The Covid-19 pandemic and its fallout has had a devastating effect on businesses of all sizes, but most profoundly on small businesses. If you’re a small business owner looking to not only survive but to thrive in today’s online world, no doubt you’ve heard of the need for content marketing. However, of all the various types of content marketing strategies out there, how do you know which to use effectively for your business? If you’re unfamiliar with the concept in general, why should you seriously consider investing in it in the first place?
A Real-World Content Marketing Proof of Concept
Let’s address the second question first.
Imagine you’re shopping for a new washing machine and you don’t want to spend more money than you need to. Like most people, you start your search on the internet. You type “affordable washing machines near me” into Google. About 13 million search results pop up.
Here’s the problem: They all look pretty much the same. There are links to the names of local hardware stores and big-name national appliance stores. Clicking on those links tells you a little about those businesses and shows you row after row of shiny new washers, each with its attendant price. Not much help there—you’re no better off than before you started your search.
One result is different. It links to an article, “How to get the washer you need—without breaking the bank.” The writer wants you to give him your email address in exchange for the article. That seems fair, because you really want to read that article.
The article explains that most consumers overspend on washing machines with fancy features they don’t need and will probably never use. It shows you how you can save a boatload of money buying a washer with just the features you need. It even names some of the best affordable washing machines on the market and shows you how you can buy one.
The business that wrote the article answered your question. It helped you solve your problem—and it helped you save money. You like the way that company seemed more interested in helping you than in increasing its profits. When it comes time to buy your new washing machine, that business is going to be at the top of your short list.
What is Content Marketing?
On average, American consumers see about 4,000 ads a day (according to The Business Journals). Most are for products they don’t want and don’t need. And, to put it mildly, they’re fed up with it. They’re so fed up with TV commercials, they get their DVR to fast-forward through those ads by the millions. Millions more put their names on “do not call” lists to steer clear of irritating telemarketers.
Fortunately, some marketers understand the disconnect. To break through the noise, they create blogs, videos, eBooks, white papers, podcasts, case studies, and webinars to rebuild the consumer trust all those ads have chipped away.
Said differently, these forward-leaning marketers understand that you can sell more products and services if you help people solve their most intractable problems before talking sales. This innovative approach to marketing is (not surprisingly) remarkably effective.
This is how Content Marketing Institute explains what content marketing is—and why it’s so effective:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are providing truly relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their issues.”
4 Ways Content Marketing Can Improve Your Small Business
Arguably, one of the best ways to leverage all types of content marketing is to generate more leads for your business. When you “gate” content that consumers want and need, they’re willing to provide their contact information in exchange for the content.
They get the content they want, and your business gets a new lead—a win-win scenario. And the win for your business can be a game-changer. It’s one of the reasons marketers spend, on average, almost 30% of their entire marketing budgets on various types of content marketing. But increasing lead generation is just one of the ways content marketing can push your business to the next level.
In fact, content marketing has numerous benefits, including the following four:
Benefit No. 1. It boosts customer retention
The more your business helps customers solve their problems, the more likely it is that they’ll want to do business with you in the future. Content marketing is among the most effective strategies for retaining your best customers—and increasing their customer lifetime value (CLV).
Benefit No. 2: It enhances social media marketing
According to HubSpot, almost 75% of Facebook users go to that site for “professional purposes.” Translation—they’re looking for products and services like the ones your small business offers. The types of content marketing you use will help your business gain traction on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram and, as a result, increase your profits.
Benefit No. 3: It increases conversions
Customers and prospective customers are more likely to take the actions you want them to take—like filling out a contact form or buying a product—when you give them the information they need to make decisions. According to Neil Patel, for example, businesses that prioritize content marketing have conversion rates 6 times higher than those that don’t.
Benefit No. 4: It improves SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be a tough nut to crack, but an effective content marketing strategy tends to soften the shell. Because content marketing provides internet searchers with real value, it tends to boost rankings in search engines. In fact, companies that blog 16 or more times a month generate, on average, almost four times more website traffic than those that blog four times or fewer a month.
Which Types of Content Marketing are Most Effective in 2020?
Every business is different, of course, with different customers, different challenges, and different marketing goals. That said, the most effective types of content marketing strategies are the ones that push a variety of content formats; this is because different customers like different types of content. For example, some people like infographics while others prefer stand-alone text. Publishing a blog that includes both will satisfy both groups. To maximize the impact of your content marketing strategy, you should, at a minimum, be leveraging the following three types of content:
Content Type No. 1: Blogging
As noted above, creating a variety of valuable information-rich blogs is among the best ways to provide customers with the answers and solutions they need—and one of the best ways to dramatically boost lead generation. Blogging is one of the most effective ways to establish yourself as an authority in your space and demonstrate expertise to potential customers and clients. Expertise and authority are two of the three critical components of E.A.T. (Expertise, Authority & Trust) which are huge factors for effective SEO.
Content Type No. 2: Email marketing
It’s not enough to generate new leads—you need to nurture those leads to move them from window shoppers to loyal customers. You can accomplish this with a solid email marketing strategy, especially one grounded in marketing automation. The benefit of leads generated from your email campaigns is that they are likely to be qualified leads rather than random traffic.
Properly done, a qualified email list is one where the potential customers or clients expressed enough interest in what you have to say, sell or service that they signed up to hear from you in the future. Most importantly, email marketing is extremely effective—and extremely cost-effective, with the potential to increase the ROI of your marketing efforts by as much as 4,300%!
Content Type No. 3: Video
Video has the power to do one thing better than any other type of content: create an immediate, compelling, and indelible emotional connection with your target audience. It’s one of the reasons the number of small businesses that use video marketing has increased by almost 40% in the past three years. With almost 75% of consumers now saying they prefer video to text, your business should seriously consider adopting a solid video marketing strategy if you’re not doing so already.
In a world where consumers are bombarded with intrusive and not especially helpful advertising, the businesses that outpace the competition will be the ones that help customers and prospective customers solve their problems and make informed buying decisions. A smart content marketing strategy is unequivocally the best way to do that—and to take your small, local business to the next level. Of course, some types of content marketing—or for that matter any type of digital marketing—can be both complicated and confusing. That’s where we can help.
To learn more about our content marketing & Local SEO services—and to see how they can help you create the types of content marketing that generates more leads, boost conversions, enhances SEO, and increases profitability, contact the experts at LocalBizGuru today.
Nachum Langsner is the Co-Founder & CMO of LocalBizGuru, a full-service digital marketing agency based in Cleveland, OH. He has over 10+ years of experience in the SEO industry and is a frequent presenter and instructor of digital marketing and SEO seminars for entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Greater Cleveland area for organizations such as COSE, Jumpstart, the Better Business Bureau, Score and the Ohio SBDC at CSU.