Traditional marketing methods such as telephone, print and direct mail, are becoming less and less effective in this digital age. There is a much better way to create value and engagement for your small business.
Enter content marketing.
What is content marketing?
Bill Gates once said that ‘content is king’. Back in 1996, he correctly predicted that creating compelling online content would be the key to success in the years to come.
Whether you run an independent beauty salon or a local corner shop, there is no denying that content marketing should play a major role in your marketing strategy.
Quality content is a vital part of all forms of content marketing. Brands now spend more time than ever creating content for their websites and various social media platforms, with more than 2 million blog posts published everyday. The most common methods of content marketing include; blogging, social media, SEO and PR.
Specifically, there are three key reasons and benefits, as to why any sized businesses should use content marketing:
- Increased sales
- Cost saving
- Promote customer loyalty
Consumer purchasing cycle
Small businesses without a marketing department, perhaps more often than not, do not understand the importance of content marketing.
First, you’ll need a good understanding of the four steps in the consumer purchasing cycle:
- Awareness – Prior to their awareness, a customer may have a need, but they are not aware that there is a solution available.
- Research – Once aware of a solution, they conduct research to educate themselves on an unfamiliar product or service.
- Consideration – At this point the customer begins to compare different products from different companies. To make sure they are getting the right product/ service at a high quality for the right price.
- Buy – Finally, the customer makes their decision and a transaction takes place.
Why use content marketing for small businesses?
Traditional marketing tools, such as advertising, are great when it comes to the third and fourth step. Content marketing for small businesses however, helps with the first 2 stages. The consumer is now aware of the solutions available, and they are now educated about a product/ service, that they have never considered before from information they found online.
For example, if there are 35 independent painter/ decorators in an area, and only 1 of them provides useful and helpful information about their services, this company will stand out as the expert amongst the crowd. This brand is demonstrating their expertise, and prospective customers do not need question their ability to provide the service they are looking for. This also shows that small businesses are helping customers without getting paid. They are offering free advice and/ or knowledge, which in return will boost a trustworthy reputation.
Potential customers will find value in your content, as you have provided them with beneficial and reliable information. Therefore, they are more likely to purchase from your business, and a strong relationship is beginning to develop. The trust between a business and a customer, is usually built up over a long period of time, during an extensive sales cycle. This has already been created before you even know the client exists, as you have provided them with valuable information.
According to HubSpot, companies who use effective content marketing (no matter how big or small) receive 97% more clicks to their website. Attracting links is a lot easier when the blog content is of a high quality and easy to read.
Benefits of content marketing for small businesses
There are a wide range of benefits associated with content marketing for small businesses, and is one of the best methods of promoting both established and emerging brands online. This means the content you produce in the form of blogs and social media posts, will continue to add value to your business as it grows in size. Not only is blogging and social media cheaper to produce than any other form of marketing, it offers long-lasting results depending on the quality of your material.
Smaller businesses may find it more difficult for their marketing campaigns to gain successful results, due to their lack of funds and knowledge. SMEs do not necessarily have the budgets for posters on the side of London buses or prime time TV slots.
With content marketing, it is free to create a social media page. Where you may have to pay a website designer to add a blog or news section to your site, the costs are considerably less than advertising campaigns. There are now more than 50 million small businesses using Facebook Pages to connect with their customers. 32% of these businesses invest in social media marketing. You can boost your social media posts from as little as £4, to reach thousands of people within a 15km radius of your location, that have an interest in what your business has to offer.
If I haven’t convinced you enough already about the importance of content marketing for small businesses, here are a few more statistics:
- 20% of users’ total internet time is spent on content-led websites
- 61% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a company that delivers custom content they can trust
- 78% of consumers believe that businesses providing custom content are interested in building good relationships
- Adding between 21 and 51 blog posts to your site boosts traffic by up to 30%
- When you’ve added at least 52 blog posts, your traffic increases by 77%!
- Small businesses with 1-10 employees receive the biggest benefit of blogging more frequently, sales leads can be doubled by increasing the number of blog posts
- Businesses that blog more 4 times a month generate 5 times more web traffic than those that don’t blog at all
Evergreen Content Vs Cornerstone Content
In order to build a successful blog, you will need several types of content. Your content strategy should include a mix of styles that stay true to your brand mission and values. Simultaneously providing fresh content for your audience.
Evergreen content and Cornerstone content, are the 2 most important pieces of your overall digital marketing strategy. If you are new to blogging, or just new to these terms, here are the bases of each.
Let’s begin with Evergreen content. This piece of content will not go out of date and shouldn’t require much updating after it’s published. Evergreen content is often defined as quality, useful content that is relevant to readers for a long period of time. There is no specific length of time for how long evergreen content remains relevant. Some Evergreen content lasts forever, whereas, some articles only last a few years. As long as the piece can be linked back to and gain traffic long after it’s published, it qualifies as Evergreen.
Your business should be producing Evergreen content regularly. But how do you know if a post is Evergreen? As you’re creating, ask yourself the question: will this post be relevant in three months? Six months? Next year? If the answer is not, the content isn’t Evergreen.
Some examples of Evergreen content include:
- How-to Guides
- Beginners Guides
- Customers FAQs and answers
- Top tips
As a small business, providing your knowledge to consumers will show them you know what you are talking about. They are more likely to engage with your content, share it on social media, and become frequent visitors to your website.
On the other hand, we have Cornerstone content. These pieces are those articles on your website that you are most proud of. They reflect your businesses, values, missions and objectives and communicate these really well. These are the posts that you want to rank the highest in search engines. Cornerstone articles are usually ‘explainers’ and all combine insights from different blog posts. Think of Cornerstone content articles at the centre of a bike wheel. All other posts you write are the rods that connect together to form the wheel. All of these posts need to connect to your Cornerstone content articles, to form an effective strategy.
Cornerstone content plays a significant role in any SEO strategy, which will be explained further along in this article.
Unlike Evergreen content, which you should produce frequently, 4 or 5 Cornerstone content posts are all you need. These are the posts you want every new reader to see and these should be optimised to attract new people to your website in the first place.
Choose your Cornerstone content articles carefully. Think of a few other posts that would like your website viewers to read first. As your website develops, and more content is produced, each article should link back to your Cornerstone article. This internal linking structure will increase the chance of your Cornerstone content articles ranking higher in Google searches.
Always update old posts
Like a fine wine, Cornerstone content will get better over time, as long as it remains relevant and continues to add value to your business. In the eyes of Google, newer content is more likely to be relevant than a post dating years back. More often than not, updating an old post is just as effective as writing a new one. If your Cornerstone content begins to slip through the search engine rankings, a simple update could increase organic traffic to your website by 402%.
Always re-evaluate old content. Take some time to make sure statistics are up to date, add new techniques and theories. Regularly maintain these posts by updating links or images, refreshing the copy, and promoting across channels. In return this will make your content Evergreen.
When it comes to distinguishing the difference between Cornerstone and Evergreen content, here is the key. Cornerstone content should be Evergreen so that its relevance is long tail. However, not all Evergreen content is (or should be) Cornerstone content.
For small business owners, SEO can be daunting. Your website may be professional and well-designed, but without SEO, know one will be able to find it. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, a technique that will make your website appear higher up in a list of search engine results.
SEO will help your brand awareness, as search engine users are more likely to trust a site that appears on the first page of search results. When your website appears on the first page of Google, Yahoo and Bing etc… potential customers are more likely to trust a brand when they search for a particular term, rather than brands that do not have a strong web presence.
There are many ways you can optimise your website for search engines, but the 4 most important are as follows.
These are the queries that prospective customers are searching for, when looking for your type of business. There are keyword research tools available, or begin to list the obvious ones that will direct people to your site. For example if you own an independent insurance business, the keywords ‘car insurance’ are too broad as there are hundreds of insurance companies all over the world. Using the keywords ‘cheap car insurance including breakdown cover’ will be more effective and is more relevant to your business.
Once you have identified your keywords. Make sure these terms exist throughout your site, in your social media and blog posts. It’s important to not overuse your keywords. Google will penalise you for doing so as the content looks to ‘spammy’.
Google reads the text on your website, just like your potential customers will, therefore, it is highly important that your copy is readable and well-written. This may be the most obvious step, but you must ensure your readers can understand your text.
Overusing your keywords, will make your copy poor and can actually damage your search engine rankings.
This is the text that appears in the clickable link. Make sure each title tag is unique, contains relevant keywords and follows a consistent format. If you have space, include your brand name but keep the text to under 55 characters. This will ensure the title is not too long to display.
A meta description is the name given to the two lines of text that appear below your page in a search engine results page, under the clickable URL. If you do not create a meta description, Google will provide one for you, displaying random text from your copy.
Use this section to inform customers with more of information about what you do or what this blog is about. Always remember to add a keyword into this section.
Meta descriptions are no longer a factor in search engine rankings, but combined with other optimisation techniques, may just give the customer a little nudge to click on your site.
There isn’t a single business out there that wouldn’t benefit from more website traffic, increased brand awareness and customer loyalty. The best part about content marketing is that it doesn’t cost much. Ideal for smaller businesses with smaller budgets.
So there you have it. The ultimate guide to the importance of content marketing for small businesses. Are you an SME that’s looking to implement a content and social media marketing strategy. Contact Shareable today to see how we can help.