These days, managing a small business can be a tough assignment. Everything has been digitized, so even if you're running a smaller operation, providing products and services offline just isn't enough. You need an online presence, constantly. Landing pages, newsletters, social media - whatever is necessary to showcase your brand. This is where content comes in, as an integral part of managing and promoting a business online.
Your business content is the materials that you provide to consumers, both in terms of text-based information and images like photos, infographics, and video. The nature of your content will depend upon your industry and, your audience, and your brand message. Using effective content helps you draw more customers, develop your company reputation, and create loyalty and recognition.
To get the best results with the least effort, you need to come up with a strategy. This will include not just your visual and written message, but where, when, and how your content is published. The following are some useful suggestions to determine your own content strategy.
The type of content you use should reflect the nature of your business and the preferences of your target audience. You want to send the right message to the right people. There's a wide variety of content types you can try, including animated graphics, maps, tutorials, blog-style articles, audio files, or interactive content like surveys or games.
You can also offer special content like webinars, apps, or e-books as a bonus or reward for customer loyalty. Using different content on different platforms helps to cement your message with varied market segments. No matter what content you determine that your targeted audience prefers, everything you use should be original, interesting, and of value to your following.
One of the most effective ways to get attention is to align your content with the hot topics that people are currently talking about. This could be politics, entertainment, sports, or anything else people have demonstrated a strong interest in. Be certain that all your information is up-to-date, or better, can identify and explain emerging trends. This helps you stay ahead of rivals re-hashing the same old content.
It also pays off to monitor what your top competitors are doing. You can learn from their successes and adapt their content and strategies to your own use. You'll also learn what not to do from their failures.
Coming up with great ideas every day is impossible. You'll also find that certain days of the week, or certain times of day, will get you the best audience response. Do your research to find the best times to connect on each platform you use, and devise a schedule so that you can plan your content publishing accordingly.
Following a well-researched schedule will ensure you reach the maximum amount of viewers every time. Regular followers will also become accustomed to when they can expect fresh, exciting content from your company. You'll extend market awareness and build loyalty through increased visibility and conversation.
Your own website, blog, and social media profiles can become engines for directly contacting your client base. You can gather important feedback and stats on user interaction through online analytics, comments, and real-time social dialogue. If you provide content that's engaging and provides your prospects and customers with some value, they'll keep coming back.
Story-telling is also engaging to most audiences. You can discuss your own business challenges and triumphs, or talk about great customer experiences and how you saved the day by providing fast service or went out of your way to make them happy. Depending on your brand, cute mascots or intriguing spokespeople could also become integral to your content.
That gives you the chance to learn what active shoppers want from your company and how they expect it to be provided. Every interaction gives the chance to promote your brand but should include a call-to-action so consumers are faced with a choice, rather than simply absorbing your published material and moving on.
Search engine optimization is important to all your online content. If your content isn't showing up in search results, a large body of internet users will never discover your content. There are many aspects to SEO. This can include proper use of searched-for keywords, external links, and speed of performance. This is also a good time to remember that you need to adapt your business to the digital economy, making sure your online presence is strong.
SEO is a complex and sometimes rapidly changing area of knowledge. If you aren't comfortable with SEO tactics or don't have the time to optimize all your content for searches, there is always the option of hiring a service that will do this for you. Being easy to find in search results is important to brand visibility. Not being on the first page of Google search results shouldn't be an option.
Another way to boost visibility and brand recognition is to connect with influencers in your industry. This could be bloggers, business gurus, celebrities, high-profile CEOs, professional reviewers, or anyone else who plays a major role in sharing knowledge and shaping opinions.
Start by making a list of anyone who could bring visibility and credibility to your business. Then reach out to them to form a relationship that's mutually beneficial, such as writing guest blogs or directing traffic to each other's sites without hard-selling. By placing appropriate content on influencer sites, you are bringing your message to a large, established network.
To avoid repeating mistakes or overlooking successes, it's important to track every aspect of your content strategy as you proceed. You'll be able to discover what connects with audiences and how much it gets shared. Take the time to understand the internet metrics available to you so you can benchmark results and get a clearer idea of what constitutes success.
In summary, your content defines both your marketing potential and your brand perception. Developing a content strategy requires understanding your client base, such as knowing how and where to connect with potential customers, what formats they prefer, and what times and channels will get optimal viewership.
It's crucial to actively reach out and boost your online visibility by connecting with influencers and building SEO tactics into your content. Perhaps most importantly, you should track and measure your successes and failures to keep improving your content strategy.
Content strategies are an essential part of any business that wants to succeed. If your efforts fall short, if apps and online tools are not enough, or if you lack the time to complete all the tasks you set out to do - consider hiring experts. Each investment – whether you're investing only your time, or time and money - is a step forward towards your goals.
About the Author:
Eric Gordon is an independent business development and marketing specialist for SMEs. He loves sharing his insights and experience to assist business owners in growing their revenues. You can find Eric on Twitter @ericdavidgordon
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