Marketing / Content Marketing

5 Content Marketing Ideas You've Got to Try

Jessica Thiefels

Updated: Sep 14, 2019 · 11 min read

Toolkit for download in this article

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Content marketing is just one facet of your business’s marketing plan, and it’s an important one. High-quality content drives leads, boosts SEO, and allows you to promote products, services, and your brand in a way that’s valuable to potential customers and clients. If you’ve been writing the same type of content for years—blog posts, anyone?—or promoting on the same old platforms—Hello, Facebook—it’s time to switch it up.

Related Article:

The Small Business Guide to Blogging

Use these content marketing ideas, like creating videos or publishing on LinkedIn Pulse, to create and promote your content creatively and effectively. 

Video series 

Experts have been pointing to video as the next big thing in content marketing since 2016 and for good reason. Forbes reported the following stats: 

  • More than 500 million hours of video are watched on YouTube each day
  • More video content is uploaded in one month than the major U.S. television networks have created in three decades
  • By 2021, a million minutes (17,000 hours) of video content will cross global IP networks every second

There are many ways you can use video content in your marketing plan, and a video series is one of them. This gives you a chance to test a wide range of video types and topics, along with on-camera personalities, length, format and more. Keep the tips from Tubular’s blog post, 10 Key Things to Consider When Creating a Video Show, in mind as you put together your initial ideas and plans.

To get the most out of your videos, cross-publish and promote as much as possible. For example, if your series is hosted on Facebook Live, download all the completed videos and publish on your blog, as separate blog posts with supplemental content. Upload them to YouTube as well.

Gated e-book

You can drive leads and subscribers with a gated e-book, making it a versatile content marketing asset to have. It also allows your brand to build thought leadership within your industry and shows that you can “walk the walk” and “talk the talk.” 

The best part is, you don’t have to write the entire e-book from scratch. If you have a year or more of blog content, start there. Dig through analytics to uncover your top five or 10 blog posts; this will help you determine a topic unless you already have one in mind.

String those top blog posts together in e-book format—chapters, longer-form text, images, page numbers, etc.—and add content as needed for transitions or to fill in gaps. Not only does this limit the amount of work you have to do, but Holly Rollins, president of 10x digital says: 

“Repurposing old blog posts can be a clever way to take your highest ranking and evergreen existing content then update it and distribute in new and different ways.” You put a lot of work into those blog posts, get more mileage out of them.

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Small Business Marketing Content Ideas

The next step is creating an engaging and clickable title; this will help you achieve your goal of driving leads or subscribers. If you need some inspiration, check out this guide from FounderU, 21 Helpful eBook Ideas. The ideas are broken up into the following categories, allowing you to find the right inspiration for your ebook:

  • How-to e-books
  • Time-sensitive e-books
  • Step-by-step guides
  • List e-books
  • Inspirational e-books

The final steps are design (of the e-book and landing page), implementation, and tracking. Check analytics for traffic to the e-book’s landing page, along with total downloads, shares, and more to determine if the content was successful. If so, ask yourself: how can we replicate this? 

Free course 

Like an e-book, a free course is a great way to show that you know what you’re talking about; it’s also highly marketable, whether it costs nothing, is subscription-based, or you charge a one-time fee. 

To ensure this content marketing idea drives value and ROI, start with step one: “Before you start building a course, the very first thing you have to do is identify the problem your course will solve,” says Ruth Soukup, founder of Living Well Spending Less.

Soukup continues, “It’s really hard to sell something the audience doesn’t feel like they can’t live without. The course can’t just be interesting. It has to address a very specific pain point the audience has and offer a solution to a problem they really struggle with.”

When you have the problem and solution identified, focus on the technical details, including:

  • Hosting: Where will your course live? It would be ideal to host on your own website or proprietary platform. If that’s not possible, there are dozens of other platforms you can use, like Thinkific, Udemy or Teachable.
  • Content: Who will write it? Will you use blog content as your foundation? Will there be assignments and supplemental resources you need to create? 

Branding: How will you incorporate your brand into every aspect of the course, without “selling” or coming off as “sales-y”? Tory Smith, vice president at Bay Leaf Digital suggests a simple way to find this balance while being most effective with the leads that come in:

“Use a two-step marketing-remarketing approach to filter out the lower quality leads. The first step will introduce the prospect to your content, and the second step will remind your prospect through brand recall. If your offer on the second step is relevant, you will come away with a highly relevant subscriber." 

Don’t forget to create an extensive content marketing plan to promote it, including pre-launch marketing emails and social updates. If possible, send it to influencers who can take the course for a review and link in return.

Staff-written blog posts

If your staff lives and breathes your work—let’s say you’re a gym and everyone on staff are fitness professionals or advocates—tap into this unused network for content marketing. There are three undeniable benefits of doing this:

  • They’re passionate about what you’re trying to accomplish
  • They become brand ambassadors for your organization
  • They provide a fresh perspective

Turn this into a branding campaign, like “The Voices of Fitness West,” allowing you to build value around your organization as a whole while providing great marketing materials for recruiting—”Do you like to write? We love to have our staff share their perspectives on our blog!” 

If you don’t have anyone interested in writing, your staff can still provide valuable insight for your next big content marketing campaign, according to Amanda Batista, former managing editor of DemandGen Report:

“Your staff—those on the front line of marketing, can be your greatest resources. Garner feedback from engineers, product developers and other key users and service-oriented company personnel who can speak to your product suite’s true value from a use-case scenario perspective. Use that feedback as fodder for your next content campaign.”

LinkedIn Pulse 

This platform is ideal for brands looking to build thought leadership via the CEO or another leader within the organization because you can’t post articles as a business. Still, publishing on LinkedIn Pulse provides your brand and content with a variety of benefits:

  • Built-in audience: While you work to drive regular traffic to your blog, you can use LinkedIn to boost thought leadership and get eyes on your brand thanks to their 300 million-plus members, many of whom are high-level leaders and CEOs: 
    • “First and foremost, Pulse gives you access to influential people. These are the decision-makers that put your company in the spotlight. They’re the business connections you’d spend years acquiring if the internet didn’t exist,” says Matt Wolfe from Evergreen Profits.
  • Cross-promote to boost LinkedIn page: If you’re trying to build traffic to your LinkedIn page, share the article on other platforms, like within blog posts and via email marketing blasts. Your byline at the top will drive people to your page and if you have LinkedIn Premium, you can then see who’s looking at your page and reach out.
  • Traffic to your site: All links included in Pulse articles are no-follow, so you won’t get the SEO juice. But you can drive traffic to your blog and website by including links to blog posts, resource pages, your lead-driving ebook, etc. 

Like any other content marketing effort, you need a plan and goals for publishing on LinkedIn Pulse. Before writing any content, set yourself up for success with these simple planning tips: 

  • Identify your top three overall goals.
  • Create a content calendar, giving each individual piece a specific goal. I.E. Drive traffic to your site, drive people to your LinkedIn page, promote new service, etc. While many will be a mix of these goals, having one in mind will dictate what links you include, where you promote, etc.
  • Learn how to hack your efforts on LinkedIn to get the most from every article published. Some of these hacks from Larry Kim, CEO of Mobile Monkey, include: short title, get featured in a channel, publish consistently, and use basic SEO. 

Find new content marketing opportunities

If you’re sick of doing the same old thing, or your content marketing needs a refresh—it’s stagnant, not driving leads, losing traffic, etc.—use these ideas to try something new. Your audience will appreciate the refresh, you may find a better way to accomplish your top-level business goals.

Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a content marketing consultant and freelance writer. She’s been part of a growing startup for two years now, where she’s learned a lot about running a business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.

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