If you want to use online marketing, there is no other option: you need content. You see, in order to be found online and to optimize your website for search results, you need content on your website. And since Belgium is a country of SMEs, we are happy to share 12 content marketing tips to help you improve your online marketing actions starting right now.
But before we dive into that, let us explain exactly what content marketing is.
In our opinion, content marketing is the whole process of content creation AND promotion, in order to attract a specific target audience (read: buyer personas), convert them into leads, and eventually convince them to buy your product or service.
If you search for definitions online, you will find many variations. But in the end, marketing always comes down to the fact that you want to convert visitors into customers through your marketing actions. And content plays a crucial role in this effort of yours.
Do you have a different definition? Let us know, we are curious, and we like to learn.
Content marketing takes time and energy. Most people do not like to write. And those who do like to write, like to know for what purpose and for which target audience. So always start from your strategy.
When you use content marketing, it is important to know who your target audience is. Define your buyer personas, so you know who you are writing for and what they are looking for exactly. Also map their buyer journey in as much detail as possible. On the basis of this, you can determine what contact moments there are for each step. You can then create content for these moments.
In this way, you will be able to use your content in a much more targeted way and you will also be able to measure the ROI.
More content is created nowadays than you can ever consume in a lifetime. And unfortunately, there is also a lot that is not worth the effort. We believe that content should add value. Does it teach people something? Does it inspire? Do you entertain your target audience with it? Then your content marketing mission is accomplished. This tip may sound very obvious, but we cannot emphasize it enough. Far too many companies are still tempted to produce mediocre or even bad content. It costs money, but delivers no ROI.
If you do go for quality, it will also take some more time. A daily or weekly blog post is not feasible for many SMEs. Go for a fortnightly or even monthly, but make sure it is REALLY good. By the way, this principle also applies to your content promotion. Do not be present on all social media with a dormant account. Rather choose only one or two channels where you can be active.
Working out your strategy is one thing. Have you also documented it, for example in a content plan? Because marketers with a documented strategy report 313% more marketing success than those without a documented strategy.
This documentation can be done with a content plan. In it you make your strategic decisions concrete, with information about:
We also strongly advise you to use a content calendar with an overview of which content you will post when via which channel. You can for example work with periodic content types or topics, you can work on certain themes each month, and you can also indicate which content types you want to use for that. Ideally, you and your entire content team work from the same calendar. That way, all stakeholders always know exactly what is coming up and what their responsibilities are.
A CTA, or call to action, is an element in your online communication (website, email, social media…) that prompts people to take action. Right, it’s in the name itself. It’s great when people visit your website, but not much happens if you don’t nudge them in the right direction every now and then. That is what you do with a call to action.
Note: it is a lot harder than just dumping buttons here and there on your website. Think carefully if the text in your CTA fits the content you are putting it with. Is your CTA on the right place? Don’t hide your CTA in a place where nobody goes, for example. You can check this with heatmap tools like Hotjar. Also make sure your CTA stands out: make it big enough and make sure the colour stands out. Otherwise, the number of clicks will be significantly lower than what you’ve hoped for.
Storytelling works. People have been telling each other stories to inspire, teach or entertain since time immemorial. Storytelling existed before writing existed. And it works: just think about which keynotes you remember and which you don’t. I bet you only remember those sessions where the speaker really told stories. At least, I do.
Start from your own experiences, or those of your employees. You have experienced things and can tell interesting things from your own unique perspective. Case studies are also good examples of storytelling: you tell how you solved a problem for the customer, whether or not with some figures to back it up.
Still doubting the usefulness of storytelling? Then also read this blog post.
You might be thinking: “Funny, this content plan and storytelling, but should we be blogging? Or should we do videos?” Right questions. On the one hand, different people have different preferences when it comes to content. Some like to read blog posts, others prefer to watch video content.
So vary your content types. It’s certainly not obvious to alternate blog posts with nice videos, interesting visuals, insightful infographics and case studies. But one type of content lends itself better to social media, the other more to your website. And case studies are also more interesting at the end of the buyer journey than at the very beginning. But you will notice that the extra effort does pay off.
We marketers call this with a fancy term ‘content repurposing’. But you can also just call it content recycling. In concrete terms, we mean that you can cut a blog post into pieces to post on social media, for example. Or you can use it to make a video that you can attach to your blog post for those people who prefer video. Maybe you can also compile blog posts into a whitepaper, for example.
That way, you don’t have to think up new content every time you want to post something, and you automatically get different content types. A smart way of dealing with content.
Whatever content you create, make sure it is visually appealing. Of course you post content on your own website within your branding guidelines, but make sure you also use graphs, images or memes that illustrate your content, make it easier to understand or land on your reader.
In infographics or white papers, you can add icons that give your reader a handhold through the whole thing. And in video content you can also add visuals that support your content or just make the whole look better. And don’t be afraid to be creative, as long as you achieve your goal and remain recognisable, you are showing some attitude.
No matter how good your content is, it’s a waste of time if nobody reads it. Creating content and putting it on your website is an important step, anyway. But of course you create that content with the aim of reaching as many people as possible.
To achieve that, you will have to promote your content. So find out where exactly your audience is. Is that on Facebook or rather on LinkedIn? Have you also checked groups and forums? There might be some very interesting people from your target audience there. So spend enough time there. A good rule of thumb here: spend as much time on promoting your content as on creating it.
Besides social media, there is also such a thing as e-mail marketing. This is often treated with some difficulty or scepticism. But e-mail marketing still works extremely well, and is still very relevant.
Most companies use a CRM system (hopefully you do too), or at least have a list somewhere with existing contacts. These are customers, but also prospects, suppliers or leads. At some point they have shown an interest in your products or services, or have entered into a customer-supplier relationship with you. Updates from your side are therefore also relevant for them. And as everyone knows: convincing an existing customer to make a new purchase is much easier than convincing new customers. So don’t forget to send those people an e-mail once in a while. But don’t overdo it either, and make sure your emails are relevant at all times and as personalised as possible.
Do you want to know how to start with e-mail marketing? Then just read this blog post.
Your content marketing efforts are hopefully a great success. But you’ll only know this when you formulate concrete goals AND measure your progress. You put a lot of time and energy into creating blog posts and video content, and into your social media channels. You’ve defined the goals you want to achieve. Don’t skip this step and measure your results.
Each of your social media channels has an analytics dashboard with relevant numbers. And your visitors on your website generate data that you can capture with Google Analytics. Your email marketing tool also contains figures on your email campaigns. And if you opt for an all-in-one platform, then your analytics will become even more transparent.
Anyway, with the figures you get from there, you learn what content works and what does not, what the best times are on social media, and so on. You also learn a lot about your buyer personas, which you can further refine with this data. With this data, you can then also use content in a more targeted way. Measuring is therefore a really important step, as boring as it may sound.
Doing all your content marketing alone takes up quite a bit of time, especially if you want to post regularly. Don’t do it alone: get some help. That is perfectly possible within your organisation if you have the right people for it who also have time and know-how. Moreover, from their own expertise they can come up with interesting insights that will further enrich your content.
Don’t you have those people or don’t they have the time or knowledge? Then you can also look externally for the right expertise. There are plenty of people available who can help you further and who can also focus 100% on your content. All you have to do is brief those people and follow up a bit. This way, you get the necessary expertise and you can continue working on your core business. On the other hand, of course, you also have to pay the external party.
There you have it: our 12 content marketing tips for SMEs. Every company has a lot of content to share. Even the so-called ‘boring sectors’. Many just don’t realize it themselves. Surf around and you will see what I mean. So: do some work on it anyway, and use content to attract your ideal customers. It will take some time, but once your content is live it will work for you. Hopefully, you got some inspiration and now you can get started with content marketing. Take advantage of our tips. Good luck!
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