Tips for improving your business’s content marketing strategy

cm6According to a recent survey, 82% of people said they developed a positive opinion of a company after reading content that was created by them. Furthermore, 70% said they prefer to learn about companies through blogs and articles as opposed to advertisements. Content marketing is less expensive (about 60% of the cost of traditional marketing) and generates three times as many leads on average. Because of these stats, content marketing has become a necessity for small businesses. But content marketing can be tricky. On the one hand, you don’t want to openly promote your brand as you would in traditional marketing–consumers will see right through it, but on the other hand, you want to produce high quality, accurate, and valuable content that will cause consumers to form a positive opinion about your brand. If your content marketing strategy is struggling, the following tips may be of help.

Create buyer personas

A buyer persona is a detailed description of your ideal customer. Depending on what it is your business does, you might create, one, five, or even ten buyer personas. The key to good buyer personas is that they describe a single person very specifically until you feel like you know them on a personal level. You don’t want to generalize and say “we’re targeting millennials” with this campaign as if all millennials are the same. With buyer personas ready, you’re ready to create content that’s tailor made for your ideal customers.

Keep an eye on your competition

There are several good arguments for watching your competition when it comes to content marketing. For one, it can give you ideas for different kinds of content you can be trying out. You can also see which keywords they’re targeting. But most importantly, you want to watch for mistakes or gaps in their content. These are areas where you can improve on their offerings and stand out from your competition.

Experiment with different kinds of content

Too many brands limit their content marketing strategy to a company blog on the company website. You can improve your content marketing strategy by using other channels such as Youtube for video content, social media for image,video, or text content, and SMS for micro content. You can also vary the types of content your write for your blog. Case studies, how-tos, listicles, buyer’s guides, product comparisons, and infographics are all great option that will diversify the content you’re creating for your audience.

Create a content calendar

Get organized and consistent by creating a content calendar where you can plan out for several weeks in advance the content pieces you want to create. On the calendar include a working title, a genre/medium, where you will publish it, who will write it, and of course, when it will be published.

Move beyond just words

Content that includes visuals whether it’s an infographic, a video, or even just some well-chosen images, are more likely to be engaged with by consumers. If you want people sharing your content on social media or on other blogs, think carefully about incorporating visuals into your content strategy.

Promote your content

The mantra: “If you build it, they will come” isn’t true for content marketing. Simply putting it out there on the world wide web doesn’t ensure anyone will seek it out and read/watch it. You can use existing marketing channels to share your content with your already established audience and you can reach out to a wider audience by paying to promote it to somebody else’s audience (affiliate or pay-per-click).

Form relationships with influencers

Influencers in your niche will often promote your content for free which can help you gain a much wider audience. While they don’t usually charge to review your products/share your content, you will have to establish a mutually beneficial relationship first. That means you have to engage with the content they’re creating and share it with your audience first. You may want to feature an important influencer in a blog post.

Write some guest blogs

In turn, you can write guest blog posts for other blogs. It’s free advertising for you since you get to tap into a new audience and it’s free content for the host blog that publishes it.

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Five low-cost ways to build brand awareness

Content marketing1Getting your brand name out there is critical if you want your small business to last. Building brand awareness doesn’t necessarily have to cost a fortune either. When you’re just starting out, your marketing budget will most likely be pretty limited so the following strategies for building brand awareness are either free or very inexpensive and are great options for starting on your journey of establishing your brand.

Make use of press releases

Press releases are a vastly underused marketing strategy. When you unveil a new product, secure a patent, launch a crowdfunding campaign, or receive the necessary funding for a project, you can write a press release to be distributed across the relevant news and magazine publications to spread the word. If you’re willing to do the legwork yourself and find outlets that want to publish your press release, you can get free publicity. For a small investment, you can pay a company that specializes in press releases to get it published in bigger publications.

Host a contest

Instead of reducing profit margins in order to offer a great sale price to get recognition, you can offer a single grand prize and maybe a few smaller prizes as part of a contest. You can can the same kind of recognition but without having to spend as much. Social media and SMS are great channels for contests since you can use contests to get likes, shares, and comments or to get opt-ins for your SMS channel if you make these conditional steps for entering the contest.

Conduct a survey

Conducting a short survey, either through a social media platform or SMS is another inexpensive way to build brand awareness in an indirect fashion. Surveys get you valuable information about your customers that you can use in future marketing efforts to create more relevant advertising. When paired with SMS, you can get new opt-ins by offering an incentive to customers who’ve made a recent purchase and choose to opt-in and complete a customer satisfaction survey about their experience.

Invest in affiliate/influencer marketing

Affiliate marketing can take a number of different forms. One of the most common is pay-per-click in which you pay affiliate sites for every person who clicks on a link to your website from their sites. A free kind of affiliate marketing is influencer marketing in which you team up with an influencer with an established audience to help create awareness of your brand. Since influencers are always looking for new things to blog about or make videos about, many will review your products for free if you send them samples. The relationship can be mutually beneficial if you feature them in guest blog posts or interviews so that their audience grows as well.

Start a company blog and social media pages

Content marketing is another free (if you create the content yourself) or inexpensive (if you hire a freelancer) way to build brand awareness since you can just add a blog onto your existing website. Not only will it improve your standings on the search results page of popular search engines, it will serve as an entry point for many new potential customers who are seeking out the information you’re posting.

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A beginner’s guide to SMS marketing


Despite the fact that SMS marketing remains one of the most cost-effective mobile marketing channels, a surprising number of small businesses still aren’t utilizing it. Some assume that it’s something only big name brands do and others feel they aren’t technologically savvy enough to launch an effective SMS campaign. In reality, SMS is one of the easier channels to get started with and small businesses can benefit from SMS as much as big brands. If you still need convincing, look at the following stats

Why your small business needs SMS marketing

Text messages have an open rate of 98%. Can any other marketing channel–digital, mobile, television, radio, print, you name it–say that 98% of the target audience gets the message? People fast forward through or mute commercials on TV. They switch radio stations when commercials start. Print mailers go straight to the trash unopened. Even emails, once heralded as the fastest and most effective way to communicate with customers, are deleted unread 80% of the time. Furthermore, 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of being sent. It’s the ideal channel for time-sensitive communications like flash sales or shipment notifications. Finally, click through rates for SMS are 36% meaning more than one third of the time, recipients will click on included links when they’re sent via SMS.

Choosing a bulk SMS service

As a small business owner you’ll be too busy to manage an ever-changing database of phone numbers and you won’t always be able to stop what you’re doing to send out dozens or hundreds of text messages. That’s where a bulk SMS service comes in. You create the message and set the time you want it to be set, the bulk SMS service takes care of the rest including adding and removing numbers as people opt in and opt out so that you’re staying compliant with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

Build your phone number list

Since you need consumers’ express permission before texting, you can’t just add all of the phone numbers of repeat customers you do have to your SMS list. What you can do is reach out to them via any channels you’re already using such as email to inform them of your SMS channel and how to opt in (your bulk SMS service will assign a short code and keyword for easier subscribing). Offer a good promotion (sign up to receive text messages and get 50% off your next order…) and advertise that promotion however you’d like and you’ll start to build your list.

Set clear goals

You shouldn’t be investing in SMS just because. You need to have a clear goal in mind. Are you trying to establish a more loyal customer base? Are you trying to get more unique customers? Are you aiming for more online orders or are you hoping to drive foot traffic? Having a clear aim for your SMS marketing campaign will make it that much more likely to succeed.

Determine your target audience

If you try to tailor your SMS campaign to everyone you won’t win over anyone. It’s better to identify certain qualities that your ideal customer already has and strive to create an SMS campaign that will really speak to those kinds of people. You may want to segment your audience and send different messages to different groups of customers so that the messages you’re sending are more relevant.

Tailor your messages

Many SMS campaigns fall short because the messages aren’t carefully thought out. Choose your words carefully and be as concise and clear as possible. Include a direct call to action and take care to always use proper grammar and spelling. Don’t resort to emoticons and textspeak. Also be mindful of the timing of your texts. Don’t text too often or too early or late in the day. Some market research can help you determine when the most effective times for texting will be given your audience and industry.

Pay attention to KPIs and constantly adjust as needed

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are the metrics that will tell you how well your SMS campaign is working. Pay attention to how open rates, click-through rates, and coupon redemption numbers fluctuate with your various messages and look for patterns to see which kinds of messages are most effective at helping you reach your goals and then fine-tune your strategy appropriately.

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Seven different uses for SMS marketing


SMS marketing is one of the most cost effective mobile channels but many business owners don’t use it to it’s full potential. If you’re looking to expand on the ways you’re using SMS for your small business, consider the following seven ideas.

Micro content

The goal of content marketing is to provide customers with valuable and interesting information so as to be seen by them as a reputable source for good information and a trusted brand. Typically when businesses engage in content marketing, it’s longer form content like blog articles. Micro content sent via SMS would consist of a one- or two-sentence tip that fits within the 160 character limit. It’s a great use of the SMS channel because customers will tire of self-serving promotion on the part of the business. Micro content is a way to give something without explicitly asking for anything in return.

VIP offers

Another way to offer value to SMS subscribers is to offer them exclusive offers that can’t be obtained through any other channel. Not only does this diversify the way you’re using SMS for your small business but it adds extra incentive to opt in to receive text messages since they know that there’s no other way to get those deals. It also adds an air of exclusivity to the channel so that customers feel more appreciated.

Flash sale notifications

Especially good offers but only available for very short periods of time are especially effective at driving foot traffic. On a slow day or during a slower time of day when employees are being paid to stand around, a flash sale sent via SMS can get people to come in. SMS is an especially effective channel for flash sales because approximately 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of being sent.

Order status and shipping updates

If your business routinely ships orders to customers, the option to receive order status and shipping updates will be attractive to many customers. Emailed shipping notifications are often accidentally deleted unread or are filtered straight into a junk folder where they’re never seen. Signing up for these notifications could be a great way to introduce new customers to your SMS channel and get more opt ins as well.

Restock and new product updates

If you’ve recently got new stock of a popular product that had previously been sold out or if you’ve added a new product, sending a text to notify your most loyal customers about it will be appreciated by them and help boost sales of those products as well.

Appointment reminders

If the nature of your business includes the scheduling of appointments, SMS can be used to send appointment reminders a day, or even hours, ahead of the scheduled appointment time. As with order notifications, appointment reminders are an ideal use of the SMS channel because of its time sensitive nature. This is not only another way to make life easier for customers but it helps your own bottom line as well since fewer missed appointments translates to less lost productivity.

Mobile coupons

Last but not least is the most tried and true use of SMS: the mobile coupon. It may not be original but it’s a safe bet since the redemption rates for coupons are several times better when they’re sent via text as opposed to email or as print mailers.

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How Realtors Can Benefit From Mobile Marketing


As is the case with virtually every other industry, real estate is growing increasingly mobile. By that we mean that home sellers and buyers are more likely to go their phones first when creating or searching for listings. Could we have imagined just a decade ago using our phones to buy and sell homes? Just as the internet changed the way we create and view home listings, the existence of smartphones and mobile applications have changed it again. Real estate apps like Zillow or Realtor make it easier than have to search for homes and 44% of smartphone owners say they’ve done just that. For those in the real estate business, they can no longer afford to ignore mobile. And with each passing year, ignoring mobile will mean you’re missing out on more and more potential business. With that in mind, here’s how realtors can use mobile marketing to achieve more success.

Invest in SMS marketing

Gone are the days when buyers waited for the realtor to show them ones. More than half of home buyers find online listings on their own before even reaching out to a realtor. You can save yourself a lot of time by setting up an SMS campaign where each property you sell as a registered shortcode and prospective buyers can send off a text containing a keyword to that shortcode to get on the list to receive updates about that particular property. This way, your list of interested buyers is managed automatically by themselves and they can remove themselves by opting out so you don’t have to keep spending your time trying to reach people that are no longer interested.

Adopt a mobile first approach to web design

Though DIY website builders like Weebly and Wix have come a long way when it comes to mobile-friendly design–you build from a template and the website host detects the device being used to view the site and adjusts accordingly–you can do even better by adopting a mobile first approach. Think about what your mobile customers are trying to accomplish when they use their smartphone to view listings on your website. People are five times more likely to leave a website if it’s not easy to navigate on a mobile device. Make sure any links are far enough apart that people won’t actually click over to the wrong page and make sure your contact information is displayed prominently throughout the website. Make sure your phone number is click-to-call so you make it as easy as possible for prospective clients to go from your website to speaking with you on the phone.

Get on all the right apps

Nearly 70% of home buyers will use a mobile app at some point to look at listings. That doesn’t mean you need to go out and create an app for your real estate company. In fact you probably shouldn’t. But you should make sure that your listings are appearing on the most popular real estate apps out there or a sizable part of your target audience may never see them if they’re using apps and not your website.

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The three biggest mobile marketing mistakes your small business can make

Mobile is the future of advertising. With more than three-quarters of American now owning smartphones, it’s become the most effective way for businesses to communicate with and market to their audience. SMS-Marketing-Mistakes-600x398As businesses rush to keep up with the ever-advancing mobile technology, it’s easy to make mistakes along the way. That’s inevitable. But these three mistakes are the worst of the worst and should be avoided at all costs.

Not optimizing for mobile

The year 2016 was the year mobile web traffic surpassed non-mobile web traffic. With each passing year, mobile web traffic will put distance between it and traditional web traffic. In short, more and more people are accessing the web on tiny screens as opposed to bigger ones. Despite this, there are still many business websites that are designed solely to be viewed on computers or laptops. This creates an unpleasant experience for people trying to access it from a tablet and especially a smartphone. Pinching, zooming, squinting, and waiting for slow loading times wear out smartphone users quickly and many will leave the website never to return again. Every day your website isn’t optimized for mobile is a day you’re losing potential customers. Not only do non mobile-friendly sites annoy customers, they’re more likely to be ignored by search engines like Google that utilize advanced algorithms to give preference to websites over others and one of the things they look at is mobile optimization.

Not using the SMS marketing channel

Of all the mobile marketing channels out there, SMS is the oldest and most effective and important. While some may see it as old fashioned and pass it up in favor of in-app advertising or even developing new apps, SMS marketing needs to be a part of your strategy–a big part. Texting is far cheaper than the cost to advertise in apps or to develop an app. It’s also more effective since 95% of all texts are opened and read within three minutes of being received.

Not allocating enough of your marketing budget for mobile

Mobile marketing needs to be getting the majority of your digital ad spending. Businesses will spend more than 100 billion dollars globally on mobile marketing in 2017. That accounts for just over half of all digital advertising spending. By 2020, mobile marketing will account for 75% of digital ad spending or more. Businesses are recognizing the power of mobile and any business that wants to keep up will have to do the same.

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How to use SMS Marketing to Drive User Engagement


SMS is a channel unlike any other in the world of marketing. Yet too many marketers and business owners are using it just as they would any other digital marketing channels. Mobile marketing isn’t digital marketing for smaller screens because consumers use mobile devices like smartphones and tablets in very different ways than they use a television or computer. The most effective mobile marketing strategies take advantage of the unique qualities of mobile devices including user engagement.

Mobile, and by extension, SMS should be encouraging interaction between brands and customers, but so many are just using it to push for sales by offering deals, coupons, and promotional messages. Here are some different ways to use SMS marketing that will lead to more user engagement.

Embedded hyperlinks

Most people know that SMS boasts a much higher open rate (98%) compared to email (about 20%). But many forget that SMS also has a much better click-through rate, about 36% compared to email’s 3%. For whatever reason, consumers are 12 times more likely to click on a link when it’s included in a text as opposed to an email. Including a link to a mobile-friendly website or a social media page in a text message is an invitation to customers to engage with the brand on another level. It will lead to “likes” and better social media presence as well as increased web traffic and sales.

Two-factor authentication

Another level of security beyond just having to enter a password greatly increases the security of credit card information and any other sensitive information on a private account. Your customers will appreciate a two-factor authentication where a text message comes through on their phone that includes a four- or five-digit number that they have to enter on their computer to complete the login process. It’s a small thing but it’s just one more way that customers are asked to complete an action in response to a text.

Customer-satisfaction surveys

Short surveys where respondents can give their answers by simply typing in a number between one to ten are a convenient way for customers to offer feedback. Not only do you get valuable information about your customer base and how you can better meet their needs, you also are getting them to interact with your brand as opposed to just being a passive recipient of promotional material.


Contests are another great way to get your customers to text you rather than the other way around. Rules for entry might include sending a photo via text or perhaps a one or two sentence explanation as to why they love a certain product or service. Winning photographs or statements can then be used as testimonials for your brand.

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