How Small Business Owners Can Create a Content Marketing Strategy
Every business needs a robust content marketing strategy. It's not just a 'nice-to-have', but a crucial element in building trust with new audiences and ensuring long-term success. In this post, learn about creating an effective content marketing strategy, understanding your audience, setting goals, conducting content audits, and more.
What is Content Strategy?
A content strategy outlines your plan for creating, publishing, and managing content. It's crucial to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your products or services, and build trust with your audience. A well-crafted content strategy focuses on attracting a target audience and aligning content with business goals.
Why is it Essential?
High-quality content not only helps in attracting leads but also educates your prospects and enhances your brand's awareness. This approach is integral for long-lasting organic traffic and lead generation, giving you the freedom to explore other marketing tactics.
Creating a Content Strategy Framework
Define Your Goal
- Clarify your content marketing objectives. Are you aiming to increase brand awareness, drive more traffic, or something else? Use the SMART framework to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals.
- Once you’ve identified your goals, break them down into specific pieces that you can achieve with your content (and other marketing tactics). For example, if your goal is to increase website traffic by 20% for the next 12 months, then you know you need to try and earn about 5% more traffic each quarter.
- Knowing this allows you to look at your current website traffic and build out content ideas based on what is performing well, or where you have opportunities to optimize a low-performing blog or web page.
Conduct Persona Research
Conducting comprehensive persona research is fundamental to the success of your content strategy. This stage is about understanding who your audience really is, and how your business can solve their problems and meet their needs with content.
Use Social Media: Using social media platforms is a great way to dive deep into your audience’s preferences and pain points. Perform social listening by monitoring mentions of your brand, competitors, or industry terms to glean insights into what your audience is discussing, asking, and concerned about. This real-time data can inform your buyer personas and content strategy.
- Analyze Existing Customer Data:
- If you already have a customer base, analyze this data to uncover common characteristics and trends among your customers. Use surveys, interviews, and feedback to gather information about their preferences and pain points.
- Create Detailed Buyer Personas:
- Compile the data and insights you’ve gathered to create detailed buyer personas. Include information like Personal Background, Career and Company Information, Values and Fears, and Content Preferences. The more detailed your personas, the more tailored and effective your content strategy will be.
- Align Content with Buyer Journeys:
- Ensure your content aligns with different stages of the buyer's journey: Awareness Stage, Consideration Stage, and Decision Stage.
Align Content with Buyer Journeys
Ensure your content aligns with different stages of the buyer's journey:
- Awareness Stage: Focus on providing informational content that addresses your audience's challenges and questions.
- Consideration Stage: Offer content that showcases solutions to their problems, including the benefits of your products or services.
- Decision Stage: Provide content that helps them make a well-informed decision, like product comparisons, case studies, and testimonials.
Run a Content Audit
Executing a content audit is about reviewing and assessing the content you’ve already published to understand its impact, relevance, and quality.
Setting Benchmarks: Before starting your content audit, set clear benchmarks or KPIs to measure your content against. Define what success looks like for your content — be it increased traffic, engagement, or conversions, and use these metrics as a guide to assess your content's performance.
Inventory Existing Content
Create a detailed inventory of your existing content. Include various content types such as blog posts, videos, eBooks, podcasts, and more. Use a spreadsheet to organize the content with relevant information like publication date, author, content type, and metrics like page views, bounce rates, and social shares.
Analyze Key Performance Metrics
Evaluate the performance of your content based on various metrics. Use analytics tools to understand:
- Traffic: Which pieces of content are driving the most and least traffic?
- Engagement: Are readers interacting with the content through comments, likes, and shares?
- Conversion: Is the content effectively converting visitors into leads or customers?
- SEO Performance: How is your content ranking on search engines? Which keywords are performing well?
Identify Content Gaps and Assess Content Quality
Examine your content to find any topic or format gaps. Assess whether your content is covering all the necessary topics related to your industry, and if it's in the formats your audience prefers (blogs, videos, infographics, etc.). Review the relevance and quality of your content to ensure it is up-to-date, accurate, informative, and aligned with your audience’s preferences and pain points.
Brainstorm Content Ideas
After conducting your content audit, you’ll have a much clearer picture of how your content is performing, where you have the opportunity to capitalize on places that are performing well, and any holes you have. These represent untapped opportunities to provide valuable, sought-after content to your audience. Keyword research and social media listening tools can offer insights into the themes and questions resonating in your industry's online conversations.
Once you have identified the ideas and topics you want to create, you can begin deciding:
- The subject matter you will create about.
- Where you will distribute that content (will it be a blog post? A podcast? A behind-the-scenes video?)
- How you will get it to your audience (will you need an email? A social post? or An ad?)
After you have figured out these things, it’s time to get to work.
Publish and Manage Your Content
It’s probably pretty clear by now how important is to have a plan for publishing your content successfully. An editorial and social media content calendar is fundamental to achieving this – it outlines your content publishing schedule, allowing for strategic distribution across various platforms. Your calendar ensures you complete your work and distribute it on schedule.
Adapting Your Strategy: After publishing, don’t just set your content free and forget about it. Regularly analyze the performance metrics and audience feedback. Be ready to tweak your content calendar and strategy based on these insights. Adaptability ensures that your content strategy remains in tune with audience expectations and industry trends, maintaining its effectiveness and relevance.
Create a Content Marketing Strategy That Works for You
Embarking on creating a content marketing strategy may seem daunting, especially for small business owners or solo marketing professionals. However, breaking it down into these manageable steps and utilizing available tools and resources can make the process smoother and more effective. Remember that understanding your audience and consistently delivering valuable content is at the heart of a successful content marketing strategy.
By following this guide, small business owners can develop a content marketing strategy that resonates with their audience, builds a loyal customer base, and drives business growth.
Additional Tips for Small Business Owners:
- Leverage Local SEO: Ensure your content is optimized for local search terms (keywords with the city or neighborhood name), which can help your business appear in relevant local searches.
- Utilize Social Media: Share your content on various social media platforms to increase visibility and engagement.
- Engage with Your Community: Reply to comments, messages, and emails promptly and thoughtfully. This engagement can build a strong community and customer base.
- Outsource When Necessary: If content creation is overwhelming, consider hiring freelance writers, designers, or a marketing agency to assist with your content needs.
By following this structured approach, small business owners and solo marketers can effectively navigate the content marketing world, ensuring their efforts resonate with their audience and contribute positively to their business growth.