Content Marketing for Small Business: Create an Effective 2021 Strategy

Michał Suski
March 9, 2021

Inside this article:

Establishing a strong online presence is crucial in today’s business world. People spend the bulk of their free time surfing the Web or streaming digital media. In fact, the average person racks up a whopping 6 hours and 59 minutes of recreational screen time each day. If you assume the average person also spends 8 hours working and another 8 hours sleeping, that leaves just 61 minutes for other activities.

You’re unlikely to connect with customers via print ads or in-person interactions during those 61 minutes, so developing a strong content marketing strategy is your best bet. Learn what content marketing really means, plus how to make it work for your business, in our detailed guide.

Which marketing is best for small business?

Small business content marketing is most effective when you deliver what your customers truly want. Start by identifying your target audience, then post content in the digital hangouts they frequent. This may mean creating Facebook ads, showcasing a product in a brief TikTok or Snapchat clip, recording a podcast on a digital radio station or producing engaging blogs or articles.

Remember, content marketing is a form of permission-based marketing. Customers willingly interact with your brand when you provide helpful digital content, so now is not the time to spam your target market or try too hard to sell your company. Focus on sharing useful information that benefits readers, listeners or viewers in your niche.

Why do small businesses need content marketing?

Has a friend ever told you about a family-owned store or mom-and-pop restaurant that you had no idea existed? Small businesses often get lost in a sea of strip malls and chain restaurants, so it’s easy for customers to overlook them. The same is true for small businesses online, as they can get buried under competitors when someone runs a Google search.

That’s why content strategy is so important for small business owners. The right marketing strategy can help your target audience find you. It can also help customers understand how your goods or services fit in their lives.

Content marketing is a simple way to say, “Hey, we’re here!” without being obnoxious. Without content marketing, it’s difficult to attract potential customers or maintain a strong customer base. Every small business owner needs an effective marketing strategy, whether you sell handmade socks or gourmet chocolates. That's where a strong content marketing strategy comes into play.

Conventional advertising methods often fail, which is why many small business owners have turned to content marketing. To understand more about why content marketing works, just think about how many viewers block YouTube ads or take bathroom breaks during commercials. Many customers feel these ads are intrusive or annoying, which is why they ignore them. Content marketing is different because you’re sharing information your current and potential followers actually want.

This information may come in the form of blogs, articles, social media posts, podcasts, audio clips or videos. Many small business owners choose a combination of content since customers have different preferences and expectations. The content you create should meet the needs of your target audience and boost brand recognition. You can tackle these requirements when you establish an effective content marketing strategy for your company.

Executing content marketing strategy for a small business

Creating content isn't as simple as sticking a few hastily written blogs or social media updates online. Consumers want quality content that benefits their lives in some way. After all, they're giving you a chunk of their time for free. The least you can do is produce useful content for your target customers, right?

There are many different types of content a small business owner should consider, but your business content marketing strategy must always benefit your customers. Great content is content that establishes a solid relationship between you and your audience. However, you must establish trust with your readers, listeners or viewers before they're interested in hearing your message. Make sure your purpose for communication is clearly defined in a content marketing plan before you go live with your content.

Anyone can jump online and create content, but good content requires careful planning. If you don’t know what your audience wants, your marketing efforts may be wasted. Establish a strong brand identity, boost conversion rates, and enhance your relationship with new or existing customers by following the suggestions below.

Pinpoint your content marketing goals

Successful content marketing is not based on guesswork. You should have clearly defined goals outlined in your content marketing strategy, whether you want to generate leads from new customers or simply raise awareness about your products and services.

Here are some questions to ask your company's content creation team as you tackle marketing goals:

  • What audience are we targeting?
  • How will we determine what our audience wants?
  • Do we want to build a social media presence or focus on blog posts and articles?
  • How will our company develop content ideas?
  • Will we need to outsource any tasks for our business content marketing strategy?
  • What is our budget for sharing and creating content?
  • What are some performance indicators that our marketing efforts are productive?
  • Are there any content types we should avoid or limit?
  • Should we create written content, infographics, videos or audio clips?
  • What image do we want to project? For example, would we like to be viewed as a thought leader or brand expert on social media?
  • When, where and how will we share pieces of content?
  • How will our company get started?

It takes time to develop the right content strategy for your small business, and it takes even longer if you rush into your marketing plan. Make sure your goals are clear before you begin so your content marketing efforts aren't a waste of time.

Measure the effectiveness of your content

As you create content, you may want to follow a specific set of guidelines, such as avoiding profanity or making sure all blog posts have SEO value. You can develop these guidelines after you establish your content marketing goals, as we discussed earlier. Creating guidelines for your company’s work helps ensure that you produce high-quality content.

Performance indicators should compare your content results with the goals your business created. Here are some things you might want to consider when you measure performance:

What do Google Analytics say about our website?

Analytics tell you quite a bit about your audience. You can learn where your website traffic comes from, what demographics visitors fall under and how they spend time on your page. With analytics, you can pinpoint exactly what your audience does on your website, whether they spend hours reading blog posts or a few minutes skimming the infographics you made on Canva.

Some businesses track progress with a marketing tool. There are many apps and websites available that track customer engagement, such as Kangaroo and Higher Logic. You should also check your metrics to make sure your website is mobile friendly, as approximately half of internet traffic comes from smartphones and tablets.

What type of engagement are we getting on social media?

When you post a photo or share a blog from your company’s website, what happens? Does your audience react to your content in any way, and if not, are they even seeing your content in the first place? Many social media platforms offer tools that help businesses track engagement, such as the number of impressions, reads or clicks on a post. Make sure you utilize these marketing tools as part of your content marketing strategy.

Are we choosing the right keywords?

Keyword research is an important part of content development. If you choose the right keywords, it will be easier to attract consumers who want what your business offers.

Some businesses only care about ranking locally when they consider keywords. Others prefer to find keywords that work on a global level. The keywords you choose depend on whether you focus on selling goods and services in your community or have the ability to expand across the globe.

Even if you choose the right keywords, it's important to make sure you present the information in a manner that attracts and benefits your core audience.

Pick the right social channels for distribution

A landing page is the go-to choice for many content creators, but this practice is gradually becoming outdated. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create one, but you may want to focus on other content sharing options.

You need to share content where your audience can find it, whether you're producing blog articles or educational podcasts. There are several ways you can figure out where potential viewers are hanging out online. Case studies provide some insight on marketing trends, but you can also ask consumers directly via an online survey. Make sure you keep the survey about online habits brief, and consider offering a token of your appreciation upon completion, such as a coupon or promo code.

If you still aren’t sure where to begin, consider starting with at least one of these well-known social media platforms:

  • TikTok
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • YouTube

According to market research, these platforms are often popular with teens as well as adults. Nearly all Gen Z and Millennial internet users — 94%, to be exact — say they use YouTube. Facebook and Instagram are also popular with Gen Z and Millennials, with 74% of people between the ages of 13 and 38 using these sites.

Leverage user-generated content in your small business content marketing

User-generated content refers to content created by your audience rather than your business. Sharing content created by everyday folks is a powerful yet often overlooked marketing strategy that boosts brand awareness. It works because news that travels via word of mouth rather than paid advertisements is generally considered authentic and unbiased.

Just be careful when you use content that you find online. It's okay to share public posts, but it's not okay to copy and paste someone's blog post without consent. You should also be careful before sharing screenshots of private conversations in your social media inboxes, as this can violate the trust of your followers.

Here are some examples of user-generated content you can share:

  • Reviews of products or services
  • Videos featuring your products, such as TikTok content with a recipe made from food your company sells
  • Instagram photos featuring something your company offers
  • Podcasts about your company

It's a good business practice to always thank the user for sharing content about your company. You should also leave a short message if you use the content, such as, "Hey, we loved your Tweet about our shoes, so we shared a retweet yesterday evening."

Remember SEO and write content based on data-driven briefs

Search engines don't care about emotions. They use a complex algorithm that determines who sees your content and where they find it. When companies write for the Web, they should focus on user-friendly content while keeping SEO in mind. Consider using a keyword research tool for new content, and have someone proofread all content for grammatical errors and other readability concerns before it goes live.

Data-driven briefs should also influence your content on a regular basis. Consumers like facts; they want to know what you're saying is true. Earlier we mentioned that algorithms don't care about emotions, but it's important to remember that people do. People enjoy marketing content that resonates with them. They want to feel something when they view your work. It should inspire them, pull at their heart strings or make them want to learn more about your business.

Good content doesn't just boost your sales funnel or generate leads. It makes consumers feel like you truly understand who they are and what they want in life. Keep that in mind as you create your content strategy, regardless of which method or platform you choose.

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