Competition in the startup world is high.
It feels like you have to jump through hoops and set yourself on fire just to stand out in the ever-increasing pool of new businesses. And, like with anything, it seems you have to throw money at your business to get results.
But as a startup, you’re on a budget. Money is tight, you have a limited number of team members, and there are only 24 hours in a day.
This is why a lot of startups put content marketing on the back burner.
Research has shown that it can cost $50,000 per month for strategy, creation, and promotion. If you’re just starting out, this probably seems like crazy money.
The truth is, you don’t have to shell out tens of thousands of dollars per month to create content that stands out.
But you do have to create content if you want to stand out.
In fact, content marketing (as known as inbound marketing) is one of the most effective ways to boost your business in the early days. If you’re not already tapping into this powerful marketing activity, now’s the time to do so.
Don’t fret, though. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to do so. To help you out, we’ve rounded some content marketing basics that work like magic on any budget.
1. Write A Guest Post On A Blog That Already Has Traffic
A lot of businesses dive straight into creating their own blog – and why wouldn’t they? It’s easier than ever to set up an on-site blog and start publishing.
But it can take a year or two of creating tons of great content for a new blog to start generating qualified traffic. If that sounds demoralizing, don’t let it get you down.
Instead, you can find a site that already has lots of traffic coming to it and write a killer post that actually has a chance to rank in Google for a topic your target audience is searching for.
When you write a guest post, you’ll want to link back to your business’s site, so over time you build up your own domain authority. Once you have a high enough domain authority, you might consider starting writing content on your own blog.
How to Get Guest Blogging Right
Getting guest blogging right takes two distinct stages: finding quality blogs that already have traffic to blog on and creating amazing content.
Here’s how to do it:
- Use a tool like Content Explorer or BuzzSumo and search for an industry-relevant keyword — you’ll be served uploads of relevant content, all you have to do is click through into the sites that have published the content and see if they accept guest blog posts
- You can also simply search Google for sites in your niche that accept guest blogs using the search phrase [your niche] “guest post submissions”
- Read the guidelines and come up with some relevant blog post ideas
- Set aside time to research and create blog posts that are packed full of your own expertise, examples, and actionable advice
- Spend time promoting your guest blog posts in the places where your audience hang out – for example, find out which social channels are most popular with your customers, uncover industry-specific forums, and make use of other distribution methods, like aggregation and word-of-mouth
2. Get Your Happy Customers To Write You Glowing Reviews
If you find yourself with very little time (and, let’s face it, which startup owner doesn’t?), you can turn to your customers to help you create content.
Reviews provide a great way to promote your business without you having to do much apart from encouraging customers to leave reviews.
Not only do they provide your business with credibility (i.e., social proof) as 90% of consumers read reviews before they make a purchase, but they can also drive qualified traffic right to your site.
How to Make the Most of Customer Reviews
To begin with, you need to get your customers on board – after all, it’s impossible to share reviews if you don’t have any, to begin with.
The best way to encourage your customers to share their positive reviews is to provide them with a place to share them. Usually, this will be a third-party review site.
You can generate more customer reviews by:
- Identifying industry-specific review sites that are relevant to your audience
- Provide your customers with outstanding customer service by under-promising and over-delivering
- Collect customer feedback to identify who is happy and who has issues
- Ask your happiest customers to share their experience by writing you a review
3. Drive Traffic To Your Site Using Your Competitors
Your new business might not have a lot of website traffic yet but your more established competitors do. You can take advantage of their search traffic by creating competitor comparisons.
These are web pages that compare your business to your competitors but pitch your services as a better alternative. This is a great way to capture prospects that are in the consideration stage of the sales cycle.
These kinds of pages often provide a better opportunity to rank buyer-intent keywords and send qualified traffic to your site.
Your competitor comparison should include:
- A sided-by-side pricing and feature comparison between your product and 3-5 of your top competitors’ products
- Your unique selling proposition (USP).
- The benefits that differentiate your product from competitors
If you want to win customers over, you have to truly understand their pain points and clearly explain how you solve them better than your competitors.
4. Capture Site Visitors Using Lead Magnets
Lead magnets provide you with a mechanism for capturing site visitors and converting them into leads you can follow up with.
They are usually in the form of downloadable pieces of content that visitors to your site can sign up for by entering their name and email.
Lead magnets provide added value to your site visitors while giving you access to the email addresses of people who have actively shown interest in your product.
Once you have a list of email addresses, you can then follow up with subscribers and keep your brand top-of-mind.
Lead magnets can come in all shapes and sizes, from one-page checklists to multi-page ebooks, webinars, or video series’. In fact, there’s one at the bottom of this post.
How to Make the Most of Lead Magnets:
- The most successful lead magnets give subscribers a quick win, so think about ways you can help them take quick action on a problem they have
- Brainstorm topic ideas and determine the best format for the topics
- Put together your lead magnets using a tool like Canva – there are plenty of pre-made templates there to choose from
- Add a signup form to your website where visitors can drop their email addresses in exchange for the lead magnet
- Nurture your subscribers by sending regular emails about product updates, offering discounts, and sharing your latest content
5. Increase Conversions By Re-Targeting Your Website Visitors
Re-Targeting, also called remarketing, is a form of online advertising that keeps your brand in front of customers who have previously visited your website. When customers visit your site it uses a cookie-based technology to anonymously ‘follow’ your site visitor advertising your services to them as they surf the web.
Why is this useful? Think about it. Most of the traffic you dive to your site doesn’t end up converting on the first visit. Like lead magnets, re-targeting is another tool that maximizes your opportunities to turn website visitors into customers.
What’s the easiest way to get started with retargeting? Use AdRoll.
AdRoll is a retargeting platform that makes it easy to set up retargeting campaigns across the web. It’s the most affordable and efficient way to run paid ads because reintroducing your brand to warm prospects and keeping yourself top-of-mind to customers looking to make a purchase.
How Start Retargeting With AdRoll:
- Sign up for an AdRoll account — it only takes a minute
- Create personalized ads that target prospects who have shown interest in your brand
Content Marketing Basics
Contrary to popular belief, content marketing doesn’t have to put a huge dent in your budget. For many startups, paying for content creators, agencies, and marketers just isn’t feasible in the early days, which is why content marketing often gets pushed to the sidelines.
Luckily, there are some super low-cost but incredibly powerful content marketing basics you can use to efficiently create content that boosts your brand and gets you more customers.
Let’s recap these basic content marketing tactics:
- Guest posting
- Customer reviews
- Competitor comparisons
- Lead magnets
These five basic tactics are perfect to get you started with content marketing because they’re easy to pull off and guaranteed to provide you with a high ROI.
So, give them a try — and you’ll see they work like magic.
Editor’s Note: The article is part of the blog series Grow Your Business, brought to you by the marketing team at UniTel Voice, the virtual phone system priced and designed for startups and small business owners.