Does My Small Business Need Content Marketing?05.05.2020
A recent survey by Clutch found that only 1 in 5 small businesses are investing in content marketing. But what’s content marketing all about – and are you missing a key opportunity?
When it comes to content marketing, the preconception is often that by ‘content’, we just mean ‘blogs’. Well, not quite.
What is digital content?
Content’s a bit of a bigger picture than that. Alongside those blog posts, ‘content’ can include video content, social media posts, podcasts, web copy, customer testimonials, e-books, infographics… the list goes on!
It’s effectively everything that your potential customers will interact with online. Content is your way of being ‘you’ and representing your business when you can’t be there to do it in person – and when it comes to digital marketing, content forms the absolute heart of all your other online marketing efforts.
How does content marketing work?
Content marketing as a strategy goes beyond simply creating lots of digital content. It’s based around providing resources that are valuable and helpful to your potential customers – so rather than direct sales pitches, content marketing pieces may involve answering common customer questions, educating an audience on how to do something or producing an informative piece that may help them reach a decision.
The majority of small businesses (80%) do not invest in content marketing, and experts warn that they are missing a key marketing opportunity.
The lack of a hard sell may feel counter-intuitive, but it plays an important role in the ‘awareness’ stage of the buyer’s journey. In inbound marketing, the first step of the marketing funnel involves a visitor finding your website. Imagine someone who’s never heard of your business. They don’t know your brand name in order to Google it, and they might not even know the name of the service or product that they’re looking for – or even that they need it! But they may have a question about how X works, or the best way to do Y – and if you’ve got digital content providing an informative response to those queries, you can have a chance of getting them on to your website.
From here, it’s a process of providing high-quality, easy to read information, linking to other relevant pages on your website and ensuring that they have a great experience with your brand. Depending on your business and it’s usual buying cycle, a certain percentage of visitors may convert from that first experience with your brand, whereas in other industries it may be a process of them gradually developing trust and loyalty to your brand over several visits before becoming a paying customer.
If you’re thinking of using content marketing for your small business, here are just a few of the benefits it can provide:
1. Content gives you more opportunities to rank
At the very simplest level, keywords are your gateway to appearing in a search query result.
If you’ve only got 10 or so pages on your website, you might struggle to fit in all the keywords you’d like to rank for – and depending on the competition in your niche, you might find it challenging to optimise for them all.
Adding a few dozen (or more!) well-written blog posts gives you a lot more opportunities to appear on that all-important page 1, as well as giving you a variety of resources which can be targeted at different stages of the buyers journey.
2. Content is the personal ‘face’ of your brand
Content effectively ‘is’ your brand when you can’t be there in person. Humans are generally a social species, and we tend to prefer communicating with people rather than faceless corporations. Content provides your means of doing this for your business.
Video content in particular can be an incredibly effective way of putting a face to your brand and building trust among your audience. But you can also get your brand personality across through your style of writing – whether it’s through your social media posts or longer form content.
3. Content provides value to your customers
We use Google for everything nowadays. When was the last time you asked the internet “how to…?”. I’m sure you’ll have found a whole host of tutorials, in formats ranging from videos, to diagrams, to step-by-step lists.
If you can help your target audience achieve something that’s valuable to them (and relevant to your business), such as cook a new recipe, reach a decision about a piece of software or learn a new skill, then it makes their experience with your brand fulfilling, productive and positive.
4. Content helps you build audience trust and loyalty
Building on from this, if a website visitor comes to you from a ‘how to’ query and gets the answer they need, that’s great. But if you appear on their search results again and again, for different queries, and further visits keep providing the answers they need? Then you’ll quickly have yourself a loyal visitor…and somewhere down the line they’ll likely turn into a loyal customer – if they haven’t already!
5. Content positions you as an expert on your subject
Whilst content marketing isn’t about directly selling a product or service, the content you create should still be linked to your industry. Whether it’s the best products to paint a shed, how to design a home cinema or why your latest bake’s sunk in the middle – the aim is to provide something useful to your target audience.
For your readers, over time this positions you as their ‘go to’ expert for your sector, whether that’s in outdoor furniture, audio visual technology or baking supplies.
For search engines like Google, the more high-quality content you publish relating to a certain industry, the more the algorithm views you as an expert on the subject – and gives your website a nice ranking boost! (But that’s a subject for another blog!)
These are just a few of the benefits of content marketing. Done well, it can be an effective and cost-efficient way of creating brand awareness, building trust and converting visitors into customers.
Are you still on the fence about using content marketing in your business? Give us a call and we’d be happy to answer any questions you have!