When and how did you get started with your content marketing efforts in your business? What were the motivations?

For years I just concentrated on giving great customer service in-store and looking after the customers we currently had. But then I realised that if I wanted my business to grow I needed more of those customers, and that word of mouth was only going to go so far to do that.

At the time I didn't have too much of an advertising budget - although I would put ads into the home magazines because I knew my customers and potential customers read them - but I did have a Facebook page that my customers were good at interacting with.

My business coach, Zac de Silva from Business Changing, suggested I put a bit of a focus on growing my Facebook page and other social media channels through using good content, so I've been doing that for the past six months.

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So what are some of the different channels you're using, and what kinds of content are you producing for them?

We use our Facebook page - which is currently sitting around 6000 'likes' - Instagram and Pinterest, which is huge with our customers. We also have a newsletter. Our customers are generally pretty tech savvy and really interested in homewares, design, styling and the latest in home design trends, so they're always scouring the web for new inspiration and hot new releases so they're open to anything along those lines.

I also opened our online store www.cravehome.co.nz last year, and talking to my customers through these online channels is great because they can usually just click straight through to the product page and buy then and there if they're interested. I also like the dialogue we get from them - customers 'liking' a post we put up, or asking how much or what colours they come in. It's a bit like being a virtual personal shopper sometimes.

What kind of impact are you seeing from your efforts so far?

Our follower numbers on all three of those social media accounts have grown, but I think more importantly it's just got the Crave Home name out there a bit more. Before we were quite well known to our Birkenhead locals or on the North Shore, but now we regularly have people coming over from across the bridge or ordering online from around New Zealand, just because they've got to know us through our social media posts and content marketing.

It's really cool for me to see how many people click through to our online store from our newsletter - and then even cooler to see them make a purchase! For me, success with this is primarily about growing brand awareness and perception at the moment - I figure the sales will come; getting our name out there and having more people learn about us, what we sell and why we're pretty great is my main measure of success at the moment. I think it's a pretty good ROI.

What have you learned so far about what works and what doesn't in terms of engaging your particular audience?

Giveaways work in ramping up the engagement on our Facebook posts! People love them and they most certainly drive engagement. Also, in the beginning I was wary of posting too much and thought I'd put people off if I just kept putting up product shots of what was new in store. But in fact we've found our followers really like to hear from us and to keep up with what's new and cool. I've just improved a bit on how I do it by using more 'styled' images of our products.

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I think this has particularly paid off on Instagram where account holders are all about images that look good. But I've also learnt that our followers like homeware-related posts - nothing to do with my store or the things we sell, but based around home design or celebration and gift ideas.

For example, in the lead up to Christmas we shared some cool present wrapping ideas, some festive food suggestions and ways to bring Christmas into your home using things like driftwood and decals. Those posts got tons of engagement, with likes and comments and people tagging their friends in. They're always looking for inspiration and new trends.

What plans do you have in terms of evolving or improving your content marketing from here?

I just need to keep working at it and making it more regular. I know it works and it's important, so I just have to find time each week to work on it. There's quite a wide scope for my audience, as far as their common interests are concerned, so in the future I can see us doing more articles on topics of interest to our followers - things like how to style a shelf - as well as having guest bloggers, contributing more to magazines, running evening events with special design guests, and having our customers share their purchases at home, in-situ, with us. But my number one goal? It's to get us featured on The Block!