Local businesses often have a difficult time publishing content as regularly as they should.

They know that they need content marketing to reach their customers and build their brand, but are stuck when it comes to what to create. Or perhaps they're great at creating content, but have no idea what to measure to see if it's working.

If this sounds familiar, this blog post is for you.

Here's a collection of eight different topics and formats that will inspire your content and help you engage your audience:

1. Tap into local knowledge

One of the big issues that comes up time and time again is that businesses don't know what to write about. 

They know that they should be posting to social media and blogging on a regular basis, but they freeze every time they set their fingers to the keyboard.

If this sounds familiar, consider following other local business blogs or even picking up local/community newspapers that will keep you informed about the hottest events in your area. If you start propagating this information, eventually readers will come to recognize your website as a one-stop location for community news.

Here in Utah, for example, one of our biggest events is the Sundance Film Festival. Local businesses could do worse than building some hype on their blog.

Metrics to track: traffic, shares, links, loyalty (i.e. how many users return multiple times).

2. Share your experience

The flip side of tapping into local knowledge is to start sharing some experience of your own.

For example, medical clinics and sporting goods retailers might blog about their favorite bike trails, whereas SaaS businesses might blog about new technology innovations in their field.

If you're not keen on blogging, consider other ways of imparting your local knowledge, such as a downloable checklist, an Instagram account, or an active Twitter feed.

Metrics to track: traffic, shares, links, engagement.

mountain biking

3. Send out eNewsletters

Data from the Content Marketing Institute shows that 81% of B2B and 83% of B2C marketers are using eNewsletters to reach their customers—and that's because they work. 

When you've fine tuned your mailing list to always pique your audience's curiosity, you'll have a piece of content perfect for customer retention.

What you put in your eNewsletters will largely depend on your demographic. New prospects are looking for reasons to purchase—they need compelling calls to action and content that gets them excited to see more. 

Existing customers want added value—more content of the same quality that got them to sign up in the first place, along with special offers and loyalty perks that might prompt them to repurchase.

Metrics to track: sign-ups, open rates, click-through rates, conversions.

newspaper

4. Go "behind the scenes"

Live streaming is so hot right now. Companies, like Southwest Airlines, are using live streams and social media to keep their customers informed and showcase the human element in their company.

The airline even live streamed their operation control center in the middle of a blizzard, which showed 100,000 viewers how hard they were working to keep flights on schedule.

Your "behind the scenes" look doesn't have to be a live stream either. It could be a video, a blog post, or a series of photos. The point of this content is less about the format and more about helping customers relate to your brand.

Metrics to track: total views, concurrent viewers, engagement.

air traffic control

5. Showcase customer testimonials

When it comes to a persuasive piece of content, nothing beats a good testimonial. In this day and age, it's rare to get a customer who hasn't first scouted out your business on Yelp and social media. 

People want assurances that your business will solve their problem and paid ads have nothing on word of mouth.

Premier Family Medical knows this, which is why they dedicate a whole subpage on their website to testimonials & reviews. When you read about the positive experience other patients have had, it builds your confidence that they'll be able to help you too.

Metrics to track: click-through rates, comments, conversions.

testimonial

6. Shoot a video

Got something to say, but don't have the writing chops to express it? Video is a powerful content medium that's been shown time and time again to boost conversions and customer engagement.

You can create videos that appeal to customers at any stage of the buyer's journey. These might be branded videos, personal videos, vlog updates, product demonstrations, or viral videos.

The key to successful video is to create something that suits your brand's voice and appeals to your audience.

Metrics to track: views, shares, referral traffic.

7. Create a Microsite

When it comes to keeping up with today's fast-paced internet fare, content that's simple and bite sized is just what the doctor ordered. 

Microsites offer your users a succinct experience that grabs their attention and encourages them to keep clicking.

GIFtheFeeling.com is a prime example. This microsite by Coca-Cola is a powerful brand builder that lets users create custom GIFs out of 30 characters and one of 32 different three-second loops.

You can then easily share, tweet, or download your custom GIF, which I guess makes Coca-Cola's feel-good campaign the GIF that keeps on giving (sorry, I couldn't resist).

According to CMI, only 47% of B2B and 52% of B2C businesses are using microsites. I can't figure out why that number isn't higher.

Metrics to track: traffic, shares, links, conversions.

8. Repurpose Old Content

I'm often asked how local businesses can keep up with content marketing on a tight budget. Repurposing content is my answer.

Repurposing content is the act of making something old new again. Businesses can do this by springing for one huge, cornerstone asset (such as an eBook or whitepaper) and then chunking out the content in that big asset to inform their content over the next few months.

For example, an eBook might get repurposed into a bunch of checklists, an infographic of interesting stats, and a series of blog posts. Or, if done a keynote presentation, you can easily turn that into a slideshare and a bunch of quotes you can promote on social media.

If you're strapped for content ideas, there's a good chance that you're spreading yourself too thin, instead of focusing on becoming a thought leader on one or two specific topics. Repurposing content solves that problem, by establishing your authority on a very specific topic.

Metrics to track: downloads, shares, links, engagement.

newspaper

Final thoughts: why we measure

Though this assortment of topic ideas and content mediums is eclectic, it's by no means exhaustive. 

The key to staying inspired lies in finding a healthy middle ground between content that you enjoy producing and that your audience wants to see. The only way to tell if you're succeeding in this is to measure the metrics of every piece of content you produce. 

If you ever find that a certain topic or type of content isn't working, don't fret! Listen to your audience and find out what would keep them engaged. 

It’s also important that your CMS is intuitive and easy to use, which is why I nearly always recommend that local businesses use Wordpress.

Once you have a steady stream of content in place, results will follow. From there, it’s just a matter of fine tuning... and let’s be honest, that’s the fun part!

Jacob McMillen

Published 20 July, 2016 by Jacob McMillen

Jacob McMillen is a professional copywriter, marketing blogger, and the content director for CoachTube. Follow him on Twitter.

6 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (3)

Avatar-blank-50x50

David Crump, Head of Business Incubation at Cockpit Arts

Interesting piece Jacob, thanks. I thought the ocntent was just as applicable to someone who is operating in a specilaist niche or particular sector as to a local business.

almost 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Ian Waugh, Content Strategist at Lloyds Banking Group

Microsites are a dodgy one for me, they quickly get forgotten, they multiply and they take traffic away from other places. Over time they quickly get out of date and are rarely maintained. I guess if you have a clear strategy then go ahead, but instinctively I always advise against them.

almost 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Nicole Dawson, Digital Marketing Specialist at NicoleDawsonDigital

I'm with Ian about the microsite. Moreover, I wouldn't call it no-hassle. As part of a campaign, there's potential to populate the site with evergreen content, making it easier to maintain. Alternatively, a microsite with ongoing content takes considerable resources. Nonetheless, I do like the other content ideas for local businesses.

over 1 year ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.