As a new or burgeoning business, you probably recognize that marketing is super important. If you are marketing online, then you’ll want to start (if you haven’t already) preparing your content marketing strategy.
We decided to layout a guide that breaks down Content Marketing for SMBs. This guide will fill you in on what content marketing is, why it is important, and a checklist for your marketing team to consider when developing your content marketing strategy.
What is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing is a form of inbound (and typically) online marketing that focuses on producing high-quality and informative content. It differs from traditional marketing or outbound marketing in that leads are obtained as organically as possible. This means that you are paying less for advertisements and more by providing information to readers.
Content marketing excels in online blogs, but it is also present in web copy, through distribution platforms and social media posts, and in other forms of marketing.
I wrote back in December as to why content marketing has made a splash:
“B2C is all about creating content that stands out in the minds of your potential consumers. B2C marketing works best when it evokes emotions in consumers in a positive and relevant way.”
Understanding the difference between content and traditional marketing might be difficult. However, want I want to point out is that content marketing is content-forward and consumer-centric.
Why Content Marketing?
Content marketing has been touted as one of the best ways for businesses to garner more organic and genuine leads and to promote your business as a brand. There is a lot that you can do with content marketing.
In many ways, you can express your brand (or self) as an expert on a given topic, you can interact with consumers in new and informative ways, and it can help you evolve your brand to better suit your customers.
So why is this ideal marketing for your SMB and what should this look like?
This graphic from Hubspot is a good visual representation of how content marketing works, even for SMBs. Hubspot also likes to talk about content marketing in terms like “attract” and “delight.”
Since content marketing is all about content and emotive responses, then it is a perfect marketing tool for SMBs. With content marketing, you can effectively move past a large business with your company’s own unique stories and experiences.
Key Components of Your Content Marketing Strategy
After all is said and done, content marketing is still a strategy. So it’s really important that you establish your strategy from the ground-up, and preferably before you’ve started.
This means that your content marketing plan will have thought-out goals, directives, tangible initiatives, and campaign components.
Before you start, ask yourself:
Why are you pushing out content?
What would you like for this marketing campaign to accomplish?
What’s so great about what you’re offering?
Who (and what type of buyer) would want to interact with and ultimately purchase your products/services?
The why’s, what’s, who’s, how’s are all pretty standard marketing concerns, so make sure you nail those down before you move on to generating content.
Effectively Distributing Your Glorious Content
While it may seem odd to look at content distribution before content creation, it’s important to nail down the ways how your content will be distributed so that the content makes sense.
If you want to push out a blog post through an influencer, you’ll have to analyze the unique ways that these two methods interact so that the content will make sense in that context.
Distributing content involves promoting your content through social mediums, as guest blog posts, and in influencer marketing, but also establishing when is the right time to post your content.
Identifying Your Content Topic(s)
Once you’ve generally identified what your content marketing plan is going to hit (and how), then you can start to strategize your content topics. This will play in with all the other factors in this list (such as who you’re speaking to and what you’re selling/promoting), but it will also lend itself to search engines and brand development.
Like the other aspects of your foundational marketing strategy, your content topics are clutch.
Your content marketing topical strategy addresses what problem buyers are looking to be resolved and finding ways that your company can solve them.
By identifying and working within these niches, your content (and company) gains topical authority around a relevant topic. Speak to a certain niche repeatedly and effectively solve the problems in that niche and you may be considered a thought leader in that niche.
The Obvious: Brand Building, SEO, and Leads
Brand building, search engine optimization (SEO) and gaining leads are the three most commonly talked about aspects of content marketing. This means that your content can really effectively navigate relevant SEO to build your brand and garner leads. But you have to make sure that your strategies’ individual goals are directed towards this end and that your strategy accounts for it in content production.
Brand Building: Brand building is about relating your brand to a certain topic, component, or niche. If you are a software company, you don’t necessarily want to write about selling furniture… unless it is directly applicable to your software. Instead, you will want to showcase that you are knowledgeable and an authority on software, your specific type of software, and why your software (specifically and generally) is worth buying.
SEO and Rankings: Building authority also involves appropriate SEO tactics. SEO involves optimizing your web page so that search engines recognize your web pages. In terms of content, you’ll need to be familiar with what long-tail keywords relate to your brand and your topic. There are many factors that go into SEO, so hiring out an SEO expert will make your life easier.
Leads: While all these aspects will account for leads, make sure that your content is giving readers a direct opportunity and reason to connect with your company. Things like a call to action, questionnaires, and the option for a newsletter are usually strong motivators.
Content production is not just writing. It also involves the strategy behind which content to write, internal elements like the calls to action and backlinks, and identifying relevant topical authority. Therefore all these elements will need to focus on clearly communicating your brand and asserting your brand as an authority on what you’re writing.
Tools and Tactics
There are tools and tactics necessary to any marketing strategy.
Your tools are the software, programs, clients, etc, that your strategy requires in order to function efficiently. Marketers rely on tools for functionality and speed.
Tactics, on the other hand, are the directions in which you want your marketing to go. Not all marketing strategies will have a podcast, but instead you may be marketing out to social media or on a blog post.
For this section, we’re going to list the a few tools and tactics we recommend a marketing agency should be working with (in some way).
There are a variety of tactics that fit under the umbrella of content marketing. The common denominator is that they are content-centered, and provide value to their relevant audiences. Other, unlisted tactics include videos or podcasts, infographics, paid advertising, and PR firms.
Blogging: By and far, blogging is the easiest and more surefire way to positively contribute to your marketing plan’s goal to drive in more organic traffic. You can hire on writers to blog for you (as if your team wrote the content or as guest blogs), hire a writing stack, blog yourself, or have influential writers guest blog. Blogging will need to be directed at your target audience and for a specific goal.
Social Media Distribution: Social media is a great way to connect with people. That’s why many businesses use it to share blogs, new product releases, or exciting events on social media. There are thousands of ways to use these social media hubs, so make sure you identify why you want to reach out to social media in the first place.
Create an eBook: We’ve included eBooks on this list to show that not all marketing strategies need to be the same. Companies in finance or real estate might require a more concrete way to present a report or a large bastion of knowledge. Even if you’re new to the marketing arena, eBooks are a strong way to represent your brand. eBook building can be easy but it does take a little bit of work. All you need is Adobe InDesign or a program to make PowerPoints.
The level of tools that your marketing team will use will depend on how much work they will be doing. If you plan to outsource your marketing, then a content marketing management team will be the ones working with and recommending tools. However, if your team is doing all (or part) of the marketing, then you will need a few tools to make your life easier.
A Content Management System (CMS): A CMS is a fancy way of saying a “website builder”. A powerful CMS will allow you to design a website from a template (or imported through a custom design), add content to your webpages, and make it look good. CMS systems like WordPress also have plugins such as Jetpack and Link Whisper which make website management easier.
Content Marketing and/or SEO Management: Investing in a content marketing management service will ensure that your content is competing against and hopefully winning out competitors. A content marketing management service like MarketMuse or AHRefs can comprehensively analyze your competitors, your current content, keywords, backlinks, and much more to recommend for search engine ranking positioning (SERP).
Distribution: Powerful distribution tools can save a lot of time sending out your content to social media platforms. Whether you are creating content for a social media campaign or email marketing, a distribution software can house all your data and schedule these posts regularly. We highly recommend using Quuu Promote for social media and Klaviyo for email marketing.
Measuring Your Success
Marketing firms regularly reassess a campaign’s success. Tools like Google Analytics and Google My Console (for local SEO) can present clear data graphs, tables, and percentages so that you can understand how much traffic inflow is coming, the monthly changes, and the funnels from which that traffic came from.
Again, measuring your success can happen in many ways. Many companies will not only want to rank in the SERPs, but they will also want to see a fiscal return. Identify what it means for your company to success, and what a successful content marketing strategy will do for your company in the long run.
Room For Growth
As your marketing strategy continues to evolve, make sure to adapt along with it. This is really important, and something that many SMBs cannot really account for. If you plan for a long-term marketing strategy, then there will be a higher chance of success in the short term. Make sure that you are working through the short-term plan first, and then reassessing your plan as your company grows.