Aside from cutting back on cake, the best resolution small business owners can make this year is to invest in content marketing. Sure, maintaining a blog can be time-consuming and constantly thinking of fresh ideas is difficult. If it makes you feel any better, you’re not alone in the struggle. As a 2014 study from the Content Marketing Institute noted, the majority of B2B small business marketers are struggling to find enough time to produce quality, varied content:
Yet the rewards far outweigh the effort if content marketing is done well. Don’t believe me? Check out these ten reasons why content marketing is the big business push that your company needs in 2015:
1. Everyone is Doing It…But Not Necessarily Well
In the above study, sixty percent of small B2B business owners said they plan to increase their content production in 2015. In fact, 94 percent of them already use content marketing in some shape or form.
However, only 36 percent claim they have created significantly more content within the past 12 months.
The lack of volume is understandable. After all, with increased content comes increased responsibility. A lot of company owners aren’t equipped to take on the kind of writing schedule necessary to maintain a regular blog or newsletter. If you consider yourself among that group, I would recommend becoming part of the 61 % of small business marketers who outsource their writing to someone else:
Just make sure you can trust your writers with your company’s image. Elance and Odesk are affordable, effective resources to find your team’s next superstar author.
2. Increased Content = Increased Effectiveness and Confidence in Your Business
As seen in the CMI study, organizations who feel they are very effective in their marketing place a large focus on content. Not only do they have a documented content strategy, but they also have someone who oversees their content marketing. Most importantly, they are producing a large amount of content and plan to create even more in the coming months.
If you want to increase both your confidence in your company and its effectiveness, content should clearly be at the core of your marketing strategy.
3. A Little Planning Goes A Long Way
61 percent of small B2B business owners said they plan to increase the amount of content they produce this year. However, only 44 percent have a plan for exactly how they’re going to do that. You see the problem?
This rift between goals and action for content marketers can be a big opportunity to get ahead of more than half of your competition. Doing it so is simple – just take the time to make a content calendar. According to Jamie Griffiths on the Convince and Convert website, a content calendar is “a shareable resource that marketing teams can use to plan all content marketing activity.” It helps you plan content around key events in your industry, reveals where you’re lacking material, and, most importantly, gives you enough time to write and publish your articles.
Remember: the further ahead you plan, the better your content will be. Of course, it’s also crucial to invest your energy in content that will produce the best results. According to a 2014 study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, the top three most effective forms of content are case studies, in-person events, and blogs. If you’re struggling to decide where to invest your time, I would recommend focusing on these top areas:
Here’s a free calendar template from Convince and Convert. For extra help on planning your writing schedule, here’s a helpful infographic from The Sales Lion.
4. Increases Web Traffic and Content Views
If you want to appear in the top of Google’s search results, you need to consistently post quality articles. Once you’ve done that, web traffic will gradually start increasing. However, your audience can increase even faster if you share your content across multiple platforms. For example, last year during the holiday season a small company called Boutique Homes started sharing content that they had already created over multiple social media platforms. Over the course of four months their articles garnered over 46,000 visitors – a 364% increase in traffic.
In addition, a web app development company, Segue, increased their web visitors by 3000% over the course of a year because of their increased content production.
Clearly, content is where your company should be investing a significant amount of its time. After all, more web visitors equals more sales.
Another way to gain eyeballs for your content is to republish them in new formats on different platforms. You can also quickly create customized content for certain audiences by merging stuff from various sources, such as
- Industry white papers or studies you’ve published
- In-house docs and research material
- Images from a particular campaign or a brochure from your press kit
You can combine bits and pieces from all of the above with a tool such as PDF Converter and turn them into a targeted piece of content, ripe to be dispatched to a segmented audience. Send these customized PDFs and ebooks to targeted email lists, further increasing the reach of your content.
To ensure social media shares, make sure to install apps like AddThis. This service provides dashboards that display the number of article shares, as well as click-backs from those shares. AddThis also lets you add larger-than-usual sharing sidebars to your page easily. Hello, extra traffic!
5. Increased Brand Awareness
According to Forbes, brand awareness is the number one goal for B2B marketers in North America. Yet this goal can only be accomplished by those companies who are willing to put in the time to generate it. A lot of patience is required to create brand awareness.
As with most kinds of writing, telling a story is key to generating interest. As Stacey King Gordon says on the Suite Seven website, “If you’re not telling stories online, you’re probably not getting results.” Furthermore, you have to make sure these stories make their way into the correct corners of the Internet: on industry blogs and social media. No one is going to want to share your story if it’s simply dry data and Excel spreadsheets. When you become one of the rare publishers who can provide content that is both useful and entertaining, your brand awareness will skyrocket.
6. Solidifies Your Position As an Expert in the Field
Maintaining something like a brand blog can be extremely difficult. Yet if you do it right, your company can become a leading voice in your field. A great example of an outstanding blog comes from Birchbox, the beauty product subscription service:
As you can see from the screenshot above, Birchbox releases new content every month. Yet it’s not simply blog posts. There are also tutorials and videos. In-person events are even featured. As a result, Birchbox’s fashion-hungry customers are constantly coming back to check out their updated content. The company has over 138,000 followers on Twitter and over one million followers on Facebook. In the past 24 hours alone, Birchbox has updated their Facebook page six times. Each post has customer engagement. Clearly, frequent postings are key to getting your audience to trust you and follow your content with a keen interest.
7. Helps You Learn About Your Own Industry
No matter what industry you’re in, change remains constant. When you have to write daily or weekly blog posts, you have to stay on top of it. Thanks to constant researching, you’ll really feel like reason #6—an expert in your field. For example, someone who covers the advertising industry should subscribe to the AdWeek and AdAge newsletters.
For a list of 12 of the best content marketing blogs in 2014, check out this article from Contently.
8. It’s Been Around Longer Than You Think
If you think that content marketing is the new kid on the business playground, you’re wrong. In fact, it’s been around since 1895. In that year The Furrow, a magazine published by agricultural equipment manufacturer John Deere, was released. Its goal was to help farmers have more fruitful harvests – with the aid of their products, of course.
The Furrow is still running today, but in digital form. It’s distributed globally, and is available in fourteen different languages.
If content marketing has stuck around for this long, it’s clearly here to stay.
9. Builds a Community and Loyalty
Using Twitter and Facebook not only helps you engage with your consumers, but also encourages them to engage with each other. By posing questions at the end of your blog and social media posts, your customers will have the chance to give their own ideas and respond to the thoughts of others. Voila! Increased loyalty to your brand.
Here are some more facts from Inbound Writer to convince you to engage with your customers via social media – as if you needed any more:
- 6 out of 10 consumers will recommend a brand they follow via social media
- Interesting content is a top 3 reason why people follow brands on social media
- 60 percent of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content that they had created
Just make sure that your content is worth following! Quality is key.
10. Best of All… People Are More Likely to Buy from You
61 percent of consumers say that they are more likely to buy from a company that creates custom content. And isn’t that every company’s major end goal? People want to trust businesses, but they’ll know nothing until you put something out in the digital landscape. For example, 67 percent of Twitter users are more likely to purchase a product from a brand that they follow on the social media site.
Don’t completely believe in the power of content marketing yet? Here’s a final note: B2B companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month on average than non-blogging firms.
Have you drawn up your content marketing strategy yet?
Featured Image: Created by author for Search Engine Journal