Content Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

“Content marketing is the future of marketing,” says Daryl Colwell, vice president of MediaWhiz, a digital media and performance marketing agency. “It’s how you should be building your business,” he adds.

If you haven’t heard of content marketing yet, it’s “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action,” as defined by the Content Marketing Institute.

Great, but what’s that mean in real life? Well, have you ever produced a webinar, white paper, customer success story, podcast, blog post, or Facebook status update that offers something meaningful to prospects and customers — while also giving them a reason to do business with you? Congratulations, you’ve done content marketing.

According to a recent Econsultancy and Adobe report, content marketing is the top priority for digital marketers in 2013. In the survey, 39 percent of respondents said content marketing was their number one focus this year. By comparison, in 2012 only 29 percent of digital marketers cited content marketing as a top priority. During that year, content marketing ranked below social media engagement, content optimization, conversion rate optimization, and brand building/viral marketing.

The recent Online Marketing Summit (OMS) in San Diego, devoted five sessions to some aspect of content marketing. If you’ve never heard of content marketing, much less understand how to do it, don’t worry. Here’s what small business owners and managers need to know.

No doubt about it, this is content marketing’s moment.

Why Content Marketing Matters Now

The Panda update to Google’s algorithm, first rolled out in February 2011 and subsequently revised several times, has helped make content marketing a top priority among marketers. The Panda update lowered the Google search rankings of many sites with low-quality content, such as pages overly stuffed with keywords that offer little, if any, real information.

Conversely, Google wants pages that offer original, fresh, non-spammy content from trusted and authoritative websites to place higher in its search rankings.

In addition, there’s a consensus that consumers are tired of online ads and are looking for valuable information. Some 70 percent of consumers prefer to learn about companies from original content instead of ads, according to recent data from the Custom Content Council.

“Advertising interrupts, seeks to sell, is one-sided, unsolicited, and often ignored or forgotten,” says Clayton Stobbs, director of client experience at content marketing platform Compendium.

“Good content invites, seeks to inform, is conversational, sought after, engaged and shared.”

Content marketing has another important benefit, noted Arnie Kuenn, president of Internet marketing company Vertical Measures. “An online advertising campaign disappears when you stop paying for it, but a piece of content posted online lives on as long as you want,” he says.

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