Any company, regardless of size, should understand the benefits of having a solid content marketing strategy in place. The numbers speak for themselves. With content marketing generating over 3x as many leads, while costing a shocking 62% less than outbound marketing it begs the question as to why more companies aren’t utilising content marketing to its full potential. It not only maximises your ROI, but when implemented correctly it can establish your brand identity; build your reputation as an industry thought leader; and most importantly increase trust among your existing and potential customers.
Research from Nielsen, claims that the average customer now spends over four hours a day on their smartphones, giving companies ample time to break through and reach their target audiences. However, more so than ever before, customers have moved away from traditional forms of marketing and instead want authenticity, transparency and brands that empathise with their problems through increasingly interactive content and captivating storytelling campaigns.
Far from being a tool that solely reserved for larger companies with gigantic marketing budgets and thousands of worker bees in their editorial empires, studies have shown that time and time again, Small to Medium Sized Enterprises can achieve the same content marketing results with a dedicated content team. But when it comes to creating a strategy for your company, we at Wordsmith believe one-size does not fit all. Read on to find out how to choose the right content marketing strategy for your company’s size.
Small Enterprise with a committed content team
Team size: 1-2 full-time employees and (maybe) 1-3 paid freelancers
Primary goal(s): Brand awareness
Content output: 1-2 blog posts per week and 1 magazine, brochure or e-book per annum
Focus: Blogs and Influencer Marketing
In today’s internet obsessed, tech savvy world, small businesses have the resources at their disposal to compete right alongside bigger corporations – especially when utilising content marketing budgets effectively. Believe it or not, most SME content marketing teams are just one person, with 68% of companies recruiting 3 employees or less, so it’s not impossible to start thinking big content with a smaller team.
While you don’t need hundreds of people producing and curating your content to have a strong marketing strategy, you do need to know your target audience inside and out, and the courage to reach out to influencers and thought leaders in your field.
One effective way to increase your number of leads is through blogging, with research showing that small businesses that blog receive 126% more leads than those that don’t. At the beginning, Steve Kamb, founder of NerdFitness (now a huge worldwide community dedicated to helping desk jockeys and net-savvy couch potatoes get fit), says that after nine months of publishing daily content, he had a low readership of just 90 loyal subscribers. However, after adapting his content strategy to reflect his brand’s unique tone of voice, hiring a freelancer to help with the workload and delving deeper into topic areas that interested his potential customers – he quickly jumped from 90 subscribers to 700 over the next six months. Combining this with influencer marketing, his subscriber list doubled in a couple of days when he reached out and wrote a guest post on key influencer Brett McKay’s “Art of Manliness” blog. Steve mentioned that changing his content strategy was a key turning point in his business’ growth, claiming that, “Instead of publishing five short, topical, skimmable articles each week, I published two articles that went in depth on a subject, oftentimes topping 3,000 words each. I injected each article with nerdy personality, metaphors, and references. I wrote articles I loved to write and wanted to read myself, and hoped others would feel the same.”
When asked what advice he’d give to small businesses attempting to enter a crowded space, Steve stressed the importance of implementing a content strategy that stands out, and investing time into developing a style on your blog that puts a premium on long-form, easily shareable evergreen content. It also doesn’t hurt that having a blog on your website gives you an average of 434% more search engine indexed pages than those that don’t publish blog content. He also claimed that influencers who are talking to your ideal audience are great partners for a much-needed content boost.
A Medium sized business with a growing team ready to experiment
Team size: 3-5 full-time content marketing employees, including 3-5 regular freelancers
Primary goal(s): Brand awareness and lead generation
Content output: up to 5 blog posts per week, weekly email newsletters, and 1 report, brochure every quarter
Focus: creating content that speaks to multiple target audiences, customer retention
So, your audience is growing at a sufficient rate each month and you feel your business is ready to scale. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to start hiring 10-20 more people to fluff out your content team. The common phrase, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” may apply here, however, at this critical turning point it may be time for your well-oiled content machine to start thinking about the bigger picture.
Imagine this customer scenario. After checking out social media, Google searching and YouTubing, your customer continually comes across your product. There’s an answer to every question online, and credible sources / known influencers that give rave reviews to a product are in a league of their own – pushing potential customers further down the marketing funnel from consideration to purchasing. While it may seem like all the content stars are aligning, this is the result of a successful coordinated content marketing campaign. As a medium sized business, it’s time to get all your ducks in a row. After you’ve retained the customer and they’ve purchased your product or service, its time to think about retention and nurturing the post-purchase customer relationship with relevant content.
With studies showing that its 16x as costly to build a long-term relationship with a new customer, than to simply cultivate the loyalty of an existing customer, retention is becoming more important than ever before. With this in mind, Charity: Water, a non-profit organization that provides safe drinking water to people in developing countries, nurtured customer relationships by creating an enriching, content-led transactional email campaign.
Most marketers’ transactional emails are plain text emails that say, “Thank you for your purchase. Our product will be with you in XX days.” But Charity: Water wanted to take a more personal approach. When a customer donated to their charity, this organization sends out a set number of emails to show donors how their contribution is making a difference over time. Displayed in an easily-scannable, colourful infographic style, Charity: Water highlights each section of their 6-stage project timeline, giving you little bites of information on how your money is changing the lives of people in Rulindo.
A well-considered content strategy has the power to entrance customers the same way a symphony can. It should traverse the customer journey, from brand awareness to consideration to purchase and most importantly, know how to leave a lasting impression to keep them coming back, interacting with the brand and referring others.
Big Brands driving ROI
Team size: 5+ content team, 7+ freelancers, full executive buy-in
Primary goal(s): Increasing brand awareness with new customers, generating leads, sales enablement
Content output: 5+ blog posts a week, 1-3 social media videos per month, 1 infographic every quarter, email newsletter 3x a week, quarterly magazine and e-books per year
Focus: Improve ROI, align content goals with the sales and SEO teams, repurpose existing old content
If you’ve built a successful editorial empire that could rival the likes of Apple, then you need to trust the content marketing strategy that got you to this point, but tweak where necessary to increase the ROI from your current content efforts. At this stage in your company’s/product’s life cycle, it may be worth conducting a content audit. Has your target audience has changed due to social/political/economic circumstances outside of your control? You may want to reassess how you are communicating with them. Or maybe you want to expand your current target market to increase your top and bottom line.
Now that you’re at that stage where you’re no longer hunting for external funding and resources, you can take your time to work with your SEO and marketing departments to create specific content for each segmented customer persona. Also, during your content audit, you can start to play around with different content channels, like condensing your blog posts into an eBook that distils your most useful content for loyal customers, or produce how-to videos to attract potential new customers. You may find you need to close “content gaps” in the marketing funnel, for example, if all your content is driving towards brand awareness, you may need to consider adding new content that drives repeat customers further down the funnel.
In 2018, the French clothing company Lacoste reached out to a new customer persona group when it kicked off a three-year partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to create their hard-hitting “Save Our Species” integrated content marketing campaign. The campaign aimed to increase public awareness and engagement with species conservation outreach programmes, by highlighting 10 soon-to-be endangered species on limited edition Lacoste polo-shirts. Marking the first time in 85 years the brand ever initiated a logo change from “The Crocodile” that paid homage to founder René Lacoste, (who was nicknamed “The Crocodile” because of his tenacity on the tennis court), the limited-edition shirts proudly displayed the Burmese Roofted Turtle, the Sumatran Tiger and 8 other threatened animals.
Launched during Paris Fashion Week last year, the campaign appealed to younger audiences when it went viral via Instagram and Facebook. With fresh, timely content and informative videos, the campaign jumped from social media into the mainstream press – generating global television coverage in only a matter of days. Winning an unprecedented ten Cannes Lions Advertising Industry awards in June served as testament to the campaign’s sheer creativity in terms of execution and its ability to reach younger audiences. As a direct result of the campaign, 1,775 polo-shirts sold out in just 24 hours; campaign videos and other brand related content were shared over 600,000 times and visits to the Save Our Species website skyrocketed.
This out-of-the-box content-driven campaign struck a cord with younger audiences, who demonstrated their power to influence conservation policies and spending patterns. The campaign not only gave Lacoste a foothold into a new, extremely engaged segmented target audience, but also encouraged them to engage with NGOs on conservation efforts beyond donations.
No matter what size your company is, content marketingshould play a key role in your overall marketing strategy. It’s cost efficient, extremely compelling, and above all has the power to change lives outside your company for the better. Technology has evened the playing field so that SMEs and Big Brands can compete alongside each other. But two things are certain: you’re going to need a realistic content marketing strategy, and most importantly a talented and committed content team.