It can be tough for small businesses to find their feet online, especially if they operate in a crowded niche with national brands, complete with a savvy digital marketing team.
One of the best ways to level the playing field is by utilising content marketing to help develop your brand’s authority, improve your website’s SEO, and peak the interest of new leads and prospects.
I wholeheartedly recommend content marketing to every single business. At the bare minimum, a business should be putting out a good quality blog post a month. And that’s barely scratching the surface. Ambitious businesses should aim to get into the habit of pumping out great content multiple times a week.
Below, I’ll run through 3 of the most common content marketing mistakes that I’ve seen businesses make.
Producing content without a strategy
Content marketing is particularly effective as, for the most part, it’s non disruptive. If you target your content to the right section of the conversion funnel, you will get qualified leads coming to you without trying to ram a sale down their throat. You can do this by targeting informational rather than transactional keyword queries (if you’re carrying out some keyword research whilst you plan your content, which you should be doing).
You can achieve this by thinking of problems and issues your business’ average customer may have, and then use these issues to map out a content strategy. For example, if you’re an accountant, a common issue your clients may have is remembering all of the important tax deadlines, so you could pull this information into a resource, outlining key dates, why they’re important, and what work needs to be carried out.
However, lots of businesses do not take this step back to strategise their content. Instead, they write content that is very loosely related to their product or service, with no real goal or intent. Overall, this can be costly. At best, it means you will not get the maximum return from your efforts. At worst, you could be causing unnecessary bloat to your website that adds no value to users.
I’m not saying that every piece of produced content has to go through a vigorous strategic planning session, either, as that will be total overkill for a lot of businesses. But, at a minimum, take the time to ask yourself:
‘Is this content valuable to the reader? Does it contain good information? Is it solving a problem, or offering a useful insight?’
Remember, you’re not aiming to sell here, you’re aiming to inform, educate, and provide value.
Not publishing content regularly enough
For a lot of small businesses, producing content (most likely blog posts) slips to the bottom of the to-do list. When you’re keeping the wheels moving with the day to day management of a business, there may not be enough time to then write a nice, deep blog post each week.
This can lead to some pretty lonely looking blog feeds, with months and months between posts.
Here’s how to avoid that situation:
Write regularly. Publish often. Keep going.
If you don’t have have time to produce the content yourself, outsource it. Find a freelancer who offers blogging services to share the workload with.
You can hunt for good ones on LinkedIn, Twitter, freelance marketplaces like Upwork, or by directly searching for them in Google (there are thousands out there, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find one).
It’s very rare for a blog post to go live and immediately rank for the keywords you’re targeting - especially if you have a newer website with few links, or if you’re targeting a more competitive search term.
But that doesn’t mean your efforts are wasted. Blog posts have a number of uses, and acting as an organic landing page is just one of them. Here are some others:
Internal linking opportunities
Internal links are really useful as they help Google’s crawlers access important pages on your site. Your most important pages should all have the internal links pointing to them. This ensures that Googlebot can easily reach and crawl these pages.
Writing blog content that relates to your main category and content pages provides a natural way to link to these pages, whilst also providing a great user experience for your readers.
Internal links are also important because they help link 'juice' flow through your website. If someone links to your blog post from another website, the authority of that backlink flows through any internal links within the content. This helps authority spread throughout your website, which can power up your important pages, making it easier for them to rank well.
Provide useful information for your customers
Your customers will always have questions. Always. Even if its something that pops up in a phone conversation or in a really quick email exchange that you answer without thinking twice.
But if one person has asked the question, there’s probably numerous other people out there who are also uncertain. You can save time by answering these questions in a blog post, wiki or FAQ section - you can then direct anyone else who has the same question to these resources.
If done well, this is the gift that keeps on giving. You save time by avoiding the need to explain the same thing over and over to clients, but you will also get the additional benefit of adding more useful content to your website.
Then, if the content starts pulling in organic traffic, you’ve got a fantastic piece of multi-channel content that’s hyper focussed on your audience’s needs…and you didn’t even need to put in any work to come up with the topic!
Act as a shareable asset for social media
You should get into the habit of firing out all new blog posts through social media. Not only is this a useful for tactic for helping new content get indexed quickly, but it’s also a good way to start getting some traffic through to your content.
And don’t just share a post once and then forget about it, either. There’s no rule in regards to the amount of times you can share a page through social media, so regularly fire out Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other social media posts sharing your content - especially older content.
You can use tools like Buffer and Hootsuite to schedule your posts in advance, adding a layer of automation to the process. There are also some workarounds you can use to automatically reshare your old WordPress posts.
As you can see, blog content has a raft of uses, so don’t become too fixated exclusively on organic traffic, and try to keep the bigger picture in mind.
Thinking your niche isn’t interesting
It’s surprising how many business owners fall into this mindset. It can be so debilitating when it comes to blogging, as it’s admitting defeat before you’ve even started.
Now, it’s true that some businesses are quite dry and technical in their subject matter, which may cause people to think that their target audience won’t be interested in reading relatable content.
But this is 100% wrong. If your business makes sales, and receives some form of traffic to your website, you already have an audience. That audience will have problems they need fixing. This gives you an opportunity to produce content.
If you’re a completely new business that’s never made a sale, and your internet traffic is at a standstill, you should still have some form of conceptualised ‘ideal customer’.
You should know what your ideal customer looks like, what they’re interested in, and what will motivate them to use your services. Tap into that. Exploit it. Write about it.
No matter how dry or boring you think your business’ subject matter is, someone, somewhere, will find it interesting and useful. If you’re having trouble visualising who these elusive readers are, simply do this:
Write content that you would read. Base your content around aspects in your business and niche that interest you. Presumably, you have an interest and expertise in your industry, so let that shine through.
If you’re looking for a TL;DR type takeaway from this post in regards to content marketing and blogging, use this:
When it comes to content marketing, it’s important to stick to your guns and not lose momentum.
Content marketing is usually a slow burner in terms of ROI. If your strategy is clear and focussed, and you know the type of people that you ideally want to be reading your content, then you’re on the right track. So keep at it.
It may take a while to see the fruits of your labour, but content marketing isn’t about quick wins - it’s a long term game that involves building awareness and authority around a brand.