Do you have a business or are you about to start entrepreneurship? We live in the best time for online business. The Internet is growing exponentially. To start right or grow your business from a foundation you already have, we have prepared a complete content marketing guide for you.
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Why do you really need content marketing?
First of all, think about it: why are you on our site? The answer is simple: for content! From here we draw an important lesson: content is the main reason why people access a site or a blog.
We can generalize this lesson: content is the reason why people use the Internet but also TV channels, offline media, or other media.
Content creation gives people a topic to talk about. Why wouldn’t your business be that subject? Any mention of your brand brings you visibility, recommendations, links, and even traffic to the site. Increase the notoriety of your online business.
Second, you need content marketing to attract an audience around your business and, of course, sell.
Here’s how an ongoing content marketing campaign can help you:
- Attract your target audience;
- Inform them about your business;
- Interact with them, educate them about your products;
- Generate leads and sales;
- Turn your customers into fans or brand ambassadors who recommend you.
Do you want to get all these things? What a question… Of course, you want!
That’s why I want you to continue reading this content marketing guide written especially for small and medium businesses, like yours.
Before we get started, I want you to know that the notion of content marketing is part of inbound marketing. It refers to non-traditional, non-invasive marketing that brings value to consumers. Although the term “content” has been around for over 100 years (see this video with the history of content marketing), we recommend that you learn more about inbound:
Content marketing guide for startups, small and medium businesses
Step 1: Set your goal and objectives
A man with a plan is more likely to succeed than one who is guided by instinct. Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs are guided by instinct, in the sense that they do not establish a clear strategy when they set out. And after they have already started, although they would like to, they do not have time to establish the strategy. They have others on their heads.
That’s why I won’t let you move on until you establish your reasons for doing content marketing. You need to know clearly where you want to go, to know what you need to do to get there. You need to establish yourself
The goal in content marketing
Here are the general, intangible goals to pursue when doing content marketing:
- Awareness: refers to all the people who find out about the existence of your brand.
- Attraction: it is also a quantitative goal regarding the number of people who have been attracted to your brand (they have accessed your site or blog, they follow you on Facebook or other social media networks).
- Activation: here we are already entering the quality zone. Things are starting to clear up. Activated people are those who have interacted with your brand, in one form or another (examples: comments on Facebook, messages on Instagram, shares of any kind, testimonials or ratings provided, mobile application downloads, etc.). These people are still numbers, in the sense that you don’t have their contact details in a database. Therefore, we consider them active, but not leads.
- Conversion: this purpose refers strictly to leads or sales.
- Retention: people who have already gone through the conversion stage but who continue to follow you, open your newsletters, comment on Facebook… are still active.
- Recommendations: here we have reached the highest quality area. These are brand ambassadors, those who recommend you, leave you positive reviews, recommend your services or products, without you asking them to do so or offering them anything in return.
Are you convinced now how important it is to have a plan? If you always take into account this reverse pyramid and you know approximately the number of people in each stage, then you have full control over your content marketing activity.
Basically, what I presented to you above is a sales funnel. In this regard, here is a recommended article: How to increase your profit with a sales funnel?
KPI (objectives) in content marketing
However, the above purposes are general and somehow seem intangible. That’s why you need to measure their effectiveness. Here are some of the most important categories of KPI (Key Performance Indicators) in content marketing:
- Organic traffic on the site/blog: obviously, it is one of the most important objectives that you must constantly pursue. If you have a niche business, never expect high traffic, in the hundreds of thousands of unique ones. This wouldn’t even help you, as long as you don’t use your site as an advertising space, as news platforms do.
- Improving search engine rankings: Content is at the heart of any effective SEO strategy. Therefore, by using optimized content on your site, blog, and even your YouTube channel, you will get better positions in search results.
- Improving your conversion rate: Quality content, which attracts attention and persuasion, will help increase your site’s conversion rate. No matter what you follow (newsletter subscribers, ebook downloads, accounts created on the site, adding products to the cart, requests for offers, requests for information, event registrations, etc.), the content helps you to have more leads and sales.
When it comes to KPIs, if you want to complicate yourself or if you have at least an average business, you definitely have several indicators that you want to follow. However, we have simplified things by mentioning the three categories of indicators above.
Step 2: Get to know your target audience
Ah, yes. The eternal cliché.
But still, most marketers I’ve asked in the last year about their audience said they didn’t create a buyer persona profile. I wonder, if you don’t have time to lay the foundations of your marketing strategy, then what do you actually spend your time with?
Analyzing your target audience is a basic thing to do, whether or not you start doing content marketing. Whatever you do, you can’t do without:)
Therefore, I have dedicated an article on this topic:
Maybe you already knew that the “buyer persona profile” is the same as the “ideal customer profile” or the “target audience avatar”. Whatever we call it, it is a profile of a fictional person, a kind of Handsome Boy, if you will allow me to say so, who has all the characteristics, interests, and common needs of your customers. It is a model of behavior.
The more categories of products/services you sell, the more target audiences you have. By default, you have several buyer persona profiles. In the article mentioned above, you have all the resources you need to develop such profiles for your business.
Step 3: Establish a content plan (mapping)
Content mapping refers to choosing the means needed to create content based on each stage your client is at.
Basically, you’re dealing with Buyer’s Journey.
Do you remember the list of content marketing goals presented above? I hope so! It is closely related to your client’s path. Basically, above we presented several stages: from education (notoriety) to consideration (activation), and a decision (conversion, retention).
Think you have to take a stranger, a beginner in your niche, from scratch. You teach him as much as you can about what you do, you show him how to do it, and thus you convince him to do the same, using your products or services.
Well, once you have finished creating the buyer persona profiles, you need to add them on the path they are taking, from the education stage to the decision stage. That’s why, above, I put that image, with types of educational, practical, and commercial content.
What does each step mean?
- Education: This stage reaches people who have not made contact with your brand. Suppose they search Google for the “calendar of agricultural activities 2022” and they arrive on your site. You sell agricultural machinery but they have come to a page where you present the information they have been looking for. They read they were educated and, in this way, they found out about your brand for the first time.
- Consideration: here things become more serious. People start following you if they like the content. You can now provide them with “step-by-step” content, “tips & tricks” or even more complex guides. For example: “How to become a skilled gardener in 10 steps”.
- Decision: this stage brings people one step closer to selling. Content like “What you can do with a cultivator” or “5 reasons to choose a lawnmower” brings potential customers closer to your products and sends them, naturally, to the sales pages.
Step 4: Create the content
Congratulations, you have reached the stage of creation! It is one of my favorites, but we may not have the same tastes. It’s no problem, you know that you can always hire someone to help you create content if you have the necessary budget.
Content creation is a constant stage, which is not done overnight but should be done every day. I do not mean here to publish an article on the blog every day but to always be active online. Each activity is an extra chance to attract potential customers in the Consumer Route we talked about above.
Depending on the type of content created, the consumer will decide for himself what stage of the route to enter: education, consideration, or decision.
To make it easier for you to create content and know-how to organize yourself, here’s what I recommend:
Start with your own website and blog. Develop these two communication channels, because all the others you will use (social media, email, forums, other partner sites, etc.) are just meant to attract new people in the Consumer Route.
If you follow my advice, it will be easier for you to organize. Consider the site and the blog as elements of mother content, and the rest of the external channels as elements of child content.
Most of the time, the baby looks like his mother, right?
Well, the parent content is the one that sets the tone and direction of the child’s content. In other words, if you find an interesting topic based on the interests of your customers, add it on the site to a special support section, write blog posts around that topic and then create posts, adapted on each social network, around those articles.
The scheme may look something like this:
As you can see, the child content can also have children. In the diagram above, we created:
- three social media posts for Article 1 (we can assume there are two on Facebook and one on Instagram),
- a social media post, one in a niche group and one on a forum, on the topic described in detail in Article 2,
- an email, a video and an advertorial, on topics related to Article 3. Then, I adapted that video for Facebook and Instagram (for example) and created a social media post with the advertorial.
In other words, what did I do? I created content around my content, depending on the topics chosen, tailored to each communication channel used.
If you follow my advice, it will be easier for you to organize. Consider the site and the blog as elements of mother content, and the rest of the external channels as elements of child content.
Here are some recommended articles on content creation:
If you want to work with someone, you need to know where to start. Content writing is one of the ways to implement content marketing. However, copywriting has nothing to do with content marketing.
Such a content marketing guide could not miss such a resource. You need to know what to expect from a content writer if you decide to work with him or her. This article explains what services a content writer can offer you.
The site is the key element of the content marketing strategy. Here you only publish parent content, which has the role of attracting the most people around it. That’s why I dedicated an article on the subject.
Here is a basic model in content writing, which helps you a lot in the way you “think” the content on the site. The article explains, step by step, what LIFT means and offers you at the end other useful resources that will help you become familiar with this model of thinking. To be honest, I think it’s one of the most useful articles I’ve ever written:)
I wrote the original article with the titles of the blog posts in mind, but I realized that the tips here are also suitable for the section titles on the pages of your site. Take these recommendations into account and, if you are not sure which title to choose, create several variants and test them.
The ebook is still one of the most effective ways to get leads. Create useful and interesting content for your target audience, publish a landing page on the site where you talk about that material, and ask for the email address of those who want to download it. You will surely increase your databases if the subject of your ebook is of interest.
Content marketing is closely related to SEO. To do effective content marketing, you need to know the basics of SEO, both on-page and off-page. I have written dozens of SEO articles on the Findtheblogger blog and, not to list them all here, I have included them all in this guide.
Definitely, a blog would add value, regardless of your type of business. That’s why I’ve put together all the blogging articles I’ve written in this guide. If you want to lay the groundwork for a successful blog in your niche, follow the steps in this guide.
I wrote this article a few years ago, but it is still relevant and I recommend it. No matter what you sell, if you have testimonials, your chances of success are certainly higher. In the article, I explain, step by step, how to get testimonials and make the most of their power.
Step 5: Share the content
We’re halfway through the guide. Time flies when you have fun :). And I hope you had fun so far, but you also found useful things.
Once you’ve built the foundation (you’ve launched the site and blog), you need to get people talking about them. Get people to read or see your content. How do you do that?
Here are some ways to share content:
The most popular social networks are Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn. If your niche requires a lot of visual content, then you can also consider Pinterest.
The recommended item is:
Next, Facebook remains the leading and most complex network, where you can distribute content in all possible forms: instant articles, photos, videos, text, Gif`s, animations, 360 images, external links, etc. That’s why, regardless of your niche, you need to be active on Facebook.
YouTube, on the other hand, is the most used search engine, after Google. Here you have the ideal space to share video and photo content. However, you need to optimize your content very well and even add hashtags, because tens of thousands of hours of video content are added to YouTube every day.
To be inspired, I recommend you to watch the videos in the Trending area and see how the titles, descriptions, hashtags were formulated.
If you have an interesting article on the blog, for example, you can choose to create a video using the text of the article as a script. It can be animation, explanatory video (explainer), photo collage with inserted text, or even a real video (if you have a budget). A video is a much more effective way to capture attention than a written article.
To be effective in using social media, I recommend that you always make an editorial plan. Here are some tips in this article.
The subscriber list is a gold mine for any marketer. Using email addresses, you can keep your customers or leads up to date with your news on the site and blog, and you can even create a Facebook audience based on email addresses.
However, how do you know which email marketing platform to integrate into your site?
Because there are a lot of tools on the market, we created this little guide to help you choose the tool that suits you based on the options it offers you. I hope it helps you!
The advertorial plan
Content marketing also means Off-Page SEO, which also means link building, which also means Online PR. I hope I didn’t confuse you:)
It may sound pompous, but I actually mean working with an SEO agency or, on your own, if you have the necessary knowledge, to identify those relevant sites, blogs, or platforms in your niche where they deserve to appear.
Look for sites that your potential customers read and get collaborations with them. Certainly, most collaborations will be for money – to pay a certain amount to publish an advertorial on a site, with a link to your site.
However, to make this efficient and organized, I recommend that you make a plan:
- Identify the main pages on your site that you want to improve your position in Google.
- Identify the main keywords you want to optimize those pages for.
- Search for relevant sites, blogs, or news platforms in your niche and suggest collaborations. Some publications will require them to write the articles, others will require ready-made material and related pictures.
- Adapt for each collaboration. Write where you are asked, add links to your articles, choose relevant pictures or set a brief for the articles, for the newsrooms that require them to write the articles.
How does this activity help you? Basically, you have the opportunity to attract new potential customers in the route we talked about above. And, even if those published articles will not be promoted to bring you notoriety, at least you will choose a few relevant links to your site, which will improve your position in Google.
Your content distribution plan should also include existing communities. These are groups in your niche, which you will definitely find on Facebook. You can also try the LinkedIn platform, for promotion in communities.
You also have a series of forums, depending on the market in which you operate. Find them, make a list of them and be there.
If you have the chance to interact directly with your audience, you can create your own community, where you can only add people who are strictly interested in what you have to say.
However, keep one thing in mind: do not directly promote products or services in these communities. Give them relevant content that adds value. Talk to people, ask them questions, recommend useful resources to read or see. This way, you will increase their interaction and keep them interested in your brand.
Step 6: Evaluate and report (see step 1)
Here we are nearing the end of this content marketing guide.
However, although the guide ends immediately, your work should be cyclical. Never stop creating and distributing content. Always try to come up with something relevant, interesting, useful and that will capture the attention of the target audience.
Because the content marketing activity is a constant one, it must be monitored. Do you remember the goals set in step # 1 of this guide?
Well, use platforms like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to monitor the performance of your mother content.
This article will help you understand the importance of Google Analytics and learn how you can use it, at a basic level, to monitor and interpret the most relevant indicators of your site.
The best part about content marketing? You always have the opportunity to improve things on the go, to change what you didn’t do well, to learn from mistakes, and not to affect your image.
If you notice that the monitored indicators are not the ones you originally proposed, then there are two options:
- Either you have not set realistic goals, according to your possibilities;
- Either you didn’t do everything you could to accomplish them.
Don’t panic, by any means, because you have to anyway
Step 7: Start over
Return to step 1. Restore your goals. If they are realistic and you think you can meet them, then go to step 2: buyer persona profiles. Complete with new information, what you found out.
After resuming these steps, go to step 3: check if the mapping is done correctly if you have chosen the right content types for each stage of the Consumer Route.
Did you resume here? Then step 4 is waiting for you: create new content or edit older or existing content that wasn’t effective. There is no point in keeping a non-performing article on your blog, for example, which has no readers anyway. Rewrite it, complete it or even add it in another article, if it doesn’t bring value on its own.
It doesn’t matter the quantity when it comes to content, but the quality.
Now, you’ve come to step 5: Distribute or redistribute content. Change the preview image, where appropriate, or distribute an older item to a group. You can even create videos based on previously published articles or launch a podcast. It remains in your imagination as long as you do all these things following the previous steps.
Of course, don’t neglect step 6: monitor, evaluate, interpret the data and draw conclusions. Ask yourself questions like:
- What would people like to read on my blog?
- Why didn’t that work?
- What can I do differently from now on?
- What keywords would get me more traffic?
Did I mention you have to take it from the beginning? Well, it’s the turn of step 7. And from here you know how to proceed:)
If you want to take the content marketing activity to another level, here is what I recommend:
Because your entire content marketing business is constantly evolving, here are some strategies you can implement, but in which you need to invest. From choosing content marketing software to automation, generating content from your community and employees, to turning your business into a newsroom for your field, these are all things you can do gradually.
In the end, I want to leave you with a thought: there is no recipe for success in content marketing. The recipes are applied according to each field of activity, budget, target audience.
So, take all the information I have presented to you here and start right now to outline or update your own content marketing strategy.