Does Your Content Strategy Work?
If you run a small business, it’s important your marketing is realistic. What works for large companies with well-known brands is unlikely to work for you. A big brand has an established audience. As a small business owner you have to think creatively about how to build awareness. The challenge is to leverage a smaller budget by working smarter.
A Content Strategy for Small Businesses
Content is a key driver of online marketing. However, a content strategy for a small business or start up is going to be very different to one developed for a big company. My view is that small businesses are largely managed on a day to day basis and for that reason their content marketing strategy is really more of a process. It emerges and evolves week by week. It should be grounded in actions which produce measurable results. What’s the alternative? A high-level strategy never completed? Most small business owners I work with are simply too busy doing what must be done.
Far more workable is a content strategy that’s action based and which can be measured and adjusted accordingly. Are you are able to measure the results of your content marketing? Are you able to make changes to what your business is doing based on results or are you simply just churning out initiatives for the sake of it?
In many ways the growth of social media has given small businesses a boost. Great content gets shared regardless of provenance. Big businesses can spend millions on brand initiatives. Small businesses need to come up with bright ideas geared to their customers’ personae. People on the internet whether on social media or not, are looking for information. But they may not have much time and there’s a lot of information to sift through. Producing attention grabbing content is important and it’s even better when it goes viral.
Small businesses should focus on utility, readability and even humour, depending on the business. Videos, perhaps demonstrating how to do something can work really well. Infographics and lists also appeal to people. Base ideas around terms your audience searches for.
Measuring the Effectiveness of Content Marketing
I need to say something about measurement but it’s important to place it in the context of the actual buying process. How people search for and buy products varies according to the type of product or service. However it almost certainly isn’t the case customers come across content and then immediately purchase from the same company. It’s best to regard content marketing as the first step in the process. It’s how prospective customers find out about your business. A prospect may not be ready to buy the product or service you offer and they almost certainly aren’t ready to buy from you. However producing useful and engaging content will put you on the map. The internet allows prospective customers to do plenty of research before they buy. They may need to find you a few times, in different contexts before they trust you.
I mention all of this because you should not be measuring the effectiveness of your content strategy in terms of sales! Great content encourages people to share. It makes sharers feel good and you can measure this type of social engagement. Sharing content that’s on your website will also allow you to measure how long people stay for and what the bounce rate is. Best of all, if content is memorable and findable you will have repeat visitors. These are the people who are now more positively predisposed to your business. Your business has nudged them along the buying process.
Improving on What’s Gone Before
Measuring the success of content should of course be linked to goals or targets. When the publication of content isn’t as successful as you’d hoped you need to revise what you are doing based on what your data tells you. Success or failure can be linked to extraneous factors such as timing. Trial and error may lead to success eventually. However as I suggested previously, you must really know your customers. The social media they use, when they use it and what they are searching for.