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Content Marketing for Beginners

By Jaimy Ford for America's Backbone Weekly

Make 2015 the year that you break into content marketing. Why? Because when you share well-written articles, informative videos and other content, you increase your credibility and brand recognition. At the same time, you surface new leads, build potential customers' trust in you and increase current customers' engagement with your brand. All that ultimately means more sales.

What if you love the idea of integrating content into your small business marketing plan, but you are overwhelmed at the thought of adding one more task to your burgeoning workload? Jumping into content marketing doesn't have to be so scary. Follow these tips to get started:

Analyze your website

Every piece of content you create should include a call to action that drives customers to your website, where they can browse your products, learn more about your services or access free resources. If you don't have an attractive, user-friendly site, customers may lose interest quickly. Spend time assessing your site. If you were a new customer, what would your first impression be? If you aren't sure, the free Nibbler tool will test your website and provide you with scores in 10 areas, including accessibility and SEO.


If you feel like your website could use improvements or you don't yet have a site, DIY tools such as Weebly and GoDaddy make it easy to create customized websites for only a few dollars a month.

Build your social media presence

For time-strapped small business owners, social media is a useful marketing tool because you can curate content as opposed to writing everything on your own. For example, you could share other sources' articles that are pertinent to your industry or geographical location or repost content from your favorite blogger or industry expert. Finally, quotes, funny images and informative videos are all highly shareable on social media.

The key is to post quality content that people want to view and share with others. Be selective about what you post, and make sure that it relates to your brand.

Take it easy on the promotions. Experts recommend that you follow the 80/20 rule to keep people engaged: 80 percent of your content should be useful, informative or entertaining and the other 20 percent should advertise your business or products. Additionally, frequency matters. You should post on each of your social media sites every day, several times a day. Check out this infographic for details on how often you should post on each site.

Start a blog

Once you have mastered curating content for social media, move on to creating original content. Quality blogs rank highly in search engines, so they are a great way to attract new customers, and regularly updated posts keep you connected with existing customers.

WordPress offers a free service and simple interface, making it easy for you to build and manage your blog. Because you want to drive traffic back to your website, it is best to house your blog there, so we recommend that you consult a web designer if you don't know how to set that up. Many of the DIY website-builder software programs enable you to create a blog within your website also.

As with social media, the key to your blog's success is frequency and consistency. Ideally, post three to five times a week, but if that isn't doable, post at least weekly. If you don't think you can write an original post that often, you can share guest posts, announce company news, profile your employees, highlight recent awards or milestones or showcase a product. Even a weekly quick tip on how to better use a product or troubleshoot an issue can be well received and won't eat up too much of your time.

A lot of research indicates that inbound marketing where customers find your small business through online searches generates more leads, higher close rates and a greater ROI than traditional outbound marketing (such as direct mail pieces and TV, radio and print ads) and the key to effective inbound marketing is quality content. As you fill your website with new content and share it via your social media channels, you will bring new and existing customers to your site, where they will browse other articles, download free resources, and check out and buy your products or services.

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Jaimy Ford is a professional business writer withnearly a decade's worth of experience developing newsletters, blogs, e-letters,training tools and webinars for business professionals. She contributes to bothThe Intuit Small Business Blog and Docstoc.com. She also serves as editor-in-chief of SalesMastery, a digital magazine writtenspecifically for sales professionals.
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