Marketing is crucial for small business owners to reach potential and existing clients. A typical American sees up to 10,000 digital ads daily, making a limited budget one of the biggest challenges these entrepreneurs face. However, there is a cost-effective way for businesses of any size to stand out in a sea of competition — content marketing.
Our team has served hundreds of clients over the past four years, and many of them were cautious about spending any part of their budget on content marketing. However, we keep our clientele informed with facts.
Recent surveys reveal that a whopping 74% of marketers use content marketing to generate more leads, attract more site traffic, and enhance brand reputation. If done right, this marketing branch can cost 62% less than traditional marketing and produce up to three times more leads per dollar spent.
Let's discuss content marketing, its advantages, and the necessary steps to develop a sound strategy. Read on to learn how to transform your digital marketing efforts.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the marketing branch involved with creating and sharing online material that informs, excites, and inspires a defined target market into profitable action. When used with a company’s inbound or outbound marketing strategies, it can help businesses of any size or industry achieve their digital marketing goals.
The essential word for this marketing branch is valuable. Content marketing is all about creating videos, blogs, social media posts, and other materials that resonate with consumers on a personal level. Such content encourages audiences to engage with and share a company’s online materials.
For example, an apparel brand should not create content about available styles, size charts, and seasonal items. Instead, it should also post lifestyle photos, exciting videos, and content from relevant influencers.
Small business owners should use content marketing to enhance a client’s journey, from awareness to the post-sales stage. Doing so leads to a plethora of benefits entrepreneurs can enjoy.
- Enhance SEO efforts: Organic search relies heavily on killer content, so using content marketing is one of the most effective ways to drive website traffic.
- Establish authority: Consumers look up to brands for information on specific topics. The more you share valuable content on a particular subject like food, retail, or beauty, the more clients will trust your products and services.
- Create awareness: Businesses that repeatedly develop groundbreaking content about their core values instead of their products and services strengthen brand recall.
- Connect with diverse audiences: Clients learn through visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or reading signals. With content marketing, you can address different learning preferences.
- Boost social media engagement: Powerful content can turn random visitors into brand advocates. Such consumers will engage with your brand and share your content, maximizing your return on investment (ROI).
Brands Practicing Content Marketing
No matter the business size or industry, content marketing is a powerful tool that can help companies take their digital marketing game to the next level. Let’s take a look at Old Spice and Glossier for some content inspiration.
Old Spice — an American brand of grooming products for men — faced an image problem when it tried to shift its market to a younger demographic. In an attempt to outgrow the perception of being outdated, it failed miserably to appear more hip.
The company did its research and discovered that females then made 60% of body wash purchases. Instead of running male-centric ads, marketing geniuses Weiden and Kennedy took a different route. They developed powerful content through the Man Your Man Could Smell Like campaign in 2010, which saved the brand from extinction. The ad gained over 20 million YouTube views in three days.
Since then, Old Spice has been at the top of its content marketing game. Instead of repeatedly posting about its products, the brand creates funny and memorable content that keeps viewers wanting more.
Today, Old Spice has over 800,000 YouTube subscribers, with popular ads reaching millions of views. It also has over two million Facebook and almost 200,000 Instagram followers.
Founded in 2014, Glossier — a famous beauty brand — was born out of superior content marketing. Glossier’s founder Emily Weiss created a blog in 2010 called Into The Gloss, which gained its authority in the beauty category.
Glossier used a unique technique that proved beneficial: straying away from the boardroom and focusing on communicating with its target audience. The brand used information and insights from Into The Gloss to develop its first four products, which grew into 40 highly sellable ones. By listening to their clients, Emily and her team created customized content and gained an online community.
Today, Glossier has the kind of social media following bigger brands envy. Thanks to social listening and valuable content, the brand now boasts over two million Instagram followers, three hundred thousand Facebook followers, and one hundred thousand YouTube subscribers.
What Is a Content Marketing Strategy?
Recent studies reveal that most businesses use content marketing — and we can see why. However, only a minimal percentage uses a documented strategy.
It’s not enough for small businesses to create valuable content; entrepreneurs should also use a content marketing strategy. A content marketing strategy is a plan to engage audiences by frequently developing, publishing, and sharing relevant materials to turn potential clients into raving fans.
While creating content is crucial, any business will reach a point where it needs a plan to move toward its digital marketing goals. Here are three reasons to use a content marketing strategy.
- Having a strategy saves considerable time and effort in developing valuable content. It’s challenging to keep producing relevant materials, but you can repurpose engaging ones into other content types.
- Gauging success is faster with a strategy. Without a long-term plan, it’s hard to track your digital marketing success.
- Marketers feel more confident when they have a strategy in place. Without a plan, you’ll end up second-guessing every move you make, from posting similar content to not having enough engagement.
If you’re wondering, “What are the steps to developing a content marketing strategy?” You’re in luck. We created a plan ideal for small businesses.
The 7-Step Procedure To Develop a Content Marketing Strategy
Now that we’ve discussed the importance of content marketing and creating a strategy for it, let’s go through our seven-step procedure. Following these steps will provide you with a reliable source of unique traffic and leads.
1. Set Your Goals
The first step in creating a content marketing strategy is setting goals. Doing so can help you focus your efforts on high-value activities. Additionally, it helps marketing teams prioritize tasks accordingly. Here are some possible content marketing strategy goals:
- Raise revenue
- Improve SEO measures
- Enhance authority
- Revamp brand awareness
- Generate new leads
- Increase social media engagement
We recommend keeping goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. For example, instead of simply stating raise revenue, you could aim to increase the revenue by ten percent in one year. A specific goal will help you gauge your success and allocate more budget for activities with high ROI rates.
2. Know Your Target Market
You’ve probably heard this advice one too many times, but many of our clients often overlook this essential part of content creation. Sometimes, entrepreneurs get so excited to try fads and ways to go viral that they forget who they should be creating content for — their target market.
Collect Demographic Information
To know your target market, you need a clear definition of your audience’s age, location, gender, learning style, and favored digital platforms. Research your target market and find out everything you can about them. Doing so will give your content game a boost.
Practice Social Listening
One cost-effective way to collect valuable insight is through social listening — the process of tracking digital conversations to learn how consumers talk about your brand. For example, you can check comments and hashtags on particular topics. This marketing tool can help you learn, understand, and monitor what your potential and existing clients talk about online.
Glossier utilized this marketing tool perfectly. It used social listening to develop best practices and find business opportunities. When you get reliable information about what your clientele wants, you can focus on addressing it.
Create Buyer Personas
Once you gather all the necessary information about your target market, we highly recommend creating buyer personas or customer avatars. The ideal personas include pain points, preferred information sources, and motivators.
By doing this exercise, you can determine the type of content that will resonate with your target market and create content that appeals to your different buyer personas.
Keep in mind that buyer personas are not unbendable. On the contrary, entrepreneurs often find themselves having to adapt to the ever-changing needs of the market. Perform annual market research to keep your buyer personas up to date.
3. Determine the Ideal Channels for Your Audience
Content channels are the different media where you publish and promote your content. When it comes to digital marketing, there are three overlapping content channels.
- Owned channels: These are the channels you own, where you control how and when you publish content. These include websites, blogs, and social media sites.
- Earned channels: Also known as shared channels, these are digital spaces where third parties share your content for free. Third parties include consumers, influencers, journalists, and online communities.
- Paid channels: These channels refer to digital spaces where your company pays to distribute content. The most popular paid channel types are pay-per-click (PPC) ads, social media ads, and influencer content.
Rather than trying to be present on all channels at once, focus on your target market, goals, and strengths. The best criterion in determining the ideal medium for you is to find out where your target consumers hang out in the digital world. For example, if you find out that most of your target market spends most of their time on Instagram and YouTube, focus your efforts on those platforms.
4. Choose Your Content Types
Once you’ve set your goals, identified your target market, and determined the ideal channels for your audience, the next step is to choose the content types that will resonate with your audience. Many successful content marketing strategies develop materials for owned channels, usually websites. Afterward, such content is shared or repurposed on earned and paid media.
There is an extensive range of content types to choose from; let’s discuss the most widely-used ones. For this article, we will focus on videos, blogs, and social media.
We’ve had many clients who were hesitant about creating videos because they are a costly and time-consuming investment, typically costing hundreds of dollars each and taking weeks to produce. However, creating video content has become an essential part of the digital era we’re in now.
A recent survey on 694 marketers and small business owners revealed the following results:
- The majority of the participants use videos in their digital marketing efforts.
- Out of the hundreds of survey participants, 36% create videos several times a week, while 14% produce some daily. Additionally, a massive 94% of them will continue using videos to engage their target market.
- The majority of surveyed marketers claim videos provide a higher ROI than static images (74%) and Google Ads (68%).
If you don’t use video content on any of your platforms yet, now would be a great time to start.
Blogs are cost-effective ways to build brand awareness while providing consumers with valuable information. They help small businesses boost SEO efforts, build industry expert status, and conveniently share content.
When creating blogs, we recommend developing long-form content — those that exceed 2,000 words in length — once in a while. Such content provides readers with valuable in-depth analyses of a topic and promotes critical thinking.
Long-form blogs increase authority and help entrepreneurs achieve digital marketing goals, from closing deals to improved social media engagement and increased reading time. It takes time and effort to develop such content, but the benefits are worth it.
Unlike multinational companies with millions of dollars to spare for ads, small business owners have limited marketing budgets. Social media levels the playing field for the latter by providing free access to a massive pool of customers.
Some of the top social media platforms include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Remember that you don’t have to be present on a platform if your target market is not on it.
Starting a social media page involves consistently creating valuable content. Clients expect you to post regularly, answer questions, and engage with them. If you can’t do all of those for a particular platform, you should consider not opening an account at all.
5. Create a Content Calendar With a Corresponding Budget
Developing a content marketing strategy should include knowing which content to publish on each platform. If you’re not posting a lot of content, creating an Excel or Google Calendar file should suffice.
However, if you’re running several content types a day across different platforms, we recommend using a free social media management tool. Such a tool will help you pre-plan all the content you want to publish in a week or a month.
Additionally, it’s best to set budgets to help you achieve your digital marketing goals. Unlike conventional outbound marketing efforts, modern ads provide businesses with the metrics to track key performance indicators (KPIs).
Once you run ads and tests, you can determine the ad types that work best for you. You can then allocate more of your budget to those that provide the highest ROI.
6. Manage Your Content
When managing your posts, try to develop evergreen content — content that remains relevant longer because it’s not time-sensitive. When you create such content, you save considerable time and effort in constantly deleting and updating outdated materials.
Mix and match your posts between functional and thematic ones to include event announcements and holiday greetings like Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Additionally, join in on fads and viral topics that are valuable to your audience. These posts won’t stay relevant for long but will most likely boost your engagement for a short period.
7. Measure Your Results
The final step in developing a content marketing strategy is to measure your results. To do this, you should go back to the specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based goals you set for your business.
You can use tools like Google Alerts, Google Analytics, and Facebook audience engagement to keep track of your digital marketing success. Once you get information about your performance, you can make adjustments to use your budgets better and reach your targets faster.
Take Your Business to New Heights
If you’re ready to join the big leagues, using content marketing can help you take your business to new heights. It takes time and financial investments to achieve digital marketing goals, but the benefits are worth it. Through content marketing, you can increase revenues, improve SEO efforts, and enhance brand awareness.
What are the steps to developing a content marketing strategy? We recommend seven steps: set goals, know the target market, identify ideal channels, determine the best content types, create a calendar, manage content, and measure results.
At Agency Jet, we develop custom strategies for a diverse selection of clients. We’ve had hundreds of clients in the past four years, rating us an average of 4.9 stars across all review platforms. We have a renewal rate of 96% because of our unique practice to always put customers first. Call us at 612-888-253 for a free assessment.