Content marketing: what it is and why it’s essential to growing your small business
If your small business isn’t doing as well as you’d like, it’s likely because you believe that buying ads and constantly talking about your products and services online is enough to get people to take notice and buy from you. It’s not.
Ads alone don’t build authority and trust. Neither do social media posts if your feed is a collection of links to your product pages. And neither do blog posts if you write them once every two months, whenever you have some free time or something to announce, like a new product, feature or sale.
If you’re creating content for a single purpose – to pitch your business, products or services – then that’s all it is – content. And that’s not enough to build trust or grow your business.
Content marketing, on the other hand, is different. It’s a conversation with your target audience. It tells a story about your brand and why people should listen and care. It also adds authority to your market perceptions and it helps you to achieve your marketing goals.
In this post we’ll explain what content marketing is and why it’s so important to your small business success.
What is content marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Moz.com defines it as “the use of that content – any of it – to help meet a marketing goal for your organization.”
In other words, content marketing is about creating and sharing purposeful content that informs, educates and delights your target audience; that helps them to get the answers they need to achieve their goals faster, better, and hassle-free.
This, in return, helps you to achieve your marketing goals, whether that’s to raise awareness of your brand or offering, bring in new customers or retain existing ones.
So what kind of content should you create and share with your audience so they get to know, like and trust your business? It’s actually any piece of content that they might find useful or entertaining, such as:
• Blog posts on your own blog and guest posts on other relevant, authoritative blogs in your industry
• Social media posts
• Email newsletters
• Long-form content like whitepapers, customer success stories and ebooks
• Reviews and testimonials
• Podcasts, webinars and live video chats and Q&As
• Quizzes, games and polls
The great thing about content marketing is that you can experiment with it, measure the results and see which format works best for your specific audience.
Why it’s key to your small business success
As a small business looking to build trust and a connection with your audience, content marketing is one the most powerful tools you can use to get people to pay attention and trust to buy from you.
Here are the main reasons why it’s essential to growing your business.
1. It gets your business found by the right people (your target audience)
People aren’t really searching online for businesses, products or services. Most often they’re searching for information, answers and solutions to their problems.
They want to know how to earn more money, live a healthier life, be more productive, get a better night’s sleep. And they use Google and other search engines to find relevant information that can help them to solve their problems or achieve their goals.
Want your business to show up at the top of the search results for queries that are relevant to what you’re selling? You can’t do that without great content. Blog posts, videos, ebooks and other types of high-quality content are key to making this happen.
Here’s an example from FitBit’s blog where they’ve organised their content into categories based on what their products can help people to achieve: get moving, eat well, feel good.
- It gets people talking about your brand
You know your content is valuable when it brings in people to your site that not only read your content but also:
- Share, like, comment on it on social platforms or other groups and forums
- Talk about your brand and offering online
- Keep coming back to your site and blog
- Subscribe to your newsletter
- Buy from you
- Recommend you to others
Because that’s what great content does: it gets your small business name out there and at the centre of people’s conversations online.
- It generates interest in your products and services
Valuable, informative, entertaining content gives people a reason to pay attention, and not just to what you have to say but also to what you’re selling.
Here’s how it works: when you share your knowledge and expertise for free in order to help your audience to achieve their goals, they’ll come to regard you as the guiding light and the top source of information in your industry.
This trust and authority will soon transfer to your products and services, which means your readers will not only become interested in what you sell but also be more likely to buy from you over your competitors.
- It boosts sales
The end goal of content marketing is to generate sales. With a proper strategy in place where you create purposeful content that targets potential and existing customers, you can increase sales long-term.
Just make sure to keep a close eye on how your content is performing to ensure you’re on the right track. A tool like Google Analytics (GA) is key to measuring results and improving your content marketing efforts.
In part four of this post about Google Analytics reports you can find more information about measuring content efficiency as well as a link to a custom report that you can add directly into your GA account.
How to get started with content marketing
You already know by now that content comes in many shapes and sizes. It’s up to you to decide which one(s) you’d like to work with.
Why not start by reading this post on six ways your small business can do content marketing?
If you want to quickly jump in, we have lots of great resources to help get you started:
- How to use blogging to boost your small business’s sales
- Getting started with social media strategy for your small business
- How to write a customer success story
- Eight types of videos to engage your audience
- Tips to ensure your next webinar is a crowd-puller
- Beginner’s guide to building your first email list
Content marketing is no easy task. It takes time and effort to create and promote valuable content that informs, educates and entertains an audience.
It also takes patience since it’ll be a few months before you start getting results. Don’t give up after a few weeks or a month. Measure the results to see what works and what you can do differently to improve, and keep at it. It will be worth it.