If it seems like you’ve been hearing and reading the words “content marketing” more often this year, you’re not imagining things. Content marketing—that is, creating and sharing content such as articles, videos or whitepapers—is one of today’s hottest marketing trends. BusinessBolts’ Content Marketing Survey Report polled small business owners and marketers about how they use content marketing, their results and their challenges. Here’s some of what they found:

Content marketing is getting results—and I’m not just talking about “fluffy” results such as likes or retweets of content. The biggest benefits respondents cited were increasing website traffic (77%), improving their companies’ search engine rankings (71%), increasing brand awareness (70%), and boosting sales (59%).

What types of content are small business marketers using? Articles were most popular, cited by 74% of respondents. Next are blog posts, used by 64%. Nearly half (49%) the small businesses report using content marketing as part of their social media outreach.

The report found some distinctions between the highest-earning companies surveyed and the average. While just 41% on average used email newsletters as part of their content marketing strategy, 56% of the high earners did so. And while only 38% on average used videos for content marketing, 53% of the high earners did so.

Although small business marketers are seeing good results from their content marketing, they had a lot of questions and challenges. Areas they struggled with included finding good writers; developing high-quality content more rapidly without spending a lot of money; and how to use keywords within content to maximize their SEO benefits. Although most content marketers are now using WordPress, they wish there were simpler tools to make it easier to publish content.

What are the takeaways for small business owners?

  • Content marketing works

As the report author states, “Marketers are seeing massive benefits from content marketing even with minimal effort and minimal spending on content creation.”

  • Spending more money gets better results

High-earning companies in the survey are more likely to spend more money on their content creation. They are also less likely to say that content marketing has helped cut their other advertising costs—in other words, they are still investing in advertising instead of solely relying on content.

  • Start simple – but get started!

As my mother used to say, “Something is better than nothing.” If you’re currently not using content marketing at all, something as simple as creating a monthly email newsletter or posting one article a week on your website can make a huge difference.

  • Give video a try

This is one area that respondents had a lot of interest in, and 53 percent of them planned to do more with video in the coming year. If writing isn’t your strong suit, filming some quick videos could be the fastest way to create content and get it out there.

Are you exploring the advantage of content marketing? What types of content have worked for your business? What challenge have you faced on the road to good content?

 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She has written this guest post for the Networking Exchange Blog.