When you’re building a website for a small business one of the most important aspects to consider is your content plan or content marketing strategy. Content marketing can be described as the creation and sharing of online material that does not explicitly promote a business but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.

In the early days of the internet, you could create a page, stuff the copy and meta descriptions with keywords and achieve a high position in the search results without much effort. Today, search engines are more sophisticated. They understand search intent and are better at understanding the full meaning of a web page.

This means we have to produce higher quality content that answers the users question, demonstrates our authority or expertise on a subject and is trustworthy. Google refers to this principle as E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness). According to Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines this is an extremely important factor for their evaluators and is part of the ranking algorithm.

In the modern world, “content is king”. This was the title of a 1996 essay by Bill Gates where he states “content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet”. In 2022 that couldn’t be more true.

How do you create a content marketing plan for a small business?

This can be broken down into a 6 step process that will help you plan and create quality content that drives traffic to your website and generates leads for your business.

  1. Define your goals
  2. Define your buyer persona
  3. Conduct a content audit
  4. Decide what type of content you want to create
  5. Plan content ideas
  6. Publish and manage your content

1 – Define your goals

What’s your purpose for developing a content marketing plan? Why do you want to create content for your website and what do you want to achieve?

If you think about your content goals before you start writing, you will be able to decide what’s right for your business.

Common content marketing goals include:

  • Create brand awareness
  • Educate your audience
  • Build trust or credibility
  • Generate leads
  • Increase newsletter subscribers
  • Build loyalty with existing customers
  • Generate sales
  • Support the launch of a new product

Your content marketing goals should be specific and match a business goal you’re currently working towards. This will help you create content that is more relevant to your audience and is more likely to answer their questions.

2 – Define your buyer persona

One of the most important parts of content marketing is to define who your target audience is. This is also known as your buyer persona.

When you are just starting out, defining your buyer persona will help you produce content that your audience finds valuable, and it will be more closely aligned with your business goals.

The overall aim of your buyer persona is to tailor your content to meet a specific need, concern or problem that your target audience is trying to overcome.

Your buyer persona needs to include the following information:

  • Their background (job, career path, family, lifestyle etc)
  • Demographics (age, income, location, gender identity etc)
  • Identifiers (communication preferences, social media platforms)
  • Challenges (what do they struggle with? What roadblocks do they have?)
  • Goals (what are their primary and secondary goals?)
  • What can you do? (to help them achieve their goals? to help them overcome their challenges?)

You will probably have more than one buyer persona for your business. Complete this step as many times as you need to until you have built up a full picture of your ideal customers.

3 – Conduct a content audit

The majority of small businesses will start their content marketing by creating blog posts, which is a very effective strategy. Overtime, you will naturally branch out to other types of content.

If you already have a website, content audits are vital to determine the best and lowest performing content on your website. You can use this information to decide what direction to take next.

If you are creating your first website, conducting your own content audit won’t be possible. However, you can still audit your competitors content. This will help you understand what content they’re creating, how they’re using it and what impact it’s having with your target audience.

To conduct a content audit you need to track the following:

  • URL
  • Page title
  • Date published
  • Content type (blog post, standard page, case study, infographic etc)
  • Word count
  • Comments
  • Social shares
  • Keywords
  • Content purpose
  • Number of page views
  • Traffic sources
  • Backlinks
  • Conversions

If you regularly track these metrics, you’ll know if your content is achieving its original goal or if you need to try a different approach.

4 – Decide what type of content you want to create

There are many types of content you can create for your website. These could be blog posts, case studies, testimonials, videos, infographics, podcasts or e-books.

The purpose of this content is not to directly promote your business but to stimulate interest, share knowledge, educate and inform your audience.

The type of content you create will depend on the type of user experience you want to provide. Each type of content will have its own strengths and weaknesses:

Blog posts – Probably the easiest content to get started with. You will need to create regular content to be successful.

Case studies – Case studies provide rich and qualitative information, but it can be time-consuming to create.

Testimonials – Offer an unbiased voice that builds trust. However, the overuse of testimonials can lead to buyer fatigue that makes a purchasing decision harder.

Videos – Videos are one of the most popular types of content and consistently have high engagement rates, but professional video content is expensive to produce.

Infographics – Provide a visual way to tell a story. As its visual content, you’ll need some graphic design skills.

Podcasts – Podcasts are easy content to consume. Like videos, podcasts can be expensive and time-consuming to produce.

E-books – E-books can provide a more immersive experience. Long format content takes longer to produce.

5 – Plan content ideas

Now you’re at the stage where you need to start planning your content ideas. As they say, it just got real!

Planning content ideas can seem overwhelming at first, especially if you are just starting out and struggling to find inspiration. However, there are lots of different resources you can use to get the creative juices flowing.

Here are some of our favourites:

HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator – Enter a topic you want to write about and the blog ideas generator will give you a whole years worth of headlines you can use as inspiration. Ok, some of them might be a little off, but they are easy to tweak to fit your needs. They work best as a starting point that you can develop into your ideas.

Blog About – Blog About is another title generator, but this one works a bit differently. The tool will show you common headline formats with blanks where you can insert your chosen subject. This makes you think a little more about how it will be relevant to your audience and how it will help you achieve your goals.

AnswerThePublic – AnswerThePublic gives you raw search insight. The questions people are asking related to a subject are displayed in a spider diagram. It will display all the who, what, where, when and why questions users ask. It’s a great way to find out what your potential customers want to know.

Scout Suggest – Scout Suggest uses Google’s autocomplete functionality to generate ideas. You can search for a list of keywords and see them in different categories or groups. This can be used to find phrases or questions to answer, making content creation simpler.

6 – Publish and manage your content

You now have everything you need to start publishing content on your website. Once you start publishing content, you’ll also need to consider how you will manage that content going forward.

Some of this content will be evergreen. This means it will still be relevant in months or even years to come. Evergreen content is an important part of any SEO strategy as it can be improved and refined over time to keep driving traffic to your website.

You also want to try and publish a diverse range of content. Your content should cover different topics that are relevant to your industry and your audience.

Create a content calendar that shows when each piece of content needs to be made live. This could be on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

This doesn’t need to be complicated. It could be as simple as setting reminders in your Outlook calendar to publish a new blog post once a week or a spreadsheet for each month. Visually managing your content in this way will help you publish content on a regular basis.

If you’re planning on producing content more frequently, Trello is great project management tool that will help you organise your workflow more effectively. Using Trello, you can plan out your content into different groups (or swim lanes) for content ideas, content ready to be written, in progress and ready to be published.

In conclusion

Your content marketing plan will be unique to your website and your goals. The purpose of this article is to help you formulate those ideas into a well-defined plan that delivers results.

The key to a successful content marketing strategy is taking a methodical approach to creating content. This will ensure you produce content that is relevant to your audience, demonstrates your authority and is seen as trustworthy by Google. This in turn, will drive traffic and generate leads for your business.

About Wild Marketing

Wild Marketing build stunning websites for small business and craft online advertising strategies that convert visitors into loyal customers. We have a range of different website options available to suit all budgets.

If you are looking for an affordable website for your small business, we offer a pay monthly web design service that includes everything you need to get online.

If you have web design requirements that are more complex, please feel free to contact us to discuss.