Gone are the days of a 30-second radio spot or a small, black-and-white ad in the “Obituaries” section of the local paper. What the world used to know as traditional advertising is now a phenomenon referred to as content marketing. And it’s much more exciting.

Today, with access to social media, email marketing, Yelp, Google Reviews, Amazon and the seemingly endless number of websites that offer product information from everyday consumers, people finds brands in much different ways—and are able to make more informed purchasing decisions than ever before.

In fact, according to Orangeline, consumers are consulting an average of 10 or more sources before making a purchase. That’s more than double what it was just a few years ago.

What this means is that as the digital information age continues to evolve, so do the purchasing behaviors of consumers: People are doing copious research before they buy, and they’re turning to more sources.

For businesses (especially small and medium-sized ones, or SMBs and start-ups) to stand out from the crowd and remain relevant and competitive, your content marketing strategy needs to be robust and diversified to ensure that consumers have multiple opportunities to access quality information about your brand.

Regularly creating and publishing content about your business, your industry and perhaps yourself as a thought leader will ultimately help attract the right customers.

The good news is that small changes can yield big results.

Below are five tips for getting started:

  1. Be Patient 

Having well-written, thorough, frequently-posted and SEO-friendly content can look pretty attractive to the Google bots scanning the web. But be advised: Content marketing won’t secure new customers overnight. Generating a digital footprint is an ongoing process that your business needs to invest in over time to see lasting results.

But making this type of marketing a priority will eventually reap benefits, such as ranking higher in searches, increasing customer engagement and maybe even attracting and converting customers to your brand versus the competition. 

  1. Strike the Right Balance

The old adage is true: content is king. But it also needs to be the right content—high-quality, meaningful and consistent.

Creating custom content offers businesses the chance to tell a story—your story—and showcase your industry expertise. It begins a dialogue by inviting potential customers to get to know your brand and start a relationship.

However, a hastily-written article or blog post every few months that’s buried on a hard-to-find webpage won’t fit the bill. Consider developing a simple editorial calendar to outline content marketing efforts, including blog posts, to help plan ahead and also repurpose content across your channels.

  1. Attract Google

The best way to increase your brand’s exposure is through Google, the most used and powerful search engine.

Google bots (little programs that “crawl” the internet to index what is out there) visit websites through links from other websites. The more links to your website, the more likely Google bots will get there. What does this look like for SMBs? The more content you publish, the more likely you are to have links.

So, in short, build up published content over time to improve credibility.

  1. Blogging Often is Best

Many marketers wonder how frequently they should post to a blog. According to a HubSpot article, companies that published 16+ blog posts per month received almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0–4 monthly posts.

And while it may be challenging for local businesses to find the time and know-how to create the kind of content you need—especially on a regular basis—the effort to post regularly will be worth it in the long run. You’ll help your company participate in meaningful conversations with customers, position yourselves as experts in your field and increase online exposure.

5. Don’t Forget the Email

With one of the highest ROIs in marketing according to Campaign Monitor, email is a tactic you can hardly afford not to use. And that’s why more than 82% of companies use it.

Email marketing is relatively easy to manage, affordable and the majority of programs make it easy to track and measure results.

Consider the cost and time involved in sending out 1,000 print flyers. Now consider the cost and time to send out 1,000 emails—no contest!

Businesses typically collect customer contact information in the following ways:

  • Invite customers to share their email addresses at point-of-sale
  • Include a “keep in touch” pop-up on the website that offers a discount if customers enter their email address to receive a newsletter and/or other e-communications

To learn more about the tips, tools and resources available to help local businesses generate powerful content for their target audience, visit vivial.net.

Laura Cole serves as Vice President, Marketing and is responsible for go-to-market product strategy, brand management and corporate sponsorship. Cole joined the company in 2001 as a Sales Representative and has held numerous role in Sales, Operations and Marketing. She is a social media and content marketing guest blogger and frequent contributor for Forbes.com. Laura holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.