December 20, 2018 Last updated December 19th, 2018 118 Reads share

5 Steps to Use Content Marketing to Grow Your Small Business

Image Credit: Depositphotos

As a small business, your focus is to balance sustainable growth while maintaining the progress you have already made. This is the essence of growing a business.

Of course, this is an incredibly challenging task.

Content marketing allows you to earn sustainable, long-term growth benefits through drawing traffic to your site, nurturing leads, and improving your site’s SEO.

Use this article to guide your approach to content marketing using a 5-step approach and drive growth for your small business.

Step 1: Research Content Marketing

To start, your business needs to understand exactly what content marketing means.

Content marketing refers to any efforts that use content as a tool to promote your company. These include:

  • Video (e.g., Helper/explainer videos)
  • Images (e.g., Infographics, memes, gifs)
  • Print (e.g., Mailouts, flyers)
  • Audio (e.g., Podcasts)
  • Articles (e.g., Blogs, reports, press releases, guest posts)

Despite the variety of content that qualifies as content marketing, many people view content marketing only in terms of written content online, specifically blogs, articles, or guest posts.

As a result, some companies hesitate to invest in content marketing because they don’t think they would benefit from written content or don’t have the resources or budget to support article production.

It’s crucial that you understand content marketing as an encompassing effort. That way, you don’t feel pressure to hire content writers or freelancers to boost your marketing performance. Rather, you have the flexibility to hire resources according to the content that you choose to produce.

Step 2: Plan Your Content Approach

Your approach to content marketing should be simple: what makes the most sense for your company?

Consider the following when planning your content marketing strategy:

  • Internal Resources: What sort of resources and experience do you have in-house? If you have someone with video experience but have determined written content is the best approach for your company, consider hiring a content marketing expert, digital marketing company, or freelance writer.
  • Customer Preferences: Understand the type of content your target audience engages with. Consider user intent, or how interested your customers are in purchasing, versus simply browsing or learning more about your company. Understanding user intent helps your design your content so that it engages people according to their interests as consumers.
  • Content Schedule: Content marketing is not a one-off marketing effort. Rather, it requires consistent inputs over an extended period of time. For your efforts to be effective, you need a defined content schedule to follow. It’s crucial that your schedule takes into account the kind of content you produce (a video, for example, may take longer than a blog post) and the time commitment associated with those efforts. A calendar helps you do just that.
  • Budget: Content marketing entails both a time and monetary investment. As a long-term investment, consistently producing quality content requires a corresponding long-term budget allocation.

Use these considerations to decide the type of content you plan to produce and the messages to convey through your content.

Step 3: Follow Through On your Content Plan 

Of course, actually creating content is the most important component of a content marketing strategy.

After you map out the type of content you want to create, get to work. If you have an organized content scheduled in place, this process is much easier.

Design your content to target your customers’ interest. For example, if the customers you target are at the “bottom” of the sales funnel, thus are close to purchasing, produce content that discusses the benefits of your products and highlights former client experiences.

Because content marketing efforts can take a considerable amount of time to produce, set aside time every day to devote to your content efforts.

For writing content, consider developing a writing habit so that you consistently produce content.

Step 4: Optimize Your Content for SEO

To grow in the digital economy, it’s crucial that you have a strategy to engage with customers online.

In this economy, people use search engines to find the products and services that interest them. To make sure that your site appears when your customers search terms relevant to your business, you need strong search engine optimization (SEO).

Regardless of the content, you create as part of your content marketing strategy, there are a few key SEO services you can use to boost your search engine rankings:

  • Keyword Research: Conduct keyword research to determine the terms people frequently search related to your business. With this insight, you can determine the terms that drive the most engagement and whether other companies are competing for those terms.
  • Title Tags: Title your content to directly address your customers’ issues. For example, if your customers were to search “how content marketing works,” your goal would be to be featured among the top results – all of which have titles that directly address the search query.
  • Meta Descriptions: The text that appears below your title in search engine results that offer a preview into the content your page contains. An effective meta description entices search audiences to click through on your listing and visit your site. Use this guide to learn how to write an effective meta description.

Using these SEO services, you can help your site appear toward the top for search results for relevant search terms.

The top 3 results of search engine results pages (SERPs) earn over half of click-throughs on search engines. SEO helps earn those positions, which results in broader exposure for your company.

Of course, success with SEO, like with content marketing, depends on the resources you have available and the quality of your work. Consider an SEO expert or company to help with optimizing your site content for search rankings.

Step 5: Distribute and Promote Your Content 

Beyond relying on search to drive traffic to your site, you need a content distribution and promotion plan to ensure that people actually encounter and consume your content.

Your content distribution and promotion plan should include any and all existing channels your company has available to engage with customers.

  • Social Media: This is what social media is for! Your content is designed for your customers to read, watch, or listen to. Schedule and promote your content multiple times across all of your channels. Test different headlines and copy to see what sort of messaging draws the best engagement.
  • Outreach: Reach out to industry contacts and share your article. Present your content as a topic that may interest your customers to gain awareness for your company. Make sure to be respectful with your outreach (don’t send a thousand emails).
  • Email Marketing: Use your email newsletter to promote and drive awareness for your content efforts. Your email subscribers have already expressed interest in your company by signing up for your newsletter. Make the most of that demonstrated interest by providing them with high-quality content that they can use to learn more about your company or be convinced to purchase from you.

The Results: An Engaged and Growing Customer Base

If conducted effectively, content marketing can both engage existing customers and earn new audiences for your company.

Retaining your existing customers while adding new customers is a tried-and-true formula for business growth.

Through effective content marketing, you can work towards achieving this formula.

CONTENT MARKETING CONCEPT stock image

Grayson Kemper

Grayson Kemper

Grayson Kemper is a Senior Content Developer for Clutch, a ratings and reviews platform for B2B IT and marketing services and solutions providers based in Washington, DC. He specializes in SEO and emerging tech research.

Read Full Bio