5 Must-Know Content Marketing Tips for Small Businesses
While many small-and-medium sized businesses (SMBs) understand the importance of content marketing , many lack the resources and expertise to develop an effecitve content marketing plan. We have interviewed Heather Martin, a SEO and content marketing expert with more than 20 years of marketing experience, to share her knowledge:
Can you share some of the steps you take to develop a content marketing plan?I know a lot of companies – especially smaller companies – struggle with developing a content marketing plan. They’re already overwhelmed and they might have done a few things here and there but they really don’t have a big plan in place. So the first thing I always suggest is going back to the basics and conducting a site audit.
Look at the content you’ve got on your site, figure out what’s good and not good, and go from there. That’s something you can do internally pretty easily, but there are times when either internal staff is time-strapped or you’ve looked at your content for so long that it’s hard for you to figure out what you would change. In that case, I’d recommend outsourcing the audit to a content strategist.
You also want to look at what the competition is doing and get a feel of how they’re rocking it - if they’re rocking it.
Lastly, one of the most important things in developing a content marketing plan is to plan and do what’s realistic. It’s so easy to get wound up and think “I have to create infographics, write blogs daily, come up with podcasts, and XYZ”. Depending on the company, it may be feasible or it may be a huge recipe for everything to blow up.
A little bit of excellent content is better than a bunch of so-so content. Creating quality content is better than creating little 200-word articles that don’t really help.
What is one metric you use to measure the performance of your content marketing program?This is different for every company because every company is going to have their own macro and micro conversion goals. They may want to sell something, receive a request for proposal, or have someone contact them for more information.
That said, one metric most companies look at is search positions. If you optimize the site well, especially a site that has had limited optimization in the past, you can often see an incredible lift in positions.
You also want to look at secondary goals such as newsletter sign-ups.
Lastly, you can look at engagement metrics. Are you in more people’s social conversations and are you being found more often online?
What's one on-page SEO tactic you’d recommend small business owners use to improve their websites’ search rankings?While there’s a lot of information out there about how small businesses can optimize their sites, I like to take a step beyond the optimization and look at their websites to see whether their content is any good.
One of the things I see with small-and-medium companies is when they set up their websites, they don’t have a lot of time and budget to produce content. Content creation may be their tenth priority in a long list of priorities. As a result, what goes up there is often written quickly and SEO isn't at the top of the writer's mind.
Spending time to write really good, optimized content helps with your SEO. Good content helps engage readers and drive sales because the target audience is searching for it.
What one trend do you expect to see in content marketing in 2015?The big thing I hear from a lot of folks is that they’re producing a lot of content and burning out. It’s hard. There are people who have been blogging for ten years and have said it all.
Marketing teams in general are maxed out. Before, writers could get away with writing an article that was 250 to 500 words long. But now, studies say that articles should be at least 1,000 words and up to 1,500 words long for maximum engagement. Not everyone can write 1,500 words in a reasonable time period!
To overcome this challenge, businesses are getting smart by doing something I call “content recycling.” They look at past content and find good content that could be revised and updated. For example, if you wrote an article about the Panda update back in the day, you can update the post by showing what's going on then and what's happening now.
So look for ways to update articles and add another spin to it. For instance, you can take existing articles and turn them into eBooks or whitepapers. There are all these ways you can use your existing content and recycle it to make it into really good, useful content that people still want to read. And it’s not that they’re reading the same old stuff again – you’re going in there and touching it up and updating it to be shiny and new.
You can save an incredible amount of time and money, once you’ve built a process for recycling content. Just look at the cost difference between hiring someone to create a brand new eBook versus hiring someone to take existing blog posts and stitching them together into an eBook.
Can you share three tactics you use to overcome a writer’s block?There are days that writing just doesn’t happen. Learning how to recognize these days fast and shifting your attention to other tasks is a smart way to overcome writer’s block. If you’re facing writer’s block, work on other tasks for a while and come back to the content in a few hours or the next day. You’ll often find that you can see the information in a new way.
Another technique to overcome writer’s block is to track your productivity. I wrote about this in my previous article, 5 Weird Writing Productivity Hacks That Work. A lot of writers have certain times when they can produce 500 word articles in 20 minutes. Then, there are times when their brains are just not clicking for that kind of creative endeavor. It makes the process much easier when you learn how to write with your patterns. You may realize that between 9am - 11am and 5pm - 7pm are when you're going to crank out the majority of your content. You can use those times to create content and use other times to work on other tasks that don’t require creativity. This approach can make writers incredibly more productive.
My final tip is exercise. There’s something about going out and taking a walk or taking a boot camp or whatever that exercise is. When exercising, you’re getting your mind off content creation for a while and when you come back, it’s not so bad.
Described as a fast-talking, fiery redhead, Heather Lloyd-Martin is a 20-year marketing veteran, a recognized author who is considered the pioneer of SEO copywriting. Recognized worldwide as a first-generation search marketing expert, her life is split between watching the search engines dance and pinpointing the exact direct response copywriting strategies that make people buy. She’s the CEO of SuccessWorks, a copywriting agency that offers SEO writing and content marketing services. If you want to reach her, please contact her via contact form or tweet her at @heatherlloyd.