Content Marketing Strategy for Small Business Owners
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Content Marketing Strategy for Small Business Owners

Content Marketing
Content Marketing

A good content marketing strategy is a proven way of drawing awareness and to popularize a small business and this is the main reason I wrote this guide: to help you get started and eventually, achieve success in marketing your business.

There are more than 200 million users that are currently using add blockers these days. It’s a huge number considering that these individuals cannot be reached through ads and other types of traditional advertising. Moreover, according to Neil Patel,

61% of the consumers “are influenced by custom content”

This is a huge number considering that many of them are using some kind of add blocker already and otherwise would not have been successfully targeted by a marketing campaign. At the same time, 61% represents a number way higher that any traditional campaign would have achieved.

Let’s talk now about everything you need for a successful content marketing campaign:

why consumers decision is influenced by content

 

Who is this guide for:

I created this guide for an audience of a small business owner and a marketer, entry to mid-level candidates in need of resources.

What you will learn after reading this guide:

  1. What is Content Marketing
  2. Why do we need content marketing
  3. How to Prepare a content marketing campaign
  4. How to Start a content marketing campaign
  5. How to Measure your content marketing strategy
  6. How brands like Cisco or RedBull are using content marketing to earn trust and increase their business

 

01 What is Content Marketing?

why do we need content marketing

You are thinking about some strategies for marketing your small business but at the same time, you already know that there are many ways to do so.

There are classic media channels and online media channels to choose from, for a traditional strategy or a modern and non-intrusive strategy.

Let’s see for now what the traditional marketing strategies encompass and why I think they are not as powerful as the content marketing strategy.

A. TRADITIONAL MARKETING VS. CONTENT MARKETING

As you already know, traditional advertising is essentially performed by giving some kind of content to the customers, whether visual or audio.

However, most of the time, we’re dealing with intrusive content, meant to interrupt the customer’s experience when listening to the radio, watching TV or reading a website or a newspaper (printed magazine). Moreover, although the advertisement provides content of some sorts, this content has no value for the viewer which as a consequence, has no inherent reason to watch it.

They rely on good placement and smart slogans and clever wording in order to capture the client’s attention but it can only do it for briefs periods of time.

At the same time, they are expensive and the budget needs to be quite high should you want to achieve the best results.

Of course, there is a cheaper and sometimes even free alternative: It is called content marketing and it will deliver better results than the traditional way of advertising your small business.

However, you need to at least sketch a basic strategy before starting such a campaign.

Traditional marketing:

  • Ads do not provide any value to customers and therefore, they are ignored most of the times.
  • Ads are intrusive because they interfere with the customer’s experience, whether they are published on newspapers, websites or placed as audio or video spots during TV and radio transmissions.
  • In the best case scenario, the traditional ad will capture the customer’s attention for a brief period of time
  • Ads may prove to be quite expensive, especially when a campaign does not deliver the expected results. In other words, if they are ineffective, your budget goes to waste.

Content marketing:

  • Non-intrusive
  • Adds value to the customer
  • Higher performance
  • Less costs

Theoretical example for content marketingTheoretical example: Let’s say, for instance, that you have a small business focused on delivering coffee. There are several traditional marketing options at your disposal and of course, several content marketing options.

Let’s analyze them from both perspectives, online and offline.

 

  • Traditional offline campaign:

If you choose an offline campaign, for instance, you can buy ad pages on magazines that are aiming at the same individuals as you are. If you are buying an ad page on a very popular magazine, it will cost a lot. However, the readers, when buying that magazine, they will not do it for the ads and as a consequence, they will ignore them and read the articles.

If you are buying ad pages on a less popular magazine or newspaper, it will cost less but the results will be similar: just a few people will actually pay attention to your ads.

  • Content marketing offline campaign:

On the other hand, if you choose to spend your budget on a content marketing campaign, in the same magazines or newspapers, the result will be significantly better. Why is that? The results are better because when paying for a content marketing campaign, you actually add valuable content to the aforementioned magazine: brochures, articles, extra content such as a DVD Video with a documentary on your main topic of interest.

The readers will not always buy the magazine for you, except for the DVD Video, but they will read your content and thus, you can grow awareness on your brand.

  • Traditional online campaign:

If you are choosing an online campaign, things are easier than the offline option. However, the traditional way or marketing your small business will have similar results. Why is that? The main reason of failure is that traditional advertising is done through ads and videos posted on a website. Most of the people use ad blockers and they will not even see your ads. Those who will see them however, can be placed into three main categories: people that will ignore the ads, people that will be annoyed by them and people who will actually watch them.

Individuals in the latter category are just a few and in many cases, irrelevant for a successful campaign.

  • Content marketing online campaign:

If your are opting for a content marketing campaign, things tend to get even easier. You have many options of doing the campaign without paying anything. For instance, you have the traditional channels, such as your personal or your business blog, the website, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and all other social media channels.

Moreover, with less costs than a traditional campaign, you can publish on several websites and blogs in order to advertise your small business, your products or brand. I will talk about these options later.

B. WHY DO WE NEED CONTENT MARKETING?

As I have said before, content marketing is cheaper and at the same time, it delivers better results because it is not intrusive and has a lot more to offer to the customer than a traditional advertising banner or video. I will try to further argument this initial statement through real life scenarios.

Let’s see some of the best examples available until now:

  • Informational

I will talk in the following paragraphs from the next chapter about Copyblogger and how their strategy to inform people has worked out, making them one of the most trusted resources of data in their area o expertise. They are not alone, as other companies managed to achieve similar results.

The next two paragraphs will exemplify two of the most successful stories in content marketing strategies, featuring video content:

content marketing example toyotaEverybody is aware of the Toyota brand. Some like their cars while others don’t. This is not important however for this article’s purpose.

However, what is important that they have successfully used the content marketing strategy on YouTube and continue to do so by providing, besides their commercials, useful information to their followers. They started several years ago with a rap video for their Sienna minivan model that was called in the song the “Swagger Wagon”.

The video went viral because instead of presenting a car model in a traditional way, they created content that was pleasing and entertaining for their customers. It is not available now on the official channel, but until its removal, it was viewed by more than 10 million people.

You can view it however here.

They also provide useful tutorials and other video content to their customers, as you can see in the following example:

toyota example youtube video

  • Inspiration

You can also use a content marketing strategy in order to inspire the community and grow your reputation through their creativity.

GoPro content marketing exampleGoPro successfully managed to maintain a continuous campaign inspiring customers to post their own content on the company’s YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages. More than 6000 videos are uploaded by GoPro users every day on these social media channels, thus making the company and the brand extremely popular among Internet users.

In terms of strategic marketing, the user generated content is cheap and also of low maintenance.

However, as simple as it may seem at a first glance, do not think that this campaign was not thoroughly planned.

In fact, GoPro planned it up to the last detail: They have a #GoPro hash tag that can help users better categorize the videos they post, a feature website where all the best videos are reposted, another website to teach users about how they can upload their videos and of course, social media accounts on all major social media websites.

You can read more about this campaign on Gorilla 360.

GoPro YouTube Channel

Before going any further, I will summarize everything we’ve learned so far plus some more new information that is important to the following chapters of this guide:

  1. Content marketing is one of the most rewarding ways to conduct a marketing campaign.
  2. Through this type of campaign, instead of annoying your potential customers, you educate them to the point they will eventually consider buying your products or using your services by providing them valuable content.
  3. A content marketing strategy has been proven to be effective even for big companies such as Toyota or GoPro but at the same time it may also be of use for your small business. I will explain it later.
  4. Content marketing creates a sense of reciprocity with users and customers as you give them free information to capture their interest instead of interrupting their entertainment programs and lectures with ads.
  5. Content marketing attracts viewers and potential customers for free. Instead of paying for clicks or ads on websites, videos and audios on TV and radio, you can get even better results with virtually no costs at all. You only have to pay for the content or, create it by yourself if you are able to. Moreover, as we have already seen in the GoPro campaign, you can benefit of users’ generated content and not even create it on your own.
  6. Content marketing increases traffic on your blog, social media account etc. By providing valuable content, customers and users will come back for more, thus increasing the traffic and the popularity of your small business or brand.
  7. Through content marketing, the valuable content gets shared. I know that sometimes advertisements, if they prove to be creative and entertaining enough, they can and will become viral and thus they end up being shared by millions of users. However, content marketing content gets shared more often and generates organic traffic. This happens because they are not just entertaining; they are also valuable to the customers and ads to their knowledge in one way or another.
  8. More shares plus more traffic leads to more awareness and brand recognition. This is virtually the main goal of a marketing campaign.
  9. Content marketing also provides SEO benefits to your small business and / or brand. The posts, images or videos get to be shared, mentioned in other posts or used as examples in articles and guides. Moreover, the content will also be indexed by search engines. On one hand, you can have an official website with ten or twenty pages that are being indexed. On the other hand, if you write two posts per week, the site will grow with more than 100 pages every year. In time, your business will benefit significantly.
  10. Content marketing creates content that is highly targeted to specific users and customers. I am referring to niche content, the most valuable type of content you can post online. This means that the articles are being read by people who are specifically interested in your topic and thus, potential customers. This is opposed to the traditional advertisement, which is viewed by anyone who comes in contact with it.

what sense creates content marketing

02 How to prepare your content marketing campaign?

The marketing campaign is important for your small business future but at this moment, it is more important to plan everything so that you will be able to achieve your main goals. It will not be a hard task but you have to consider being thorough in order not to miss important things. Let’s start by highlighting the main steps and then going through with the content marketing campaign:

A. ANALYZE YOUR BUSINESS: What Are Your Goals?

Before starting a marketing campaign, you should definitely analyze your business and the market on which you want to advertise your products or services. It is important to know to whom you are addressing to, how your customers – or potential customers – react and what do they search, buy, and need on a daily basis. This step is similar to a traditional marketing campaign so I will not insist on it.

You know that you have to study the market and therefore, I will let you do it as good as you are able to.

Then, proceed to the next step:

B. PLAN AHEAD

There cannot be a marketing strategy without a good and reliable marketing plan. In this case, I am talking about selecting the channels on which you want to distribute your content and of course, the type of content you want to distribute.

Let’s see your options:

  • Blog posts
  • Youtube videos
  • Infographics
  • Free downloadable guides and tutorials (even e-books)
  • Podcasts (audio recordings)
  • Valuable social media content

You can select one of these channels or even all of them. I would suggest however, if you are just starting with your first content marketing campaign, to select at first only one channel and start building your way to the top from there.

Normally, you would start with blog posts and website content.

Your best example in this case would be Copyblogger.com, one of the best success stories in content marketing.

Copyblogger content marketing success

While posts on Copyblogger also feature ads above and below the blog posts, they focus mainly on good quality content as a main source of drawing customers’ attention.

Of course, you don’t have to stick to this channel: you can always select more than one and even start with another, like YouTube if you have to publish video content or Instagram if you only wish to upload images and Infographics.

Why is Copyblogger so successful, you may ask?

Copyblogger was founded in 2006 by Brian Clark.

I didn’t think a blog about copywriting would be successful, but I did think a blog about the intersection of copywriting and blogging might have a shot

he said in an interview with HubSpot in 2009. And he was right, as the blog grew about to be the most successful blog in its niche. Why?

  • At least a new post every day. Why is important to write daily or at least a few times every week? Well, this is a no brainer: writing daily ads lots o content to your blog and therefore, more subjects for your customers to read about and discuss about.

Practice also makes you better at what you are doing. So, the more and frequently you write, the better your articles will be and the more people will read them. They have an interesting article on writing drafts that is accessible here.

10 rules for writing first drafts

  • According to Duct Tape Marketing, Copyblogger’s success can also be linked directly with their great Headlines. Writing a good headline is, according to John Jantsch from DTM said about the secret of Copyblogger’s success:

They write headlines (blog post titles) that are irresistible and can’t be skimmed in your RSS reader. Their titles feature words, phases and emotions that reach out and demand your attention

  • They are open and honest. Everything you want to know about the success of this blog is already available on Copyblogger. They write good and informative articles and they do not hesitate to reveal their secrets.
  • They always listen to their readers and sympathize with their needs. Copyblogger delivers great content. However, this would not have been enough should they not also listen to their readers and write about what they are interested in.

C. WHAT PLAN SHOULD YOU PUT INTO PRACTICE?

We’ve seen so far some incredible success stories but you have to know that content does not write itself. You have to stick to your initial plan and furthermore, to write it down.

  • Write down your objectives. Research keywords online, research the most popular topics in your area o expertise and write them down in a new document or Excel sheet. Additionally, you can create a new sheet where to write all your objectives and what you are going to do every day in order to achieve them. Once an objective is achieved, you can move forward to the next one and so on. As time passes, you will think about new objectives and as a consequence, add them to your file. It will be an ongoing work but hopefully, a fruitful one.
  • Here’s a list of your possible objectives. Choose those who are compatible with what you envision for your marketing success and at the same time, for your small business’ future:
    • Generate more sales and help your sales team to find new customers and increase revenues.
    • Generate more awareness. Popularize your brand and / or small business and attract not just customers but also people who are interested in the same topics you intend to publish and share that eventually, can also become your customers.
    • Build a community of fans and / or followers. By giving them valuable information, they will get closer to your brand, discuss your blog posts and share the data they find to be important, thus getting more people to read your articles.
    • Create a reputation, build a public opinion on your business or if it’s the case, repair it. Content marketing is one of the best ways for PR available today.
    • Market your products and make them more visible to your customers by offering them tutorials, how-to’s, and relevant information on their area of interest.
    • Build trust by giving effective customer support. Answer customers’ questions, engage with them in head-to-head discussions and encourage them to also comment on your articles and blog posts.
  • Once you have settled these goals, it’s time to complete your list of possible objectives that you want to achieve. You will do this step based on your lists of keywords and goals, adding every new thought and idea, as soon as you become aware of them.
  • Decide what type of content you need to publish and how this content marketing strategy fits into your overall marketing plan. Of course, it is possible that your marketing plan will comprise of only providing content. In this case, you can purchase to the next steps.
  • Create social media accounts. Even if you think you don’t need them for posting content, you need them in order to share your links and provide extra valuable information to your followers and / or customers. Moreover, social media accounts are perfect for interaction with customers, quick information release and discussions.
  • Schedule your content. First, think about how often you want to post new articles on your small business’ blog. Once you have established the frequency, create a new table or Excel sheet and write down your first headlines, based on the researched keywords or your ideas about what information you want to share with the public. Later, you can also ad topics suggested by users, thus making the blog more attractive for them.

 

The content marketing strategy checklist:

The content marketing strategy checklist:

  • Research keywords
  • Research popular topics compatible with your products and / or services
  • Create the marketing plan
  • Create social media accounts
  • Schedule the content you will be publishing
  • Make drafts
  • Start posting

03 Start your content marketing campaign

start your content marketing campaign

It’s now time to put into practice everything you’ve planned until now.

A. CREATE THE CORE MARKETING MESSAGE

Examples:

  • BMW: The Ultimate Driving Machine
  • Crazy EGG: You can boost your website’s profit within 30 days
  • Southwest Airlines: We make it fun to fly
  • Volkswagen: Das Auto
  • Duct Tape Marketing : Practical Marketing Solutions
  • Coca Cola: Taste the feeling

As you can already see in the above examples, the core message may be a short phrase or a full statement that would be later identified with your brand and / or small business. Why is it important and why do I love it?

  1. You are creating something different. In other words, you differentiate your business from the competition. People get tired of getting the same messages when they are searching for a specific service, product or company. By delivering a core marketing message, you can really make a difference and give you customers something to remember you for. You will probably spend many hours and even days trying to get the right message so that it will stand out from the crowd. Do not think about this as a waste of time however, this message will probably define everything you do from now on.
  2. You can use this core message in all your marketing strategies and messages. I have selected the core message examples from above to give you a hint about how important this statement is in marketing and also in defining your brand. I am sure you have already heard at least two or three of those popular messages and that you are aware that those big companies are using their slogans in every piece of advertising they are showing to their customers. Although content marketing differs from the traditional marketing those companies are engaged in, it is always better to have a good core message to start with even though you’ll be publishing content and not ads.
  3. It may also be important to your customers, as they will easier link your brand to the core message. Moreover, they will be able to identify your business through this message and this will help you grow awareness easier and with better results.
  4. Analyze your competition. Find out what is their core message, what type of content do they share, what are their main topics, the frequency of posting and of course, how far ahead from you are they. Also, if you are able to, try to identify which topics your competitors do not cover and start building your content from that point on. You will achieve better results if you write about new topics or if you can offer new perspectives on the topics already covered by the competitors. This is also an important step of your campaign and therefore, you must treat it with the utmost attention. Your success might depend on how thorough you are.
  5. It will be easier to remember what your competition is doing if you are writing everything down in an Excel sheet or a table document

HOW TO DO IT:

Theoretical example for content marketingWrite down several core messages. If you already have a community of followers, you can even organize contests among them, asking them to provide you their own ideas. Some will be good, some will be average, and some will be bad. This is not important: what matters is to engage them in contributing with relevant content for you. If you are fortunate and therefore able to select one of your followers’ messages, you will also have a lot to gain, by growing trust between your company and the customers.

If not, just try a brainstorming and write several core marketing messages and carefully analyze each of them before choosing your final pick.

B. DEFINE THE THING THAT WILL HELP YOU STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD

While the core marketing message will define your brand or business making it easier to identify among your customers, at this point you will also have to find out the thing that will help you achieve your goals.

In other words, you’ll have to find you cash cow which can be a number of different things such as:

  • Your personality and the way you write.
  • Your personal approach and unique view on specific topics.
  • Your knowledge, the depth of your information and the value of posted data.
  • The things you can add to the overall knowledge on the selected topic.

C. SELECT YOUR NICHE AND TARGET AUDIENCE

At this point, the next important step is not to deliver your message but instead, to choose to whom shall it be delivered in the first place. It will not be an easy task but nevertheless, it is of capital importance for everything you do from now on.

Sure, you can say that you want to sell to everybody but this will not do you any good. Try to look at the big companies. Even they are targeting their products to a selected group of people. You have to do the same thing in order to achieve your goals. If you don’t know your audience, or who is your audience, you will end up creating content that none of your potential customers will be interested in. This might prove to be one of your biggest mistakes and eventually, it might ruin your marketing campaign.

TIP: While you probably cannot do it before starting your first campaign, once you have a constant traffic to your website, you can target your messages even better, by conducting a few surveys. Create a form with just a few simple questions and send them through a personalized e-mail. Ask them about gender, age, interests, hobbies, jobs and so on, trying to find out exactly the things that will help you adapt even more to their needs.

Another important piece of knowledge you need to find out about your potential customers and / or readers or followers, is how often they needs updates and of course, the length of the articles they want to read.

Some people will run away from 1000 words articles while some prefer to read thoroughly documented posts of maybe 2000 words long. If you are the beginning and you are not able to conduct a survey, you can study the competition and their most popular posts.

Finally, I will list exactly the things you need at this point:

  • Select the niche. You cannot target everyone because you will reach to exactly nobody. Instead, you need to find the niche your small business fits in and target the people who are interested in that specific domain.
  • I will underline it again: do not aim to please and attract everybody. Find instead the selected group of people that is most likely to adhere to your values and value your content / brand / business / services.
  • Refine the niche so that you will be able to be more specific when you write about the subjects that matter for you and your customers and followers.

Theoretical example for content marketingFor example, you can try addressing your message to all people who wear glasses. This is a niche but you can also narrow it down to, let’s say, people who wear sunglasses. And, if you want to be even more specific, you can write for people who wear sunglasses with UV protection.

This final example is a micro niche and if you managed to narrow it down to this point, you will have a lot to gain as you will be aiming to a selected group of individuals who might be interested exactly in what you have to offer.


D. VERIFY IF YOUR SELECTED MARKET AND/OR NICHE IS VIABLE

Pay attention to how you select you niche.

You can narrow it down to the point there will be virtually almost nobody to be targeted by your campaign or, in the best case scenario, a small group of people.

At this point, check the following:

  • There are enough people interested in the niche you have selected.
  • These people are searching for the same type of information you are going to provide.
  • The selected group can afford your products and / or services, if you are going to sell them with the help of the content marketing campaign.

The easiest way to check if you have selected a viable niche and to check keywords for each article you post online is through the “Google Adwords” key research tool.

Google Adwords key research tool.

E. LOCATE AND TRACK YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMERS

There are several tools available online that can help you research your market and analyze the customers’ behavior.

Forrester: According to their own description, “Forrester is one of the most influential research and advisory firms in the world”.

They „work with business and technology leaders to develop customer-obsessed strategies that drive growth. Forrester’s unique insights are grounded in annual surveys of more than 675,000 consumers and business leaders worldwide, rigorous and objective methodologies, and the shared wisdom of our most innovative clients. Through proprietary research, data, custom consulting, exclusive executive peer groups, and events, the Forrester experience is about a singular and powerful purpose: to challenge the thinking of our clients to help them lead change in their organizations”.

Forrester

Kissmetrics: Another important tool for tracking your customers is Kissmetrics.

It can help you increase conversions, drive engagement, and grow retention.

Kissmetrics

F. START DRAFTING YOUR FIRST ARTICLES

As I have said before, an important step in creating a successful content marketing campaign is to plan ahead, everything that you will going to do, at least for the first few weeks of work. In other words, you should draft a few articles and prepare some extra headline, based on your previous research.

There are three questions you need to answer at this point:

  1. What is your target audience? (Based on what we’ve discussed in the previous paragraphs, I am sure you have already answered this question. If not, now is the perfect time to do it).
  2. What kind of content will you deliver to your audience? What value will you be able to ad to your customers and / or followers?
  3. Are you able to capture their attention?

TIP: When you are creating content, you should be able to give something relevant to the customer, explain to them the benefits of reading and / or following you and also, deliver a clear and easy to understand message.

Once, you have answered these basic questions, it’s time to move on to the next step, which is to determine how you will be able to fit the content into the marketing plan:

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization). At this point, good SEO for your website means relevant content and well written articles, with good headlines and keywords.
  • SMM (Social Media Marketing). Almost everybody has a social media account these days. You cannot think a marketing strategy without also preparing your content to be published, shared and linked on social media websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or Pinterest. Analyze your future content, your targets and your possible customers and create social media pages for your small business, accordingly.

At this point you are ready to draft your first posts. Remember however that you will need more than one title in order to start scheduling your campaign. My advice is, to draft at least a dozen of articles before posting the first one and then, according to your scheduling target, to draft a new one every time you post. Thus, you will never be out of topics to write about and, in case you are not available for a short period of time, you can keep the website going.

Extra things to keep in mind:

  • You Core message can also be the description of the website and also, the title of your first post. You can use this message further, in your future posts, as a keyword.
  • You can alternatively come up with groups of words and phrases that can summarize your core message and be as well included in your posts as headlines or as keywords.
  • Create a list with your best ideas for posts, valuable topics and headlines. Start with the headlines.
  • If possible, try talking with some of your customers to test your ideas. If not, talk with friends or family.
  • Return to the list of possible core messages. You have already chosen the main one but you don’t have to dismiss all the others. Instead, you can turn them into headlines.
  • Use these core messages and keywords to create the main categories of your blog and / or website.
      • Blog posts. This is the easiest way to address your customers and deliver your message. You can post article from 100 words to 2000 or even 3000 words, depending on the topics you choose and of course, what your readers want. Some people will read only short posts while others will seek out thoroughly documented information. You see now why it was important to find more about your customers? If you want to learn more about how a blog post should look like in order to be SEO friendly and attract more visitors, you can study this article posted on Yoast.com about how to draft a SEO friendly and awesome blog post.
      • Webinars. You can use your blog to deliver video content through webinars. Webinars are live video presentations that are delivered in real time to the registered users. However, they can be recorded and uploaded on your blog in order to make them available for future readers whenever they want to access them. When uploaded, the videos can also be accompanied by texts and slide presentations which make them even more attractive.
      • Magazine articles. They are similar to the blog posts and can deliver the same type of content. However, the articles will be published in printed versions of magazines and sometimes, even on their official web pages. Unlike the blog posts, these articles will not be free but they are easier to deliver to the right customers if you choose the appropriate magazine for your business.
      • Videos. There are several channels where you can deliver videos to your customers. The most popular is of course, YouTube. However, you can also post videos on your blog and share them on your social media accounts.
      • Audio podcasts. Most people are mobile these days. Moreover, they travel a lot.
      • Tutorials and guides. These types of content can be written, as blog posts, or distributed as videos or audio podcasts. If you want to be more specific and really attract customers and followers, tutorials and guides may be your best choice, as they deliver precisely the content your customers are looking for when they are in trouble.Decide the specific types of content you will be publish. You don’t have to settle for just one, you can select more, according to your goals: blog posts, magazine style articles, videos, audio podcasts, e-books, webinars, courses etc. Let’s define in just a few words each of these options:
      • Infographics. They are effective on social media pages, especially on Pinterest. They require less work on your part, assuming you know how to work with images but they are able to deliver simple yet powerful messages. Infographics are easy to read, easy to share and of course, the reader needs only a small period of time to get through them. If you find out that your customers and / or potential customers prefer visual messages and that they have little time to spare, Infographics may be your best choice in delivering the right message to them
      • PowerPoint presentations. You can include this type of content in your Webinars and also, on you posts, as slides. However, these can make also powerful downloadable items.
      • E-books. It is harder to write them because, unlike individual posts, it will take more time to come with a good topic, expand it and write about it as thorough as you are able to. Usually, e-books are long readings, they take from 10 pages to even 100 and they also offer valuable content for your readers, as long as they are willing to read and have time to do it.
      • Newsletters. They are another great source of valuable content, assuming your customers are signing up willingly for your updates. You can include in your newsletter any kind of information, including blog posts, offers, contests, links to e-books and other downloadable materials and of course, invitations to webinars, seminars and courses.

G. TEST YOUR WEBSITE

Everything is now in place and you are almost ready to start your marketing campaign. However, your success will also depend on several technical factors. Here are the most important things you should consider:

  1. The website domain name. The name you will choose for your website is probably as important as the content you will be publishing after you have set it up. Choose a SEO friendly domain name and at the same time, choose a name that is as close at it can be to your business name, your services or your core message.
  2. The web hosting provider. This is also important because not all providers are delivering the same services. For instance, if you will install a WordPress website, choose a webhosting that is specialized in this CMS or, a web host company that supports it one hundred percent. Also, your choice in web hosting should depend on the traffic you expect, the price of the service and of course, the company’s reputation.
  3. The content management system (CMS) you’ll be using. Normally, I would choose WordPress. It is the best CMS you can find and it is free. However, you can create your own or use another engine for your website. As long as it helps you deliver your message, it will be ok. Why would I choose WordPress?
    • WordPress is free.
    • WordPress has a huge fan base, fans that are contributing with plugins and themes.
    • There are millions of themes to choose from and the plugins database is constantly growing.
    • Updates are delivered instantly. Moreover, the CMS is updated on a constant basis and therefore, all glitches and security errors are resolved as soon as they are observed.
    • WordPress is SEO friendly.
    • Due to its big community of fans, everything you need to know is already available on the Internet. If you encounter a problem, you just have to use Google Search and find a dozen of answers instantly.
  4. The theme of the website. Select a theme that fits the type of content you want to deliver. If you are not sure what to choose, take a look at your competition.
  5. How SEO friendly is the theme and how friendly it is to the user? Verify that text is readable, that headers and sub headers are displayed correctly, that users have access primary to the content and not the menus and the sidebars.
  6. How quick the website loads? This is yet another important issue you should solve before actually launching the website or immediately after you have posted the first couple of articles. If your website loads slowly, people will close the browser before reading anything. Therefore, keep your theme clean, load only the necessary plugins and choose a website hosting that is capable to sustain your blog in every way. Also, you can use Google’s tool for mobile speed, in order to see how fast your website is on mobile devices.
  7. How can you integrate various features into the website? Let’s say you want a blog but you want to also have a web store at the same address. Or, on the other hand, you want to deliver different types of media. You will have to choose the CMS and the plugins accordingly. Moreover, pay attention to the theme you are going to select, especially in the case you want to deliver multiple types of content. Also, integrate your social media accounts with the website in order to link them and benefit from both.

TIP: If you want to integrate a shopping platform with the blog, choose WordPress and WooCommerce or Shopify. WooCommerce is a free plugin that can easily be integrated into a WordPress website while Shopify is a commercial platform that can be integrated on multiple social media accounts and the website as well.

They are both viable and you should choose, after a thorough consideration, the one that fits best your goals and needs. Do not be afraid to choose the free plugin, as it is officially supported by WordPress itself, it updates constantly and if your shop is basic, it will suffice.

H. START POSTING REGULARLY (DELIVER YOUR MESSAGE)

Once you have drafted a few articles or videos, you are ready to start posting on your website. Schedule the first week and then proceed in drafting the headlines and the content for the next one. Make sure you have enough subjects to write about and prepare for the days when you will have to deal with the writer’s block or you will be unable to post.

Theoretical example for content marketingTIP 1: Try to post regularly on your social media accounts and if possible, deliver messages that are different from the content you publish on the website. Sure, you can link your posts on Facebook for example but do not limit your social media activity to linking your own posts. Instead of using all channels as one, use them independently and try setting goals for each one in particular. In time, you will get better results and more customers and / or followers.

TIP 2: Schedule also your posts on social media websites. Make drafts for a week in advance, like you already do it for your blog posts. Also, do not try to use all the social media websites, you don’t need them all. Find out where are your customers and potential customers and prepare your strategy accordingly.

 

04 It is time to measure your content marketing success

It is time to measure your content marekting success

Assuming you did everything according to your plan and you actually managed to respect your own schedule, after a while, you will expect some results.

However, the content marketing campaign is unlike any other marketing campaign and therefore, you will have to evaluate it on your own, based on your own expectations and predictions.

I will say this from the beginning: everything depends on what your business aims at; your overall goals and targets. Everybody views content marketing differently and expects different results. For instance, if your goal is to grow awareness on social media, you will measure the followers and fans that are reading your page daily. If your aim is a newsletter campaign, you will analyze the percent of customers who open your e-mails and the percent of customers that are actually clicking on your links and get to your website and / or e-shop.

On the other hand, if you are a SEO specialist, you will consider link building and look at your traffic and of course, you will consider performing an ongoing keywords research.

content marketing campaign is unlike any other marketing campaign

I have mentioned in the previous chapters how important it is to research your audience and create content according to their needs. However, this is an ongoing task, as you will have to adapt after you have make the first measurements. This is why this point is important. It will help you learn from your mistakes and deliver only the most profitable content. Thus, you will be able to:

    1. Understand what type of content gets you the best results and what your customers and / or followers are searching for.
    2. Continue to work towards understanding the community that forms around your small business, e-shop and brand.
    3. Understand better your content marketing campaign and set the right goals.

What are the performance keys you can measure at this point?

  • Awareness. You create and publish pieces of content you think will add more to your market: more information, more data, and more knowledge. However, you should ask yourself, how good is what I am posting? How valuable is it for my customers, fans or followers? How many other publishers are talking about you and link your posts? If your content is valuable, many other bloggers will quote and link you. This results in more viewers and a community growth.
  • Reach. How many unique users are visiting your website or blog every day? Track them via Google Analytics or other script of such sorts. I would recommend Analytics however, because it is free and able to deliver the most diverse numbers, graphics and statistics. This tool will help you track your visitors and analyze the type of content they have visited most often. Based on this information, you can eliminate poor topics or add new one.
  • Engagement. At this point, you should look at the users bounce rate and how many time each of them spent on your blog or website. At the same time, you should look at the engagement of your users, how often the comment on posts and what do they say. Look also into social media shares and comments.

05 Successful content marketing campaigns

Examples of successful content marketing campaigns

1. RED BULL

It’s not easy to stay on top but Red Bull has proven themselves in the past few years. Most of their success is due to their content marketing campaign, for which they are using Red Bull TV to improve their brand awareness and popularity.

“Red Bull’s been mainly targeting a segment of 18- to 34-year-old men based on their interests—being outdoors, taking risks and having fun. The brand began sponsoring “edge sport” athletes, like base jumpers, BMX racers and mountain bikers, as well as “e-sports,” which did not have many big brands attached to them” sais targetmarketingmag.com.

RED BULL TV is a company owned website that shares videos and live streaming of extreme sports events.

They are one of the first brands to use a content management campaign to deliver to their customers what they sought out and this is why they are still on top and very far away from their competition.

What can we learn from Red Bull?

  1. You should deliver to your customers exactly what they sought out.
  2. Your content and marketing strategy does not need to be centered on your industry.

Deliver the right content for the right audience

2. AUTOTASK

autotaskAutotask is a “software as a service” company that serves over 5000 other IT companies from all over the world. They have started a content marketing campaign through which they delivered Infographics, videos and e-books. It was a costly campaign but in the end, they managed to cover all their costs in no more than six months. According to toprankblog.com, this “program influenced 35% of revenue in the first month and drove 20% of all inquiries for 2 months”.

What can we learn from Autotask?

  1. Although content marketing is free, you can also invest a part of your marketing budget if you want to ensure that you are delivering content of a better quality.
  2. You don’t have to deliver just one type of content. Autotask campaigns feature graphics and videos as well.

Invest a paid advertising in your content marketing

3. WORKIVA

WORKIVA This company offers cloud service for clients that need to analyze and report data. Their service is however quite sophisticated so, in order to get o their clients and prove that their services are effective, they need to educate them first. What better way to educate customers than through content marketing?

Workiva chose Kapost.com to help them deliver the content they needed and the results were absolutely fabulous:

  • More than 80% increase in blog traffic
  • Over 30% percent increase in social media links
  • Over 20% increase in referral traffic

What can we learn from Workiva?

  • Sometime, you need to tell your customers why should they choose you.
  • It’s not imperative to produce content on your own, you can hire another services providers that will be able to achieve better results.

Hire other services to help with your content marketing strategy

4. INTELLIGENTSIA

INTELLIGENTSIAIntelligentsia is a coffe brand that claims to adhere to „sustainable farming and environmental practices with commitment to paying above Fair Trade prices for truly outstanding coffee”. The company produces roast coffee beans and it would have remained hidden in the dark corners of its niche if they wouldn’t come with a good content marketing plan. What set them apart from their competition, were the brewing guides they offer on their website, as valuable content for their customers. All these free guides include great images and detailed instructions about how to brew the perfect cup of coffee, encouraging them to use the Intelligentsia brand in order to do so.

What can we learn from Intelligentsia?

  • Create valuable content and differentiate your brand from your competitors.
  • Give something to your customers and they will give you back even more.

Think about your audience first

5. CROWE HORWATH

CROWE HORWATHContent marketing proved to be effective even for a accounting and consulting firm. Crowe Horwath is a leading company in their domain but they wanted more: they wanted to reach financial institutions with more than 1 billion in assets. What did they do? They came with a strategy for generating valuable content. Therefore, they published over 50 different pieces of content that were supposed to add value to their line of work and capture the interest of their targets and of course, other customers.

They created executive briefs, infographics, case studies and videos. The result was spectacular: the entire marketing campaign generated more than 800 new contacts. Not all of them proved to be high paying customers but two of them hired the company and paid $250,000 for their services.

What can we learn from Crowe Horwath?

  • Content marketing is effective even if your company is outside the online market. You can advertise your services regardless of your area of expertise as long as you know what you do and how to do it.

Understand the purpose of your content strategy

6. CISCO

Unlike other big companies, Cisco was always present on social media and from the begining, they tried to deliver valuable content to their customers. However, they did not calculate the ROI for social media and content marketing strategies until a few years ago, when the marketing department decided to launch a new router and announce it solely on social media pages.

To their surprise, they reach their goals faster and cheaper, the entire campaign costing with 100.000 dollars less than anticipated. ‘‘It was classified as one of the top five launches in company history,’’ said LaSandra Brill, senior manager, global social media at Cisco

‘‘It was the crossing the chasm point for us in the adoption phase of social media, and helped us get over the hump of internal acceptance.’’

What can we learn from Cisco?

  • Social media can be a powerful channel to deliver valuable content to your customers.
  • It is also important to quantify your return of investment.

Quantify your ROI

06 Summary and Conclusions

Before concluding this guide, let’s remind ourselves of some of the most important topics we’ve discussed and learned here.

1. WHAT IS CONTENT MARKETING AND WHY DO WE NEED IT?

  • Traditional Marketing Versus Content Marketing
  • Why do we need content marketing? (Two options:)
  • Informational
  • Inspirational

2. HOW TO PREPARE YOUR CAMPAIGN

  • Analyze Your Business: What Are Your Goals?
  • Plan ahead and decide which of the following types of contents best suits your needs:
  • Blog posts
  • Youtube videos
  • Infographics
  • Free downloadable guides and tutorials (even e-books)
  • Podcasts (audio recordings)
  • Valuable social media content
  • What plan should you put into practice? Start drafting your strategy:
  1. Write down your objectives.
  2. Possible objectives:
    1. Generate more sales.
    2. Generate more awareness.
    3. Build a community of fans and / or followers.
    4. Create a reputation; build a public opinion on your business.
    5. Market your products and make them more visible to your customers.
    6. Build trust by giving effective customer support..
  3. Decide what type of content you need to publish.
  4. Create social media accounts.
  5. Schedule your content.

Make sure you write down the content marketing strategy checklist:

  • Research keywords
  • Research popular topics compatible with your products and / or services
  • Create the marketing plan
  • Create social media accounts
  • Schedule the content you will be publishing
  • Make drafts
  • Start posting

3. START YOUR CONTENT MARKETING CAMPAIGN

  • Create the core marketing message and make sure it is different and better than your competitors’
    • Define the thing that will help you stand out from the crowd
  • Select your niche and the target audience
  • Verify if your selected market and / or niche is viable
    • Locate and track your ideal customers
  • Start drafting your first articles
  • What is your target audience?
  • What kind of content will you deliver to your audience?
  • Are you able to capture their attention?

 

  • Check your content marketing options and select which is better for your small business campaign:
    • Blog posts.
    • Webinars.
    • Magazine articles.
    • Videos.
    • Audio podcasts.
    • Tutorials and guides..
    • Infographics.
    • PowerPoint presentations.
    • E-books.
    • Newsletters.
  • Test your website
  1. Choose the website domain name.
  2. Choose the web hosting provider.
  3. Choose the content management system you’ll be using.
  4. Choose the theme of the website.
  5. Ask yourself: How SEO friendly is the theme and how friendly it is to the user?
  6. Ask yourself: How quick the website loads?
  7. Ask yourself: How can you integrate various features into the website?
  • Start posting regularly (Deliver your message)

4. MEASURE YOUR CONTENT MARKETING SUCCESS

    1. Understand what type of content gets you the best results and what your customers and / or followers are searching for.
    2. Continue to work towards understanding the community that forms around your small business, e-shop and brand.
    3. Understand better your content marketing campaign and set the right goals.

The performance keys you can measure:

  • Awareness.
  • Reach.
  • Engagement.

CONCLUSION

If you are looking for a magical formula that will ensure your success on a content marketing campaign, I am sorry to tell you that there is no such thing. However, there are several steps that you can undertake in order to at least aim for success and I hope I managed not to miss out anything important while drafting this guide.

This is not an easy task but once you have made up your mind and you are willing to work on it, I am sure you will eventually, achieve your goals. Content marketing is about creativity but it is also about consistency and if you trust in yourself, you can market you small business better than if you had chosen the traditional marketing path.

Last but not least, keep in mind that there is no failure in content marketing.

There is no failure in content marketing

Each measurement will teach you more about what you need to do and what you have done wrong, and each error or failure will therefore guide you to the path that leads to achieving your goals. Learn from your mistakes and you will have it all!

If you are still wondering about all the benefits of content marketing, return to the “examples” chapter and follow the links in order to fathom the topic. The more you know about content marketing and the most successful strategies, the better results you will receive after the first couple of months of hard work.

Your turn to comment:

  • Awesome post!! It’s really helpful and useful information..

  • Many thanks @pvirravi:disqus

  • Laura Greene

    Thanks for content marketing review. It is very popular among small business owners now.That is why I am going to recommend everyone one more interesting article about promoting your small business with content marketing Find it here https://searcheva.org/small-business-content-marketing/

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Robert Katai

Visual Marketer and Content Strategist

"Content isn’t king. Usefulness is. Robert does this in the online marketing and social media space with ease."

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