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The Importance of Content

We’ve all heard the term “content marketing” bandied about over the last year and some may have thought, “Well that’s one more thing to add to my list of marketing To Do’s.”  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with new marketing best practices popping up everyday. I’m here to tell you that content marketing is one of the “biggies” that small business owners need to invest in and here’s why…

Why Invest in Content?

If you’re wondering, “What the heck is content marketing,” don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Content marketing is the practice of creating assets (ebooks, webinars, videos, white papers, infographics, blogs, etc) that are useful to your target audience and distributing those assets via channels (social media, blog posts, email etc.) for your audience to consume. The purpose of this practice is three fold:

1.    Add value to the consumer & increase Brand awareness – By creating a piece of content that solves an issue for them or makes something easier, you are already adding value to your soon to be customer.  As that customer develops amiable feelings toward the creator of this content, your brand (a.k.a. your small business) begins to take root in their mind and they think of you as “the good guys” (or gals).

2.    Increase your authority with the search engines  – What if I told you, you can make your potential customers happy while ALSO making Google happy? YOU CAN! When you create topically relevant content for your business and give it away for free online, Google says, “Heck yeah! This person/business is providing value to users on this topic. Let’s help people find it!” This may be a gross over simplification, but the fact of the matter is winning over Google’s heart can be boiled down to this simple equation: Visibility = Authority + Relevancy.  If you distribute enough relevant content, you can become an authority and gain visibility.

3.    Gain leads for your business & measure user intent – When I said, “…give it away for free…” I wasn’t kidding, but it isn’t totally free either. I am referring to the other currency in today’s digital marketing world: contact information. Asking for a user’s name and email address is both common place and accepted by the public in order to receive their requested information. Think back to the days when, as a business owner, you distributed flyers and hoped that the recipient would call you for business.  You had no way to track whom you gave that flyer to and no way to follow up. Now, not only can you follow up with your potential customer, you can surmise where they are in the buying process depending on what they download!  Chances are if they downloaded a white paper on your business’ statistics of client satisfaction rates, they are a lot closer to purchasing than if they watched your introductory video.

What Type of Content is Right for Your Small Business?

To find the type of content that will be most effective for your small business, you first need to ask, “What type of information can I provide to my target audience that will be helpful, entertaining, and engaging?”  You should know your customers like the back of your hand and therefore know what questions they want answered in the buying process or what issues concern them.

For instance, a software company’s target audience might be healthcare professionals who are sole proprietors of their practice. While the company may specialize in practice management software, they know their clients are concerned about recent changes that require them to move to electronic health records. Providing a webinar on upcoming electronic healthcare record deadlines can provide value for their target audience, build trust for their brand, and allow the company to grow their database of healthcare professionals.

Whatever your business may be, answering the question, “How can I provide value to my target market?” will give you a great jumping off point for what kind of content will be effective for you.

Measuring Your Success with Content Marketing

Measuring your success is a key component of content marketing that many businesses overlook.  Overlooking the measurement of your efforts is like getting to the 10 yard line after driving down the field and taking a knee because you’ve come far enough. It would be simply ludicrous to not follow through after all of your hard work.

Luckily for small business owners, Google Analytics makes this step simple with goals and funnels.  Google Analytics is a free tool that EVERYONE should have installed on their website (there is really NO excuse for not having this). Within your Admin panel in Analytics, you can tell Google what your goals are on your website and if you’d like to assign a value to them. So if you are an organic vinegar company and have an ebook on the many uses of vinegar as a household cleaner, you would add a goal to track each time a user downloaded that ebook with a URL destination goal.

Tracking this information allows you to see what content is resonating with your audience or what you need to improve upon.  If you neglect this step, you run the risk of wasting your valuable resources creating content that isn’t producing leads or adding value to your target audience.

Have you used content marketing effectively for your business? What type of content resonates well with your audience? Tell us in the comments!

Gwen Beren

Author Gwen Beren

Gwen Beren is founder and CEO of Illuminous Marketing, Inc. in Southern California. She is passionate about SEO, social media, and voice search, as well as how consumers adapt to emerging technologies. Follow her on Twitter @IlluminousGwen.

More posts by Gwen Beren

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