5 Rules to Become a Small Business Content Marketing Success Story
By Thomas R. Reich PhD
In today’s overpriced underutilized internet marketing world, one of the most effective, low-cost ways to drive traffic and build awareness for your business is through small business content marketing: creating and distributing relevant content to attract, acquire, and engage your target audience.
Small business content marketing includes a complete marketing effort from publishing status updates, links to new relevant blogs and photos on FaceBook Pages and Twitter, to posting relevant pictures linked back to your blogs and WebPages on Pinterest and posting videos linked to your website and blogs and website on YouTube.
Key to the success of small business content marketing is picking the parameters of your niche market, what your target customers are looking for, what information is needed. Then creating a website that covers every aspect of that niche of information, and nothing else. Only in this way will your website and the net of social media and social sharing sites you create around that website become an information portal, an expert site.
By properly executing a good small business content marketing plan, we small businesses can compete for organic (non-paid) search traffic. This traffic is not pay-per click, it is the kind of traffic that comes to you naturally as a potential client searches on Google or another search engine for a specific topic. If you have set yourself up as the best source of information on that topic that truly answers questions on that specific topic, you find those potential customers in your website.
Popular types of content you can start with include how-to articles and videos, Q&As, behind-the-scenes looks at your business, photos and videos showcasing your work and first-hand accounts of your staff participating in local or industry events. But most important is that you cover every aspect of your niche market, if you are a CPA, have information about new tax laws, book keeping, different types of corporate structures. If you are a plumber, have articles about pipes; steel vs copper vs PVA and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
While many businesses have already dabbled in small business content marketing, not all have been successful at getting their content found, consumed and shared. Here are five key small business content marketing rules to boost your program success.
Rule #1 Planning: For any small business content marketing strategy to be successful, you must have a plan, a schedule and a check list.
Decide what your marketing niche is, if you are a Lawyer, what areas of the law do you specialize in? Are you a business that provides maids to the elderly, what are your services? Discuss this with your staff and some of your customers, get a list of topics that your clients and potential clients might find of interest. Decide on 20 topics that would be of specific interest to your niche market. Then make simple bullet points for each topic.
As each topic develops with bullet points, these bullet points could be articles, blogs, videos, q+a and blogs. Some of the more interesting topics could be earmarked for a later press release to help publicize a particularly poignant topic or video on a subject that happens to be trending in your industry.
When you write a good blog, make sure to exploit that blog as much as possible, posting it to social sharing sites, social media and maybe even do a webinar on video and post it to YouTube, Vimeo and Vine, post those links to your small business content marketing social media and social sharing network and maybe even post the PowerPoint to SlideShare.
Now here is the rule, everything you post or every comment you make about this article, has a link back to the original blog or page on your website. Only by linking all back to the original blog or page on your website, does that piece of writing gain weight and credibility. Google picks up on this traffic going to that piece of information within its search parameters and sends you organic traffic. Short and simple, that is how small business content marketing works.
Rule #2 get your point across in the first few lines and make the page magazine like with pictures and graphics, not just words and paragraphs.
Website visitors typically “bounce” out of a site, a term used by Google Analytics when a visitor to a website clicks out quickly, anywhere from 2 seconds to 1 minute. This means you must do 2 things:
- Get your point across in the first minute, following the point with supporting data for those that find what they are looking for and want more information.
- All lots of pictures, graphs, informatics and even videos to hold interest and keep visitors that have found the right information, reading. Endless paragraphs making a website look more like a kindle book than a website are products of 2008 and before, when websites were repositories of data. Today you must make your blogs and web pages more like a magazine with pictures and graphics – think out of the box.
I spent many years in the music industry producing and promoting for groups like INXS, WHAM, 2LIVECREW, Debbie Gibson and YES. We learned much about marketing fast and holding audiences once we got their attention. A single was always short and catchy, once a fan was hooked they bought the album and heard longer songs, got to know the product, later going to concerts, buying endorsed products and even dressing like the artist.
What can we learn from this experience when creating a small business content marketing campaign?
- Attract readers and potential followers with short but effective writings or videos to interest them in your website and other parts of your marketing network.
- Make your website and all your social sharing and social media network colorful, full of pictures and above all interesting
- Above all welcome visitors, potential customers to a family, an environment where they do not feel pressured, where they can learn information about what interests them.
- Once they are comfortable learning the information about what you represent from you, they are in your website and network, they should feel at home.
- Once they are comfortable with your environment, make sure they have an easy time getting in touch with you for even more information, that is when the selling should occur.
Rule #3 Use Today’s SEO or search engine optimization parameters. Today you must find a Key Word that logically fits what you are writing about and has not been over covered.
You can find a key word or key phrase that fits a topic you want to write about by going to Google’s Keyword Tool, but that is kind of techy for many. An easy trick to use is simply to Google the topic you want to write about, find a word or phrase that brings up information about what you want to write about, but does not bring up lots of articles with exactly that title.
In the old days you needed to repeat the keyword or key phrase so many times to get Google’s attention, that it ruined the article or blog. Today it must be in the title, the first paragraph, the last paragraph, and 3-5 times in the body of the article or blog depending on the length of the piece. All pictures should have Alt titles containing the Keyword or Key Phrase and the meta description should always contain the keyword of key phrase.
For really effective SEO today you need to read your blog and ask yourself, what is this about? If the answer is the keyword of key phrase you have chosen, it is Search Engine Optimized correctly.
- Create back-links to your content
Rule #4 “Back-links” to your content is important, it gives Google a creatable reason to send traffic to your blog or article based on other creatable websites acknowledging it as something worth linking to on your website.
The more back-links that point to your content, the more value search engines will assign to it. To increase the number of back-links to your content, which are obtained by responding and leaving comments in relevant articles, blog posts and forums with a link back to your website or blog URL. Just make sure your comment adds value to the conversation so it’s not viewed as spam.
A good small business content marketing program includes publishing your articles and blogs to sites such as:
- Stumblupon, a social sharing network that allows you to post blogs you favor and comment on that blog.
- Reddit, as social sharing network for younger audience, you must post by their rules, but can generate many back-links.
- Tumbler, very similar to Stumblupon and worth creating a social sharing account, and posting all your blogs and articles.
- DIG, quick, easy way to post your blog over and over.
- Yahoo! Contributor Network, great place to post and get a good back-link, comments and remember to answer comments.
- PublishMyself.net, another place to post and generate interest, back-link.
- ArticleOnlineDirectory, yet another good back-link
- Author Place, can generate comments and back-links
- Ezine Articles, another back-link
12)any forum dealing with the niche groups for which you are creating your articles. By posting to these forums you not only generate back-links, but you generate interest in your website as a possible source of more information on the topics that forum is discussing. Make sure to get involved in discussions around your article or blog and expand your “expert” representation of your topic.
You should also create a Google Profile and a detailed G+ account. G+ is one of the “weightiest” back-links you can self-generate, post everything on your site to G+. You should also join G+ groups, some have over 100,000 members and cover every topic you can think of, including your niche.
List the URLs affiliated with your company on all web directories like Google Places, Yellow Pages and Yelp, Claim and build out your listing pages on sites such as MerchantCircle and Angies List to maximize back-links to your blog.
Rule #5 Share everything you post to your website and to your social media network. Social sharing must include the URL link to the specific page or blog, write a great 2 line synopsis and always include a picture to stimulate interest to click on the URL link.
It goes without saying that you should promote any new content through social media channels such as your FaceBook Page, Twitter, Pinterest, G+ and LinkedIn. But instead of just posting the title, consider pulling out a key point from the content or posing a relevant question to pique readers’ interest.
Post to LinkedIn groups, you can find LinkedIn groups that cover almost any subject. Sign up for as many groups that fit your niche as you can, make a profile in that group, and post your blog or article to that LinkedIn forum. This generates more back-links and will generate questions and comments. Questions and comments from LinkedIn groups = potential leads.
Finally, don’t forget to make your content shareable as possible from your website using free social share bar plug-in tools. If someone shares your content, this will automatically create a back-link to your website and greatly amplify the reach of your content.