When I got my first blog back in 2006, all I have in mind is to have a personal presence on the Internet. I want my name to appear on the search engines and be noticed as one of the trusted bloggers in my chosen category, personal development. That time, submission to article directories and link exchange are still common and considered good online marketing practices. So they are among my marketing strategies and tactics, including blog commenting and posting threads on forums. I publish blog posts for my own blog, write articles for article directories, comment on other blogs, and post threads on forums. I was actually doing content marketing during those times. Blog posts, articles, forum threads, and blog comments are all content.
Now, my old tactics could still be effective in today’s online marketing, except the submission to article directories and exchanging links. But we already have a new era for businesses, marketers, and consumers. Information is now more accessible and spreadable because of continuous innovations in technology. Search engines are now stricter and social networks are now more competitive. Furthermore, digital marketing is already going mobile. Thus, my old marketing tactics aren’t already enough to help any business in building a strong and lasting brand.
Online marketing is a different game now, and there are already many bigger and better players to compete if you’re marketing your small business. However, content marketing could be a powerful marketing strategy for a small business to stand out from the crowd and win its competition. The Internet is a flat world, and both small and big businesses can optimize content to effectively and efficiently reach their market.
If you’re a small business owner who wants to leverage content to grow your business and be competitive in the market, here are 28 content marketing tips to help you achieve those goals.
1. Evaluate yourself
Assess yourself and your business first. Determine your available and potential resources, such as your financial and human resources. You have to answer these questions to begin with your content marketing campaign:
– What talents, skills and expertise do you have now?
– What talents and skills can you develop further?
– What type of content can you offer best?
– What type of content are you passionate of?
– What tools and other resources can you utilize to advance your marketing campaign?
– How much money can you afford to spend in your content marketing campaign?
– Do you have the right team to support your goals?
It’s important to know your strengths, limitations, and potentials to ensure that you can produce the best content that will attract more audience and customers to your business. Small business owners who have chosen a business that they are passionate about are more likely to produce great content because of their enthusiasm and expertise on their chosen industry. Thus, make sure that your business, passion and profession are aligned to the type of content you are trying to create and promote to your audience.
2. Target your audience
After knowing what type of content you can offer best, it’s time to find the potential audience that will need and enjoy your content. Establish your audience by determining the following:
– The people (consumers or business owners) who need your business, products or services
– The people who need your content
– Their demographics (e.g., gender, age, location, language, employment status, interest, lifestyles and others)
– Their questions and problems
– The solutions and answers they want now
– The solutions to their future problems
– The online places where they spend most of their time (i.e., search engines, social media platforms, and mobile)
Remember that targeting your audience is vital to ensuring that your content will reach the right audience at the right place and at the right time.
3. Know your competition
You should not just have knowledge about yourself and about your target audience, but you should also be aware of your competition. You have to ensure that your content will be the best in the market. Thus, you may do the following:
– Research your competitors using related keyword on Google and other search engines.
– Research your competitors using related keyword or hashtag on social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
– Use competitive research tools.
– Visit their website, blogs and social media pages to study their content.
– Analyze how your competitors’ audience engage with their content.
– Know the strategies, tactics, styles and tools that you competitors are using to create content and promote them to their audience.
Having adequate knowledge of your competitors gives you a greater chance to create a content that will stand out from the crowd. Hence, don’t hesitate to be a spy.
4. Reevaluate yourself
After determining your target audience and analyzing your competitors, reevaluate yourself further to determine the required resources you need to invest to produce content that will win your competition and will attract more customers. You can consider the following during your reevaluation:
– Do you need to train yourself a new skill, like writing, graphic design or video production?
– Do you need to hire professionals that will help you in your campaign, such as a writer, social media strategist, SEO, and graphic designer?
– Do you need to use additional tools in creating and promoting your content?
– Do you need to increase your marketing budget?
– How much time do you need to allocate to achieve your marketing objectives?
Your marketing plan should not only be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) but should also be SMARTER. That’s why you have to add “ER”, which stands for evaluation and reevaluation.
5. Create a blog
If you still don’t have a blog for your business, consider creating a WordPress self-hosted blog with your custom domain name based on your business or brand name. Your blog should also be responsive or mobile friendly to be effectively and efficiently accessed by mobile users. Your blog’s look and design is part of your content. Hence, you have to make sure that they will also be enjoyed by your audience.
6. Publish these types of article
These types of article are the most read, shared and kept content online. So consider creating and writing them even if they require extensive research and longer hours to finish.
– Comprehensive and step by step “how to” articles
– Ultimate guide and evergreen articles
– Case studies and true stories
– Top 10 or list articles
– Interviews with experts and influencers
– In-depth articles
– Hot and intriguing articles that are related to your business and audience
7. Give reference to authority and reliable links
Links in your posts, whether they are internal links or outbound links, are part of your content. They strengthen your article’s reliability by giving your readers links to other pages that support your points or claims in a particular article. Thus, don’t forget to do your research and link to other reliable content that will add value to your own content.
8. Use enticing images
Mix visual marketing in your content marketing campaign by utilizing relevant and enticing photos in your blog posts and other content. Take note that the images in your blog posts will also be the images that will be shown when you share your posts in social networks, like Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+. So if you want to have a high CTR (click-through rate) on those social media platforms, make sure that the images in your blog posts can enchant their audience.
9. Use informative and interesting infographics
Infographics are rich images that contain useful information, charts, and illustrations. They are interesting to read and they are also easy to share in the social media. You can create your own infographics using these 10 tools for creating infographics and visualizations or you can hire an expert to create them for you.
10. Produce and share video
Aside from articles, images and infographics, videos are also rich content that you can post in your blog and in your social media network, like Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. Videos are content that can be viral if you will produce them right. Here’s Kissmetrics’ simple framework for creating a viral video to guide you.
11. Write and share a free ebook
ebook is another content or resource that you can offer to your target audience. You can create an eBook by compiling your top related articles or by focusing on a relevant topic (usually according to your expertise) that you think will be useful to your audience. You can also offer this free eBook in your blog to grow your email subscribers. Writing an eBook can take time, but once you’ve completed it, it can be your most precious content that will attract more audience, leads, and customers.
12. Create and share free tools
You can offer various types of content to your target customers, and one of those is a free tool. Depending on your industry, you can code or develop a free software or online tool that will be useful to your users. For example, if your business is providing online marketing or SEO services, you may consider developing a free SEO tool for your website’s visitors. If you’re running a real estate business, you may also consider developing a free property quotation tool for your site’s visitors.
13. Create and share presentations
Another type of content you can add to your marketing campaign are presentations. If you love to create PowerPoint and other types of presentations for your current and potential customers, then this tactic could give your brand extended exposure online. You can share your presentations on file sharing websites, like Slideshare.net, Scribd.com and Authorstream.com.
14. Build your personal brand
I believe that the author of your content is part of your content. The author in your articles or the creator of your other content adds to the value and integrity of your content. Therefore, you have to build their personal brand. If you’re the one writing in your blog, you can increase your credibility as an author by ensuring that you’re an expert in your topic, by getting certifications and training, and by building your personal brand and influence on social media.
15. Share your content on social media
Your content marketing campaign has to penetrate the social networking sites, such as Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Foursquare, and Instagram. Remember that what you share on those social media places also form part of your content marketing. You can create and claim your business page. You must regularly share useful, interesting and relevant posts to attract followers and subscribers. You should also use interesting images, titles and headlines to capture your audience. Moreover, you can join relevant groups to share your content to the tribe or create your own group to attract like-minded people who will be interested in your content.
16. Share content on related online communities
As long as you have the right content that will be useful to your target audience, you have to keep on finding them even if it means you have to register, join, and actively participate in related online communities, tribes, and forums. The posts you share on these online communities also form part of your content. Thus, make sure they are interesting and helpful to other members. You may consider joining these 10 online communities to extend your content marketing campaign.
17. Comment on related blogs
The comments you make on other blogs can also become part of your content marketing campaign. Thus, make sure you’re commenting on blogs that are related to your business, and you’re only making comments that are valuable and engaging.
18. Write guest posts
Guest posting or even becoming a regular contributor to highly authority sites that are related to your business can be a great tactic to support your overall content marketing strategy. It will improve your authority as an author and will boost your personal brand. It will also help your business reach a new audience, that is, the audience of the blogs you’re contributing to. To leverage guest posting, make sure that you’re contributing high-quality and shareable content. Don’t contribute content for backlink, but for reaching new audience, relevant traffic, and for building your business and personal brand.
19. Curate content
Content marketing is not all about content creation – it’s also about content curation. Content curation is the process of collecting, summarizing, opining, organizing and displaying information that are relevant to a particular topic. Instead of spending countless of hours creating content for your blog, you can use tools such as Scoop.it, Storify.com, and Newsle.com to find the best stories across the Internet for your topic. You can then curate those stories in a single content for your audience. Content curation shows your thought leadership, as it makes you more knowledgeable in your topic and with other experts in your field. Check out more content curation tools here.
20. SEO your content
Search engine optimization makes sure that your quality content is searchable on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Thus, SEO must be a vital part of your content marketing strategy. Here are some ways to make your content optimized for the search engines and people:
– Use relevant keywords in your pages’ title, description, and content.
– Write high-quality, well researched, and in-depth articles.
– Use relevant keywords, titles and alt texts in your images.
– Publish fresh content regularly.
– Build quality inbound links from authority sites.
– Make your link building practice consistent to regularly create fresh quality links.
– Speed up your website and blog.
– Improve the navigational structure (i.e., menus, categories and internal linking) of your website or blog to make it more friendly to users.
– Use Google’s Authorship Markup.
– Create a sitemap and submit it to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools.
– Use long tail keywords to target your audience.
– Implement geotargeting or targeted keywords according to your audience’ location.
– Follow the webmaster’s guidelines of Google and other search engines.
– Optimize the title, headline and description of the content in your social media pages.
Learn more SEO by reading these SEO tips for small business.
21. Do outreach and email marketing
To make sure that your content will reach its maximum target audience, don’t just wait and expect that people will come to you to consume your content. Instead, make an effort to reach them by doing outreach, using email, direct messages, and other media that your target audience are comfortable of communicating with. The information and templates in your messages can also be considered as your content. Therefore, make sure that they are interesting, engaging, and valuable. Avoid spamming and becoming too disruptive to the people you’re interacting with.
22. Put the right call-to-actions on your content
So why are you doing content marketing in the first place? Isn’t it to get leads, sales, and make profit to grow your business? You can earn traffic and social media followers through content marketing, but you have to leverage them to achieve your business goals. Thus, make sure that you have the proper CTA in your content to influence your target audience in making profitable customer decisions. Here are some of the actionable tips you can do optimize your content for conversion:
– Create an awesome landing page for your products or services.
– Strategically place a link to your landing page in your content. For example, in your author’s bio, in a perfect part of your blog posts, and in your social media posts.
– Make sure that your CTA is highly relevant to your content and it will guide your audience what to do next.
– Make it short, simple, creative and helpful.
23. Have timing in your content marketing
No matter how great your content is, if it’s not promoted at the right time, your marketing effort could be wasted. Hence, make sure that you know when is the perfect time to publish and share your content to your target audience. Don’t share your content while your target audience are sleeping. Don’t promote your content on weekends if your target customers are people who don’t want to do any business on those days. You have to know and understand their patterns and behaviors in the social media and other other places on the Internet to bring your content at the right time and hit your target at the bullseye.
24. Buy ads
Seek help from the big guys, like Google and Facebook, to increase your reach further. Buy ads (e.g., Google Adwords and Facebook Ads) to increase your reach without too much effort. It will cost you money but it will also save your time, which you can still use to focus on other important tasks. Just remember to pay only for reach, not traffic. If you’re creating and curating great content, your paid reach and exposure will more likely be converted into profitable engagements.
25. Utilize your analytics and insights to create more awesome content
Convert the raw data you get from Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, and other web or social analytics to plan and execute a more effective content marketing campaign for your business. Be a data scientist. As a marketer, you should also learn how to gather raw data (ex., traffic, referring sites, social mentions, visitors’ demographics, and others), analyze them, and convert them into useful information, in which, you can use to get more ideas to retarget your audience, improve your content, and make your time and place of promotion more accurate.
26. Leverage the power of collaboration and co-marketing
Marketing isn’t all about competition, but it’s also about collaboration. Get other people or businesses involved in your content marketing campaign. They can be your employees, customers or they can be other related businesses and entities. For example, you can get the testimonials of your customers and the recommendations of other experts in your industry to strengthen your content. You can also try co-marketing with other businesses or entities that are related to your business but not your direct competitor. For example, if you’re into digital marketing business, you can partner with the government to create a public marketing campaign through a blog post, infographic, video material, or through a related event.
27. Mix content marketing with relationship marketing
Whatever marketing strategy you are using, you have to put a heart on it to be effective and successful in the long run. You have to mix relationship marketing with your content marketing strategy. Here are some examples on how you can implement relationship marketing in your content marketing campaign:
– Put emotions and inspirations in your blog posts, social media posts, and other messages.
– Be helpful to your blog’s readers, social media followers, and community members.
– Give more time for human-to-human conversations with your audience and customers.
– Avoid relying too much on software and automation.
– Be honest, deliver what you have promised, and preserve your customers’ trust and confidence in you and in your business.
– Always thank and show your gratitude to your readers, audience, subscribers, networks, and customers.
– Keep humble and learn how to apologize for your mistakes.
28. Do offline content marketing
Don’t just limit your content marketing efforts online. Your content marketing campaign should be holistic. Thus, you have to make sure that your online content and offline content are in agreement. What information you share in your business cards and other printed marketing materials, and what messages you and your sales team are telling personally to customers, they can be considered as your marketing content. Therefore, they must unite in perfect harmony to make your marketing campaign a success.
If you have read and absorbed all the tips above, I congratulate you for reading this far. I hope that you have learned some awesome things about content marketing, and you have grown your marketing knowledge even further and deeper. If you have any other tips to add or questions to ask, make this blog your home and feel free to make a comment below.
Photo courtesy of geralt