Whether you want to optimize your small business website for higher rankings on search, get people to stay on your site and share it with their network, or increase conversions and sales — content lies at the heart of it all.
In this mini-guide, you’ll learn how to craft a content marketing strategy for your small business website and seven actionable tips to succeed with your content marketing efforts.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a form of marketing that involves strategically creating, publishing, and distributing content that’s valuable and relevant to a defined target audience.
Ideally, your content should not explicitly promote your small business or its products/services. Instead, your goal should be to generate natural interest in your brand and its offerings by creating content that your audience needs. This way, your content is found when they search online for answers to their problems and questions.
And when you consistently publish useful and relevant content, you educate and/or entertain your audience rather than hard sell. Consequently, your audience will become more inclined to seek you out when they’re ready to convert.
Contrary to popular perception, content marketing is not limited to business blogging but also includes other forms of content such as video (YouTube marketing, webinars, etc.), audio (podcasts), interactive content (such as quizzes, calculators, etc.), and so on.
In this post, however, we’ll focus on building a content marketing strategy for your small business website, which for the most part involves building a high-quality business blog.
Why Bother With Content Marketing?
Get your strategy right, and content marketing has incredible ROI in terms of more brand awareness and authority, audience engagement, website traffic, leads, and even revenue.
Let’s have the numbers speak for themselves. Here are some of the many solid stats that prove why content marketing is worth your time and money:
- Content marketing is 3x more cost-effective at lead generation than paid search.
- Websites that have an active blog attract 55% more traffic.
- Blog posts are the most effective tool for building brand awareness, with 31% of B2B brands listing articles as the highest-performing content in this regard.
- Marketers who emphasize blogging are 13x more likely to see a positive ROI from their efforts.
So it’s safe to say that no matter how small your small business is, an investment in content marketing isn’t a bad idea at all.
A 7-Step Content Marketing Strategy for Your Small Business
Now that you’re clear about what content marketing is and why it’s a sensible investment, here are seven steps to creating a content marketing strategy that gets your small business on your audience’s radar.
Step #1: Set Clear Goals
First off, start by defining who you’re targeting with your content. Understanding your target audience includes learning all about:
- The questions they’re asking on search and social
- The problems and solutions they’re looking for
- Their preferences with regards to content type and platforms of consumption
- What motivates them to convert
- Demographics (age, location, gender, etc.)
- Psychographics (desires, goals, interests, etc.)
You’ve likely already conducted some of this audience research and may even have created a buyer persona for your small business.
But to succeed with your small business content marketing efforts and have each of your content pieces truly resonate with your audience, it’s a good idea to invest some time in building a clear and complete picture of your target audience.
Next, based on your audience research and broad business objectives, set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) such as:
- Increasing website traffic by 40% within six months.
- Achieving an average of 1,000 free trial sign-ups per month within three months.
- Boosting your search engine ranking for specific keywords to land on the first page within four months.
Regardless of what your content marketing goals are, ensure they’re sustainable for the long-term and tie to your business’s overarching goals and vision. To keep your content strategy focused, stick to a maximum of three goals, and document them.
Step #2: Pinpoint Your Key Performance Indicators
SMART goals are specific and measurable — key performance indicators (KPIs) are specific marketing metrics that help evaluate the effectiveness of your small business content marketing activities and track overall business growth.
In other words, KPIs are concrete numbers that help determine what’s working and what’s not in your content marketing efforts. By monitoring KPIs, you can repeat successes and minimize wasted efforts on content that’s not bringing in the desired or expected results.
While there are plenty of content-oriented KPIs you can track, it makes sense to focus on a select few that align with your goals. Here are some examples of content KPIs you can consider based on your broad goals:
- Brand awareness: Organic traffic, unique pageviews, click-through rates (CTR), traffic sources, bounce rates, search engine results page (SERP) ranking, etc.
- Lead generation: Conversion rate, form responses, downloads, free trial sign-ups, email subscriber growth, etc.
- Engagement: Content shares, comments, average session duration, along with social media performance in terms of likes, comments, shares, click-throughs, and follower growth.
Step #3: Conduct Topic and Keyword Research
With clear goals and KPIs in front of you, it’s time to plan your content creation by preparing a list of topic ideas and their outlines.
You’ve already established your target audience and their needs/pain points. This would help you come up with broad ideas for your content. To narrow down and come up with a working list of topics:
- Analyze your competitors’ websites and their top-performing content in terms of rankings, backlinks, and social shares using BuzzSumo.
- Research keywords related to your small business niche using Ahrefs.
- Find out the questions your target audience is asking using Answer the Public and Google autocomplete.
- See what’s trending in your industry with Google Trends.
Figure out gaps in the top-ranking content (on the first two pages of Google) for each keyword you target and plan to address them in your content.
Step #4: Establish a Posting Schedule
The importance of consistency in posting content cannot be overstated. Content marketing is a long-term game that can drive stellar returns only if you keep at it. Plus, consistently posting high-quality content shows that you’re a reliable and active source of information, which helps to retain and expand your audience.
So the next step is to add your topics and keyword information into a content calendar. In this way, you establish a posting schedule that helps you or your team stay on track with content creation and publishing.
Besides topics and target keywords, your content calendar spreadsheet can include:
- Content format, category, and outline
- Progress status
- Call to action
- Due date and publication date
HubSpot offers a neat editorial calendar template that’s free to download.
Step #5: Determine Your Distribution Channels
All the effort you invest in planning and creating quality content would be a waste if your audience doesn’t know it exists. So content distribution is a crucial — if not the most important part — of your content marketing strategy.
Content distribution is essentially the process of promoting your content to your target audience through various online channels, such as:
- Social media: This includes organic posting on your branded social media profiles as well paid content ads on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
- Email newsletters: If you’re actively collecting your customers’ email addresses and building an email list, then this is a great channel to promote your blog content.
- Influencer and content outreach: Specifically, consider blogger outreach — check out our tip on guest blogging and blogger outreach.
Image inspired from Outbrain
If you’re just starting out, it’s not necessary to promote your content on all these channels.
Instead, determine your “low-hanging fruit” channels of promotion, such as your existing social media profiles, email list, and guest blogging (discussed in a later section). With social media, make sure to focus on the platforms where your target audience hangs out.
Here’s a handpicked guide to getting your content distribution right.
And as you build your content repository and gain traction, expand to other content distribution channels.
Step #6: Track Your Content’s Performance
Once your content production is on track — with fresh content going live as per the set schedule — it’s time to assess whether your posts are delivering the desired results in terms of the KPI you defined.
There are many tools to track your content’s performance, but as a small business, using a free tool like Google Analytics makes perfect sense. Here’s a step-by-step guide to set up Google Analytics for your website.
Once configured, you can readily gain insights into your key content metrics such as traffic per post, traffic source, bounce rate, session duration, keyword performance, conversion rate, and so on.
Step #7: Keep Refining Your Strategy
Finally, based on what specific content performs best, tailor your future content strategy to better accommodate your audience’s interests and needs, and continuously drive better ROI.
Besides evaluating each post’s metrics (traffic, conversions, etc.), consider surveying your audience and requesting feedback at regular intervals to learn what your content is doing right, and where it can be improved.
Use a tool like SurveyMonkey or Typeform to easily create an attractive survey, and only ask necessary questions that you’ll help you improve your content. You can feature the survey on your blog but keep it no longer than a couple of questions. If you think SurveyMonkey is an expensive tool, go with SurveyMonkey Alternatives.
You can also include a quick feedback box at the bottom of your blog posts that requests visitors to share what they like or dislike about your content. Alternatively, if you have a chatbot, make it proactively pop up with the survey, with questions like “How do you rate the content?”, “Does this post answer all your questions on the topic?”, etc.
Sharing your survey (link or direct questions) on your brand’s social media channels is also a great way to get feedback on your content.
7 Actionable Tips and Ideas to Succeed With Your Content Marketing Efforts
Once you have a clear content strategy in place for your small business blog, it’s a good idea to understand what you can do to succeed with your content marketing efforts.
While there’s plenty you can do to improve your odds of hitting your desired metrics, here are some of the top tips, ideas, and examples for stronger content marketing results in terms of greater brand awareness, audience engagement and retention, lead generation, and SEO.
Consider Guest Blogging and Blogger Outreach
Guest blogging is a content collaboration tactic wherein you create content for other relevant publications in your niche. It typically involves reaching out to the publisher with an email pitch or website form, pitching them topic ideas that benefit their audience, and finally, drafting the article in accordance with their editorial guidelines.
It’s a win-win situation as the publication gets free, fresh content, while you get greater brand exposure to wider audiences, build thought leadership in your space, and of course, earn backlinks that boost your SEO.
Besides guest blogging, another way to partner up for stronger content marketing results is to do blogger outreach. It is a tactic wherein you collaborate with niche bloggers (with a sizable following) to create high-quality promotional yet authentic content that promotes your small business or its products.
The blogger creates, publishes, and promotes the content for you in exchange for monetary compensation, free branded products, subscription to your software, etc. The content can be in the form of sponsored posts with prominent mentions of your brand, product reviews, product features, giveaways, etc.
Check out this detailed post from our Founder to learn more about why blogger outreach is a powerful content marketing technique, along with five actionable best practices for a successful blogger outreach campaign.
To find the right opportunities (influencers, their contact info, topic ideas, etc.) for guest blogging and influencer partnerships, use blogger outreach tools like BuzzStream, BuzzSumo, Hunter, and SEMrush.
Repurpose Your Content Into Other Formats
Extract the most juice out of your content by recycling it into different formats such as infographics, short explainer videos, ebooks, podcasts, presentations, and so on. Content repurposing lets you reach new audiences while giving Google more content to crawl and index.
For example, a chunk of your target audience may prefer watching videos over reading articles. If you convert your articles into quick vlogs, you can capture the attention of that audience segment.
Similarly, you can turn data-based blog posts into attractive infographics for better shareability and link building, or package posts on a single subject into a downloadable ebook that can be instantly accessed when the visitor provides their email address.
Use user-friendly graphic designing tools like Canva, Visme, Fotojet, etc. to get started repurposing content.
Repurposing also improves your odds of ranking for the same content for different search queries. It aids your brand visibility on social media platforms such as Pinterest for infographics, LinkedIn for presentations, YouTube (the second most popular search engine) for videos, etc.
Ensure Your Website is Optimized for User Experience
Your small business website’s user experience (UX) is just as important as the quality of content you publish. After all, if visitors have a tough time navigating your website or have to wait for eons for your content to load, then there’s not much a great content strategy can do.
Not to mention an optimal UX is vital to the long-run success of any website on search engines like Google, with new user-centric metrics like Core Web Vitals quantifying the key aspects of UX and playing a pivotal role in determining your site’s rankings.
To get started with optimizing your site for UX, here are the top three areas to focus on:
Mobile-friendly and responsive
Mobile accounts for over half of web traffic worldwide. 79% of people say they’re more likely to revisit and/or share a mobile website if it is easy to use. And Google’s mobile-first indexing means the mobile version of your website is the benchmark for how Google indexes your website and determines your rankings.
So make sure to have a mobile-friendly website. If you’re running on WordPress, use a responsive theme. An easy way to check your website’s mobile-friendliness is to use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool.
Avoid these common mistakes when designing for mobile.
Optimal site speed
Speed is a crucial ranking factor. That is, if your website takes too long to load — anything over three seconds — not only will your visitors bounce away out of annoyance but your search engine rankings would take a major hit.
So, ensuring optimal page load speed is non-negotiable. Work with a developer to:
- Keep your code clean and minify CSS/JS
- Enable browser caching
- Improve server response time by using a CDN and fast hosting
- Optimize bulky images with compression tools
- Minimize redirects
Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to assess your site speed. The tool provides a list of recommendations you can work on to boost your speed. For example, you may have heavy images that need to be compressed or too many unnecessary redirects.
Site structure and navigation
So you have an active business blog. How are your blog posts organized? Can readers search for a specific post? How many clicks does it take to reach from point A to point B on your website?
Think of your site’s structure and navigation to try and minimize friction in consuming your content. Use menu bars, recognizable icons, and clickable links to aid navigation.
For example, if some text on your homepage is clickable and brings visitors to a particular blog post, make sure it looks like a clear call to action (more on CTAs later). Make it descriptive, change its color, underline it, or turn that text into a button.
Focus on Quality over Quantity
While you’ll find studies that suggest publishing three to four posts a week is the benchmark to build organic traffic and brand awareness, those numbers are nothing more than a guideline.
Yes, blogging more often is likely to yield better and faster results, but don’t churn out low-quality content for the sake of hitting a target post or word count.
To earn attention and engagement in today’s ocean of mediocre content, focus on publishing only the best content you can create. In other words, it’s far better to produce one highly researched and well-written piece of content per week (or even month) than posting several shallow, low-quality articles.
While there are many aspects to what constitutes “quality content”, here’s what we mean by quality over quantity:
- Dive deep into the topic, answering all reader questions. Comprehensive, long-form content has SEO and thought leadership benefits, too.
- Link out to authoritative websites for further reading and recent stats/studies/research from reliable sources to back up your claims.
- Structure your content for readability — use bullets, short paras, and visuals (images, infographics, embedded videos, etc.) to break up the text and aid information retention.
Tell Your Brand Story
People love to read stories from brands about their success, failure, and lessons learned. Your audience wants to know why and how your small business came into existence, and your experience in building the business to where it is today.
They won’t mind reading personal stories — say, about team efforts, leadership decisions, etc. — which adds to your brand authenticity. In short, from your brand’s backstory to lessons learned, there’s no shortage of story-based content ideas to build a better business blog.
Moreover, the best kind of content marketing weaves storytelling with actionable stuff. That is, “how we did it” content tends to be preferred and performs better than the usual “how-to” content.
In-depth content on how a particular project or campaign was a huge success, original research, case studies, etc. can drive a ton of engagement in terms of comments, social shares, and even conversions. For example, check out this blog post from Backlinko to understand what such a post looks like and the engagement it can drive.
That’s because such kind of content is super original — your audience can’t find your unique research or experience-based advice anywhere else. It adds to your brand authority and shows you know your stuff.
Include Calls to Action in Your Content
Ultimately, you want your content to drive some desirable action from your audience, right? This could be anything from sharing your blog post to checking out your product catalog.
Without a clear call to action (CTA) — a button or link that points people to do something — your audience may simply read through your content and head off your website for good.
So, make sure to have explicit CTAs within and around your content.
For example, to drive more social shares, include prominent social sharing buttons in the sidebar and/or at the bottom of the post so readers who love your post can easily share it with their social network.
Next, encourage readers to comment and share their thoughts by ending your posts with an open-ended question like “Do you have any tips on…?”, “What’s your favorite…?”, etc. You can also ask such questions in between the content and be conversational.
Also, sprinkle internal links to other relevant content on your business blog to encourage further reading. Strategic internal linking not only helps to retain visitors but also improves your SEO.
Furthermore, you can drive more sign-ups for your email list, registrations for your SaaS product’s free trial, or potential shoppers to your ecommerce product pages by displaying clear CTA buttons at the end of the post.
Invest in Interactive Content
As the name implies, interactive content is content that’s built with the sole purpose of getting your readers to engage. This can be in the form of a fun quiz, a quick poll, an interactive infographic, a calculator, or even a 360-degree video.
By creating interactive content for your small business blog, you invite your audience to engage with your brand by clicking on multiple-choice options or entering information. This also boosts the average time on page, improves user experience, and ultimately, amplifies your SEO efforts.
Interactive content helps make your business more memorable and you can use it to collect email addresses from your visitors, thus fueling your lead generation. For instance, you create a fun little quiz. Visitors will answer all the questions and at the end of the quiz, you can ask for their email address where the quiz results will be sent.
Simply put, interactive content adds a fresh and fun element to your otherwise regular blog and can encourage your audience to share your content with their network, leading to better brand visibility.
To get started creating question-based interactive content, you can use a drag-and-drop tool like Snapapp. Other useful tools you can use to build quizzes, calculators, and interactive infographics include LeadQuizzes and Calculoid. You may also work with a developer to build a custom piece of interactive content.
Effective content marketing is so much more than writing and publishing blog posts whenever you fancy. As a small business, you need to consider the level of effort and resources you can invest in content planning, creation, and distribution. Because to realize the stellar business benefits of content marketing, consistency is key.
So if producing content isn’t your strength or if you don’t have the capability in-house, consider partnering up with an experienced content marketing agency that takes care of everything — from planning and ideation to production and distribution.
When opting for the DIY route, make sure to understand what your potential customers want, and put the above tips into practice to have your content marketing strategy drive real ROI.