How small businesses can do content marketing
You may have heard marketing gurus or business consultants talk about content marketing before, but what exactly is it? Simply put, it’s the idea that you can consistently put out content to promote and grow your business. Content marketing is commonly done with a blog, but that’s just one of many options. You can also do content marketing with videos, social media posts, and emails.
Content marketing can be an invaluable asset to a small business. Done right, it gets you an audience that eagerly awaits hearing from you. Before they buy products, 81% of shoppers do research online, which means that your content could reach a lot of potential customers.
Writing good content
The first thing to realise about content marketing is that everything you write should be relevant to your audience. That means you need to define who you’re speaking to before you start writing. Think carefully about who may be interested in your product.
For example, maybe you sell hiking boots made from recycled materials. Your audience might include:
People who care about sustainability
People who spend a lot of time outdoors, perhaps for work as well as leisure
You can identify your audience and the things they’re passionate about by asking them directly. Take to social media and product forums to hear what people are saying. Pay attention to their frustrations and the things they discuss even if they aren’t directly related to your product.
You can also look at competitors with a similar product and see what they’ve been writing about. This should give you an idea of what’s relevant to your customer base.
Sell without selling
Even though you’re writing content to make sales, it shouldn’t sound that way. Instead, be helpful and informative. Write content that answers questions your customers have asked or addresses things they search for.
By writing about customer passions, you connect more with your audience. Plus, being able to answer questions and solve problems helps you build trust and legitimise your brand.
That’s not to say you can’t advertise yourself in your content, just that you should be more subtle about it. For example, let’s say you’re writing a blog about choosing the most child-friendly paint for your house. You can list all the attributes the product has to have, like being lead-free and quick-drying, and then casually mention that your product has these things.
Write things that address common customer searches, using the exact phrases they’re typing if possible. Getting your wording as close to theirs as possible will help customers find your content first next time they have a question.
Now that you’re in the right frame of mind to write content, how do you really make it pop?
Content writing best practices
Your content doesn’t just need to be relevant, it needs to be easy and interesting for the customer to read. A key thing to remember is to keep your content simple and easy to follow.
A couple of concrete ways you can do that are:
Using catchy subheadings. Snappy subheadings don’t just grab people’s attention, they help divide your content into more digestible chunks.
Promoting content readability. Use short paragraphs, small sentences, and bulleted lists so the eye can naturally follow it.
Your content also has to resonate with readers. Lots of business content sounds bland and corporate, with nothing setting it apart. To make your voice heard, try:
Speaking the customer’s language. Use their phrases and tone of voice to help them identify with your brand. Look at social media posts and product reviews to learn how the audience for your product speaks.
Writing about your product’s benefits, not its features. It’s tempting to run through every specific detail about how your product is made, but that’s not what customers care about. They want to know why your product will be good for them. Instead of what your product has, emphasise how it will improve customers’ lives.
Avoiding superlatives. It’s usually a good idea to avoid words like ‘best’ and ‘world-class – they’re generic and they promise a lot. It’s better to praise your product using concrete facts and verifiable claims, for example by saying the shoes you sell are ‘100% hand-tooled, water-resistant leather’.
Taking a stance. Having a strong opinion and making a case for it conveys passion for your product and can help you come across as an expert in the field.
Being relevant and relatable to your audience is key to creating good content, but what about the marketing aspect? How do you turn good content into new customers?
Content marketing with SEO and CTAs
To get your words in front of as many people as possible, your content should be written with SEO in mind. SEO stands for search engine optimisation, and means making it as likely as possible that your content will appear in search engines like Google.
You can do that by sprinkling your content with keywords – phrases and terms that your target audience uses frequently when looking things up. These can be as simple as ‘dog food’, or statements like ‘how to choose dog food’.
When you’re figuring out what keywords to include in your content, it’s a good idea to use a keyword research tool of some kind. There are a lot of these available, and it’s easy to find a free one. Some of the best are:
Google Keyword Planner
Moz Keyword Explorer
All these tools do roughly the same thing. They let you type in a word or phrase and then show you how many people search for it, how unique your keyword is, and what related keywords would make sense to include. Some, like Soovle, let you search for keywords across multiple platforms like Amazon, Wikipedia, YouTube, and Ebay, which means you can attract customers from multiple sources.
It’s important to be intentional about using keywords in your writing. You don’t want to overuse them and make it look like you’re writing for the search engine. There are also certain places that are especially good opportunities to use keywords.
Your title and subheadings should all use one of your keywords, because that helps the content rank higher in search results. And always include your highest priority keywords in your meta tags (title and description).
Meta tags are what search engines use to display a title and description of your webpage in search results. They’re one of the most important places to put keywords because they tell the algorithm what your content is about, which causes the result to be displayed higher up the more relevant to a search it is.
One way your content goes from writing to marketing is by adding CTAs. A CTA, or call to action, is a prompt for the customer to do something; usually to visit your store, buy something, or sign up to your newsletter.
CTAs are usually at or near the end of your content, so that anyone scrolling quickly through won’t miss them. If you want more than one, it’s a good idea to place them after major sections of your work. There are two parts to the CTA, a button and a few words of text.
Your CTA button should be distinct and look nice set against the background of your site. Try and avoid making it too glaring or jarring, for example by sticking to complementary colors (like blue and white). It might even be worth considering the psychological effects different colors can have on customers.
When it comes to your button text, you have a bit more to play around with. But you should keep in mind that the optimal length for a CTA is around three words long, short enough to be catchy and commanding but long enough to tell customers a little about what they’re being asked to do.
The best CTAs:
Use commanding, enticing verbs. Words like ‘try’, ‘reserve’, ‘buy’, or ‘claim’ prime visitors to take action and stoke their curiosity.
Are written in first person. While you might be tempted to write like you’re talking to someone, replacing ‘your’ with ‘my’ actually gets more clicks.
Convey urgency. Even just adding the word ‘now’ can make it seem imperative for customers to click on your CTA.
Include your value proposition. Try to highlight what makes your product or brand attractive in your CTA, for example by using words like ‘free’ or mentioning what your product will enable customers to do.
Well-constructed CTA buttons are invaluable tools for converting interested readers to satisfied customers. And remember, the better your content is overall, the more likely customers are to click the CTA and interact with you further.
With good, engaging content, you can grow your audience and reach people who don’t know they’re interested yet. Good use of keywords and SEO can help get your brand in front of both serious customers and people casually researching their options. Relevant, regularly produced content will lead to more people discovering you.
If you want more content marketing ideas and examples, the SumUp Business Guide has plenty to inspire you.Check out our business guide