October 21, 2014

4 Questions to Ask Yourself About Content

Most of us have been told that we need more unique, relevant content on our websites. We need stuff that will differentiate us from our competitors, convert customers and give the search engines something to rank us for. Unfortunately, many of us take that as an excuse to add random blog posts and pages to our sites that do little more than take up space.  But that’s not really what we mean when we talk about creating content.

As a small business owner, you want to focus on creating content with a purpose. Because the truth of the matter is, not all content is created equal. If you’re going to spend time fattening up your site or your blog, you want to make sure you’re adding the right meat instead of wasting your time throwing spaghetti at the wall.

Below are four questions you should ask yourself before starting in on any content marketing strategy.

1. Who Are You Building Content For?

Have you created user personae to connect content to conversions and help you understand your audience’s specific needs? If you haven’t, I’d encourage you to do so. By breaking your audience into specific buckets, you can create content based around their specific user intents. Once you know the intents, you know what kinds of content you should be creating.

You should also think about what type of content will help you best meet your needs:

  • Blog posts
  • Authority articles
  • Videos
  • Images
  • Electronic documents such as PDFs
  • User-generated content

Ideally you’ll want to use a mix of these and try different formats, but think about how each format can specifically address a user goal. If your audience is notoriously busy and on-the-go, for instance, then audio that they can download and take with them may address their needs better than a written tutorial.

2. How Will Your Content Aid Lead Generation?

As I mentioned above, you don’t just want to create content for the sake of creating content. You want there to be a purpose driving your content creation.  One of the most common reasons for starting in on a content marketing plan is to aid lead generation.

You want to give some thought as to how your content will help you attract and convert more customers. Will you be creating blog posts and white papers to help get that initial consumer attention, or will you focus more on buying guides to attract consumers coming to you later in the conversion funnel? Or, ideally, will you do both?

Either way, you want to really think about how your content is going to compliment what you’re doing elsewhere so that it works for your site and brings value. If you’re going to dedicate resources to creating content, you want to make sure it’s having a positive effect on your bottom line. Otherwise you’re just throwing away money and calling it “blog posts.”

3. How Will You Spread the Word About Content?

Yes, we’re back to the dreaded S-word: Self-promotion. If you don’t have a plan for how you will promote and spread your content, then you don’t really have a content marketing plan. You just have a lot of content.

When it comes to spreading the word about your content:

  • What sites do your customers visit to find and consume content?
  • Which users are really active about spreading content?
  • Where does your audience go online to ask questions and connect with others?
  • How much time do you have, realistically, to promote your content?

Take all of these things into account, because, despite what the Internet (and Google) would like us to believe, good content does not spread itself. We still need to help light the spark that will build the flame.

4. How Will You Track Your Content?

With the content created and being spread to the right audience, you’re now left to track its success. Tracking your content helps you identify things like:

  • The type of content your audience most responds to
  • Communities most accepting of your content/brand
  • Who your brand advocates are
  • Your ROI for specific content pieces

This data can be invaluable in helping a small business to determine where time is best spent and what types of content are most profitable.

Creating a content strategy means more than just slapping a few new blog posts on your site and calling it a day. As SMBs with limited time and resources, you want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck with the content you create by focusing on targeted content, created for a specific user, with a direct purpose. Anything else is just playing.

8 Comments ▼

Lisa Barone


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

8 Reactions

  1. When speaking with SMBs I’ve found that the best person to help define customer personas is the salesperson (or other customer-facing employees). Whoever is selling the customer knows what needs they have, what features/benefits your product or service offers to solve those needs and common hangups. Write a post dealing with every objection you’ve ever heard from a customer; why it’s “too expensive”, it’s hard to use, etc.

  2. Not only is the content important, but so is the layout. People are accustomed to scanning, so quick reading (bullet points, etc.) is effective.

    And I agree with Robert. The employees actually dealing with the customers are the ones who really know what readers want to see.

  3. I am not sure that it is only the employees that are “dealing” with the customers are the ones that should be doing social media activities. I am coming from a background as a purchaser, and I am very “allergic” to reading sales pitches… ;)

    I think that you should do an internal review at the company and find out who could be the best person to handle the social media plan.

    With that said, it is great to read this kind of post because it makes me think more like a salesperson and learn from the best in the industry! :)

  4. Customer-facing employees, for sure, are a valuable resource for creating quality content. A content strategy, however, enables us to dig deeper and offer a broader picture of the company. Content that includes analysis and though-leadership is especially important for B2Bs and is more likely to provide true value to prospects and customers. Thanks for another great post Lisa!

  5. I find that by having an objective for the website / blog – aids a lot in developing useful and relevant content, that is both on message and can support lead and business development.

    Unfortunately,most SMB’s don’t iterate the objective of their website – as a formalized statement. Therefore, it’s very easy to go off message and generate haphazzard content.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>



Compare your business to the industry - Try our new tool