Ninety-three per cent of marketers now use content marketing as part of their overall marketing plan, up from 60 per cent a year ago, according to a survey by content marketing experts econsultancy.
The term has grown in popularity over the past couple of years, as experts recognise high-quality content as vital to gaining customers and building a successful brand.
The issue for small businesses and startups, however, is the potential costs: an editorial team, SEO experts, social media gurus… all these assets require a budget that the majority of small businesses just don’t have.
However, financial restraints don’t have to stand in the way of great success.
1. Do the bare minimum: start a blog
Cost: Free or practically free
More and more, businesses are paying attention to their blog. It is no longer an afterthought, a place to store semi-relevant information. Rather, successful blogs aid a company’s position as industry experts and give them the credibility and trust they need to develop their customer-base.
A few pointers to help:
- Post it on the same root domain as your website. In other words, don’t have a standalone blog. Your blog needs to be part of your main site to help boost SEO and drive traffic.
- Make sure your blog is branded and follows the same style guides as the rest of your site – consistency is what helps establish the brand and encourages brand loyalty.
- Link to your blog from your main page. Ensure your blog is easy to find by putting it in the navigation bar at the top of your site.
2. Post at least once a week
Cost: Free or cheap
This may seem like a daunting task, especially if you don’t consider yourself a writer, but it’s important to keep content fresh and consistent in order to boost the traffic to your site and increase your SEO value. This also helps build a loyal following.
If you don’t have a budget to hire a dedicated content writer, you will need to write the blog posts yourself. Alternatively you can hire a freelancer on a piece-by-piece basis for roughly £10-£20 per article, depending on length and topic. Sites such as People Per Hour give you access to a range of freelancers who, often, will work on a budget.
3. Focus on your area of expertise
You and your company are the experts on a certain subject matter. It’s very likely to be related to the business you’re in. What can you teach your customers and prospects to help them get ahead? How is this best communicated? Here you have your content.
Factors to consider
Create a document that must be followed whenever creating content. This will help guide you in the early stages and will ensure consistency as you grow and begin hiring others to do the content for you.
Outline image formatting, define the tone and voice and lay down some ‘writing for the web’ guidelines. Ensure you keep this up to date as your business, and inevitably, your content, evolves. Being clear about your style guidelines saves time and money further down the line.
This will help you plan your content strategy and will give you something concrete to work towards. Where possible, always ensure you meet your deadlines, this will help keep you organised and on the right track.
Strategy is key to effectiveness and will ensure you continue to develop going forward. Having a clear outline of what you wish to achieve, as well as documenting your progress, will also help you to keep on top of any extra costs, and to evaluate the effectiveness of your content marketing. This will, in turn, help you decide how much to invest in the future.
Sophie Turton is assistant web editor of Crunch Accounting.
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