The opportunities content marketing provides are incredibly exciting for small businesses, as it allows you to reach out to and engage customers in a whole new way — one that doesn’t have to break your marketing budget. Through blog content, social media, press releases, articles and other types of content, you can build a captive audience over time.

Before you begin your content marketing efforts, however, it’s important to have a strategy. Too many businesses start content marketing off with a bang, only to lose momentum within a few months. By having clear goals and a solid plan in place, you can help ensure your company continues these important efforts well into the future.

Read also: The basics of developing a content strategy

The following are some helpful tips for getting your content marketing strategy off to a strong start, sustainable start:

Outline your goals

Begin with a brainstorming session with your marketing team and determine your overarching goals. Would you like to increase traffic to your website? Sell more of your products or services? Of course you would, but you should then narrow down your goals to real numbers. For example, you may wish to boost your web traffic by 20 percent by the end of the year or increase the number of returning customers by 50 percent. These goals should be realistic and easy to measure.

Keep your customers engaged

Your target audience (your customers) is your most valuable source of information to guide your content marketing efforts. Consider using a brief online survey to find out what’s important to your customers and what types of questions they typically have related to your products or services. The content you provide, whether it’s through blog content, social media posts, white papers or press release writing, should meet your audience’s stated needs.

Use the resources available to you

There’s a broad range of tools available to help you measure the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy. You can review how many people are reading your blog content and visiting your web pages with Google Analytics. Email marketing programs, such as AWeber and MailChimp, allow you to analyze how many people opened your email messages and clicked through on your call to action. And press release distribution services like PRWeb and SBWire offer their own robust analytics reports.

Constantly analyze and improve

Using the tools noted above, you should always monitor your content to find out what is and is not working. This is not an exact science, and you may need to find through trial and error the types of content to which your target audience best responds. Even if you have to make some adjustments, keep your focus on your company’s long-term marketing goals.

Developing a sound content marketing strategy is something almost all businesses should do in today’s rapidly evolving digital world. Keep these tips in mind as you form your approach, and remember that you can always reach out to a professional copywriting service if you need help creating your content.