Launching a business is such a gratifying experience! You’ve pulled all-nighters and probably drank far too much coffee to, finally, get everything set to launch. You’re ready for people to start engaging with your brand, but a little stuck on how to actually make this happen.
Marketing your product or service and generating demand is one of the biggest challenges new businesses face. Resources are slim, budgets are low, and paid marketing channels are usually too expensive. So you’ve got to get scrappy!
That is where content marketing can prove to be the difference between a successful business and one that struggles to stay afloat. While it does take time to get started — and you have to commit to doing it consistently over time — it’s an inexpensive solution that can help you grow your reach.
What is content marketing — and why is it useful?
Simply put, content marketing is a strategy designed for the creation and distribution of valuable content to attract potential customers. Valuable content can take on many forms:
- Educational articles
Basically, it’s any content that has the ability to attract and engage your target audience.
As people grow more and more averse to traditional marketing methods like TV advertisements (who even has cable anymore?) content marketing has stepped in as the new way to attract a relevant audience.
Imperfect Produce is a company on a mission to fight food waste. The company turns ugly food that wouldn’t regularly be bought at supermarkets into adorable characters on their social media to develop a connection between its brand and its audience.
The company also has a highly engaged blog, aptly named “The Imperfect Digest” that delivers educational pieces like: “4 Seasonal Squashes and What to Do with Them” as well as more lifestyle-related articles like “Composting 101”. This kind of thoughtful content is not only fun but very helpful for people who want to better understand the produce they cook with.
There are so many ways content marketing can help new businesses – here are some of them:
It helps you establish an audience and promote your website
Often the first place a person asks a question is on Google. If your business is one of the first to answer those questions, those readers will begin to trust you and might come back for more of your helpful content. Now you have an audience! A well-maintained blog on your website is one of the most cost-effective ways to interact with your audience, provide valuable information, and gain leads.
In fact, companies with a blog receive 55% more website traffic, hence why so many businesses have their own blogs these days. Now, around 79% of b2b (business to business) companies and 70% of business to consumer (B2C) brands have an active blog to reel in customers.
In order to educate and reach more people, new businesses also need to publish new content on other blogs to gain traction. This is commonly referred to as “guest posting”.
Good magazines and blog platforms routinely accept guest posts from industry leaders with niche expertise. In return for an article, you get exposure to their readers as well as links that direct people back to your website. There are many benefits of guest blogging, but one of the most important for new businesses is expanding your audience.
It helps you develop a brand voice
Content is a vehicle to develop a relationship with your consumers and cement your presence in the market. This relationship will create a sense of loyalty between you and your customers.
Check out Bad Girl’s Collective, a book-club based out of Toronto, Canada. It’s on a mission to make reading novels trendy, and cool, and this is expressed through its powerful brand voice. It’s clear Bad Girl’s Collective knows its audience by using a witty and empowered voice that speaks to smart, city-dwelling women with busy careers and lives. This voice is consistent across its website, social media, and even call to actions (CTAs), creating a reliable connection between brand and customer.
It helps you build an email subscriber list
Once you’ve got regular content streaming from your business and have developed an audience as a result, a helpful next step is to build an email subscriber list. This list contains the names and email addresses of people who have opted-in and permitted you to send them business-related and promotional emails. It keeps your brand top of mind and helps move people with a vague interest in what you’re doing toward an eventual purchase with you.
To begin, include CTAs in your content for people to subscribe to your emails and stay up to date on the content you’ve produced.
How to get started with content marketing
Your content marketing strategy will make you stand out — but only if you create valuable and actionable content. Here’s how you can do that:
Answer questions your readers are looking for
As a new business, deciding what content to create can feel like swimming through a void. There’s already so many how-to blogs, thought leadership articles, and product guides out there. It’s easy to become paralyzed after doing some competitive research.
Ironically, the best thing to do when starting out is to try and mimic ideas from content that are already successful. Make a list of the most common questions people might google relevant to your business and then research them yourself. Take a look at the top search results and ask yourself how you could improve them. Are they visually impressive? Do they use solid examples? Do they answer the question in a clear and direct way? You can create a new post with your own unique insights and updated information.
Plan content for each stage of the buyer journey
A buyer journey is a business concept that emulates the various stages a consumer goes through before the final “conversion”, or desired action, with your business. Essentially, it’s the process a visitor goes through to become aware of your business, consider, evaluate, and compare, and ultimately decide to purchase your product or service.
There should be content directed towards each stage of this funnel, from high-level posts for people in the research phase, followed by in-depth pieces that address their problem directly. Lastly, product guides (or even a detailed explanation of the services or packages you offer) are extremely important as they help position you as the best solution.
The details may vary from niche to niche, but the idea is the same; create consumer touch-points to ensure they don’t drop off because they couldn’t find the information they were looking for.
Make use of customer stories
Most future customers look for social proof before engaging with a new business. This could be as simple as google or yelp reviews, or testimonials on your website. If you want to take this a step further, you could create content (think: social media graphics, blog posts, video ads, etc.) around your customer’s stories. People look for themselves in these stories. If they can relate to the problem you solved, or how you helped another person, they will be compelled to move forward with you.
How to distribute your content for maximum impact
Content marketing is not just about creating quality articles and webpages, it’s about the entire process that includes promoting and distributing your content through different channels. Choosing where to distribute content is overwhelming— social media, email marketing, Pay-Per-Click advertising, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), display advertising, etc., how’s an entrepreneur supposed to choose?
While you may be inclined to work on one dedicated platform for the sake of time (and sanity) this strategy can limit your opportunity to connect with audiences who are on different channels.
It’s best to focus on a few channels most relevant to your audience. We’ll give you the lowdown of the most popular distribution channels here to help you decide which one to start with.
Build an email list for newsletters
Email is a surprisingly strong way to engage with your audience, with 67% of millennial and Gen Z consumers stating they enjoy email reminders from brands and retailers.
By creating high-quality content and using your email list, you can boost your brand’s loyalty and trust. This is critical for retaining customers and encouraging repeat business, not through repetitive advertising, but a relationship built on value and trust.
The first step to integrating email and content marketing is to create a quality subscriber list. Then, to make the most of your list and achieve the best results, you should send relevant content to those subscribers. For example, if you own a photography business, your emails could include content full of photography tips for people with interest in learning more about the skill!
Optimize your content for SEO
SEO and content marketing are closely related; while the former refers to the technical process of increasing and attracting quality traffic to your site, the latter focuses on using relevant content to drive profitable action from visitors or clients.
The first step of SEO relates to finding relevant keywords and using them on your website so it can rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Take a look at your competitor’s websites and see what keywords they’re using. Ideally, you should be targeting the same or similar ones. Put these keywords in the headings, body text, and URL’s of your landing pages and blog content.
The more fresh and unique content you pump out related to these targeted keywords, the higher the chance you’ll have of people finding you online.
This is a great first place to start, but there is so much more you can do to optimize your website and content.
Share content on social media
45% of the total world’s population uses social networks, such Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn. For the majority of businesses, it’s super important to have a presence on at least some of these channels!
To build your social media presence, you have to understand what social platforms are right for your company. You know your customers best — which social platforms do they use the most?
Take some time to do this research, and then start with two or three platforms.
Here are some tips to curate quality content for your social media:
- Share your blogs, articles and other content on social media
- Create and post videos, fun graphics and pictures, and also include visuals in your blogs/articles
- Keep your brand voice consistent
- Create a schedule and post regularly – but be careful, focus on quality over quantity
Content marketing is a slow and steady practice that can lead to great Return on Investment (ROI) without putting a huge dent in your wallet. By using these tips to develop high-quality content and distribute it across multiple channels, you will increase exposure to your business and attract more customers! It takes time to build out a plan for your content, produce it, and then keep up with regular production, but once you’ve started, you will almost certainly see the benefits!