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If you know anything about marketing, then you know it is constantly changing and evolving. The same holds true for content marketing, a method that’s increased among companies of all sizes. That said, you simply cannot continue to do things as you have been and expect to get the same results. Instead, you, your strategies, and your approach to content marketing must evolve, too. And, of course, this is rooted to investments and planning. Hence, the need for a specific budget to your content marketing.

Believe it or not, many businesses put their leftover marketing money, or the smaller portion of the total investmentinto their content marketing. Sometimes this may be enough to get you the marketing outcome you are looking for, but most times it is not. In fact, many companies, whether satisfied with their content marketing efforts or not, have no idea of the potential of what they could be doing if they only invested a little money. 

Your current content marketing budget

According to the Marketing Insider Group , most businesses spend between 22% and 26% of their total marketing budget on content creation and distribution. However, to be the most efficient and effective in your content marketing efforts, this number should be at least 40%.

Take a moment to consider your own content marketing budget. Do you prepare for this aspect of marketing? Or, do you designate the smallest portion of your marketing budget for content? Do you have a team that can effectively handle your content? Determining where you are is a great way to decide where you want to go. 

Content marketing can have a great impact on branding your business and getting your name in front of the right audience. Structuring a proper budget can guide you in the right direction and help you develop a strategy that will get you the greatest ROI. In the end, getting your company in front of the right person and luring them in is what it is all about. That is the power of effective content marketing.

The cost of content marketing

The cost of your content marketing is directly related to the outcome you are seeking. If you want to reach your ideal buyer persona and you want to convert leads to customers, then you are going to have to invest in the process. 

The CMO Survey discovered that most companies spend between 6% and 11% of their annual revenue on marketing . While you don’t have to spend an incredible amount of money to have a successful content marketing campaign, you need to do it right. And, well, that starts with a solid strategy — and a budget. 

Developing a solid content marketing strategy

You may have a great system for creating and distributing content. But how effective is your strategy? Developing a solid content marketing strategy is a necessity to meet your marketing goals. It also gives you a clear way to determine your budget for each step along the way. 

First of all, you need to determine your purpose for creating content. What do you intend to get from it? And how do you intend to get there? Second, you absolutely must be consistent. Distributing amazing content sporadically 15% of the time is not going to get you the results you need. 

So, in developing a solid content marketing strategy to determine how you will create a budget, you should consider giving attention to the following areas:

  • Your buyer’s persona. Who are you trying to reach? Who are you developing content for? You need to have a clear idea of where your focus is in order to ensure you create the right content. 
  • Determine the best platform for distribution. How will you reach your ideal persona? On social media? Via email campaigns? Creating great content serves no purpose unless you get it in front of the right person. 
  • Collaborate with others. Hire and utilize those individuals who specialize in key areas of your content marketing. For example, be sure to include those who work closely with the persona or have great insight, those who have special skills (such as creating content and brainstorming), and those who are great with analytics. 
  • Make sure your content marketing strategy is measurable. After all, if you cannot measure it, how will you know if it is working? 

Calculating your ROI

As the last step of the solid content marketing strategy suggests, you need to have a way of measuring the results of your marketing efforts. This is how you can tell whether what you are doing is working or whether it needs some tweaking. 

There are 3 components you need to understand in order to calculate your content marketing ROI. These are: 

  • The cost of your content. 
  • Take into consideration the content that was created, but never used. This is a wasted cost that will most definitely affect your ROI. 
  • How well your content performs. Again, you need to be able to measure the results of your content marketing efforts. You may want to consider: SEO ranking, direct customer response, subscriber growth, time on the website, conversions, sales, and traffic. 

By determining your ROI and these key areas, you will better be able to see where you spend the most money and where your money is most effective. This will help you create your budget more successfully.

The assets you need for effective content marketing

You know that content marketing requires more than just yourself. There are many components – or assets – that you need to market effectively. What would you consider to be your most important marketing assets? 

For most companies, it takes a team, creative campaigns, streamlined channels, and specialized tools in order to run a successful content marketing strategy. Because these assets are so important – and need to be included in your budget – let’s take a closer look. 

#1: A team. Your team will be comprised of creators, delegators, researchers, and so forth. 

#2: Campaigns. You will have to determine how often and how large you want to create campaigns. 

#3: Streamlined channels. As discussed often, you need a solid strategy. You need to have a process that flows from brainstorming to analyzing the results – and everything in between. 

#4: Tools. There are certain tools that you can utilize to take your content marketing to the next level. Investing in a software program, for instance, that will provide you with an easy way to create, collaborate, monitor, and analyze could save you time – and money – in the long run.

Benefits of having the right tools 

When running a race, you will make sure you have the right pair of sneakers. When baking homemade pizzas, you will make sure you have the proper pan and an oven. And, when you develop a solid content management strategy, you will have the right management software to keep your marketing efforts flowing smoothly. 

It just makes sense, right? Having the right tools can reduce the amount of wasted time on manual tasks, that reflects into misused workforce investment – and give you a clear vision for your ideas, from start to finish. 

Such an investment would provide you… 

  • a designated area to map out and design your content marketing strategy. It will help you develop a solid foundation and a streamlined process with anyone involved.
  • a place to collaborate with all your team members. As already said, content marketing is a team game and having everyone on the same page to easily share ideas, follow up, and keep up with the whole process from side to side allows you to go further. 
  • maintain an editorial calendar. You will be able to oversee every step of the marketing process – and be sure to never miss a deadline. (The key to consistency!)
  • to create well-designed content that will intrigue your ideal buyer. 
  • the ability to measure and analyze your results.

Including room in your budget to obtain the tools you need to make your content marketing campaign more successful is one of the smartest steps you can take. Overlooking steps or taking shortcuts during your marketing campaigns will result in a less-than-desirable outcome. 

The real cost of “free” tools

Beware of the many free marketing tools that are available online. While they may seem effective on the surface, nothing is ever truly free. For example, some may require you to pay fees once you get deeper into utilizing the program. There is, however, an even deeper cost for these so-called free tools. 

  • Investing time and energy in a software program that is initially free could later result in fees to continue using. Because you are already so deeply rooted in the free software, you may feel stuck with the fees, no matter the cost.
  • Many are built as a one-size-fits-all program. You will not be able to have a customized program to use for your specific needs. 
  • Often, these free tools are bare-boned platforms. If you are looking for something that will grow with your business – or the marketing industry – you aren’t likely to find it. 
  • Because they are free, you will likely have a general tutorial and basic support service, but that is about it. No formal training to get the most of the program – and no real help when something goes wrong. 

Think it through before you invest any time in free tools. Sometimes they may just end up costing you more.

Now that you know all you need to consider when budgeting your content marketing, it’s time to put these learnings into practice and plan your content investments for 2019. The easiest way is to do it quarterly and monthly to make sure you cover all the assets you need and to easily check whether you’ll stick to it or not.

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