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5 Crucial Mistakes to Avoid in the Content Marketing for Your Small Business

Content Marketing For Small Business

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. i.e., if you sign up for their paid programs, I will get a commission, at no cost to you. Please rest assured that I only recommend software/ products I genuinely believe in, and trust to be good for you.


Content marketing for a small business, or in fact, any business, is supposed to help you boost your brand awareness, traffic, leads, and sales.

So you have to make sure that you’re doing with certain objectives and goals in mind, and then watch them materialize over a period of time.

Benefits of content marketing

1.  Boost your website and social media traffic

2.  Build your brand awareness and engagement

3.  Generate qualified leads

4.  Increase revenues

5.  Boost your SEO and Google rankings

Check out more benefits of content marketing in this post.

So to ensure that you achieve all of these with your content marketing, make sure you don’t make the content marketing mistakes below, that many businesses still seem to make.

See the video version here:

Or read the detailed post below.

Mistake #1. Not giving away tons of content for free

Many small businesses are scared to put out too much free content out there, especially how-to and list-based articles. Their fear is that if their audience knows everything about the service or product the business is trying to sell, then the people will consume all the free content, know everything, and won’t need to pay for the actual product or service.

Or they might get the free information and then look for other and cheaper alternatives, and won’t end up buying from the business whose content they consumed and learned from.

In my experience, more service-based businesses have this fear.

I will not lie to you. Yes, that can happen.

But there are 2 factors to consider here.

1.  Not everyone is consuming content to make a purchase. 

Google has been ranking content higher more and more based on search intent, thus affecting your SEO. When people are looking for content online, they may have different purposes:


Informational: To learn, DIY.

They are not ready to buy. From you, or someone else. They probably want a DIY solution, and won’t buy whether you provide free content or not.

Commercial Investigative: To make a purchase decision

They have thought of some options, maybe you, and some other business, and trying to decide who is right for them. Maybe they are looking at comparison content of different brands or going through the websites and content of multiple brands, evaluating various factors.

Transactional: To buy

They have made their decision, they search for exactly the product/ service they have chosen, and they buy it

Navigational: To find an URL

They are trying to find a previously visited website.

types of search intent

So content makes an impact mostly in the first 2 stages of search, and in the awareness, engagement, and consideration stage of a customer’s purchase journey.

The more you help your audience in these stages, the more likely they are to consider you when it comes to purchasing. So as this Coschedule post says, giving things away opens the door to new relationships.

free content

If you haven’t helped them at all stages of their customer journey before, helped them learn, answered their questions, solved their confusion, without asking for anything in return from them, then when they are ready for the purchase stage, they may not think about you.

So it is crucial that you account for possible search intents into your content strategy and customer journey mapping.

2.  Not everyone is ready to buy from YOU.

Now you may have helped a lot of people with your content, and they might constantly refer to blog posts on your small business website or videos when they want to learn more about your topic.

And they are your target audience in the sense that you do offer what they need, what they are looking to buy.

It is still possible that when it comes to purchasing, they may not choose you.

Maybe your prices are too high. Maybe your products and services are too complicated or not exactly a match to what they think they need. Maybe you are too big or too small, too faceless or too personal, and they don’t connect with you.

There could be a zillion reasons why people may consume your free content but won’t buy from you.

Ok, then you don’t make a sale. So then look at the bigger picture of what you DO achieve:

1.  Driving referrals: In their minds, you are an expert as you are providing lots of valuable information. So they won’t hesitate to recommend you to someone they think COULD be a good fit for your products or services.

2.  Boost performance: If they are consuming and engaging with your content, commenting, sharing, linking, that could boost your website traffic, content performance, and SEO as well.

Related: DIY SEO for Small Business Owners from Scratch: 6 Key Steps [Tutorial]

3. Purchase (delayed): You do have a good recall in their minds. So when they are ready to pay a bit more, or after they have engaged with you for a long time, consistently, and feel they can connect to you more, they might be ready to make that purchase from you.

So giving away free content will always provide you with benefits. Do not underestimate its importance, and make sure to include loads of detailed, helpful content in your strategy, available easily and for free to anyone who wants them.

Mistake #2. Not optimizing your content for your audience

Earlier we saw that even if your audience is not ready to buy from you right now, you should still give most of your content away for free.

Because when they are ready, they will go to the most top-of-mind brand: you.

However, this happens provided you have really understood your audience in great detail and helped them through your content. And you can only optimize your content for your audience if you’ve taken the time to understand their pains, their needs, their questions.

I understand that as a small business, you want to include as many people as possible in your audience, as you never know where sales could come from.

However, that rarely ever works. Your business and content performance depends on you selecting certain groups of audiences, and truly understanding and engaging with them.

Related: 3 BIG Mistakes That Could Ruin a Highly Effective Marketing Plan

If you try to create content for everyone, you create content for no one. People don't find it relevant, don't connect with it, and leave your website, taking potential sales with them. Share on X

There are many ways to do a full audience analysis. And of course, a key thing to start with is a buyer persona.

You will notice in this template that besides all the questions about the audience, there is a place to put a name and a picture.

That is because it is not just important to understand a set of people, it is important to think in terms of an individual, personalize them, and evaluate your every decision.

Let’s say our buyer is a woman named Jenny. Now when you develop your content strategy and marketing for your small business, consider the following parameters :

1. Match your content to the customer journey 

What is the type of information that Jenny is looking for? Where is she in her customer journey, and what kind of content does she need? For example:

Problem awareness: She is looking for general solutions, without being product specific, or without even an immediate need to buy. So mostly, she needs information: general solutions, tips and tricks, industry info.

Need for a solution: Now she has an idea of what could solve her problem, and she is leaning towards a particular type. Maybe a product. Then she needs more information about the type of product before she moves on to a brand.

buyers funnel

2. Show that you understand their problem and need

• Talk to Jenny in her language, demonstrate through your content that you understand her challenges, and that’s why you’re suggesting a specific solution that could work for her.

• Match all your keywords, even high-intent keywords to the relevant search intent and content e.g. if the keyword you’re optimizing for is “street food hong kong”, you know the intent is to find information on the different types of street food in that particular country. Not generally about what street food means or recipes for such foods.

Related: Content marketing optimization

3. Distribute your content in the right form

What is the mode of contact that Jenny prefers? Written blogs? Videos? Podcasts? It could depend on her age, time availability, familiarity with a certain mode, lifestyle, influencers she follows. For instance, below is an infographic on what kind of content is most consumed by which age groups.

It is also a good idea to repurpose the same content in different formats if possible.

Limited by budget and time? You don’t have to do a lot.

It’s very simple to turn a blog post into a video, add some free subtitles, and publish on the platform that works best for your business! Or just use pre-built templates from Canva to create a few pins out of your blog post.

Related: Canva Pro prices

content form

4. Drive consistent engagement

It’s not just enough to publish the right content for your audience. You have to engage with them. Talk to Jenny and others like her as much as you can.

These are some simple and quick ways to do it, even if you are a small business:

• If they are commenting on your content, please, please, do reply to those comments and have a conversation.

• If they leave a review, thank them.

• Find out the communities they are hanging out in, what questions they are asking, and provide the answers, linking your content.

• If they share your content, tweet thanks.

• If they are active on social media, comment on their content too.

Don’t have time for these too? Just hire an intern or a virtual assistant.

Mistake #3. Creating ad hoc content, and not building a brand

Let’s be honest. As a small business, when you start, you focus on acquiring customers and sales, as you should.

However, then you decide that you should do some content marketing as all the marketing gurus say that works, and so you start creating content.

A few blog posts, maybe a couple of videos…you may even have some lead magnets up on your site.

But here’s the thing.

Over 4 million blog posts are published every day. How will yours stand out? Share on X

The truth is, a few pieces of content here and there won’t make a difference to your website or sales performance.

You have to be more than just content. You have to have an identity.

Something that makes your audience know and understand who you are and what value you offer, connect with you, remember you, and then seek you out.

So it’s not enough to have a product. You need to have:

A unique value proposition: And competitive positioning

A mission: How you intend to make a difference

Credibility: Why your offer is so valuable

Values: Indicating what you believe in and stand and work by

A personality: About how you communicate and interact with others

In short, you need to have a brand story.


Mistake #4. Not using data to monitor and refine future content

Most small business owners I have met seem to rely on sending their content by email, and the data they more or less look at are open and click rates.

Even if they share content on social media, they don’t do it in detail.

But in today’s world, you have so many metrics available to you, to analyze and measure what works, what doesn’t, and how you can improve it further.

Here’s how you can do more, to make your content even more impactful.

1.  Track email performance more in detail. 

The most popular metrics small businesses check on email are Open Rate and Click Rate. But you can get an in-depth understanding about your audience based on a lot of other data. Some of them are:

Type of content: Which kinds get the most opens and clicks? Is there a pattern?

The timings of email engagement: e.g. morning, before work/ evening, after work? Send more emails at these times then

The name of the email sender: Do your emails get more engagement when the sender is your company or a person?

The subject line and preview text: Shorter or longer ones? Is there a pattern?

One easy way to do this is to A/ B test your emails, with different conversions. Even a free email software, like MailChimp, lets you run an A/ B or multivariate test on multiple parameters. See a list below from Crazy Egg, on the different tests you can run.

Related: The Easiest Way to Drive Email Conversions with the Sendinblue WPForms Add-On

Website behavior: e.g. time spent on the website and number of pages visited by visitors who came from email vs. those who came from other channels. You can also get this for free, from Google Analytics.

Website visitors from email

2.  Measure your website performance.

This is very easy to do with Google Analytics. You can just set up your website with a Google Analytics account, go to your GA dashboard, and check the performance of each of your content, page by page.

You can check the following things, also from Google Analytics, in simple formats:

The number of visitors, new or returning: Do you have a steady loyal following?

Demographics: Do these match those of your target customer, or is there a gap?

Bounce rate: Do the visitors see one page of content and leave, or do they browse around?

Pages per session and behavior flow: If they hang around, which pages do they visit more?

Conversions: Which type of audience, from which channel, convert the most

Google Analytics Age Demographics

Google Analytics metrics

3.  Measure engagement rate by channel

The 2 most important overall data you need to measure are:

1.  The channel that drives the most engaged traffic to your website

Do people tend to spend more time on your website when they come through search/ social media/ email? With what kind of content? Then you have to focus more on that channel and that type of content.

2. Your content performance on social media

You can track quite a lot of detailed metrics through channels like Youtube and Facebook, to analyze which kind of content performs the best, why, and how you can optimize it even further.

4.  Measure the performance of external pages for guest posting and ads

Let’s say you want to increase brand awareness and SEO. Putting up some content (guest posts) or ads on related websites is a good way to do that for sure.

But be careful of the websites and pages you choose, on your partner websites. You want to ensure that that page gets enough traffic and is high on SEO, to ensure that they can drive visibility and awareness of your brand, and direct traffic to your website. Some of the data you can check for the partner websites are:

Domain Rating: The higher the ranking, the higher the chances of your content getting good SEO quickly.

How much traffic the page/ website gets: Obviously then, the higher the visitors on this website, the more people will stumble upon your brand mention

URL Rating: If you’re putting up an ad on a page, check that the page has a good rank first.

Keywords the domain/ the URL ranks for the most: You can optimize your content/ ads based on those keywords

All these will ensure that you get good ROI for all your investments: time, effort, and budget-wise.

You can easily use SEO/ SEM software like SEMRush, Ahrefs, or Moz, to do this research.

So as you see, there is a lot of data easily available, even for free, to help you fine-tune your content and improve your ROI. Try to read the story behind it all, to optimize your marketing. Make data your friend, not your source of stress and overwhelm.

Mistake #5. Depending solely on content without creating a holistic user and customer experience

Now let’s say you have got everything right about your content marketing. You have good content, have been giving it for free, have a good funnel, have used a lot of data to refine your content.

But maybe, you’re still not seeing sales?

One big reason (assuming your product and pricing strategy is also on track), could be the overall brand and customer experience you’ve been providing. And this experience is actually a combination of many different factors, which you have to get right.

1.  User Experience

When visitors to your website or social media profiles find it easy, fun, and hassle-free to engage with your brand, they are more likely to spend more time on your website, contact your customer care, and make a purchase.

Did you think UX was only for small businesses? Actually, it’s more and more relevant for small businesses as well.

If you have a WordPress website, there are lots of plugins that could help you in creating a good user experience for your website. Or take the help of a UI/ UX designer, to fine-tune your UX to your specific customer. You can even find someone to do it for you at an affordable rate from websites like Fiverr.

2.  Customer Care

When visitors to your website or social media profiles find it easy, fun, and hassle-free to engage with your brand, they are more likely to spend more time on your website, contact your customer care, and make a purchase.

Did you think UX was only for small businesses? Actually, it’s more and more relevant for small businesses as well.

customer service improves sales 1

3.  Purchase Process

How easy is it to buy from you? More and more companies are now investing in making the process as easy and hassle-free as possible. Some ways they do this are:

Having multiple points of purchase: So consider also opening up purchase options on marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, Eventbrite, etc.

Mobile booking: Customers can book anywhere, on the go.

Booking and other info on WhatsApp: So customers can easily refer to their reservations, barcodes, get updates, and even clarify small questions with simple texts.

Rebooking: Buying a previously purchased product/ service with a couple of clicks.

The easier, quicker, and more hassle-free the booking process is, the more likely are customers to gravitate towards you, rather than a system that involves emailing, calling and waiting in queue, going to your store, etc.

4.  Consistency

Whenever you talk or engage with your audience, at every touchpoint, whether it’s online or offline, make sure there is consistency in your communication. You use the same tone of voice, have the same helpful approach, provide similar information, and uphold your brand’s unique value proposition. This improves overall recall and trust in the brand.

Related: 7 Essential Elements of Strong Brand Equity

So those were the key content marketing mistakes that small businesses make, and some tips to help you avoid them.

What do you think? What are other mistakes that you see them making, or have learnt from yourself? Would love to hear your comments!

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Jason N. Beland
4 years ago

wow really good article

being raghunath
being raghunath
2 years ago

Great post. Thanks for the information.