What do you think of when you hear the word “content”? As a small business owner, you’ve probably heard that the key to expanding your business lies in producing great content that exposes you to a larger audience.
Alternatively, you may have seen statistics that say things like “per dollar spent, content marketing generates approximately three times as many leads as traditional marketing” or “78% of Chief Marketing Officers see custom content as the future of marketing.”
But what makes content “good?” Is it a six-figure marketing budget? Or a robust, time-consuming marketing strategy? Unfortunately, according to small business owner survey results, fewer than 20% of small business owners create and publish traffic-generating content consistently.
Thankfully for your business’s bottom line, you don’t need a big budget to produce great content. In fact, all you need is a bit of insight from the experts. In this article, we’ll share eight of those insights to help you produce great content (no matter your budget!)
Have you ever heard the saying, “a goal without a plan is only a dream?” You can apply this quote to almost everything in business, including content creation.
When designing a content strategy for your business, you always need to start with a goal. Setting a goal has two primary benefits: it gives you something tangible to work towards and acts as a success marker.
To get the most out of your content marketing goals, try using the SMART format. That means your goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. For example, “increase organic website traffic by 20% in March” is a SMART content goal.
SMART goals aren’t the only type of content goalpost you should set, either. To produce high-quality content, you’ll need to set brand-specific quality standards. For example, you could set standards like “all statistics are from 2020 or later” or “all images have an image quality of 300 DPI or higher.”
You could also use tried-and-true content standards like REAL. That means your content is:
Relevant to the audience
Engaging and interesting
Authentic to your business values, customers, and brand mission
Likable to a diverse group of customers
In a 2019 study of 2,700 consumers conducted by HubSpot, researchers found stark differences between consumer preferences in the US, Europe, and Latin America. For example, while 80% of respondents from Latin America want to see videos from brands, videos are only popular with 59% of US consumers and 51% of European consumers.
That statistic alone makes one thing clear: you can’t design content your audience will love if you don’t know what they like.
When designing a content strategy for your business, always define your target audience through customer profiles. Customer profiles are short, descriptive profiles that describe your most loyal customer base by key attributes. These include (but are not limited to):
Ideally, you should create 3 – 5 customer profiles for small subgroups of your customers. Once you’ve mapped out your customer profile, use it to design content your audience will love.
Now that you know your audience, it’s time to monitor your competition. Before producing content, watch how your closest competitors create content for their website and social media accounts. Specifically, you should look for what works well with their audience and any areas of weakness you can focus on in your own strategy.
While you could throw all of your time and effort into creating dozens of different forms of content, it’s simply not economical (or practical!). Instead, you should focus on creating content that works for your business.
There are generally three types of content you could create: top-of-the-funnel content (TOFU content), middle-of-the-funnel content (MOFU content), or bottom-of-the-funnel content (BOFU content).
TOFU content appeals to people searching for general information and education about a problem they have (like ‘how to create good video content’). You may have encountered this often through businesses that make a blog to connect with their audience. Other popular forms of TOFU content include:
Website landing pages
Social media marketing posts
MOFU content appeals to people who want more detailed information (like ‘best free Excel alternatives’). Popular forms of MOFU content include:
Organic social media posts
Digital and in-person conferences and events
BOFU content appeals to people who are doing some final research before they make a purchasing decision. Popular forms of BOFU content include:
Product comparison pages (like this one from ClickUp)
Building a long-term relationship with your viewers and readers is the most effective way to increase your profits through content creation. Brand-loyal customers are at least 40% more likely to make a purchase than a new customer.
While there are many ways to build relationships with customers through content, let’s focus on three potential options: leveraging Facebook groups, partnering with influencers, and using interactive tools to your advantage.
At any given time, the average Facebook user has over 1,000 posts in their newsfeed. With such a high volume of posts, it’s tricky to appeal to Facebook users through social media marketing posts alone (and given 18.3% of US adults have made a purchase directly through Facebook, the platform is pretty important!).
However, you can develop a closer relationship by starting a business Facebook group. Business Facebook groups are open forums for people to discuss topics relevant to a brand. Brands also post content like news stories, questions, memes, and educational content in their groups, fostering a close-knit community among members.
As brand Facebook groups are a more intimate environment, they are a great way to build a long-term relationship with your customers. To see the benefits of such a group in practice, check out Elementor’s 115k-member Facebook Group.
Tip: To get the most out of your Facebook group, run Facebook ads inside your group. Then, connect Facebook-lead-ads to MailChimp to bring your group members onto your email marketing list.
Partnering with influencers is a fantastic way to connect with an audience, as 89% of marketers say the return-on-investment from influencer marketing is better or comparable to other marketing channels.
And if you’re thinking “influencers!” Instagram is your best choice, as research shows that Instagram is the number one influencer marketing platform. Why? Instagram offers many different potential options for influencer content, as you could use:
Affiliate links (you give an influencer a unique link and pay them a commission on every sale made through the link).
There are also many types of Instagram influencers, including nano influencers (under 1,000 followers), micro-influencers (1,000+ followers), and macro-influencers (100K+ followers). If you want to see what a macro influencer can do for a brand, check out this sponsored post from Rachel Ibbison.
Source: ‘@RacehlIbbison‘ on Instagram
As every social media platform is slightly different, the best marketing strategies use each platform’s unique tools to engage with their audience.
For example, you could get your business verified on Facebook to mark your business page as “official.” Getting your page verified will help customers find you quickly and give you a stamp of authenticity through the blue “verified” checkmark.
You could also encourage your followers to engage with you by re-posting user-generated content to your stories, tagging the creator, or trying the $1.80 strategy on Instagram. These strategies will help expand your reach and give you one-on-one communication with followers.
As research shows that 36.5% of social media users aged 16 to 64 primarily use social media to “stay up-to-date with news and current events,” staying ahead of current events and trends is crucial for good content creation.
While some trends come and go within only a few days or weeks, other trends reflect a gradual shift in the way customers shop online. For example, using augmented reality (AR) in content, enhancing website content with chatbots, and optimizing content for voice assistants are all examples of content trends that are here to stay.
Personalization is another important trend, as research shows that 79% of consumers will only engage with brand offers personalized to them.
As you plan out your content, you should consider how you could use these trends in your content. For example, makeup business L’Oréal created an AR tool called Modiface that allows people to virtually try their makeup and hair colors.
While good content is always creative, you don’t always have to make it from scratch. In fact, you can streamline the content production process by using two key frameworks (i.e., general guides that govern how you create content).
The first framework you need is a content framework. This framework dictates:
How you structure your call-to-action (CTA)
What types of hooks you use
How you structure your content
How you present images
How you link sources
What type of tone you use
Using a content framework is an excellent way to create content quickly, as you can simply take your blank frame and add fresh material. It’s also a great way to build content that’s consistent with your past work.
The second framework you need is a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) framework. Your SEO framework dictates:
How you use keywords in your content
How you structure your SEO meta tags
How you use internal links
How to label images for search engines
Using an SEO framework is a great way to enhance the reach of your content, as SEO-optimized content will rank better on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Pro-tip: Ensure you check that your website hasn’t fallen prey to common technical SEO issues like broken links, a rogue robots.txt file, or an ineffective sitemap! Fixing these issues will improve your website’s performance in search engines and get your content further.
As any good guide to content marketing will tell you, “content is king.” But if you’re waiting for inspiration to strike before you create content, you’re waiting too long. While good content requires creativity, it will be easier for you to publish content regularly if you plan your content in advance.
Instead of producing content randomly, try following these steps to batch create content a month in advance:
Make a list of potential content ideas in the first week of the month
Research your content ideas and create short outlines for each piece (including the keywords you will target, what you need to do, and any valuable sources you found)
Use a content calendar to plan when you’ll publish each piece of content
Gradually produce your content piece-by-piece over 1 – 2 weeks
Edit your content using grammar and plagiarism checkers
Schedule your content on a content calendar
Use automation tools to publish your content
Monitor your content’s success and note where you need to adjust your future content
This batch-creating approach will take the weight of content production off your shoulders, as you’ll create well-planned, highly researched content days ahead of schedule.
Finally, don’t forget to repurpose your old content every few months. While you can’t just republish old content like it’s original, you can re-use your best material to reduce the amount of new content you need to produce.
To reuse content, you take your original work and update 30 – 60% of your work with fresh material. That could include:
Removing broken links
Inserting new text
Replacing the CTA to your current offerings
Re-doing the introduction and conclusion (if applicable)
Adding extra material in
Changing the font, colors, and structure
Creating an infographic
You can also take old material and transform it into something new by converting it into different types of content. For example, you could take an old blog post and transform it into an infographic, turn an informative video into a series of GIFS, re-release your eBook as an audiobook. You could also re-purpose your blog posts into slideshows as CopyBlogger did when they turned this:
Small business owners keep many secrets, but ‘how we create a great content marketing strategy’ isn’t one of them. There is no industry secret to producing high-quality content. Good content is simply content that is educational for customers, well-planned and researched, and optimized for search engines.
So if you’re a small business owner scared of content creation, we hope our expert content tips eased your mind.
So, that brings us to a critical question: what are your best content creation tips? Please share them with us in the comments below.
What are your thoughts?