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Content marketing for small businesses

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Content marketing is focused on strategic creation and distribution of valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

It is an increasingly popular strategy that allows businesses to forge connections with customers and encourage purchases without directly selling a product or service. 43% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy, while 60% of the most successful B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. These statistics show how important it is to invest time and resources in an effective content marketing strategy for your small business.

In this blog post, we’ll cover:

  1. Four content marketing tips for small businesses
  2. Types of content & best practices for online stores
  3. How to repurpose old blog posts and improve SEO 

Four content marketing tips for small businesses

Here are four things that you can apply to move shoppers through the eCommerce sales funnel. Let’s call them the four D’s: Develop, Define, Decide, and Duh:

1.      Develop a goal

Knowing what you want to achieve before creating content for a business will make developing a strategy much easier. See if you can align your content marketing goals with the overall company goals. If the business is unified under the goal of selling 10,000 handmade sun hats this year, make sure your content is aimed toward attracting new customer looking for handmade sun hats. If the current goal is to make the CEO into an influencer in the industry, write blogs that use deep niche market terminology to project expertise.

2.      Define the audience

Your target market is a specific subgroup of consumers at which your product or service is aimed. By understanding your market, you can know what outlets and publications would be most effective in reaching them.

3.      Decide on a tactic

Once you’ve properly defined your target audience and their preferences, you can choose an outlet (or outlets) to reach the customer base. There are a wide range of outlets that a business can utilize to reach its target audience. For example, a survey found that 94% of content marketers are using social media as a distribution channel for their content. According to Hubspot, other popular tactics are videos, blogs, infographics, case studies, interviews, eBooks, and white papers. You don’t have to limit your content marketing efforts to those few tactics. Hubspot provided readers with 44 formats you can use when creating content.

4.      Duh! Write!

You can’t be lazy. It’d be great if we could all write one evergreen, viral article that consistently brought eyeballs to our website. But unless you’re lucky enough to be DJ Khaled, you aren't going viral over and over again. That’s why you constantly need fresh content. Whether its blog posts, eBooks, or social media, make sure that you are up to date on your content and constantly updating. Research industry trends to provide fresh content at least weekly to your readers.

Content marketing is about making a connection with your customer base and forming a relationship with them which will in turn result in consistent sales. Whether you’re a small business getting your feet wet in content marketing or a thriving venture, hopefully these tips inspire you to write your heart out and win new customers.

Types of content & best practices for online stores

As an online store owner, you can’t just focus on your products. You must also include relevant content to attract and engage your target audience. Knowing what content to include and how to best do it can be challenging. Whether your store is on eBay, Etsy, or you host your own website on Shopify, the content you post can make a difference in site traffic and increase your sales. To help you, we’ve put together a list of the best types of content for eCommerce websites and some strategies that will help you produce it effectively.

Engage Your Audience with Blog Content

Research found that 56% of marketers who leverage blogging say it's effective and 10% say it generates the biggest return on investment. Blogging continues to be one of the most popular type of content for eCommerce websites because of its versatility. Blog topics can include just about any kind of format you can think of, but some of the more common ones include news posts, how-to tutorials or guides, reference guides, and opinion posts. They’re also a great way for you to establish yourself as an authority on your products or services.

Best practices for blog content

  • Catchy headlines – Your readers will often decide whether they will read your post based on the headline or title alone, so you must make sure that it is engaging, relevant, and click-worthy.
  • Short paragraphs – Many blog readers will pass over content that looks too lengthy. Use shorter paragraphs to appeal to your audience.
  • Interesting images – Pages that are filled with text-only can look boring and unappealing to the reader, so use interesting or humorous images to break up your text.
  • Regular posting schedule – When your audience knows that you have a regular posting schedule, they are more likely to visit your site more often, so do your best to keep a set publishing schedule.
  • Relevant themes – Tailor your articles to stay relevant. Search trending words or phrases in your industry and give your brand’s input on the subject. Seasonal topics like summer blogs can give your brand a little personality too.

Upgrade Your Content with Videos 

Video content is modern and visual: two qualities that appeal to today’s online shoppers. Like blogging, you can create video content about any subject matter. Video content for eCommerce websites can show your products in action, provide customers with additional information about your products, and it has been shown to strengthen bonds with buyers and improve customer loyalty.

Best practices for video content

  • How-to videos – Whenever you post a “How-To,” whether written or video, you are demonstrating that you are an authority on your product. Use videos when the procedure is better explained visually, or when you are appealing to a younger audience.
  • Product videos – All online stores should have product videos – the statistics prove that:
    • Video will be the top investment for B2B brands in 2022. (Content Marketing Institute, 2021)
    • Video is the number one format marketers used in their content strategy in 2021. (HubSpot State of Marketing Report, 2021)
    • 87% of video marketers say that video has increased traffic to their website. (Wyzowl, 2020) 
    • 80% of video marketers claim that video has directly increased sales. (Wyzowl, 2020) 
    • After Google, Facebook is the most popular video platform. (Statista, 2021)
  • Publish transcripts – Including a transcript of your video will improve your SEO ranking, as search engines cannot yet handle video as text. It will also appeal to your shoppers that prefer reading.
  • Live streaming – Videos that allow viewers to engage with brands in real-time are booming as a content marketing strategy. The live streaming industry grew 99% between 2019 and 2020 and is expected to be worth over $184 billion by 2027.

 

Social media

You cannot neglect social media content for your eCommerce website. Posts on social media can drive traffic to your main site, attract new buyers, develop more personal relationships with shoppers, and promote sales events and campaigns. Plus, it’s free. Where else are you going to find free marketing?

 Best practices for social media content

  • Engage with your viewers – Social media allows you to have direct contact with your buyers – use it! Remember that you can start conversations as well as respond. For the best relationship building, the street should run both ways. Asking your followers questions is a great way to get conversations started.
  • Apply the 70-20-10 Rule – Many professional media marketers use this rule:
    • 70% – posts that are relevant to your products, but not self-promotional
    • 20% – shared content
    • 10% – self-promotional content
  • Pay attention to platform demographics – Be sure that you are using the right social media platforms for your target audience. The following are some industry user demographics for the most popular social media sites:
    • Twitter – ages 18-29 (61.6% male)
    • Facebook – ages 25-34 (57% male)
    • Pinterest – ages 50-64 (78% female)
    • Instagram – ages 25-34 (51.8% male)
    • Snapchat – ages 15-24 (54.4% female)
    • TikTok – ages 10-19 (61% female)
  • Use a posting tool – There are many posting tools available that will remember to post for you on a schedule, so you don’t have to set any alarms. It’s as easy as entering your posts and then they will publish on their own when you schedule them. Hootsuite and Sendible are two of the most popular.

 

Email

Email should be a staple of your toolkit. It allows you to have direct communication with your shoppers. You can use it to alert them to new sales, campaigns, products, and personalized recommendations. Another useful email is a survey that will allow you to improve your site based on the feedback you receive. While email marketing best practices depend on the type of content you’re producing, there are some general rules you can follow.

Best practices for email content

  • Compose creative subject lines – The subject line of an email often determines whether the receiver will open it, so make yours creative and enticing.
  • Personalize – Use your customers’ purchasing history to create personalized emails. You can offer customized recommendations, let them know when items that they have previously purchased are on sale, or when you add products that fit their interests.
  • Use transactional emails – These emails are not sent to everyone, but rather they are triggered by a customer’s action on your site. Some examples of transactional emails are:
    • Welcome email – Send this email whenever a shopper registers or enters their email address. Welcome and thank them for signing up and list some of the features of your site and products.
    • Follow-up email – After a customer makes a purchase, send a follow-up email to ask for reviews, ratings, or feedback.
    • Abandoned cart email – This email is a friendly reminder that the customer left your site without making a purchase.
    • “We miss you” email – Send this to customers who haven’t purchased anything for a while. You may want to include a discount code, free shipping, or other incentives if they come back.

 

How to repurpose old blog posts and improve SEO for free

There is great beauty in repurposing old blog posts. One, it cuts down on the time you spend writing new blog posts. Two, it allows you to extend the life of your content. And three, boosting visibility and engagement also boosts your search engine results.

Luckily, repurposing blog posts is not hard to do – and is a very smart content marketing strategy – so here is how to get started:


  • Identify the blog posts that people liked

Instead of blindly choosing blog posts to repurpose and republish, take a look at your analytics and pick the blog posts and topics that have generated the most page views, comments, and shares.

  • Update and republish one old blog post/month

Let’s say you publish one blog post per week. Update your editorial calendar to include one old blog post per month. Update the blog post with new information, remove outdated tips, change up the title and CTA, add new links if applicable, and boom – you’re good to go.

  • Write round-up posts

Your blog posts are already categorized by topic, so consider writing round-up posts that include the top posts per category. Include a link to the original post and a brief summary of the information your audience will find in that post.

  • Write a best-of-the-year post

At the end or beginning of the calendar year, write a best-of post that includes your top 10 (or whatever number you choose) blog posts of the year based on page views, engagement, etc.

  • Update and promote old eBooks, guides, etc.

OK, so eBooks are not blog posts, but they are likely composed of old blog posts. Furthermore, you probably wrote a blog post promoting it. Hence this suggestion.

There is no shame in updating and promoting old eBooks, guides, and other more in-depth content you have created. After all, if Merriam-Webster can update their dictionary every year, you can surely republish an ebook you wrote 5 years ago.

  • Turn blog posts into a videos or animations

For B2B companies and small businesses, one of the smartest ways to reach your audience is by turning a meaty blog post into a visually stunning video or animated presentation. You can then share it via a blog post and on social media. Work with a graphic designer to ensure your presentation is as polished and beautiful as possible. Yes, this will take some time, but your efforts will pay off.

 

Make good content

It isn’t enough to just have content. You need to make it great. Quality is better than quantity. Effective content marketing reaches your target audience and increases sales conversions. With the above best practices, you can grow brand awareness and recognition, build and strengthen relationships with potential and existing customers, and most importantly, boost revenue.

Image credits: Shutterstock

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