In the truly global marketplace that we live in today, SMEs are always looking to make the most of their advertising opportunities. Yet many small to medium-sized businesses do not currently have a structured content strategy, and this is costing them valuable marketing potential.

Marketing report gives content insight

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s "Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America" report, about 65 percent of B2B marketers say that they don’t have a documented content market strategy in place. This is a criminal statistic given that it has been established that absorbing content is one of the best ways to market to consumers.

Yet despite this previous statistic, it has also been found that 94 percent of small businesses utilised content marketing in some respect. So it is obvious that SMEs want to make the most of this form of advertising, yet perhaps don't have the knowledge and wherewithal in order to do so. A strategic approach should be considered absolutely essential to content marketing, as many small travel-related businesses and destinations have demonstrated the value of a clear content marketing strategy.

It seems that small businesses are particularly missing the opportunity to market themselves via social media. The use of promoting posts on such viral social media platforms as Twitter and Facebook, along with successful marketing on content discovery platforms like Outbrain and Taboola, enable small businesses to greatly increase their scope, and thus improve the value of their content marketing.

Yet many SMEs continue to struggle to create high quality content which delivers something truly valuable to customers. Many small businesses are in fact unconvinced and confused about actually achieving a return on investment (ROI) from search marketing. Even big businesses have found it difficult to measure the effectiveness of content marketing, with around half of such corporations considering this a tricky process.

It goes without saying that if FTSE 100 companies are finding ROI marketing a challenge than small business owners are going to find it extremely difficult.

Clear content strategy required

This is where having a clear and cohesive content strategy is of critical importance. Content marketers who have such a documented strategy are in fact over eight times more likely — 60 percent versus 7 percent — to consider themselves to be effective content marketers as opposed to those currently without a clear strategy. Many SMEs seem to believe that if they simply put a web presence out there that people will come to them - rather like the movie Field of Dreams! That might work for fictional baseball stadiums, but it doesn't necessarily work in real life unfortunately!

Native advertising should be considered central to the process of developing a content strategy. These promoted posts on social media accounts are integrated into the home feed of users, essentially making them appear the same as any other post. Native advertising enables businesses to integrate advertising within the global user experience of a social platform. It truly enables businesses to hit home with the average social media user. Furthermore, promoting a post will greatly amplify its reach.

The aforementioned Outbrain and Taboola offer further opportunities for native advertising. When potential consumers using these particular platforms click on an article or page, content discovery widgets will display related content in order to provide them with more useful and relevant information. Additionally, the sites will draw more traffic to the websites of its clients. Content discovery tools engage audiences in a more targeted fashion, amplifying the exposure of your content, and enabling you to build web traffic in a subtle and suggestive fashion.

Yet despite the obvious value of native advertising, and the organic quality that it provides, a small percentage of SMEs are currently utilising promoted posts. According to a July 2014 study by BIA/Kelsey, only 20 percent of small businesses are currently taking advantage of this marketing opportunity.

Lessons for destinations and tourism businesses

It is clear that small businesses are failing to adopt satisfactory content marketing strategies, so there is a great deal that travel-related businesses can learn from this. The most important takeaway to grasp from this particular phenomenon is the fact that a cohesive and successful search marketing campaign is contingent on an appropriate content marketing strategy.

While the expression “content is king” is very well known, it is becoming less and less relevant in the era of the Internet. Digital marketing requires a completely different approach to information, considering the almost incalculable amount of information available on the worldwide web. Standing out from the crowd requires an explicit and coherent strategy, so today content is not king; distribution and digital marketing has stolen its crown!

Previous Digital Tourism Think Tank articles have focused on the value of Instagram for destinations, and successful social media campaigns carried out by Marketing Greece amongst others. It is critical for destinations and tourism businesses to pay heed to such content marketing strategies, as failing to do so will simply leave your brand lost in the fog of the modern Internet.

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