Content Marketing Challenges For SME’s

by Marc Bromhall
Updated: May 20, 2021

Content marketing is no longer a buzz term you hear at industry events. It’s very much part and parcel of any company’s marketing strategy these days. However, being a small business presents some challenges when it comes to executing effective content marketing.

We reached out to a number of small and medium size businesses to find out first-hand what their greatest content marketing challenge is. Here are five of the most prevalent challenges.

Buyer personas

Understanding the different buyer persona in your industry can be a real challenge. Without having a clear idea of these different customer cohorts it’s difficult to create content that will truly resonate with these audiences.

Sharon Van Donkelaar, CMO of Expandi.io, echoes this sentiment. She said:

“One of the biggest challenges we face when trying to create successful content marketing strategies is understanding and correctly executing the different buyer personas in order to connect more deeply with customers. 

As you may already know, not all your customers fit a specific profile, which is why most companies resort to having different buyer personas that allow them to create different types of content to match as many customer’s criteria as possible.”

buyer persona

However, coming up with buyer personas can be a real challenge which takes a lot of questioning and in-depth analysis to understand individual wants and needs of these potential customers. The time this takes to master is often underrated, making it a content marketing challenge worthy of mention.

Serving your audience needs

It’s sometimes easy to get caught up in writing content for Google. That is content that has the propensity to rank in the search engines.

It is however important not to lose sight of who your audience is and what type of content they will find to be of value. Even if your audience is discovering your content via search engines, does that content align with their search intent?

Scott Salter, the Digital Marketing Manager at Factory Pattern expressed this concern.

“Our greatest content marketing challenge is ensuring that we stay focused on our goal and company vision, rather than get led astray by the need to create content to satisfy search engines. Of course SEO is a factor to every piece of content we write, but it is easy to lose focus on the purpose of the content. 

Sure keywords may get users to the article via search, but does the content on the page meet the user intent? If it doesn’t, we’re likely to see a disengaged user and a high bounce rate for that piece of content.”

Internal resources

It’s often the case that SME’s struggle to find the internal resources to write content. In the early days, hiring a dedicated content writer may not be financially feasible.

If you’re serious about content marketing we advise outsourcing your content writing from day zero, until such time as you have the budget to hire a team of full-time content writers.

Rocky Vuong, founder of Calibre Cleaning, experienced this very challenge in the early days of launching his company. 

“We started our content marketing journey with me (the founder) writing all the content on our blog. As the company grew, and I became busier, I wasn’t able to sustain the same level of output. 

I’ve since handed the reins over the other team members, however, the same issue exists. Their roles are not dedicated to content, and other responsibilities ultimately take priority over content writing.

This has been a constant challenge, where we recognise the importance of content to our growth strategy, but are not large enough and have the monetary flexibility to hire a resource dedicated to content.”

Quality over cadence

One thing you’ll hear consistently within content marketing circles is the importance of being consistent with your content output. In recent times a contrarian view has emerged which espouses the value of quality over regular output. 

If your publishing schedule is one post a week, but every so often you find yourself unable to come up with a strong topic, there is nothing wrong with holding off until you have a compelling topic to write about. In fact, many now suggest this is the preferred approach over pushing out an article just for the sake of it.

steady cadence

Sebastian Schaeffer, CTO of dofollow.io concurs.

“Our biggest challenge right now, given that we are currently in the middle of a scale-up, is maintaining an equilibrium of volume, quality and speed. 

A lot of brands end up falling victim to the idea that they absolutely must produce content because their publishing cycle demands ‘x’ new pieces of content per week, based on traditional time-stamped models of content publication.

A much better method is to make sure your content is authoritative and SEO-optimized and take a bit more time in doing so. 

The difficulty lies in being able to accomplish this with enough frequency that you aren’t out-competed by competition that is publishing great content at breakneck speed.

We’re an SME agency, so we don’t have the content staff of some of our competitors, which is certainly a content marketing dilemma for us and other similar-sized agencies.”

Underestimating off-page SEO

SEO 101 consists of two key components, namely, on-page SEO (the keyword-optimized content) and off-page SEO (getting links to your content from third party websites). It’s often the latter which is forgotten or at the very least underplayed.

seo ranking

Paul Ronto, CMO of RunRepeat, explains why this is a problem.

“What most content marketers don’t realize is that content itself is not enough to really be a growth driver. Just publishing an amazing piece of content on your company’s website just isn’t enough anymore. If you want the content to be found organically the key to this is getting backlinks. 

I’d say 95% of content marketers do everything they should when it comes writing great content, but they do zero manual link building. Content without links struggles to rank, without it ranking it won’t get traffic, and without traffic the company can’t benefit from it. 

Unfortunately marketers today put too much focus on the content itself and none on the promotion of it. We believe that 70% of the time invested in a piece of content should be pitching and link building to promote the piece. In the end, writing content is easy, getting people to see it is not.”

Conclusion

Too many SME’s struggle to succeed at content marketing in the early years which can profoundly hinder their growth. As a small business, being aware of what the most common challenges in content marketing are can go a long way to improve your business performance. Learn from those before you, and pave a new path to success with the learnings.

Marc Bromhall

Marc co-founded Contentellect in 2018. He is an experienced marketer having previously worked for two Adtech unicorns - Outbrain and ROKT. At Contentellect, Marc helped scale the company from start-up to 6 figures in revenue. In 2021, he stepped down as MD and has subsequently moved on to pursue other projects.


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