Is content marketing right for your business?
Each day, marketers and small business owners make countless important decisions. From making hiring choices or operational resolutions to coffee orders and lunch spots, there’s no shortage of conviction needed to be an effective leader.
Most choices boil down to the same thing: how can I use the resources I have to achieve the best outcomes for my organisation? This usually requires sacrifice – undertaking one business activity instead of another.
In marketing, that could mean focusing on paid social promotion instead of a mascot out front (we hope at least) or scrapping the budget for certain ads entirely. At each fork in the road, you need to know ‘how can I get the most bang for my buck?’
One such fork may have introduced you to content marketing. Huh, you might think – sounds newfangled and expensive. We get where you’re coming from. Content marketing isn’t as straightforward as other endeavours. Campaigns are more subtle, ROI is measured differently and it’s all a bit confusing at first.
So if you’re faced with deciding whether content marketing is right for your small business, it’s important to get your head around the concept before making a call. Want some help? Here’s our guide.
What is content marketing and how does it work?
Simply put, content marketing is the use of content to achieve your business’ marketing goals. You want brand awareness? Use content. Need to communicate better with potential customers? There’s content for that too. Chasing leads? You guessed it, create suitable content once again.
But what is content?
We can’t say it better than marketing expert, Ian Lurie, who states, “Content is anything that communicates a message to the audience. Anything.”
That includes product descriptions, landing pages, emails, newsletters, social posts, videos, infographics, blog articles – need we go on?
The next natural question is, ‘but how does this stuff help me meet my marketing goals?’
We’ll give you the super annotated version. Content marketing works when you create and promote content that helps you meet a certain aim. For example, if your goal is to show off your expertise, you’d write an informative whitepaper or ebook. If you’d rather focus on getting indexed in search, prioritise curating a blog with a well-thought-out keyword strategy.
A comprehensive content marketing strategy will be tailored to these objectives and include a plan for how you’ll meet them. Creating this, of course, requires taking a good look at your business, brand and target audience.
— Castleford (@castlefordmedia) August 30, 2017
3 content marketing myths debunked
If you came here as a sceptic, allow us to address three of the most common misconceptions about content marketing.
MYTH 1: Content marketing is only about SEO
The debate between what’s more important: content marketing or SEO is a long and interesting one.
The reality is that the two are inextricably linked. SEO exists because of content. With no content, there would be nothing to optimise for search, after all. At the same time, the need to rank in search is often a goal of content marketing.
But just one goal. As we’ve already touched and will explain further, content can help small businesses meet a variety of marketing objectives.
What would happen if content marketing and SEO sat down together on a speed date? They’ve had a long history together, but will this make things awkward or help them bond? Find out how the evening goes! https://t.co/XCdOyDjMdp pic.twitter.com/VOfji5GhIN
— Castleford (@castlefordmedia) May 1, 2018
MYTH 2: Content marketing is a niche specialty
Not anymore. Today, 81 per cent of Australian businesses use content marketing.
In fact, content marketing is nothing new. The use of valuable content to boost brand perception has been around for many years. In 1895, tractor company John Deere published their first edition of ‘The Furrow’, a magazine positioning themselves as an expert in the American farming sector.
Digital content marketing as we know it today has been slower to come into the mainstream. Now, however, you can be sure it’s here to stay.
— Chris Herbert (@B2Bspecialist) November 14, 2014
MYTH 3: It’s intangible – there’s no clear ROI
With content marketing, you’re not going to see overnight results. Becoming an online authority takes time and your domain won’t skyrocket to the top of Google’s lists when you publish one good blog post.
It’s for this reason that some people are put off content marketing. It’s too slow, they complain, and there’s no real way to measure ROI.
This is a myth. While content marketing effectiveness used to be difficult to quantify, there are now clear metrics, goals and tools to help you track the performance of your content. Content marketers today have countless resources at their fingertips to inform their content marketing strategy.
— Castleford (@castlefordmedia) March 23, 2018
How to decide if content marketing is right for you
Whew, glad we got that off our chest!
If you’re still having reservations, allow us to shatter one more misconception – perhaps the most common of all: ‘content marketing only works for some businesses.’ ’
Content marketing is not industry-specific. That’s because content marketing is a storytelling tool brands can use to share their message – whatever that message is.
Whether your businesses is a SaaS provider, a landscape design firm or a real estate agency, content marketing can work for you. No matter what you do, the right content can:
- Boost brand awareness,
- Foster industry expertise,
- Build trust,
- Optimise your website,
- Improve your online reputation,
- Increase social shares,
- Improve the quality of website visits,
- Encourage action from potential customers,
- Improve your sales conversion rates
We could go on about the benefits of content marketing all day, but don’t take our word for it. Instead, have a look around your own business. There could be some tellatale clues.
Signs your business needs content marketing
You’ve never mapped your target audience
Launching marketing campaigns without having done a complete audience analysis is like playing a game of pin the tail on the donkey. If you don’t know who your target users are, what they like and where they hang out online, you’ll find yourself wasting time and money.
A solid content marketing strategy begins with knowing your buyer personas. You take the time to understand exactly who you want to reach and then map out what content they’ll find valuable.
— HubSpot (@HubSpot) February 20, 2016
You don’t have a documented strategy in place
Little known fact: you’re already doing content marketing. Any written or visual materials on your website or social accounts are, in fact, content.
Even if you don’t actively engage in content marketing, you will need to publish certain materials if you wish to have an online presence. Having a content marketing strategy in place is the best way to ensure you choose the right materials and measure how well you’re meeting your goals.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, only 37 per cent of B2B marketers and 40 per cent of B2C marketers have a documented strategy in place. If you’re a part of the undocumented majority, it’s time to get cracking. Even the framework of a content strategy is better than nothing and can help you move forward in a more informed fashion.
Your online reputation is weak (or worse, bad)
Think about what your target customer would Google to find you in search. Perhaps this is your niche or service offering next to your city name. Give this term a go. What are the results?
If you’re not ranking on page one, you need content marketing. Content marketing and online reputation management (ORM) go hand in hand. By creating and promoting positive, Google friendly, brand building content, you can win the game of search – even if bad press about your business exists.
Your social feeds are boring
Be honest – would you follow you on social media?
Have an objective look on your business accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or whatever platforms you use. While you might find the content engaging, will customers? Ask yourself the following:
- Are my posts all about my products and services?
- Do I promote any original, unique content?
- Is my content useful/valuable?
- Am I posting frequently enough?
- Do I have a posting schedule?
- Am I repeating the same headlines?
If you identify areas for improvement, it’s time to get serious about content marketing and a social media strategy. Creating content built for your social audience is a sure way to foster engagement and increase brand awareness.
It doesn’t take long to improve your business’ social media presence, but it pays to go in with a strategy. Use our checklist to clean up your social pages. https://t.co/4hvGQqgL0I pic.twitter.com/wjUol7ptlK
— Castleford (@castlefordmedia) March 2, 2018
Your website is bland
The same goes for your website – if it appears boring, you’re going to miss out on inbound opportunities.
Again, ask yourself some key questions:
- How engaging are my landing pages?
- Is my content appealing?
- Do I have a blog?
- Would potential customers find my content useful?
- Does my site look boring? Could I use more visuals?
You need to uncover the reasons people aren’t finding you. Then you can come up with the right content to address the issue.
If you’ve decided to get started with content marketing, don’t put pen to paper just yet.
Any content marketing needs to begin with an understanding of your goals. Consider what your business needs most and shape your objectives accordingly. On top of this, think critically about what your expectations are. All too often people become frustrated because their content doesn’t perform how they thought. To this end, take the time to articulate who you’re trying to reach, what you want to deliver and what the desired outcome will be.