Entrepreneurs and small business owners know what it takes to build a brand from the ground up. When the dust settles from finalizing the business plan, securing funding, and building the team, the focus shifts to one very important thing: marketing.
And that’s because it’s impossible to launch a brand and then see continued growth if the target audience doesn’t know about your business.
Fortunately, you don’t need a limitless marketing budget and large-scale team to build brand awareness, drive traffic, and boost conversions. You just need a good content marketing strategy.
What is Content Marketing?
Doug Kessler, the Creative Director and Co-founder of Velocity Partners, framed content marketing in this context: “Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them.”
Instead of putting so much stake in sales-driven cold calls, businesses that invest in content marketing take a more personal consumer-centric approach.
As the name suggests, content marketing involves creating and distributing content (i.e., photos, videos, blog posts, social media posts, etc.) that businesses know their audience is interested in.
The emphasis here isn’t on promoting your business to drive sales immediately. It’s to plant those initial seeds of brand awareness and continue building public interest (and purchase intent) in your products and services.
This type of marketing delivers great long-term results, if done correctly and consistently. In fact, one case study found that video content led to a 60% returning customer rate.
By investing in content marketing, you’re better able to attract, engage, and retain more of the target audience, and do it strategically.
5 Need-to-Know Content Marketing Tips
Whether you’re just getting started in content marketing or revamping an existing strategy, this guide outlines five of the best practices for entrepreneurs and small businesses. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
1. Don’t just rely on your gut instincts
No matter how well you think you know your audience, the last thing you need to do is base your marketing decisions off of gut instinct alone. (This applies to everyone reading this post, even when you have decades of experience.)
It’s important to understand that target audiences are multifaceted, complex, and subject to change. The customer base you had two years ago probably won’t be the same customer base you’ll have two years from now— and that’s a natural side effect of time and business growth.
For your content marketing efforts to be successful in the long-term (and short-term), your strategy has to evolve alongside your target audience. In order to do that, you need data.
By collecting voice-of-customer (VoC) data through surveys, focus groups, on-site reviews, etc., you take the guesswork out of content creation. Your current, prospective, and churned customers tell you exactly what you need to know.
The more you know your audience, the better equipped you are to make content that appeals to them. You just have to be intentional about collecting this type of data on a regular basis.
2. Localize, personalize, and segment
Maybe a higher percentage of your audience engages more with video content, so you create more social media videos. Maybe prospective customers need some extra assurance that your business is worth their investment, so you add more testimonials to your website’s homepage.
Knowing your audience is step one, but step two is making sure that you distribute the right content to the right audience groups. Fortunately, you can do this through localization, personalization, and segmentation.
Here are a few reasons why these three things are important:
- Localized search queries on mobile are at an all time high. We’re talking about a 200% increase in “Where to buy” and “near me” searches over the course of two years.
- Impersonal content is more frustrating than engaging for 74% of the customers on websites. Not to mention, most people (83%) will readily give their information in return for a more personalized experience.
- Segmentation allows you to separate your target audience into smaller, more curated groups. By doing this, marketers have seen a 37% increase in open rates on email campaigns.
By understanding your audience and following through with this step, you can connect with your different audience segments on a more personal level. As a result, your content marketing efforts come across as authentic.
3. Create content for every level of the sales funnel
Here’s another thing about target audiences: Purchase intent varies from person-to-person.
Not every person that lands on your website knows that they want to make a purchase. Some people are learning about your business for the first time while others know about your business but are comparing all their options (i.e., your competitors).
All of these people are at different stages of the sales funnel, which means that different types of content will appeal to them.
At the top-funnel level, your content should be geared toward making a positive first impression and spreading brand awareness. This could be social media videos that showcase your company founders or blog content with high search volume keywords.
At the mid-funnel level, your content should show prospects in the competitor comparison stage why your company will be valuable to them. This could be a landing page with case studies, video testimonials, and webinars.
At the bottom-funnel level, your prospects have the most purchase intent. To encourage them to act, you could use testimonials and case studies but also exclusive deals and downloadable assets.
4. Build a cross-channel content strategy
When it comes to content marketing, you need to take advantage of every channel you have. In order to do that, you have to think through and plan out your content calendar.
While you could just share content for the sake of sharing content on your website, blog, social media, and email, you probably won’t get the results you want if you aren’t incentivizing your audience to take some next step.
By including calls-to-action, you can share content that engages your audience and then encourages them to click-through to a blog post from a social media video, sign up for an email newsletter on your website, etc.
In other words, you’re giving prospects a reason to keep engaging with your business (and eventually move down the sales funnel).
5. Take advantage of user-generated content (UGC)
Not all of the content that you leverage for marketing purposes has to be your own. User-generated content (UGC) is one of the best resources for entrepreneurs and small businesses that want to build a strong content marketing plan, and here’s why.
UGC doesn’t require much (if any) work on your end to produce, besides maybe using a profanity filter, which means that you can direct marketing spend elsewhere. This type of content can be made by current customers, former customers, prospects, and anyone else outside of your business.
By re-sharing UGC, you provide social proof to your audience on social media and other channels that your company is worth their time and investment. Not to mention, this promotional content can positively influence someone’s purchasing decisions, according to 79% of people.
The main takeaway here is simple: How you choose to engage with your target audience matters.
By investing in content marketing and integrating these five best practices into your strategy, you can develop, nurture, and maintain meaningful relationships with your target audience.
Image Credits: Diggity Marketing