It’s Time to Reallocate Your Content Marketing Budget
By Patrick Foster | 8.2.18
Research shows that the average company spends 28 percent of its annual marketing budget on content marketing — which is unsurprising since it's the only marketing form left that's authentic and useful. But are you wasting money on overstuffing your editorial calendar?
It’s highly likely that you are.
Let’s examine what a content marketing budget should look like in today’s digital landscape. Here are five areas to consider.
Target super-niche content
Many marketers want to be all things to all remotely prospective customers. The result often is diluted messaging that lacks resonance. That’s one reason savvy marketers are shifting their content to match the specificity of their branding.
A survey by Kapost found that 70 percent of marketers are creating “more” or “significantly more” content than they were 12 months previously. The sheer volume of content being produced means that standing out is difficult, but there is an efficient, powerful, and profitable way to do it: Target a particular niche.
If you tailor your content appropriately for a specific topic, you’ll achieve better engagement and a stronger conversion rate. When you focus on a niche, you face less competition, making it easier to generate leads. For example, if you run a company that sells supplements for body builders, creating content within a niche such as “body building tips for men over 40” will gain more engagement than targeting something general like “body building tips.” Over time, you can expand your content range to cover every question your target audience might have, resulting in a formidable and highly valuable content library.
How do I fit super-niche content into my budget?
Stop investing in creating generic pieces on broad topics and shift to targeted
niche content. You’ll almost certainly get a better ROI by focusing on specific
topics. And forget any unrealistic ideas of getting on the first page of results for particularly tricky keywords — there’s more room for progress if you target long-
tail search terms.
Feature bite-size content
Marketer are enthusiastic about the brands they represent. They want to tell their brand’s story. In detail. Every time. Those in-depth stories are important, but marketers need to rethink their content mix to add more short-form content.
With the rise of social media, and the fall of the average human attention span to less than that of a goldfish, easily digestible bite-size content is rising in popularity. Long-form content still ranks well at the top of search engine page results (SERPs), but social media drives 26 percent of all website referral traffic, meaning that those lengthy and detailed blog posts that are peppered throughout your editorial calendar are important, but might not always prove maximally effective.
It’s also vital to think about the way people consume your content: Bite-size content works much better on mobile devices, for example. Consider your audience demographic, as well. A study by Demand Gen found that 78 percent of older buyers prefer to get their information from whitepapers when making B2B purchasing decisions, compared to 59 percent of millennials who said they preferred webinars and infographics.
How do I fit bite-size content into my budget?
Quite easily! Creating visually rich, bite-size content often costs less and is quicker to produce than lengthy blog posts and whitepapers. One simple way to create bite-size content is to repurpose excerpts from long-form content. For instance, create an infographic and a series of image-based social posts using the key findings from a study originally presented as a whitepaper. Or, excerpt video clips or segments from a webinar or presentation.
Select the right platforms
Marketers often can’t resist the temptation to rush into using the latest platform. Trying to be everywhere can spread the marketing team too thin. It may also be a waste of time and resources.
Where you should allocate your funds will depend on what kind of platforms your target audience prefers. And, while it’s important to track trends and test new channels, it’s also essential to be where your customers and prospects are.
Here’s where data is essential. Track not only who’s currently engaging with your content, but also who you’d prefer to engage with it. If who you want to reach differs significantly from who you do reach, it’s likely that your content model is off the mark.
How should I adjust my budget to support the right platforms?
Identify where your target audiences spend their time online, as well as what kind of content they prefer, and then allocate investment accordingly. For instance, the younger your audience skews, the less funding you should commit to text-heavy blog posts for desktops, and the more money you should put towards visual-led bite-size content for mobile devices.
Prioritize high-quality videos
It’s likely that you’re already using video. The question is whether you’re using it well enough. Video, like content marketing in general, is used so widely that makes it difficult to stand out and catch customers’ attention. And its growth trajectory shows no signs of slowing down.
81 percent of businesses use video as a marketing tool and 65 percent of those who hadn’t used video planned to start using it this year.
Source: Quartz (with data from Cisco and Recode)
Since video content is no longer a novelty, you won’t get any credit simply for providing it. Anything you produce will need to be designed to stand out. So, if you haven’t done so already, now is the time for some in-depth competitor research. Review competitors’ Instagram and Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, and YouTube channels. What are comparable brands doing well with their video content? What are they doing poorly?
Also review the video strategies of brands you admire that aren’t in your industry. Break down their strategies to see if there’s anything you’d want to adapt to fit your video content approach, as well as what’s overused. Video content that isn’t unique and compelling simply isn’t worth pursuing.
How do I fit high-quality video into my budget?
As a matter of urgency, divert funds from something else or expand your budget to accommodate investing in video. High-quality video costs include filming and production. It may be possible to film on a shoestring, but only if you put in a lot of work on production. And don’t overlook sound quality. Even creative and well-shot “man on the street” videos can be effective — but only with excellent sound quality.
Factor in user-generated content
Many marketers haven’t formalized programs to encourage user-generated content (UGC) beyond reviews. It’s a missed opportunity; one that you should take full advantage of. Not only do troves of customers enjoy participating and co-creating with their favorite brands, even in B2B industries, but also social proof is incredibly important to consumers — with real experiences and testimonials creating more authenticity, credibility, and trust.
Businesses can encourage customers to submit photos of themselves using their products, for instance. One successful example is Coca-Cola’s Share-A-Coke campaign, which relied on customers uploading and sharing images of themselves with personalized ‘named’ bottles of coke. This approach has numerous positive effects: it demonstrates personality from the brand, makes customers feel part of a community, showcases the products, and achieves exposure through social media sharing.
Source: The Drum
Additionally, B2B and B2C marketers alike can encourage customers to share success stories through video or guest blogs. Marketers can then aggregate all that content and use it to improve store pages and product pages, create bite-size content, and excerpt highlights to use in promotional content, email newsletters, and the like. Add-ons, extensions or plugins (depending on your CMS) that can help include Shopify’s hosted webstore designer (Socialphotos) and Curalate’s extension for Magento. It’s necessary to monitor feeds, of course, but it’s a small price to pay.
How do I factor user-generated content into my budget?
Start by earmarking a small amount to put towards encouraging user-generated content through incentives such as prize drawings or discounts. The nature of UGC means it can make a huge impact without taking up much of your budget, as even the smallest of contributions from your customers can have significant effects, and you can easily scale up your efforts if the ROI is strong.
Creating a content marketing budget that truly addresses the demands of today’s digital world is essential. Doing so ensures that you make the most of the opportunities available to you. But, remember, this is all subject to change as trends come and go.
So, periodically revisit and update your content marketing budget, moving resources away from ill-performing tactics and using them to support more effective ones and test new ones. When in doubt, experiment. Today’s minor failure could result in tomorrow’s major success.