19 Affordable & Effective Small Business Content Marketing Ideas | Semrush
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19 Affordable & Effective Small Business Content Marketing Ideas

Margarita LoktionovaMay 17, 202314 min read

Coming up with effective and relevant content ideas is key to attracting the right audience.

But with so much content out there, how can you hit the right topics and cut through the noise?

We’ve put together 19 top content marketing ideas you can use here and now, and shared examples from well-known brands.

Small and medium businesses alike can learn from (and be inspired by) the following ideas.

1. Define Your Brand Story (And Embed It in Your Content)

1. Define Your Brand Story (And Embed It in Your Content)

Your brand story is a summary of your company’s history, mission, purpose, and values. It should be filtered into all of your content. After all, it’s the heart of your messaging.

That means you’ll need to define your brand story and mission before launching into a content marketing strategy.

It should influence what (and how) you publish—from email marketing to social media, website copy, and more.

For example, iFixit’s brand mission is “The right to repair”; the brand believes that everyone can repair their own tech.

And this is the common thread across the company’s blogs, email newsletter, and community-building efforts.erful brand story

Example of a powerful brand story

This approach helped iFixit achieve impressive results, from organic traffic to media and social media mentions.

iFixit generates organic traffic thanks to their powerful brand story

Think about how your product and content can change your customers’ lives for the better.

What do you believe in, and what sets you apart from other brands?

Mission-driven content marketing and SEO will help you reach like-minded people with greater ease and build a strong community.

2. Convert Your Customer Questions into Content Topics

2. Convert Your Customer Questions into Content Topics

Your customers should be a big source of inspiration for your small business content marketing strategy. After all, they are the ones who will determine its value.

Try to highlight common questions from customer feedback. This could be online comments, direct requests, reviews, surveys, or records from customer support.

Diversify these questions and turn them into content like FAQs, video interviews, “how to” guides, and product walk-throughs.

For example, Hootsuite used on-site surveys to discover that its website visitors had questions around Hootsuite’s core services.

In response, the company added more copy to its landing pages, detailing each service. The result was a 16% increase in conversions.

Generating content ideas from customer questions: Hootsuite example

Source: qualaroo.com

3. Attract More Organic Traffic with Keyword and Topic Research

3. Attract More Organic Traffic with Keyword and Topic Research

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an essential component of content marketing. It helps you improve your chances of ranking in search engine page results.

Good SEO can maximize the visibility of your content. But you first need to identify the keywords that are most popular (and most relevant) to your product, service, and audience.

Ranking in search engines takes time, but it’s a solid way to generate more and more traffic over time without spending extra money.

You can begin with listing high-level topics and words related to your business.

For instance, try “gluten-free diet,” “gluten-free recipes,” and “gluten-free meal plans” if you’re a website offering gluten-free food delivery.

Here are some tools you can use for the next steps:

1. Try ContentShake AI to get topic suggestions and quickly create engaging articles using AI. Among other things, the tool will suggest related keywords to feature in your content.

Enter any keyword or topic in the field below and start writing:

Create ready-to-rank content in one click!

Try ContentShake AI-a smart writing tool for small teams with big content marketing goals. Save time, see results.

2. You can also use our free Title Generator tool for further inspiration on blog post headlines:

Enter a topic to collect.

For example: how to create good content

Enter a topic to collect. For example: how to create good content

It’s a good idea to organize your keywords and topics into thematic hubs (or clusters).

For example, if you’re writing about gluten-free desserts, you could have a main article (pillar page) dedicated to all types of gluten-free desserts.

Then, you could have multiple pages about gluten-free pastry, gluten-free cereals, gluten-free cookies, etc. You get the idea!

4. Analyze Your Social Media to Continue Conversations

4. Analyze Your Social Media to Continue Conversations

Looking at conversations around your social media posts can help you understand what clicks with your customers and come up with new content ideas.

Regularly review your channels and pull out any themes or comments that users have around the content you share there. You can then produce content that elaborates on their reactions.

For instance, if your posts about gluten-free pasta recipes get lots of comments and shares, you might want to create more content on this topic.

Or, if you see people asking questions about choosing gluten-free beer brands, you might want to include this in your calendar.

Let’s look at a real-life example.

The Sill is a business that sells indoor plants and gardening supplies. They analyzed their social media comments and found that their followers often asked for tips on how to care for specific plants.

They used this information to create a series of Instagram posts featuring care tips for different plant species:

Social media content - The Sill
5. Collaborate with Experts and Influencers

5. Collaborate with Experts and Influencers

The community around you can provide plenty of fresh ideas for content.

Partnering with industry influencers and thought leaders can help you get unique, engaging content fueled by real-life experience.

Besides, working with influencers usually means getting additional access to their followers and expanding your reach.

For instance, you could have an influencer create an Instagram reel testing your product. Or, if you’re a B2B company, you could reach out to an expert in your field and ask for their opinion on a certain topic.

Let’s look at an example.

Benefit Cosmetics and Crocs partnered with influencer Manny to lead a competition to design a limited edition of Crocs shoes.

The collaboration received thousands of submissions. As a result, it helped the line of shoes completely sell out.

Example of influencer collaborations for content - Crocs and Benefit Cosmetics

However, remember that you don’t need to chase big numbers. Go after authentic creators who have a unique tone of voice and are aligned with your brand values.

You can then use this content to share on your social media, website, or even for paid campaigns.

6. Get Inspiration from Online Forums

6. Get Inspiration from Online Forums

Places like QuoraReddit, and Stack Overflow are packed with dialogues around news, trends, and events in the business world.

And often, the conversations there have a refreshingly honest, down-to-earth perspective. You can transform comments, posts, and questions of this sort into genuinely useful content.

For instance, imagine you were researching questions people ask about watering plants. Simply typing it on Reddit can give you dozens of ideas:

Using online forums to find content ideas

Some brands take it to the next level and create their own forum spaces.

Adobe uses online forums to present information on its current and pending products and services.

Doing so allows the company to learn about its customers’ first impressions and questions. It also keeps users in the loop about upcoming products and services.

Using online forums to find content ideas
7. Track News Events and Share Your Take

7. Track News Events and Share Your Take

Being timely is important in the busy content space. It shows that your business has a finger on the pulse of the wider world.

It’s a good idea to follow the news, paying attention to announcements that affect your industry and audiences.

In turn, you can produce content that offers your opinion on news stories (e.g., a company fined for poor data management).

Or you could choose to inform users about what the news could mean for them (e.g., new legislation).

For example, Buffer used the announcement of Facebook Stories to educate its users.

Using screenshots of Facebook’s interface, Buffer walked audiences through how to navigate the latest development from the tech giant, alongside its benefits.

Tracking news events to create content
8. Mirror Social Media Trends Beyond Your Bubble

8. Mirror Social Media Trends Beyond Your Bubble

Every few weeks (or even days) there’s a new viral social media trend that everyone talks about.

Be it a meme, a TikTok song, or a joke, why not piggyback on it and generate extra engagement for your brand?

That doesn’t mean you have to compromise your voice or style. Instead, join in the trends but with your own tone of voice.

For instance, Semrush’s social media team regularly shares posts leveraging viral trends and adapts them to their audiences:

Leveraging social media trends for content creation

Another fun example is a campaign launched by BarkBox, a subscription service for dogs.

They piggybacked on the “What the Fluff" challenge in 2018. They created a video featuring dogs reacting to their owners “disappearing” behind a blanket and used the hashtag to promote the video on social media.

The video went viral and helped increase BarkBox's visibility.

viral video example - BarkBox

Some brands even manage to create their own social media trends.

For example, Pepsi’s #SwagStepChallenge was one of the most successful dance trends on TikTok.

In fact, many brands uploaded their own versions of the video, demonstrating a lighter side to their businesses.

Viral video example - Pepsi's challenge
9. Make a Video Series Answering Customer Queries

9. Make a Video Series Answering Customer Queries

The more personal your content is, the better. At the same time, video is now one of the preferred formats for modern audiences.

And you don’t need to spend thousands on expensive production; authentic, genuine videos can work out just fine.

So why not use questions asked by your customers and followers to create a video series? This could range from recording Reels and TikToks to going live on Instagram or running a Q&A webinar.

For instance, you could get employees from different departments to answer pre-collected questions from customers and share practical tips.

The series could even have a regular host and its own branding.

PlayStation regularly posts Q&A videos where representatives from the company respond to customer queries about new releases and upcoming changes.

10. Team Up with Non-Competitive Brands for Content

10. Team Up with Non-Competitive Brands for Content

Partnering with brands that share your values (but aren’t your competitors) is a good way to come up with fresh content ideas and reach a bigger audience.

You could produce articles or videos about using products from both parties. Another option is to team up with brands that share a similar vision or values (e.g., if another brand is also promoting sustainable living, you could co-create content and run joint campaigns).

Here’s an example:

Vice and Vans entered into a partnership to create Boardly—a series of videos that celebrate women in skateboarding.

The collaboration promoted Vans’ shoes and streetwear while aligning with Vice’s social mission to end gender stereotypes.

Vice and Vans content example

You can even run research together and come up with valuable industry reports. Check out how HubSpot collaborated with Rock Content and Wistia to create the “State of Marketing Trends Report”:

Content collaboration example: Hubspot
11. Conduct Original Research for Unique Content

11. Conduct Original Research for Unique Content

Creating original and useful content you can’t find anywhere else is an extremely powerful content marketing idea.

It's getting even more important with the introduction of AI-generated content

And you have more data at your fingertips than you may realize.

For instance, you could:

  • Run surveys with your customers and followers
  • Tap into product usage data
  • Study and compare existing research to come up with new insights
  • Analyze market trends in your niche
  • Interview your customers
  • Test products or services and share results

Let’s look at an example.

REI Co-op—a website offering outdoor gear—publishes articles about their own staff testing products in real-life conditions.

Original research example: REI
Original research example: REI

So if you are writing about gluten-free cookies, maybe it’s time to test each brand and share your honest opinions!

Or perhaps you could run an interview with a health expert to find out whether all brands are equally good for gluten sensitivity.

12. Interview Thought Leaders and Fellow SMEs

12. Interview Thought Leaders and Fellow SMEs

Showcase your connections in the business sphere by chatting with notable figures in your industry.

Or, you can simply reach out to subject matter experts (SMEs) working in your own organization.

Options for content formats are countless: live sessions, webinars, videos, articles, and everything in between.

You could talk about issues in your industry, main customer challenges, and predictions for the future.

You might also get your colleagues to share tips from their own experience and comment on recent trends.

For instance, N26 interviewed their own CGO for this blog post:

Interviewing experts for content creation: N26 example

Another option is to speak to lesser-known entrepreneurs in your vertical. Many users appreciate celebrating local communities and will be more likely to discuss your interviews via word-of-mouth marketing.

13. Share Your Own Real-Life Experiences

13. Share Your Own Real-Life Experiences

Creating unique content that’s based on your expertise is one of the best ways to rank and generate traffic. This was further confirmed by Google’s helpful content update.

For example, if you are writing about traveling to New York, the tips you share should come from your or your writer’s travel experience (and not from reading competing articles).

So, where can you find inspiration for such content?

From your everyday work and your learnings!

For instance, a marketing agency could share case studies on how they developed various strategies for their clients.

Or, a video software business could talk about the way it creates videos for their own brand.

This could also help you fuel your middle- and bottom-of-the-funnel content.

For example, IDEO shares its case studies as soon as a visitor arrives at its website. IDEO summarizes the experience in three stages: the challenge, the impact, and the outcome.

Combined with quotes and cool visuals, the case study isn’t overly salesy, but it’s still a strong persuasive measure for anyone curious about the company’s services.

Sharing your real-life experience: IDEO example 
14. Tap into User-Generated Content (UGC)

14. Tap into User-Generated Content (UGC)

This type of content is created for your customers, by your customers. It can be a comment, a photo, a review, or any interaction people have with your brand.

You could harness this content by setting up a photo competition.

Or you might pull information from a review to write blogs about the pros of your new product or service.

UGC is brilliant because it’s validated customer sentiment. That means you don’t need to make any assumptions about users.

For instance, Cat Person—a brand offering natural and healthy food for cats—does a great job sharing pictures of their followers’ pets.

UGC content example -  Catperson
15. Repurpose Your High-Performing Content

15. Repurpose Your High-Performing Content

Repurposing involves taking one piece of content (e.g., a blog post) and using its content to create more formats for various channels (e.g., social media posts).

It’s both efficient and effective as it lets you reach more audiences on different platforms, without spending anything extra.

Repurposing content helps keep your brand voice consistent, too, and opens up doors for users to interact with you in new ways.

For example, CopyBlogger revamped its blog post “The 3-Step Journey of a Remarkable Piece of Content” into a slide deck, where it received an impressive 100k+ views on SlideShare.

Repurposing content example - Copyblogger
16. Talk About Your Story and Employees

16. Talk About Your Story and Employees

The people behind your brand are its fuel. And your audiences want to know that you’re human beings with a genuine passion for what you do.

Put together content that explains your company’s beginning, motivation, and team. This could help your customers get to know you.

You can be as creative as you like!

You could interview people about their first impressions of the company, give a virtual tour of the offices, or do a “day in the life of” series.

You could even talk about your biggest challenges and how you overcame them.

For example, CVS Health shared social media posts in the pandemic recognizing employees’ work during uncertain times.

The post included a quote from the CEO, as well as a link explaining how bonuses were being awarded to employees at the time.

Creating content about your employees - CVS example
17. Start a Podcast

17. Start a Podcast

Podcasts are digestible and flexible. People can listen to them on the go, which means they can familiarize themselves with your brand as part of their normal routines.

Starting a podcast allows you to focus on a different theme each week.

You can also respond to news events or zone in on a particular area of your product/service per episode.

The best part is that it can be virtually free to create. For instance, you could have a guest speaker from the industry come to each new episode and record it using Zoom or other meeting apps.

The Juice—a content curation platform and a B2B distribution channel—runs the Modern Day Marketer podcast, where various industry experts share useful tips.

Starting a podcast - Modern Day Marketer
18. Leverage the “People Also Ask” Box on Search Engines

18. Leverage the “People Also Ask” Box on Search Engines

Search engines are an effective way to detect what’s missing in your content strategy.

Simply type a topic into Google and then click the “People also ask” section.

You’ll see similar threads of discussion that users have around the topic. You can then concentrate your upcoming content around those terms.

For example, if you have a business centered on designing websites, you could search “What is the process of designing a website.”

Select “People also ask” and you’ll see topics to write about, such as “How do you plan a website for beginners” and “What are the 4 stages of website planning.”

Analyzing the People Also Ask section
19. Build Out Competitor Comparison Pages

19. Build Out Competitor Comparison Pages

Customers typically want a clear-cut comparison of the pros and cons of products and services.

So, why not have pages that show how your offerings shine against competitors?

You don’t have to build out a whole smear campaign. Instead, use tables and copy to display how your features, speed, usability, and reviews excel in the industry.

For example, Leapsome, a people management platform, has a landing page that explains why it’s preferable to competitor Lattice.

Building competitor comparison pages - Leapsome example

Another strategy is to create articles featuring various existing solutions and suggest yours as one of them. It might sound risky, but it can definitely pay off and help you rank in search.

For instance, if you google “social media management platform,” all content you’ll see on the first page will consist of comparison articles.

And the highest-ranking piece belongs to Buffer—a social media management platform!

Create comparison listicles 
Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Small businesses can and should compete with bigger brands—and content marketing is one of the most powerful ways to do so.

Embrace your brand story while tapping into various content formats and leveraging your expertise. This way, you can stand out from the crowd and get noticed.

Looking to ease this process and create more unique, engaging content at scale? Try ContentShake AI—a one-stop tool for powerful content writing that helps you power your business expertise with AI and SEO data.

Create ready-to-rank content in one click!

Try ContentShake AI-a smart writing tool for small teams with big content marketing goals. Save time, see results.

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