content.
Evergreen content will help you establish a solid online presence and also slowly but gradually assist you to build high rankings on Google which in turn provide you with a lot of benefits.
#3 – When creating your plan, think of people and write for search engines
I know it’s cliche to say this but this is true, when thinking about content you need to have your users and potential customers in mind but when creating the content you also need to think about search engines.
Those that will read the tip title only will start thinking that this is wrong and you should always write for users and not bots but let me quickly explain.
Search engines serve one purpose, to make users happy by giving them the right content when they search for something. If you only care of what people want to read without taking into account what search engines can understand then at the end of the day you will publish great content that nobody reads.
If on the other hand you first think of your users and the type of content they need and then optimize it for search engines, you have a win-win situation, both your users and search engines are happy.
#4 – Content marketing, SEO and Social Media are best friends
Companies or bloggers that managed to make these 3 tools work together, are those that succeed online. You need content to boost your SEO and you need content to feed your social media networks.
Anything that you publish in your blog or website has to be part of your SEO strategy and in-line your social media marketing strategy. So before creating a new post or page, think of how this page will be used to help you SEO or get you more attention in social media.
#5 – Consider content marketing as a long term investment (Example included)
To make money from content marketing, you first need to spend money and time.
If you have a big number of people already visiting your website and following your social media pages then with content marketing you can try and turn those visitors into customers (it’s not that easy but this is the theory).
If this is not the case and you are just starting out then this means that you need to spend money (or your time which is still valuable) to create good quality content to build your social media following and rankings so that in the near future you will get more visits and gradually these will create enough business (or clicks if you are using adsense as a way to make money) so that you make profit from content marketing.
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What I am trying to say in the huge line above, is that content marketing can help a business grow financially if you have the patience and money (or time) to do it correctly.
If you need faster results then start with adwords; if you want consistent results that can generate a long term stable return then invest in content marketing.
Let’s assume that you have a small business online selling diet related products. Your products are good, your website is modern and SEO friendly, but the niche is so competitive and you hardly get any traffic from Google or social media.
What is the solution, how can you grow your business?
You can use Adwords or Facebook ads to get traffic to your business and hopefully make more sales than what you spend on advertising and make some profit. If you keep on advertising you make sales, if you stop advertising sales drop to 0.
That’s a model that works but let’s see how content marketing can turn things around and why in order to make money from content marketing, you have to spend money.
You decide to start a blog publishing articles that provide advice to people looking to lose weight or start a diet. People will read your articles and some of them will buy your products, right? Wrong.
First of all if you start a new blog in a competitive niche you will not get any traffic unless you advertise your content. Even if you advertise your content you won’t make any sales unless your content is of top quality and this is the part of ‘investing in content marketing’ comes into place.
You have to spend time and money to create a content marketing plan that will identify the content (in this case the actual blog titles) that can make your users happy and also give you more chances in ranking.
You have to spend money to create the actual content. In the particular example you have to hire dieticians to write the articles so that they are accurate and convincing.
You have to spend money to do the above 2 steps consistently for a number of months (or even years) until Google trusts you and until you have enough followers in social media that will LIKE and distribute your content for free.
What is the cost of content marketing so far?
Assuming that you publish 3 articles per week for 6 months and you spend on average $150 for each article (that’s a low amount for top quality content), you end up with an initial investment of $10800 and that excludes any money or time needed to create the plan, publish the posts and make sure that they comply with SEO practices etc.
The point I want to make with the above example is that while content marketing works and it is the way to go, it is not a low cost approach (either in terms of money or time) and this is why most businesses fail with content marketing.
Creating a blog and throwing content without purpose or value is a waste of both time and money.
To finish this post with a positive message and continuing the example I wrote above, a company that is willing to invest in content marketing will eventually be able to enjoy the benefits of getting new targeted traffic 24 hours a day, make more sales, build a high Google trust, grow a social media following and get established as a brand online. Over time the ROI from content marketing will be greater and the profit margin will increase.
The good thing about all this is that it’s not a theoretical concept but it’s real and works for all type of online businesses.