Why service businesses should invest in content marketing in 2023
Learn more about the opportunities that content marketing affords professional service firms and how to develop your own content marketing strategy.
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Content is crucial to small businesses because it answers the key questions potential clients ask while building a foundation of trust, reliability, and expertise. Think of content as the message of your business. And if content is the message, then content marketing is the stamped envelope that gets your message out into the world.
Content marketing has grown exponentially over the past decade and continues to boom in the 2020s, making it an incredibly important facet of your business. But it’s not as simple as just writing content and hoping for the best. You need a plan in place to produce high-quality content and disseminate it to the right audience.
And if you’re a new or growing business, you might also need some help getting your bearings.
Companies like B12 are designed to be the backbone of your digital presence so you can continue to do what you do best — provide quality services for your clients. Through website optimization and regular content production, B12 can help you develop and maintain an effective content marketing strategy.
But first, let’s back up a bit and discuss in more detail why content marketing is a tool that professional service providers can’t afford to leave out of their toolbox.
Stand out from your competitors
Whether you’re running a brand new business or have been around for a few years, you’re likely aware of the competition in your industry and area. These days, many potential clients are doing extensive research before purchasing a product or service, so you need to do everything you can to stand out from your competition. Investing in frequent, high-quality content marketing is a very impactful way to do this.
Service Direct recently conducted a survey of 702 small businesses to better understand their content marketing efforts and shared with B12 the responses from businesses in both professional and technical sectors as well as in finance and insurance.
In it, 58% of respondents said they deploy content marketing as part of their growth strategy.
Because a decent chunk of small businesses has yet to adopt a content marketing growth strategy, it’s a great tactic to stand out from competitors in your niche and generate leads who are more likely to become new clients. Plus, even the companies that do utilize content marketing may not follow a strategy that aligns with their SEO and growth goals, as well as what their target audience is looking for.
Regularly producing and highlighting content builds trust
The primary facet of your company’s content marketing strategy will be the content you produce. How successful your efforts are will depend on how often you produce high-quality content and how primed you are to promote that content.
With 53% of respondents failing to regularly produce blog content, there is ample opportunity to stand above the crowd with frequent publication. Even blogging 1-2 times each week can make a difference in your ability to generate brand awareness.
It’s important to note that producing content goes far beyond just standing out from the competition:
- In another survey conducted by Service Direct, 40% of U.S. consumers said being able to read more about a company and their knowledge through blog content would make them more likely to patronize that business.
- 50% of consumers said that seeing videos from small businesses would make them more likely to work with that business.
- 71% of buyers stated they consumed blog content during the purchase process.
By regularly producing informative and interesting content, you’re increasing the trustworthiness of your brand and drastically improving the likelihood that a client will support your business.
Content and SEO are partners, not strangers
It’s a common mistake of many small businesses new to content marketing to think of content as a solitary, standalone element. This can result in content that doesn’t work to boost organic traffic or conversions, and the last thing you want to do is dig yourself out of a content void after realizing that your content is falling short.
Because we no longer live in a world where content for content’s sake is enough, it’s crucial that you pair your high-quality content with your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy from the beginning.
This means creating quality content that uses keywords that boost your company’s SEO strategy and help get you noticed by organic search traffic. Think of every piece of content you publish as an additional building block on the foundation of your SEO strategy with the end goal of having as many supporting blocks as possible. With every high-quality piece of content you produce, you’re amplifying the rest of your content and strengthening your SEO strategy, creating a snowball effect of performance boosts.
Tip: It’s worthwhile to write hyper-focused content that is informative, creative, and useful for your prospective clients because you are able to add more keywords to each piece of content without bogging it down or keyword stuffing.
For example, if you’re a financial advisor, you will see better results from writing one in-depth blog about understanding when it makes sense to purchase a home and another blog on managing a household budget. Plus, your clients will appreciate knowing where to go for in-depth information on exactly what they’re looking for.
Content marketing plans need additional resources to succeed
Most people in business will be unsurprised to hear that a plan is an essential part of a successful content strategy. That just makes sense, right? Unfortunately, the Service Direct study revealed almost 1 in 4 (22%) had no documented content marketing strategy.
When you consider that there’s a strong correlation between the likelihood of success and the existence of a marketing plan, it becomes clear that many businesses may be unsuccessful with content marketing simply because they haven’t developed a concrete plan. So when your business creates a documented content marketing plan, you’re already setting yourself ahead.
It’s important to note that many small businesses don’t have ample time to dedicate to their content marketing strategy, whether there is a documented plan in place or not. In fact, 51% of small businesses surveyed said they spend less than 20 hours per week on content marketing.
Although 20 hours may seem like a substantial amount of time, it often isn’t enough to produce the two to four blogs weekly that many experts recommend. Thankfully, there are companies like B12 that have experts on hand to support small businesses and help them supplement their content marketing strategy through regular content production, keyword research, consultations, and analytics reporting.
Content marketing is cost-effective but still an investment
Content marketing is highly cost-effective, as it generates at least three times the leads at 62% less cost than traditional marketing approaches, like paid aids. However, it’s still an investment that small and mid-size budgets need to account for.
When it comes to digital marketing, there aren’t really any shortcuts or “quick and easy” solutions to drastically save money without seriously sacrificing quality, which is the last thing you want to do. But, finding the money in your budget necessary to support a high-quality, scalable content strategy can feel impossible for many new businesses.
Plus, when emergencies inevitably surface at a smaller firm, content production and promotion are going to be the first things to get pushed aside, which can lead to a buildup of unproduced and unpublished content. If this happens too many times, it might feel like you can never get your head above the surface of content to-dos.
With 49% of small businesses reporting that they spend less than $2,000 monthly on content marketing, you begin to see the crux of the issue. Small businesses need to invest the time and money to see results, but it can be difficult to justify spending crucial funds without first seeing proof that it’s worth the risk.
It’s important to research budget-friendly content marketing strategies so that you don’t put your business in a tough spot financially, but it’s also important to remember that content marketing doesn’t work overnight. Keep at it and don’t hesitate to look for outside help if you need a little support in getting your content marketing running.
There are SEO and content tools that will help you identify keywords, generate content using artificial intelligence, and speed up the editing process. Still, your process needs a human touch in order to perform well with search engines and impress readers.
Freelancers might not be the best use of your budget
When small businesses don’t have the money to hire a full-time content marketer and they don’t have the time and resources to produce content with their current staff, the next step is often to look into freelancers and third-party agencies. In fact, 24% of respondents reported outsourcing their content marketing.
However, it’s important to take a very careful look at the total cost over time, because outsourcing rates can seem deceivingly affordable at face value.
The cost of freelancers varies wildly throughout the industry, with brand-new writers charging as little as $0.05 per word and more experienced writers charging upwards of $1.00 per word. Although it is less common, some freelancers charge by the hour, with an average hourly rate ranging from $16 for beginners and over $50 for seasoned writers.
So if you are interested in regular content but don’t have the in-house resources to produce it, hiring a freelancer is an option, but the costs are going to add up, especially if you are looking for a highly experienced writer.
Fortunately, there is a sweet spot between paying an in-house writer and funneling a massive fraction of your marketing budget into freelancers. With a company like B12, you can have high-quality content produced by professional copywriters tailored to your SEO strategy.
For $399 a month, B12 provides website hosting, design, editing, and reporting services, as well as online business tools to serve clients, like online scheduling, payments, and invoicing, in addition to content production.
Customers actually do want your emails (if they’re done right)
Because the average person receives over 100 emails daily, you might think that the last place people want to hear from your small business is in their inbox. However, Service Direct actually found that 62% of consumers said they at least sometimes subscribe to small business newsletters. In other words, more than 50% of consumers will opt-in to your newsletter if given the opportunity.
Newsletters and other marketing emails are especially effective in promoting your high-quality content directly to individuals who have at some point shown interest in what you have to say. But it’s important to research how to write and curate newsletters that are engaging as well as emails that are eye-catching, both without being too wordy.
Trial and error will ultimately help you figure out what types of emails resonate the most with your clients, but there are additional resources that can help you right out of the gate.
B12 offers a library of pre-written, customizable email marketing messages to help you get started, while also allowing you to automate the day-to-day emails like confirmations and reminders. When you spend less time on these mundane business emails, you are able to spend more time creating valuable newsletters and engaging marketing emails.
Having a bad website is worse than having no website at all
Your website is your business's home base and the main place potential clients find information on who you are and what you do. It’s also where a majority of your content should live. While you also promote your content on social media, through email, and by collaborating with other businesses, you need your content’s home to be professional, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to navigate.
In fact, Service Direct found that 51% of consumers are unlikely or highly unlikely to patronize a small business with an outdated, poorly designed website, whereas 36% said the same thing about small businesses that don’t have a website at all.
In other words, having a bad website may actually be worse than not having a website at all!
Ultimately, most professional service businesses that connect with clients online have to have a website. And it’s important to ensure that your website is high quality to draw people in and keep them around, especially with 94% of website first impressions being design-related and 75% of people forming their opinion of a website based on its aesthetics. Clearly, it’s crucial that your site is well-designed and user-friendly.
While it is possible for new business owners to build their website from scratch, it’s time-consuming, limited, and not as straightforward as you may think. There are companies out there that will help you design your website in a fraction of the time and for thousands less than working with an agency.
Not only does B12 have expert web designers who will help create your dream website, but they also have a team to help you maintain and update it regularly. If you’d like to make changes yourself, you can use the B12 Website Editor and publish updates in minutes. It’s fast, flexible, and built to scale with your firm.
Don’t forget about mobile compatibility
With the vast majority of Americans owning a smartphone, it’s more important than ever that your website is compatible with mobile devices. This is because two-thirds of consumers report that they use their mobile device most often when researching small businesses and 61% of users will not return to a website that isn't mobile-responsive. Put simply, how your website works on a mobile device is a make-or-break situation for your small business.
At B12, every website created is mobile-friendly, with content optimized to ensure readability on smartphones so that people can digest your pages and blog posts on their phones. With mobile-friendly websites receiving 15% more unique clicks than those not optimized for mobile, your content strategy will be set up for success through mobile compatibility.
Service businesses need a content marketing strategy
Content marketing is no longer the way of the future — it’s the reality of the present. If you want your small business to succeed and thrive in the digital age full of online competitors and research-oriented searchers, you need a top-notch content strategy.
With B12’s expert team in your back pocket and the easy ability to develop and publish SEO-friendly content that helps your business grow, the all-in-one platform simplifies your content marketing execution. Your small business is better set up to see the growth you’re looking for while standing out in the eyes of potential clients. Top it off with a beautifully designed and easy-to-navigate website, and your small business is on its way to scaling.
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