Starting a small business can be incredibly challenging. According to the Small Business Association (SBA), over 20 percent of startup businesses fail in their first year — and the survival rate only diminishes year over year. This means, as a small business, you will have your work cut out for you. It also means that successfully marketing your business will be extremely important. In order to not just survive, but to grow over the years, you will have to be able to market.

What exactly does successful marketing entail?

First of all, it means focusing on inbound marketing. Secondly, it requires that you create a content marketing strategy that functions as an essential component of your inbound marketing campaign.

The Benefits of Small Business Content Marketing

There are two main types of marketing: inbound and outbound. The main difference between the two types is that inbound marketing is a long-term strategy. Here, you put your brand in the best position to be found by your audience online. Whereas, outbound marketing advertises a brand directly to the audience without their involvement. Smaller businesses will have smaller budgets to work with, which is why local businesses should focus primarily on inbound marketing.

In order to position your business to be found, a content marketing strategy is essential. Content is the foundation on which all of your online marketing efforts need to be built upon. Content is what allows you to capture the interest of your audience and to build a stronger relationship with them. The following are just a few of the ways in which an effective content marketing strategy can benefit your local business:

  1. Increase your marketing ROI (return on investment) —Producing and posting content, whether it’s on your website, on social media or through an email campaign, is simply more affordable than traditional advertising (such as TV, radio and print ads). In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing costs around 62 percent less than any type of outbound marketing, while generating three times as many leads.
  2. Increase your brand awareness — The more content you publish, the more likely you are to increase exposure to your brand. For example, if readers share your content on social media, then their social circles will be more likely to see your content. Other sites are also more likely to find your content it’s shared like this, which can lead to the use of external links directed to your content, thereby providing even more exposure.
  3. Generate more website traffic — One of Google’s main goals is to present its users with high-quality content that’s relevant to their search queries. To do this, it ranks pages based on a variety of factors that determine the quality of the content. If you have high-quality, relevant content that’s properly optimized for SEO (search engine optimization), you’re likely to receive higher rankings on Google’s SERP (search engine results page), thereby providing more exposure and bringing in more traffic.
  4. Build more trust — If readers get the sense that you’re actually trying to help inform them and aren’t just peddling your products or services, you’ll earn their trust. By building trust, it becomes easier to capture leads — not to mention that it will help with your overall reputation as well.
  5. Establish yourself as a brand authority — The quality of your content can help you establish yourself as an authority within your field. This can help you build trust with your audience as well as attract the attention of other businesses within your industry, which could open up a variety of mutually beneficial opportunities.
  6. Nurture your leads more effectively — By providing your audience with a website full of informative content, you allow your leads to go through the beginning stages of the buyers’ journeys on their own. If your content is effective, they will come to you. You can then continue to use content, such as in your email marketing efforts, to nurture your leads down to the end of the sales funnel.
  7. Keep your brand relevant — Regularly publishing new content will help keep your website ranked highly. If you stop publishing content, your site will become stale and your organic traffic will drop off. Regularly publishing content will also help keep your brand at the top of mind of your audience, which is essential to maintaining a strong brand identity.
  8. Improve your sales — All of the benefits of content marketing lead to one thing — more sales. However, it’s important to understand that content marketing is a long-term strategy. You may not see an uptick in sales right away, but if you’re doing it right, you will see results over time.

Implementing an Effective Content Marketing StrategyAs evidenced above, the benefits of implementing a content marketing strategy are countless; however, you can’t just start publishing content on your website and expect to reap those benefits automatically. There is such a thing as bad content marketing, which is why it’s important to craft a sound strategy before you dive in headfirst. The following are some of the keys to creating an effective content marketing strategy:

  • Develop a buyer persona — When you write content, you need to write it for someone. If you don’t have a specific audience in mind, then your content will end up appealing to no one. Develop a buyer persona to make sure your content is relevant to your audience.
  • Set up a blog — A blog is one of the most effective ways to publish content on your website on a regular basis. Just make sure that you post content consistently and that you do it at the same time on the same days so that your audience knows when to expect new blog posts.
  • Create helpful, relevant content — Avoid advertising products and services in your content and focus more on content that is insight and unique. Nobody is going to read a blog full of ads — they want information that is helpful to them.
  • Optimize your content for SEO — Proper optimization, such as the use of internal and external links as well as unique keywords, will help make it easier to rank high on Goole’s SERP.
  • Use calls-to-action — Without calls-to-action, readers won’t know what to do. Use a tone of immediacy to recommend specific actions at the end of all of your content, whether it’s to sign up to your email list or to give you a call.
  • Encourage engagement — Encourage readers to share, like or comment by using social share buttons and providing a comment box. Engagement will help readers to connect with your brand more effectively.
  • Promote your content — If you don’t promote your content, nobody will read it. Post links to new content on social media and provide blog post links to email recipients when relevant.

As a local business, marketing is vital to both your survival and expansion. Content marketing will provide you with a strong long-term strategy that will allow you to meet numerous marketing goals if you execute it properly. It’s also one of the most cost-effective ways to market your local business, which is why it’s a marketing strategy that you can’t afford not to implement.