Content Marketing 101 for Small Businesses

by Hitachi Business Finance

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is a marketing strategy that aims to attract and convert prospects into customers through valuable free content such as webinars, eBooks, blogs, and case studies. It is a form of communication between a business and its target audience. Designed as a long-term strategy, content marketing will reach more people over time at a lower cost as you build a collection of content. A wide variety of content is essential for making sure you reach as many people as possible.

Content marketing is unique because that it is not necessarily used as a pitch for your business. Instead, content marketing focuses to provide your target market with useful information related to your field of business. The goal is to educate your target audience in a way that makes your business look intelligent and educated. Content marketing helps to build positive brand awareness and trust with potential clients.

Why Content Marketing?

 

Did you knowThe everyday consumer is tired of hearing sales pitches. Every company will tell you they are the best, regardless of the truth. The advantage consumers have today is that they can research the best, and find who is just blowing smoke. The informed and educated consumer is on the rise. Content marketing helps inform the consumer, while building trust and brand awareness.

– 76% of B2B marketers blog and 73% publish case studies, according to CMI.

– Annual growth in unique site traffic is 7.8 times higher for content marketing leaders compared to followers (19.7% vs 2.5%), according to Aberdeen.

-According to Retailing-Today, 81% of customers conduct online research before making a big purchase.

– The most effective B2B content marketers allocate a larger portion of their budget to content marketing: 42% of their total budget, compared to 28% for less-effective marketers, according to contentmarketinginstitute.

With this many people conducting research, whether it is for a vacuum or a business loan, it’s clear why content marketing works. The modern-day consumer now knows they have the power to find the best customer service, prices, and companies to purchase from. All they have to do is research what they’re purchasing. It comes down to who you want potential consumers to be acquainted with first: you or your competitors.

Example on an everyday situation:

Let’s say that Adam is the owner of a growing auto supplier that needs to hire more employees, but doesn’t have the current cash on hand to do so. Adam knows he has the money in invoices, but can’t wait for the 30,60, or 90 day turnaround. He has decided having the money faster is worth paying for and decides to check out A/R financing. Being an informed business owner, he decides to research it before he jumps into looking for a specific company.

When he searches “how does A/R financing work,” he might find a Wikipedia article or something of the sort. After searching past ads, Adam comes across a link to an eBook on the ins and outs of A/R financing. He soon discovers an intelligent source of information that covers how the process works and the advantages it holds over traditional lending. Adam feels knowledgeable on the subject. Now ready to shop around for a lender, Adam first contacts the company that produced the eBook he read. Eventually they come to a deal, and the factoring company gets a customer directly from its content.

Content Marketing Takes Time

You will not see an immediate ROI with content marketing. It is a process that takes months to successfully develop. Providing informative content on a regular basis (whether it be daily or weekly) is the first step. Writing blogs or articles relevant to your industry, developing monthly newsletters or case studies, or hosting in-person events or webinars are all great ways to get consumers educated and interested. One of the most important things is that you create content that holds value to your readers. If your content holds any form of value, your readers are likely to come back to your content or website, and are even more likely to think highly of your brand.

Keep this in mind when evaluating your first few months of content marketing. People viewing and sharing your content, although it doesn’t yield direct sales, is a great start. As people share your content, more people will visit your website and the exposure of your company will reach new heights.

Most Effective Types of Content Marketing

Blogs- Blogs are a great way to drive website traffic, as well as gain new followers.

– Among those who use email marketing, companies that  blog get twice as much traffic from their email than those who don’t, according to HubSpot.

– Marketers who prioritize blogging are 13 times more likely to achieve a positive ROI on their efforts, according to HubSpot.

Social Media- Social media to content marketing is like a bun to a hamburger. You can put as many toppings as you want on the burger, while the bun holds it all in place. Its important to use social media to garner more exposure. It is an excellent channel to share your content, including podcasts, videos, webinars, blogs, and articles.

EBooks- While time consuming to create, an eBook is the informational content that will separate you from your competition. Remember, you are sharing your expertise and knowledge. This is not a sales pitch.

Webinars- Webinars are a great way to inform people with interest in your business of an industry-related topic. It positions you as a thought-leader in your industry.

Articles- Articles are much more in-depth than blogs. They require more research, but can drive more traffic if shared socially.

Newsletters- Monthly newsletters keep your company top-of-mind and drive website traffic. You can produce a quality monthly newsletter without creating that much original content. Sharing a few related articles or company events and news, along with a single piece of created content, all warrant clicks to your company website.

How to Reach your Target Audience

The type of content you are creating is designed to attract new visitors to your website by offering answers to questions and by providing interesting or informational content that helps them to understand your industry.

A great way to narrow your list of contacts to qualified leads is to track who interacts with your content. Send visitors to landing pages and collect their info for more solidified data. View and measure likes, shares, and website traffic following the posting of a piece of content.

Here are a few examples of great content marketing:

Calloway: Calloway has videos on YouTube that show golfers how to do things like maximize their swings or hit a bump and run. The people in the videos are wearing and using Calloway gear, but do not tell the viewer to go out and purchase Calloway products. Their intentions are to provide helpful information related to their industry, in hopes that the next time you buy a club, you will remember the information Calloway provided you and buy one of their products. Click here to see one of these videos.

Whole Foods: Whole Foods is known for having healthier, more organic grocery choices, while providing friendly customer service. If you check out their blog, you will notice tips on how to eat healthier or things that are good for your body. As you can see, this blog does not tell readers that they need to come to Whole Foods to make this recipe.whole foods blog

Answer Their Questions

When creating content, ask yourself what you would want to know if you were a consumer. Base your content around this. A webinar is a fantastic way to simultaneously be informative and promote your business on a lower level.

Something that businesses don’t always take part in, but should, is interacting with customers and potential customers on social media or through customer reviews. If a customer leaves a negative review, respond to it. Apologize and let them know what you are doing to make it right. Nothing looks worse for a business than negative reviews that are left open.

Tips on Optimization

-To make sure your blogs have the best SEO possible keep a few things in mind. A well-written blog normally has a structure of multiple paragraphs and headings. If you can, try and keep your blog above 300 words. Put alt text in for all the images in your blog, and try and make sure your keyword density isn’t too high or low.

-When writing blogs or articles, you never want to force anything. It is always fantastic to have external links or pictures in your blog. However, throwing unrelated links or pictures into your blog will hurt your SEO and bring down the overall quality of your blog.

-Make sure you are subtle in your promotion efforts when creating content. For instance, if you create an eBook to describe the type of service you offer, don’t include your company’s prices or rates. It brings down the overall credibility of your content. If you successfully inform your reader of your service, they’re going to make sure to check out your website once they’re ultimately ready to make a purchase.

– Always include important keywords in any content you are posting online. Whether it is on social media, newsletters, or blogs, keywords are king. The more active you are and more interactions your content gets, the higher it will climb anytime a keyword is searched for.

– When creating shareable content (blogs and articles), it is important you have your co-workers and team share it. For instance, say that your company LinkedIn page has 1,000 followers. If 15 individuals (1.5%) share or like the content, another 5,000 people or so will now see it. Now, let’s say you have 30 people working at your company. If you can get over half of them to share the content, you’ve doubled the exposure of the content. For the minute it takes each employee to go on LinkedIn and press the share button, you can drastically enhance the outreach of your content.

Content marketing takes many forms, but always intends to drive customer action. Even if you are doing everything right, it may take a few months to see a positive ROI. Building a positive brand awareness through content marketing will drive traffic to your website in due time. Do your business a favor and start creating content today!

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