One of the fundamental markers of commercial success is growth, yet it is incredibly hard to achieve on a consistent basis.
Growth usually occurs in fits and bursts, with some healthy months that deliver an excess of trade, followed by barren spells which force you to limit further investment. However, there are certain principles you can follow which will improve your chances of consistently growing your business.
For example, content marketing is a proven method for building online audiences, establishing yourself as a thought leader in your market, increasing your website traffic and interacting with customers.
Perhaps most crucially, it helps you build a strong brand identity which can reward you with more prospects, a higher level of customer loyalty and the ability to market your business with far less friction.
Here are seven tips for growing your business using content marketing:
1. Effective content marketing can improve the efficiency of your business model
Running a business successfully is all about making every workflow process as efficient as possible. Whether you are trying to save costs without sacrificing build quality when creating products, optimizing your workforce’s productivity or selling your products and services to customers, it is vital that there are no rough edges or weak links within your business model.
Your marketing campaigns should be no different.
Many companies treat their marketing as an exception to the rule, spending far too much time, money and effort trying to keep up with their competition’s marketing departments or focusing their attention in the wrong areas.
This is somewhat understandable, because if you are a business owner then it is unlikely that you are a marketing expert. You won’t know what is worth spending time on, and what you are better off without.
Thankfully, successful content marketing can make your overall business model more (rather than less) efficient.
The reason for this is that content marketing can provide a sales funnel from the beginning to the end of your client journey. Creating SEO blog posts, podcasts, videos, thought leadership pieces and social media content can all attract prospects, which longer-form content and landing pages will (hopefully) convert into customers.
This saves you from having to waste resources on different avenues of marketing – such as social media advertising, billboard advertising and even pay-per-click.
Instead, your content marketing will blend your advertising with resources that your customers find useful – such as how-to guides, industry opinions and interviews with relevant experts.
Of course, in order to make your approach to content writing efficient, you need to ensure that other areas of your business are already optimized.
For example, you don’t want to start dedicating time to building a content marketing strategy, only for (for example) your accounting department to suffer an issue and require your time instead. To help make other departments more efficient, try automated software – such as MYOB accounting software.
2. Have a detailed understanding of who your audience is
In order to be successful with your content marketing, you need to have a thorough understanding of who your audience is.
This is because content marketing is only effective when it speaks to a certain audience and provides them with specific answers to their problems. Trying to appeal to everyone is a fool’s errand and will only lead to bland content that no one will want to read.
Instead, conduct detailed market research on your target audience. You may already have a good idea of who these people are and what their problems are because you sell them products and services.
However, trying to create content for them requires a particular depth of knowledge. You need to pinpoint who they are (customer avatars are useful to create during this process), what problems they need solving or questions they need answering, and which forms of content appeal most to them.
This last point is often overlooked by brands.
It is easy to produce content that feels easy to you, or that you enjoy consuming yourself, but if your audience doesn’t consume it then you are wasting your time. This even goes for the type of platform you upload the content to.
For example, if you upload daily content to Instagram but your audience is older and resides on Facebook instead, then it doesn’t matter how good your posts are, you aren’t going to receive engagement.
3. Use SEO to drive organic traffic to your website
Search engine optimization is one of the most powerful tools in your content marketing armory.
SEO is used to help websites rank high on search engine results pages (or SERPs for short). To use SEO successfully, you need to research the top keywords (common words or phrases that your target audience is searching for) and build content based on them.
For example, you could create a website blog post which answers the question your audience is asking or discuss a topic which is popular in your market.
With SEO, it is not good enough to pepper average content with keywords and hope your site ranks higher on search engines. You need to provide value to your audience.
You can do this by thoroughly researching your content, genuinely helping to solve their problem (rather than waffling for 500 words), and creating content that is engaging.
4. Grow your website blog
Following on from the previous point, one of the best ways to improve your website’s SEO is to start a blog.
You can use this blog to attract more traffic to your website, demonstrate your expertise and prove your legitimacy and trustworthiness as a business.
By posting about hot topics in your industry, you prove that your finger is on the pulse, that you are experts in your field, and that you can help your customers. Many readers will subsequently buy from you out of loyalty because you have demonstrated your worthiness already.
The trick to growing a blog is consistency. It takes a long time to accumulate an audience and will require a great deal of patience on your behalf.
You will have to post at least weekly (but preferably daily), without letting your quality dip. It can also be useful to link your blog to a social media account or other forms of content, in order to supercharge the process.
5. Diversifying your content marketing can establish you as a thought leader
One of the most powerful benefits of a successful content marketing strategy is its ability to establish you as an expert voice in your industry. Everyone wants to prove that they know more about their trade than their competitors, but it is incredibly difficult to do unless your business has existed for a considerably long time.
Instead, by writing regular blog posts which share key market insights, starting a podcast which discusses relevant topics and interviews interesting figures from your industry, a YouTube channel which teaches people how to solve difficult problems or featuring yourself (as a business owner or spokesperson) in other people’s content, your audience will begin to regard you as an expert.
Of course, you will have to pair this consistency with actual expertise, but it is a far stronger approach than relying upon customer testimonials alone.
When it comes to creating a strategy, focus on one or two core forms of content that you can rely upon. For instance, you may want to create a website blog and a video channel, then dip your toe into other forms of content on other people’s platforms.
Remember not to become too distracted by diversification. It can make you look professional, but it is no substitute for quality content. If you feel stretched thin across multiple channels, focus on the strongest platform and stick to it.
6. Use social media to expand your online audience
The world is not short of brands which use social media as part of their content strategy – but there is a good reason for it. Social media is an immensely effective form of content marketing when used properly and can quickly generate a passionate online audience.
However, it is important to note that like all forms of content, it takes consistency to build a strong following on social media. Stay abreast of industry topics, and community dates (such as Pride Month and other popular national events), interact with your audience regularly and pick the right social media platform for your audience type.
7. Make sure you have content calendar
Staying on top of your content posting can be an enormous headache. To make your life considerably easier (and to prevent you from missing any important dates in the diary), create a content calendar.
This will help you map out a coherent strategy across your various platforms, optimize posting times and other important details, as well as have the content approved by the relevant people within your company.
A content calendar will make it simpler to plan content months in advance, giving you more time to map out great ideas and make them happen before the deadline. This will stop you from feeling overwhelmed by the weight of creating content every day, and ensure you remain consistent.
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