Welcome to 2014! I hope you’re as excited as I am to get started with your content marketing this year. With all the New Year’s resolution content floating around discussing how to prepare your marketing for the year, it’s no wonder small businesses are making it a top priority.
Don’t just take my word for it. A recent survey of small business owners by Rocket Lawyer shows that 41% plan to make marketing a top business priority this year, making it nearly twice as important as raising funds to grow the business.
That’s great news, but what exactly does this mean for small businesses with limited marketing budgets? How do you make marketing a top business priority without dedicating a significant portion of your monthly budget towards it? Paid advertising (banners and search engine ads like Adwords) is too expensive and ineffective, and hiring an agency can be equally expensive and time consuming.
The answer lies with content marketing.
CMI, the Content Marketing Institute, defines content marketing as:
Recommended for YouWebcast: Turning Your Website Into a Lead Generation Machine
“…a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Remember, Content marketing is different from SEO.
Here are three content marketing techniques to implement into your strategy that won’t break your 2014 budget:
1. Publish optimized blog posts on a regular basis
One of the easiest and most cost-effective content marketing techniques is publishing new content to your website. These articles should focus on providing your target market with valuable information and insight that they simply cannot get anywhere else. They should also be optimized for the keywords that are most valuable to your business.
You can write articles answering frequently asked questions, show your audience how to complete specific tasks that will benefit them in the long run, highlight happy customers with case studies, and curate content from other sources and add your unique spin on it.
There are many other topics you can write about, but make sure you’re providing value to your readers. Don’t be overtly promotional with your posts or you’ll scare readers (and potential customers) away. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly as well.
If you need help figuring out what to write about to maximize your results, try using a tool like BoostSuite which starts free and then costs $19/month ongoing.
2. Promote your business with social media
Adding helpful, valuable content on your website is great for growing your website’s size and authority, but you can’t stop there if you plan on succeeding with your content marketing. You have to self-promote and rely on others to promote you as well. This will help you build inbound links, increasing your website’s authority.
The easiest and most cost-effective way to promote your optimized blog articles is with social media. It’s completely free and can be used as your virtual soap box to spread your marketing message. Start by doing a little research to find out where you target market hangs out on social media. Then create your accounts based on what you find. Follow thought-leaders from your industry and start engaging them with mentions, likes, comments, and retweets.
After you publish one of your helpful blog posts, be sure to use a free social media aggregate like HootSuite to spread your message to your target audience across all your channels.
3. Build rapport with an email newsletter
Publishing optimized articles and promoting them via social media are both great content marketing techniques, but there’s still one piece missing from the equation: email.
Email is still one of the best ways to stay in touch with your target audience as a lot of them might not even be on social media yet. You get to place your message directly in their inbox, a place most professionals frequent numerous times throughout the day.
Use a service like MailChimp (free up to 2,000 subscribers) to first create an email newsletter signup form, then add it to your website in a high-traffic, high-visibility place on your website. Then create an elegant, mobile-friendly template that you can use to send out a monthly email newsletter to your subscribers. Again, the idea here is to provide value to your readers, so don’t make it too wordy or you’ll lose their attention quickly.
Add quick blurbs from your recent blog post topics to garner interest, then link to the actual articles to have them read the rest. The best part about email is that it’s informal. Your audience can flag your emails and read them whenever they have some spare time.
Your marketing strategy and your target audience determine the frequency you send email newsletters. If you’re publishing more than one article a week, you might want to consider doing a weekly email newsletter. If you’re publishing one or less a week, then consider sending it monthly on the same day each month. Whatever you choose, stick to the schedule.
What other content marketing techniques will you try in 2014?
Looking at the research, if 41% of small businesses plan on making marketing a priority this year, what are you doing to compete with your peers?
If you’re not already doing the three aforementioned items, publishing articles, promoting them via social media, and building rapport with email newsletters, then how do you plan on making marketing a priority while being budget-conscious?
I’d love to hear your marketing plans in the comments. What did you try in 2013 that worked? What didn’t work? What will you do differently in 2014 as a result?
I hope you and your business grow and prosper this year!