Have you ever received one of these emails: “We have visited your website and find it lacking.  Let us help your grow your business online!”?  If you respond, you will likely get a proposal to help you spend thousands of dollars creating internet content.

I know a company that spent over $20,000 on a “modern innovation” video.  After it was done, the owner sent me a link.  After looking at the video (kind of a fancy brochure), I asked him how he was going to use it.  He had no answer.

For many small businesses, the challenge is not content creation – but content utilization.  How are you using content to better serve your customers and prospects?

Here are three action items:

1. Know your numbers

Take a look at your Google analytics.  What are the top pages that viewers are accessing?  

Most of the time, your home page is first, but what is after that?  I have a client that has contact us as the second listing and products and the third listing.  The most popular page after that is company history.  

Consider the questions aligned with each page. For contact us, what are viewers looking for?  If they want to find a specific person, how well are you fulfilling their need with a link to info@mycompany.com.  

When it comes to company history, you have an opportunity to provide some insights.  In addition to telling the historical story, how are you addressing the “What makes you different?” question.   

When using social media, what kind of content has traction?  Twitter, Facebook, etc. will tell you what posts are popular.  

Have a new product announcement, convention pictures, selfies of staff get-togethers?  Look at what is accessed and try to understand why viewers thought this kind of content was meaningful.  How did the content help them learn more about your company?

2. Align your content with your selling process

Many businesses feel that the role of the internet is lead generation.  But for most small businesses, especially those in the B2B space, people don’t come to your site until they know who you are.  

The most frequent search term consequently would be your company name.  Prospects get the name of your company through referrals, networking or other social channels.  

So, look at your top other pages.  In the example above contact us, products and company history.  Are there easy links on your homepage to these other pages?  How are the pages linked to a “request a quote form” – or an opportunity to sign up for your email newsletter?

Also, consider how you might use the content in your personal selling process.  Think about adding a link to the company history page in your email signature.  Perhaps a notation “My Company is celebrating our 25th anniversary this year, click here to learn more.”  

This could be a great opportunity to educate both your prospects and customers about what makes you special.

While some companies use a contact form for lead generation, in a B2B environment you can use the form to qualify your lead.  

I have a client whose request a quote form is often the last step in closing the sale.  The inside sales lead noted, “When we get the form completely filled out, all we have to do is call and take the order.”

Many small business owners rely on a network of stakeholders to help drive leads.  How is your network using your content to help move prospects through the sales funnel?  

While it is nice to put a blog post on your website, think about reusing the content somewhere else as well.  I know a company that just opened in the downtown area of a local suburb.  They had a great post about why they chose to locate in that city.  Great content for their blog – but more powerful when posted on the local chamber of commerce’s blog, or featured in the local newspaper.

3. Fill in the content gaps

What questions are your customers and prospects frequently asking?  Often, before I meet with a client I request that they go through an exercise of writing down key questions.  

It is important that the business owner or head salesperson do this, but also ask your team members in customer service – or even shipping.   

After you make a list of these questions, write down the answers.  Then, go back to your website and social media platforms and see if the questions and answers are easily available.  You’d be amazed at how often they are not.  

Prioritize the questions and answers.  If you have good content, use it.  Link to it on your homepage.  Post it on Facebook and use it in a tweet.   

Think about how powerful posting about your 25th anniversary with a link to the company history page would be.  It also would make a great tweet.

So, now that you have a process to know your numbers and align your content with your selling process, you can work on – or  talk to someone about – creating relevant content that will help you grow your business.   

Editor’s note: Chicago folks – Mark will be presenting his program “Online Marketing and Social Media” at a Crain’s Chicago Business Small Business Week event on May 2nd. Interested in attending? Get more information here.