Welcome to Part 3 of our series, “The Complete Guide to Content Marketing for Small Business.” To help small business owners learn how to employ content marketing, one of the best methods for attracting new customers online, we’ve decided to create a complete guide for small business owners.
In Part 1 of the series, we discussed how to find your “content niche” as a small business or how to find a focus for your content marketing efforts that distinguishes your business as unique and valuable to target customers. In Part 2, we discussed how to create a sustainable plan for developing, publishing, and promoting your content.
In Part 3, we explain how you can improve your content marketing plan over time through regular checkups, maintenance, and strategy sessions with your team or other trusted advisors.
The Third Stage of Content Marketing for Small Business: Improving Your Content Plan Over Time
So, in Parts 1 and 2, you learned how to create a content plan, or a strategy document for launching a successful content marketing campaign. Maybe you’ve even started developing content like blog posts, guest posts for other websites, social media posts, etc. Or maybe you’ve even published some content online.
And… now what? Your traffic to your website hasn’t really increased. Your phone isn’t ringing off the hook. Is your plan working? Does content marketing for small business even work?!You need to give your content marketing time to generate traffic. It won't happen overnight. Click To Tweet
Content marketing for small business is a long-term game, not a short-term one. This can be frustrating for small business owners, many of whom live and die based on their ability to generate new leads.
Because of this, it’s not wrong to supplement content marketing with other approaches, such as paid campaigns on platforms like Google Adwords or Facebook Ads. Paid solutions tend to work faster than content marketing. The trick is to balance these efforts with your overall content strategy.
Since content marketing is a long-term game, you need to make sure you’re heading in the right direction. Some ways to do this are through regular checkups, maintenance, and strategy sessions with trusted advisors.
First off, it’s essential to gauge progress on your content marketing campaign through regular checkups. Just like a garden, growing successful content means making sure you have the right tools, getting rid of weeds (like outdated content or content that is outside your niche), and keeping your plans well-organized.
Regardless of the form of content you’re developing, you’ll probably need one or more of the following tools to keep an eye on how your campaign performs over time:
- An SEO tool like Moz that can help you keep an eye on how well optimized your content is for search engines
- A website analytics application like Google Analytics that can help you measure website visits, page views, and referral sources
- A social media publishing tool like Hootsuite that enables you to schedule social media posts and also allows you to create analytics reports if you’re trying to build traction in specific social networks
Keeping an eye on the data behind your campaign can help you stay sane as you produce content every week by helping you keep your eye on the prize.
It’s also a given that you need to maintain your content marketing campaign over time. This includes three overlapping stages that need to happen every week, without fail:
- Content Research: Curating content from trusted sources and paying attention to what’s trending online regarding your content niche
- Content Development: Writing your own content and formatting it according to the channels you’ll publish it to
- Content Distribution: Publishing and distributing your content via your selected channels
Content marketing efforts need to be consistent to be effective. More than any other form of marketing, you need to commit to maintaining your content over the long haul if you want it to bear fruit.
In addition to researching, developing, and distributing content each week, you also need to pay attention to:
- Overall Scope and Trajectory: Week-to-week and month-to-month, you need to push your content in a direction that will help you meet your goals. You need to stay mindful of your content niche and to ensure that all the content you develop is targeted at this niche.
- Ensuring Content Is Backwards-Compatible: We use this phrase to talk to clients about what they’ve published in the past. If you reconsider your content niche in any way, you need to make sure that there’s no content in your past that directly contradicts this niche, for example.
- Timeliness: Are the topics that you’re publishing about still cutting-edge within your content niche? What are your competitors writing about? You need to constantly ask yourself tough questions like these to make sure you’re developing the best content you can.
An effective content marketing campaign is like a well-oiled machine: you need to tune it up constantly or it will break down on you.
Strategy Sessions With Trusted Advisors
To stay on top of your content marketing plan as the weeks and months roll by, you’ll need trusted advisors you can bounce ideas off of.
These can include:
- Consultants: There’s nothing wrong with hiring talented writers to bounce ideas off of, to research the best content for you, or to write for you when you don’t have time.
- Colleagues: Like-minded professionals who aren’t competitors can help you hone your content for your target niche. Professional societies and conferences are a great source for finding content marketing buddies, many of whom might be interested in trading guest posts to gain backlinks.
- Test Audiences: If you have a relationship with some of your most loyal customers that would allow you to test out content with them, you can show them drafts and ask them what they like and don’t like. Keeping your finger on the pulse of your target audience is essential if you want to truly reach prospective customers within that audience.
The most important takeaway here is: you don’t want to do content marketing in a vacuum. Creating relatable, appealing content is hard. You can make it easier by enlisting trusted advisors that can provide much-needed feedback when you get stuck.
Progress, Not Perfection
As small business owners, we often drive ourselves really hard. Our businesses are a big part of our lives and we want them to grow and develop. Content marketing is hard, but it’s worthwhile. From building credibility with potential customers to increasing traffic to your website, there are simply too many benefits to ignore.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t figure out the logistics of your first content marketing effort on the first post or the fifteenth post. The point is to move in the right direction, not to arrive there on your first go-round.