business people pointing to charts discussing content marketing budget

How to get the most bang from your content marketing buck.

Recently, I was discussing content marketing strategy with someone who wanted to know if blogging or social media would be a better investment for a client who only had a small budget and limited time to work on their content marketing. Slightly to my surprise, this person assumed social media would be a better investment.

I don’t want to totally dis social media: it’s possible that for some people, prioritizing social over the blog is a good strategic move, particularly if they are a B2C business with a lot of cool merchandise to show off. But it is far from my first impulse. That said, how to spend a content marketing budget is of prime concern for a lot of people, and it’s worth investigating. So let’s start with a key question: how much money should be in your content marketing budget?

How big should your content marketing budget be?

Let’s start out by saying that you can put almost unlimited funds into your content marketing budget and still find excellent projects to do with it. This is one of the things that makes content marketing such an exciting field: are you blogging multiple times a week? Keeping your social media engine running? Churning out those videos? Why not launch a podcast? Or write another ebook? Or go deeper on your blog research? It’s not hard to take whatever you’re doing and make it better simply by giving your people more time.

But as they say, time is money. That’s true whether you’re paying your employees by the hour, or if they’re on a salary and you’re asking them to divert their time away from one project and toward another. And being honest, most of us don’t have unlimited amounts of time to put toward our content marketing, and that means we need to take a good hard look at how we’re investing our energy and how we expect it to pay off.

However, you should plan at least 20 hours of work a month in order to create and manage your content. Less than that, and it’s likely you aren’t properly funding your content marketing enough to take advantage of the opportunities it brings you. If you can afford more hours, do so: once you see how your content marketing pays off, you’ll see why it’s an investment well spent. You’ll also want to save room for software such as Sharpspring, which can help you with some of your marketing automation and provide some extra insight into how your content performs.

Where can you spend your content marketing budget?

First off, what are the critical aspects of content marketing which your business needs for it to pay off? Breaking it down, here are the top budget areas:

  • Blogging
  • SEO
  • Downloadable Content
  • Social Media
  • Video
  • Advertising
  • Email

Some of those may or may not look like content marketing, but they do play a part in your overall strategy. Advertising, for instance: part of the beauty of content marketing is that it can draw in organic traffic without the need to advertise. However, if you put a lot of energy into writing a really excellent ebook, you will probably want to run a few campaigns to draw some attention to it. And given how a key goal of a lot of content marketing is to draw in emails in order to generate leads, you will need to put some budget into how your company handles those addresses once they enter your system.

All that said, there are some pretty clear priorities at play with these different budgeting areas. Namely: content. In order for content marketing to pay off, you need content to work with. And how do you create content? Well, if the answer isn’t obvious by now…

Start with your blog.

As I suggested at the beginning of this post, your blog should be your first priority in content marketing. Not only does it put the content behind your content marketing strategy, it also has the most longevity of anything you could do. Emails get buried, social media expires, but blogs have real staying power. They do more to contribute to your domain strength than anything else, and they help grow your organic leads.

They’re also versatile: you can use them to answer customer FAQs, include them in your email workflows, and populate them to your social media channels. In fact, part of the reason why blogging makes more sense than social media as your first investment is that a regular blog gives you social media content as a natural side-effect of its existence. Even if you have zero additional time to devote to social media, if your blog auto populates to your Facebook network it’s giving you some small amount of presence that will be better than nothing.

Furthermore, it would be a mistake to assume that social media is cheaper than blogging, simply because the content is easier to generate. Yes, you don’t need to put a lot of time into a Facebook post. But you need to put out a lot of Facebook posts, and they have to meet a certain quality standard, if you expect it to do you any good. And do you know what kind of posts get the most engagement on social? Rich content, including blogs and video. So put your money into your blog first, and let the other priorities follow from there.

Optimize your content.

Once you get your blog running, you should create a good piece of high-value content, such as an ebook or an infographic, in order to attract emails. You can plan for this as a separate part of your content marketing budget, rather than a recurring monthly cost. Nonetheless, as a prestigious piece of content, there are lots of ways you can use it to help your clients and land sales. After that, it’s largely down to the specifics of your business how you should create a good strategy. However, no matter what kind of content you produce, make sure you include enough space in your budget for SEO, and that you appropriately plan for your marketing and sales teams to work together to land leads.

A blogging strategy that doesn’t include space for SEO will only be partially effective. And a prime piece of downloadable content that doesn’t incorporate a good email workflow will let your entire strategy down. Coordinating each of these pieces and ensuring they work together will take time from both your marketing and sales departments, but when they work in unison, they will get your business a heck of a lot farther than if they were to work alone.

Want to read more about how to make a smart use of your budget? Check out our guide to buying a better website.

Published 04/12/17 by Laura Lynch