Content marketing has been widely praised by the likes of Seth Godin and other communication gurus as they way of the future – and the present! In fact, 94% of small businesses are engaged in some of content marketing already. What’s disturbing is that fact that only a small percentage (less than 10%) are seeding good returns on their efforts?

Is this because there is something wrong with the content marketing philosophy? Not at all! The problem is that most small business owners are doing content marketing wrong. While this might sound bleak, consider the fact that this presents a huge opportunity – the more quickly that you can learn to do content marketing the right way, the greater the advantage that you will have over your competition.

Here are our top tips on how to be successful with content marketing:

1. Have a strategy – a lot of people approach content marketing with a shoot, ready, aim mentality. They simply start producing content and hope something will stick. But just like other forms of marketing, you need a plan. What are you key performance indicators (KPIs)? How will your strategy evolve over time? What are the best platforms and when are the best times to reach your intended audience?

2. Make an investment – contrary to what some believe, content marketing is not free. It takes time and resources. Companies that are most successful with content marketing hire professionals to help them.

3. Promote your content – just because you have content, doesn’t mean people will automatically start visiting your website. You need to promote it. Use social channels like Facebook and Linkedin, include links in your email newsletter, and mention it on blogs you follow.

4. Create better content – no matter how much content you produce, no one is going to engage with it if the content sucks. Take the time to create well thought out content, or hire a great writer to do it for you.

5. Don’t give up – Especially if you are in a tough niche or have major competition, it can be hard in the beginning to get any traction with your content marketing. Work on ways to reach your audience and create a small group of followers that will grow over time.

6. Know your competition – If your competitor is doing a great job at content marketing, analyse what they are doing. The point is not to copy them, but to identify their weak areas and use these as opportunities for your own content.

7. Have patience and perseverance – Don’t expect results overnight. It takes time to develop a following. Keep at it.

8. Don’t neglect your SEO – If you have great content but horrible SEO, you are not going to get good results. Consult with an SEO agency to determine where your SEO needs improvement.

9. Have realistic expectations – You’ve probably heard stories about companies that have got insane amounts of traffic or revenue quickly as a result of content marketing. But these are not the norm, most companies can expect to see gradual, yet steady growth.

10. Have fun! – While you may have a need to post serious content, readers also enjoy fun, lighthearted material.

Business owners struggle with content marketing for a number of reasons – but keeping these tips in mind will help them to produce better content, engage their audience and gain a leg up on their competition.

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