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Content marketing for small business: 6 essential steps

Content marketing for small business

Key takeaways

  • Create content that addresses your target audience‘s needs and interests to drive positive business results
  • Write with SEO in mind for your online marketing channels to make your brand as searchable as possible
  • Cross-promote your content and advertise to get the most out of your marketing efforts

It’s no secret that consumers suffer from content overload these days. Most Americans see as many as 10,000 ads per day. As such, people are more selective than ever about what they choose to consume—but that doesn’t mean you can’t capture their attention. High-quality content marketing for small business can help you stand out on the web and engage customers for a lifetime.

So what is content marketing? It’s the process of creating and publishing valuable content—including blogs, videos, and podcasts—to attract clients. It’s all about helping, entertaining, and/or educating shoppers, so they give you business in return.

To help you take your first steps toward creating valuable content, here are six simple steps to build an effective content marketing strategy that can reach new customers online and retain existing ones.

1. Set your budget

Start with a realistic budget. While content marketing can certainly be a low-cost strategy to promote your business, it doesn’t happen for free. Even if you plan to do all the writing, design, and other aspects of content creation on your own, you should still have a solid budget to spend on promoting each piece of content you create. Otherwise, the impact will be limited.

Once you set your budget, you’ll have a better idea of how much content you can produce and promote.

2. Get to know your target audience

Content marketing for small businesses is most effective when you fully understand who you’re trying to reach.

If you don’t already know the basic demographics of your target audience or the interests and needs they have, start by identifying those. Take a look at the current makeup of your customer base and compare it to your competitors’ to better see the unique type of people you serve. 

Consider doing additional research that can specifically help you generate great content ideas. Survey current customers who fit your ideal client profile. Ask them about the content they’re looking at online to figure out what they consider valuable, what’s needed, and what channels they trust and frequently use.

3. Narrow down your core content categories

Young woman at laptop working on content marketing for small business

The most effective small business content marketing strategies focus on a maximum of five broad categories. Every piece of content should fall under at least one of these categories so that your messaging is focused and aligned with your business and industry. This can also help you clarify your niche, so you can offer unique value to your potential customers.

Based on what you know about your target audience‘s needs and interests, identify up to five categories that could be useful to them. For example, a residential cleaning company may focus on cleaning tips, organization, and mess prevention.

4. Develop your content marketing plan

To make content marketing for small business easier, create a spreadsheet that tracks the topics you’re creating content about, platforms you’re publishing on, and types of content you need to create, as well as when you plan to publish each. 

Doing so will help you stay organized as you plan out your content marketing plan for at least the next month. Once you have a spreadsheet ready, here’s how you can start filling it out.

Identify where you’re publishing

The first step to successful content marketing for small business is figuring out where you’re publishing. Examples of content marketing platforms you could publish on include:

  • Your website
  • An external site (guest blog)
  • Social media channels
  • YouTube (for video content)
  • Spotify or Apple Podcasts (for podcasts)
  • Blogging platforms like Medium or the LinkedIn Publishing Platform

Choosing channels based on your content marketing goals is always ideal. For example, blogging on your website is great for driving traffic, generating leads, and making sales. Being a guest writer on another site or blog can help you boost brand awareness and the credibility of your own site or blog.

Knowing where you’re publishing will help you identify the types of content you’ll be creating. If publishing on your website, you can choose to share a case study, a blog post, or even a video testimonial paired with a long-form description of the services your customer praised. Or if you’re publishing on social media, you can decide whether you want to post an image, infographic, or video with a caption.


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Select your topics

With your core content categories in mind, start brainstorming some content topics that you want to focus on for each of your upcoming posts. These topics should be fairly specific compared to your core categories—focus on a single question or a niche topic. 

For example, if you own a cleaning business and are creating a blog post for your “mess prevention” category, a good content topic could be “best pet-friendly furniture fabrics” or “ways to protect a sofa from spills.”

Write with SEO in mind

Closeup of person's hands typing on laptop

Search engine optimization (SEO) is key to making your new content as searchable as possible. With proper SEO, your potential customers can find your content before you even invest any money into digital advertising.

SEO is especially important when you’re publishing on your website, guest blogs, or blogging platforms—all those marketing channels where you’re creating useful long-form content. But don’t discount the importance of basic SEO practices on other online channels. 

Posts on Facebook and Pinterest, among other channels, are indexed by search engines, which means they can show up on results pages. Plus, even when social media posts aren’t indexed, they’re still searchable within the platforms themselves.

At the very minimum, you should be including keywords in all of your written content to make the most out of your content marketing efforts.

To find the right keywords to target, start by figuring out what people are searching for in your industry. Use free keyword research tools to determine what phrases customers are using to search for products or services like yours.

For small business owners, targeting lengthier keywords like “how to clean carpet stains”—rather than broader ones like “cleaning tips”—can be more effective. While these long-tail keywords may get less monthly traffic, they’re also less competitive and are likely attracting more high-intent customers. Instead of getting drowned out by well-established websites, you can take the top spots for specific searches. This could even help you gain new leads faster since you’re answering consumers’ exact questions directly.

5. Launch and promote your content

Once your content is fully created and launched, get more out of it through cross-promotion and online ads.

Cross-promoting content is simple. Let’s say you just published an e-book on your website. Next, just share it on other channels (like Facebook, Twitter, or email) with a link and a caption. It’s an easy way for your content to reach people who otherwise wouldn’t have seen it.

Online advertising is an even more effective way to promote your content. With online ads, you can claim prime spots on social media feeds, above search results, and more for the exact users you want to target. These ads help you get more views and clicks—and you typically only need to pay when you earn a click. Plus, you can set your own budget for each campaign, so your promotions can be as cost-effective as you need them to be.


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6. Track your performance

Finally, don’t forget to track the performance of your content marketing. Most digital marketing platforms offer built-in metrics that you can track—both for your regular (organic) posts and for your paid campaigns. For your website, it’s fairly simple to install analytics tools that can provide insights about everything from where your traffic is coming from to how many people buy your product or service after visiting a blog post.

Make sure to check these metrics on a regular basis (ideally at least once per week) so you know if your marketing efforts are actually creating the results you want.

Master content marketing for small business

Despite the major content overload that consumers face each day, they’re still paying attention to useful content—the information that helps them solve problems or even entertains them. With these six content marketing steps, you can start creating high-quality content that’s built with your target audience in mind. For even more ideas, check out these ways to promote your local business online.

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.