How to Create a Content Strategy for Small Business

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With the rise of the internet, the way people consume information has revolutionized. Before people had instant access to information via search engines and online content, most people relied on books and consultations with experts to answer questions. Nowadays, it’s unthinkable to have questions that you can’t answer immediately. With the click of a button, you can get all your questions answered – often by a qualified expert.

With the demand for quality content on the rise, many businesses are taking it as an opportunity to market their expertise. SEO delivers one of the highest ROIs of any online marketing channel and content is often at the center of more organic traffic. Regardless, many small to medium sized business owners feel left in the dark, not knowing how to create a content strategy for their businesses.

What is a Content Marketing Strategy?

Content marketing is a way to establish yourself as an expert in your industry and gain new customers online. As the name implies, content marketing is done by creating and distributing content. This content must be aimed at answering important questions that consumers have regarding your product or service.

In the same way experts give advice and tips during trade shows, or conduct interviews with journalists to contribute to newspaper and magazine articles, online content is a way of promoting your business by providing potential customers with valuable information.

Online content can take many forms, but most businesses start by publishing blog posts. Other forms of online marketing include videos, podcasts, infographics, webinars and more.

A content strategy is the thoughtful planning, creation, publishing and promotion of your content online. For a blog, this could include planning post topics ahead of time and implementing methods to optimize posts for search. Your content marketing strategy could also include methods of promoting your content on various platforms, such as social media.

Why Is a Content Strategy Important?

Businesses value content marketing because it often delivers outstanding results. Good content can increase sales and lower marketing costs. It can also help businesses acquire more loyal customers. This is because businesses who publish regular content establish a voice for themselves and develop their brand image positively.

Another benefit is that content marketing is focused on attracting target customers to you. Many traditional forms of advertising (such as television ads and cold calling) are disruptive and annoying. By publishing helpful content, potential customers will feel like your business is focused on assisting them, rather than just making sales. This will cause customers to view your product as being more valuable.

According to Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is cheaper than paid search and delivers a better ROI. Content marketing is also better than outbound marketing, as it delivers three times more leads at 62% the cost.

How to Create a Content Strategy

Developing a content strategy might seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. When setting out your content strategy, there are some key questions you need to answer:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • Where are they located?
  • What are your content marketing goals?
  • How often will you publish new content?

Your target audience will typically be potential customers. If you already know who your potential customers are, you can craft your content around what they will find helpful.

Knowing where your target audience is located is important in terms of optimizing your content for local SEO. While you don’t have to focus every blog post you publish around your location, it’s good to occasionally publish one that’s optimized for local search.

As far as content marketing goals are concerned, it’s good to have some clarity. Do you want your content to help you get new subscribers for your newsletter? Are you interested in getting more organic traffic from search engines through content marketing? Setting clear goals regarding how much traffic you want to attract to your website will give you something clear to work towards.

Just remember to be realistic. You’re unlikely to get 100 new website visitors straight off the bat. That said, you should go in with expectations for your content to perform. There’s no sense in committing to a content strategy if you aren’t working towards a measurable result.

Keeping Your Content up to Date

A lot of small businesses underestimate the work that goes into planning and implementing a content strategy. Content marketing takes effort. It’s easy to start on a content marketing strategy, only for your efforts to fizzle out as time goes by.

The result? Countless businesses have “ghost blogs” which haven’t been updated for more than a year.

When planning a content strategy for small business, you must make your content strategy doable if you want to prevent your blog from dying out. Be sure you put the following in place:

  • Assign the responsibility of your content strategy to an employee
  • Plan your content calendar at least three months in advance
  • Set up weekly or biweekly meetings to discuss your content strategy progress

A lot of small business owners take the responsibility of content marketing on themselves. While there’s nothing wrong with business owners writing their own content, this DIY approach often fails. To prevent content efforts from fizzling out, business owners must be accountable to someone for content. Because of this, it’s good to put an employee in charge of managing your content, even if you plan to write your own blog posts.

Planning Content Promotion

Too many small businesses publish content online only to feel disappointed with the results. New content often drives little traffic. Sometimes content doesn’t drive any traffic at all.

As a rule, a new business blog won’t drive a lot of traffic. A lot of online marketers have noted a trend where Google favors blogs with more blog posts. There’s no magic number for how many posts a blog needs to get listed in Google (some say it’s around 50) but 10 or less definitely won’t do the trick.

Unfortunately, too many small business owners give up on content marketing before even reaching 10 posts. Yes, it takes some perseverance to see results from content marketing, but that doesn’t mean your posts can’t drive traffic for you in the meantime.

By setting together a strategy to promote your content, you can drive traffic from sources other than Google. Promote new content on social media channels and your email newsletter. Share your blog posts on forums (or on Facebook and LinkedIn groups) if they serve as an answer to someone’s question. Get creative about how you’ll draw traffic to your website with your blog posts and keep consistently posting to gain a devoted following!

Measuring Your Content Marketing ROI

A lot of small businesses might give up on content because they feel like it’s not delivering good ROI. In some cases, this is true. Simply publishing content isn’t enough. Content must be strategically planned to reach goals.

The best place to start is by setting a goal for how much website traffic you want to get from your content. Set a realistic goal to begin with, something like 10 website visitors for every new post within the first month.

There are great tools that you can use to help measure website traffic. The most popular tool to measure website traffic is Google analytics. WordPress also offers its users some basic data on web traffic, which you can gain easy access to by installing the Jetpack plugin on your site.

While there are a lot of tools to help businesses gain more complex insights into web traffic, small businesses can focus on the basics when starting and build on the complexity of their analytics as they go along.

A basic tool like the built-in tracking metrics on WordPress should be good enough for most small business owners to begin with. Once a small business reaches the first small goal, they can set another, more complex one.

Outsourcing Small Business Content Marketing

Creating a content marketing strategy for small business is well within reach. Although it will take time to learn how to create content that ranks in search engines, gain an online following and measure results, it’s something that small business owners can learn over time.

A lot of small businesses aren’t interested in learning how to create a content strategy. Small business owners and employees often have a lot of their plates even without marketing. Busy schedules often leave no time to plan and implement a content strategy.

Outsourcing content is a great option for many small businesses. When outsourcing content, it’s always best to work with a professional online marketing company or experienced individual.

While there are cheap alternatives, such as hiring on an online marketplace, the quality of the content is usually remarkably poor and won’t generate results. It’s almost better to have no content than what you can get from an online marketplace. In the same way good content can help you stand out as an expert in your industry, poor content will make your business look bad.

Investing in quality content is a worthwhile. As an added benefit, professional online marketers have experience using more complex tracking metrics and marketing tactics.

Rozanne WildsHow to Create a Content Strategy for Small Business
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Online vs Offline Marketing ROI Comparison

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Most small to medium sized business owners have limited financial resources to allocate to marketing. Sure, fortune 500 companies have seemingly infinite budgets for both on- and offline marketing campaigns, but that’s not how things work in the world of small business. With limited resources, marketing budgets must be spent on campaigns that deliver. ROI is at the front and center of every small business marketing choice. With that in mind, small business owners are usually interested in a comparison between online vs offline marketing ROI. Here’s what you need to know.

The Difference Between Online and Offline Marketing

The difference between online and offline marketing is quite simple, so there’s no need to explain it in detail, but just in case you’re uncertain, they can be defined as follows.

Offline marketing, also called traditional advertising is any marketing campaign or strategy that isn’t on the internet. This could include billboards and posters, as well as ads on the radio, television and in local newspapers and magazines.

Online marketing, also called digital marketing, is any form of marketing on the internet. This could include social media and Google ads, as well as content and email marketing.

The difference is simple, but measuring how ROI differs across various platforms can be more complicated. This is exactly why choosing between digital vs traditional marketing avenues can leave many business owners scratching their heads.

Measuring ROI on Marketing Campaigns

One of the benefits of online marketing vs traditional marketing is that it enables businesses to better measure the ROI from online campaigns. Tracking metrics can tell business owners how much traffic their websites are getting from search engines. As an added benefit, business owners can also see what search phrases people used to find them online.

But measuring the efficacy of campaigns can extend even further. With the right tools, some business owners even track how many website visitors are converted to customers. Not all business owners can track online conversion rates with 100% accuracy, so it’s not always entirely clear-cut. Even so, it’s easy to get feedback consisting of real, hard data from digital marketing efforts.

In contrast, measuring ROI from offline marketing can be a bit like an educated guessing game. Imagine you put up a poster. How do you know if potential customers phoning your business saw your poster, or if they got your number off the internet? In most cases, you don’t. The only way you can know for sure is by asking people who phone how they found your business, which will annoy some of your potential customers.

Measurable ≠ Better by Default

Yes, digital marketing success is easier to track, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better by default.

Tracking metrics aren’t beneficial unless you use them to improve your strategy. Incidentally, that’s where digital stands head and shoulders above traditional. Data collected from digital campaigns can be used to improve them.

Too many business owners are so pleased to have accurate tracking metrics, they forget to apply their results to their marketing! Simply seeing real numbers can be deceiving, and can lead business owners to believe they’re getting a better ROI on their efforts than they actually are.

Conversely, just because you don’t know how many customers you’re getting from offline ads, doesn’t mean you aren’t getting any. For all you know, you’re benefiting more from your offline marketing than your online campaigns.

To get the best out of any marketing campaign, it’s good to have tracking metrics. Having data to analyze will show you what worked, allowing you to improve your strategy.

Online vs Offiline Marketing ROI: Where Should You Invest More?

The best marketing channels to use will differ from one business to another. Some businesses might find that SEO is the absolute best form of online marketing for them, while others might benefit more from simply handing out leaflets.

For local small to medium sized businesses, it’s important to keep the focus of online marketing on attracting a local audience. Offline marketing can also be a great way to get interest from the community.

Investing in at least some online marketing is more essential now than ever before. But establishing the right balance between online vs offline marketing will often yield the best overall results.

Local Marketing Options

When trying to market a business locally (both online and off) the focus should be on marketing to a local audience. Some of the best ways to market a business locally include:

  • A business website that’s optimized for local SEO
  • Using free local SEO services such as Google My Business and Bing Places for Business
  • PPC campaigns
  • Social media
  • Print media, like leaflets, posters and banners

Using a combination of different marketing channels can help to promote your business to a larger audience. Your target market will also influence what marketing channels you can benefit from most.

A Business Website and SEO

Almost any local business can benefit from having their own website. To benefit from a business website, it must be SEO optimized, as this will help to bring in organic traffic from search engines.

Optimizing for local SEO can include methods such as keyword optimization and content marketing through blogging. Another important way to optimize your business website for SEO is to ensure your website is responsive – meaning it displays well on all devices.

Local SEO Services

Making use of services like Google My Business is a great way to get customers online. A lot of internet users will only look at Google My Business profiles before choosing what company to buy from.

The great thing about a listing on Google My Business is that you can link to your own website from the platform. You can add your company contact details to your profile, giving customers an easy way to phone or email you.

PPC Marketing

PPC stands for pay per click. As the name implies, it’s a form of online marketing where your ads are displayed to an audience, but you only pay every time your ad is clicked. PPC advertising is available on various platforms, such as Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon.

One of the best platforms for PPC advertising is Google Adwords. Although ads on other platforms can also offer a good ROI, Adwords is the most logical place to start for most businesses. Google sees a lot of search volume. Seeing as most people who search for businesses online do so using Google, there’s a lot of potential for new customers to find you.

Print Media Marketing

Printed leaflets aren’t ideal for all businesses, but some can benefit. While people are less likely to make big buying choices based on a leaflet (think furniture, cars, houses etc.) local businesses like supermarkets and restaurants can see good ROI if advertising things like opening specials or other promotions through leaflets.

Posters are a popular means of advertising in the entertainment and leisure industry. Events like music concerts, weekend farmer’s markets and even trade shows can benefit from using posters and banners.

Not a lot of people still read local newspapers, but reading the paper is still popular among older demographics. Businesses that typically have older customers (audiologists, health care practitioners etc.) can benefit greatly from advertising promotions in the local newspaper.

Global Marketing Options

A lot of businesses can benefit from targeting a global audience, even if they operate locally. A good example is businesses involved in tourism. Other businesses operate almost exclusively online and can benefit from attracting an international client base.

Businesses looking to attract an international audience can benefit from having a business website and optimizing for SEO. Other forms of online marketing, such as social media, PPC and even email newsletters can also be beneficial.

Unlike local businesses, however, companies looking to attract customers from all over the world won’t benefit much from local print media. When targeting a global client base, it’s best to keep all your marketing accessible to potential customers the world over.

Conclusion

Online marketing is a better investment for most modern business models. When working with a limited marketing budget, it’s important to focus on online channels that are likely to yield good results.

Free options like Google My Business profiles and Facebook pages allow all local and international businesses the opportunity to get found online at no expense. When looking at paid online marketing, businesses should strongly consider getting their own website, in which case SEO is a worthwhile investment.

Although online marketing is largely taking over more traditional options, a lot of businesses can still benefit from certain forms of traditional advertising.

Rozanne WildsOnline vs Offline Marketing ROI Comparison
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