How To Do Content Marketing On A Small Budget
Content marketing is about building your brand’s reputation online with a view to pulling customers towards your brand.
Content marketing is different from direct advertising or a campaign by campaign approach.
Why Do Content Marketing?
Small business and local business owners may be a little bit uncertain about this new mysterious marketing technique. But really when it comes to the digital space, content marketing is less technically complicated than other digital advertising techniques such as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads, banner ads, YouTube video ads and so on.
And the trendlines are clear. Here is data from Google Trends.
(Google Trends result for ‘Content Marketing’)
Content marketing at its simplest level may mean adding a blog to your business website and posting content there regularly.
So, if you are a famous (or a new) bakery shop owner, you may want to post some of your baking secrets or tips on the blog. Similarly, if you own a specialist seafood restaurant, you can post prawn and shrimp recipes to the restaurant’s blog and help people cook tasty seafood themselves.
If you sell hiking equipment, you can always post tips about safe hiking practices or safe whitewater rafting practices to your site’s blog.
GoPro, which sells action cameras, aims to differentiate itself from other camera companies by claiming to be a content company.
Once your business acquires a certain size, you can do content marketing at scale. Both employees as well as consumers can become participants by creating content for you — basically, becoming volunteer evangelists for your business.
Consumers may do this by writing about their own transformative experience with a product or service sold by your company. Or, consumers may upload a video to YouTube that showcases the GoPro camera or the ‘Insane’ mode of their Tesla or its ‘AutoPilot’ features.
There is more to content marketing …
You may ask: what return do I get on my ‘investment’ in content marketing? First of all, the great benefit and advantage of content marketing is that it suits the pockets and budgets of all sizes. It can be done free of cost or you may need to spend a few thousands of dollars per annum on your content marketing effort.
And the ROI will be there. With content marketing, it takes time for results to show. There are SEO and organic search benefits as your content spreads across different social media.
Content marketing is not like a traditional advertising ‘campaign’ or its digital equivalent.
If you spend X amount of dollars on a PPC campaign or a banner ad or a Facebook campaign, the ROI on that will be measurable but clearly any gains of that campaign will be short-lived.
Think of the effect of such an ad campaign as being like the chart below:
(Benefits of Digital advertising plotted against time)
With content marketing, the reach, engagement, and trust keeps increasing over time.
Think of the benefits of content marketing over time as being somewhat like the chart below:
(Benefits of Content marketing plotted against time)
There is no fixed duration of content marketing as it is not a traditional advertising ‘campaign.’ It is more of a persistent, ongoing effort to capture the mindshare among your target audience and convert them into potential customers.
The primary purpose of content marketing is to enhance your brand’s online personality. Once your audience is hooked on the useful, engaging, or entertaining content from your brand, it is a matter of time before you can convert them into your customers.
The ROI after six months of a content marketing campaign can easily reach 300% and it keeps increasing over time. But the ROI depends on the quality of content.
Outsourcing Content Marketing to A Digital Marketing Agency
You should perform a cost-benefit analysis of which approach to content marketing works best for you.
Your options are:
✓ As the founder/owner, you do all of the content marketing yourself including writing the blog posts, replying to the blog comments, posting to social media, keeping tabs on the different social media reactions and conversations happening
✓ You put someone in-house as the guy in charge of content marketing and she takes care of all of the above tasks noted in point No. 1 above
✓ You hire someone to a full-time position to be in charge of all of your company’s content marketing
✓ Or, you outsource your content marketing efforts to a digital marketing agency such as Mind Digital.
Experienced digital marketing agencies will be able to expertly manage your content marketing campaign while ensuring all the right boxes are checked such as:
✓ Good quality content
✓ Presenting the content in a variety of forms such as blog posts, pdfs, slideshares, podcasts, videos, etc.
✓ Maintaining a regular content calendar
✓ And regularly posting to social media.
For small business owners, it may be better to focus on the core business rather than on creating content and so on. Similarly, having a full-time content professional in-house may be an overkill for a startup.
Outsourcing content marketing to a digital marketing agency is the most cost-effective solution.
SEO And Content Marketing
With Google growing more sophisticated in how it ranks websites in the organic search results, having good quality, fresh content is one of the best ways to rank well in the search engine result pages (SERPs).
When your content is shared widely on social media or has good quality backlinks from high authority websites, Google gets the ranking signal it needs.
You simply cannot conceive of an SEO campaign without content these days. And content — properly executed content campaigns — always carries an SEO signal or contains an SEO message for search engines.
Your content needs to have the target SEO keywords sprinkled in it as well as the LSI keywords and Google will do the rest.
One of the benefits of outsourcing content marketing to a professional SEO agency is that they are well acquainted with the necessary keyword density requirements as also how to avoid keyword stuffing.
With the right keyword research using tools like the Google Keyword Planner, you can really get to the high return long-tail keywords. SEO professionals at SEO agencies such as Mind Digital will have experience with finding out the correct long-tail keywords by conducting keyword research.
How To Do Content Marketing On A Small Budget
Adopt a multi-pronged approach to content marketing
This benefits your readers some of whom may like to read blog posts while others may prefer to download content in pdf format for reading later. Still others may prefer podcasts while short YouTube videos may be the format of choice for others.
So, present your content as:
A. Blog posts
When you push the same content out in different formats, you should also study how they are doing relative to one another.
If you have invested your own time as the business owner/founder in writing the blog posts, creating the podcasts/videos, infographics, pdfs, and so on, then you would be interested to know which of these activities represented the best investment of your time.
After all, making a slick video or a good looking infographic will require time even if you have created the content while writing blog post.
On the other hand, if you have outsourced content marketing to a digital marketing or SEO agency, then evaluating the cost and performance of each type of content becomes even more important so that you can smartly allocate your content marketing and digital marketing budget.
Quality Over Quantity
You should not worry about how often your competitor posts content. Some bloggers may be able to post good quality content thrice a week: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. That’s great! But you may find that pace difficult to sustain initially. Not a problem! You may opt for two blog posts per week. No point in having blog content that does not provide exceptional value or have some useful info for your readers. You should only try to post content that is likely to gain traction across social media and that will oly happen if your content is top notch, unique, and exceptional.
Think of the Olympics. There are teams from more than 200 nations playing in Rio at the moment. Probably the United States will be at the top of the medal tally at the end of the Games. Or China will be.
Look at the size of their teams. And also look at the team sizes of the UK and Australian contingents. Remember that the population of these four nations ranges from 1.4 billion to 20 million.
Which country out of the above is likely to win the most number of gold medals or any medals on a per capita basis? Most likely, that country will be Australia.
You can then say that Australia is the highest quality nation in terms of athletic prowess and excellence.
Don’t Waste Money on Trying to Create Viral Content
There is no secret formula to guessing the correct Powerball combination. Otherwise, everybody — or, lots of persons — would guess the correct combination.
Similarly, there is no secret formula to creating viral content. A Buzzfeed watermelon bursting experiment goes viral but you cannot plan that in advance — it is likely that hundreds of copycat viral video attempts have failed.
Sure, if you can have two men in jet packs flying over Dubai, the resulting video will get millions of views on YouTube, but that video means huge expenses. Drone videos are cheaper to make. Drone videos of the construction progress of Apple’s Campus 2 get good hits on YouTube as also videos of people boiling an iPhone in Coke.
Your challenge is to come up with something that is both creative and cheap. Philippe Petit’s stunt from 1974 where he walked across the top of the towers of the World Trade Center would probably be a guaranteed viral sensation today but tougher security would probably make the walk impossible in the first place.
Repurpose Great Content
Repurposing content means converting one form of content into another. If you have a blog post, if it easy to convert it into a slideshow or infographic, or a podcast, or video. It depends on your level of familiarity with these different content formats.
By presenting your informative content in multiple formats, you are able to get the maximum return on your research effort that went into writing the original blog post. Also, you can reach a larger audience by presenting your content in different formats.
Guest Blogging as A Source of Free Content
You can create a guest blogging page on your site where bloggers can pitch their blog posts. Of course, you reserve the right to accept or reject these pitches. You may end up rejecting about 90 percent of them but you may find a few good pieces occasionally that are worthy of publication and make the effort worthwhile.
Content Marketing Tips
Become A Better Writer
It’s always a good idea to improve your writing skills. If you are planning to handle the bulk of content marketing yourself, you can work on improving your writing skills so that you can produce increasing better content over time.
One of the key enablers for you to become a good writer is of course to read good stuff — whether online or offline. There are lots of long-form content that is published regularly online on an ongoing basis: The New Yorker is one good source and there are content aggregation services like Pocket and Longreads Weekly which will send the best of the day and best of the week email newsletters if you subscribe to them.
Here are a few tips to write persuasive, compelling online content:
✓ Online content should be presented in easily digestible form. You need to craft a really good headline to pull the reader in.
✓ There should be good subheaders as well.
✓ Short paragraphs with up to four sentences is the name of the game.
✓ Use active voice and avoid passive sentence construction.
✓ Use short sentences with not more than twenty words.
✓ Use the word ‘you’ to address your reader.
✓ Make it punchy.
Ensure Your Content Is Factually Accurate
Donald Trump may have come quite a long distance despite many plainly inaccurate claims on the campaign trail — and he continues to venture into uncharted territory — but you cannot hope to make an impact as a trustworthy and informative writer if you do not care about accuracy. So, skip the hyperbole and be sober.
Ensure Your Content Is Grammatically Correct
Having silly grammatical errors creep into your content can detract from the impact it can have on the reader. So, find someone — your spouse or kids who might do a quick proofreading of your content before or after you hit publish; but preferably before.
Develop A Unique Voice
This is probably easier said than done. You can present personal anecdotes in your writing or talk about politics or be unique in some way. It should reflect who you actually are — be authentic and people will likely love it. Social media such as Twitter is a great tool where you can reveal the informal side of yourself to all.
Make Content Easy to Engage With
You should enable comments on your blog posts so that your readers can provide feedback or ask for clarifications. You should engage with your community. You can add ‘Click to Tweet’ functionality to your content to make your content more shareable. There are WordPress plugins available as well as various other solutions you can find by a Google search.
Different Formats For Different Folks
We have already talked about the benefits of presenting your content as blog posts, email newsletters, PDFs, infographics, podcasts, YouTube videos, and so on.
Rich Media Content
Make content attractive to look at. Use Instagram and Pinterest images, video embeds and so on to make your blog posts attractive.
The battle to capture eyeballs in the online space is huge and digital ad spending is expected to overtake television ads in 2017 or 2018. Along with the growth in digital advertising, content marketing is growing non-stop. Here is a useful overview of the whole content marketing landscape.
The biggest benefit of content marketing as a digital advertising technique is that it can be done as cheaply as you want. Whether you choose to do all of it yourself or opt to outsource your content marketing to a digital marketing agency or SEO agency, you should remember that this is something for the ‘long-haul’ and the benefits will show eventually.
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