Quick and Easy Guide To Content Marketing in 2013

BY: ON MONDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2012

We know how important it is for small businesses to create killer content. For many small business owners, however, the idea of content creation is a daunting one. And why not? Blogging isn't always easy, especially if you don't have the manpower or in-house talent to help craft your content. When times are tough for small businesses and money is tight, allocating resources to content creation doesn't necessarily seem like the smartest move, does it? 

With this sort of mentality, it's easy to let content marketing slide on your list of priorities. It may be more appropriate to think of a business' content as an entity that does most of its work “behind the scenes.” While an article or two every few months won't rake in the dough for the average small business, a steady stream of blogs and articles will develop a flux of new visitors and increased web traffic; such traffic ultimately leads to, well, leads. 

Still, many skeptics continue to see the benefits of content marketing as somewhat of a fairytale. Where's the proof? What's the point? Where are the numbers? 

The numbers do indeed exist, and here are some points for starters: 
  • 91% of business-to-business marketers are now using content marketing. 
  • Businesses that blog actively generate 67% more leads per month versus those that don't.
  • 79% of businesses are using content marketing for brand awareness, 74% for customer acquisition and 71% for lead generation. 
What can we take away from such statistics? 
  • Nearly every business today is taking part in some form of business blogging or content creation.
  • The more a business blogs, the more likely they are to create new leads. 
  • Businesses are creating content for multiple purposes, not just to draw in leads or sell a product. 
In short, most businesses are blogging and they're seeing results. If your business isn't blogging, chances are that you're part of the minority. Furthermore, there's a good chance that your competitors are creating content and therefore leaving your business a step behind. 

There's plenty we can take away from 2012 in terms of content marketing that will put small businesses on the right foot heading into 2013. Whether your business has already developed a content marketing strategy or you're just getting started, take the following four tips into consideration. The marketing world is one which changes rapidly; staying ahead of the curve will help maximize your returns in terms of content creation. 

Diversify Your Content

Don't just stick to the same old five-paragraph format for your articles and blog posts. With the rise of Social Media, especially with sites such as Facebook and Pinterest, many marketers are using images and infographics to market their businesses. Such items have a greater tendency to be shared or go viral; a single image with a shocking or surprising statistic in your industry can draw attention and go along way. This formula is proven to work; with image-based stories on Facebook receiving 37% more engagement than non-image based stories. Content represents more than just the written word, and while the written word most certainly is important, sometimes a picture can pack a punch. 

Furthermore, never assume that your content only serves a single purpose. Statements, facts and statistics from your articles can be used in the aforementioned images or infographics, for example. Additionally, your content can be shared and repackaged through email newsletters which are still prove useful in the content marketing world (with an estimated 78% of businesses still utilizing some sort of email newsletter). 

Put More Into It

Oftentimes it may feel like producing content for your business is either self-serving or boring, or perhaps even both. 

It doesn't have to be. 

Don't be afraid to get passionate or maybe strike a nerve when it comes to producing content for your business. Get involved and put a bit of yourself into it. Is your industry suffering? Let people know. Are you passionate about your product? Let people know. Do you feel the need to raise awareness for what your business is doing? Let people know. 

Some business owners may be hesitant to stir the pot or put their heart on their sleeve when it comes to their company. It's natural and sometimes beneficial to be cautious; however, every now and then it pays dividends to be passionate. 

This doesn't mean that you need to resort to scare tactics or be abrasive, it simply means that your personality should shine through your content if at all possible. The same old blogs and top-ten lists will eventually get overlooked. Putting some character in your content will provide your blog and business with a voice which will draw attention and be more prone to shares, likes and follows. 

Newsflash: Headlines Matter 

This may seem obvious; however, headlines are often botched by many marketers. How so? 

Headlines serve two purposes when it comes to content marketing online. The first purpose to grab the attention of the reader; this has been the purpose of the headline since the dawn of journalism. The second purpose is something more technical, that is, to utilize keywords where possible and to appeal to search engines.

While the second purpose may seem counterproductive to the first, there's a middle-ground for headlines which can both grab the attention of your audience and also utilize proper keywords related to your business. While shock-and-awe or increasingly negative headlines may seem to work out or get you hits, they may set an equally negative tone for your business, leave a bad taste in your readers' mouth and neglect the search-marketing aspect your content. 

Don't Sleep on SEO (or Social) 

Depending on who you ask, search marketing may or may not be rocket science. No matter how you cut it, however, creating content for your business is one of the best way to help boost your standing in the eyes of search engines. New content provides new opportunities for both users and Google to view your business and website as an authority. Focusing on long-tail keywords related to your business and industry and crafting content around those keywords is a crucial step in creating that precious search presence. 

Of course, social sharing continues to grow in importance in regard to content marketing. Sites such as Pinterest and Tumblr are becoming more and more prominent in social network and each play by a new set of rules different from the usual suspects such as Facebook and Twitter

Perhaps it seems like the SEO aspect of content marketing seems very familiar, and perhaps it feels like beating a dead horse. So many businesses owners know what they're supposed to do in terms of SEO, but how many are actually carrying out a search-friendly strategy? It's proven that content marketing generates leads, and many of those leads are going to come from blog traffic or the social network. Don't neglect these avenues.

The Bottom Line 

Content marketing is not a fairytale; nearly every small business online today is involved in some way, shape or form. Whether your business is looking to mix up its content strategy or is just getting started in the content marketing world, the tips above will help shape a strategy that will keep you ahead of the curve as you head into the New Year.

About the Author

Brent Barnhart
Brent Barnhart is a regular contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com. He covers a wide variety of topics through the written word, including content marketing, Internet marketing and small business trends. ChamberofCommerce.com is dedicated to helping small businesses grow their presence on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.
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