Most of the businesses we talk to that are getting their content marketing programs up and running are struck by one of two conclusions early on:
1. They start off with budget expectations that are too low and are surprised that they can’t find reliable writers and creative team members at those rates, or
2. They start off with high quality expectations, and are surprised by the unexpected costs required to produce it.
The most successful B2B marketers are dedicating over 39% of their marketing budgets on content. But on the other hand, 65% of businesses believe content marketing just isn’t affordable. And what’s worse, is that mid to large B2B companies in the US are spending approximately $958M each year on inefficient or ineffective content.
Content marketing can be one of the most effective and practical marketing methods when it’s done right, but there is more pressure than ever on organizations to be strategic about creating content. In order to break through the clutter, it needs to be the right copy for the right audience, all while staying within the means of a budget.
So where is that middle ground? How can companies launch an effective content strategy within the means of their small budgets? Follow these tips:
Benchmark Your Current Efforts
Before diving into a cost optimization strategy, it’s important to audit your current content marketing strategy. If you don’t know what’s working and what’s not, how will you know if it’s worthwhile to pursue a particular topic or channel?
Start with analyzing your website:
-How many pages do you have?
-How much traffic are they getting?
-What’s the conversion rate?
-What is the focus keyword?
-What is your rank for that keyword?
Next, take a look at your content offers and catalog each:
-Content offer title
-Type of content
-Stage if the buyer’s journey the offer is intended for
-Shares on social media
This practice can potentially help you uncover gaps in your content, allow you to focus your efforts, and ultimately save time.
Repurpose the Good Stuff
After determining which content offers have resonated with your target persona in the past, there’s no reason why you can’t repurpose it. Pull a chapter or two out of an eBook and turn them into blog posts. Or vice versa: Compile a few blogs with a common theme into an eBook. Got those few evergreen blogs from 2013 that continue to bring in traffic that converts? Promote it again on social media!
Fail to plan and you plan to fail. And we know that content is more than just blogging so it’s important to map out your content strategy for the following months to expose any gaps, allowing you to budget more accurately. Set SMART goals and plan your strategy and calendar backwards from there. Use Google’s Keyword Planner and Quora to do keyword research to come up with your topics and titles.
Pro Tip: Try to avoid using a blog title generator. They usually produce pretty generic headlines. You’re better off spending some extra time to come up with unique topics and titles that resonate with your specific personas.
Master Your Photography
Eye-catching photos are a must for complementing your content marketing efforts. 67% of consumers consider image quality “very important” when making a purchase online. Not just for eCommerce businesses, quality photos draw the reader in and contribute to the “shareworthiness” of the content. But hiring a professional photographer for every new piece of content can get expensive, and we all know how cheesy and unoriginal stock photography can be.
Keep your costs down by mastering photography in-house. Focus on investing in the right equipment and lighting and you’ll be able to save money and time into the future.
Weigh the Costs of Creating Internally vs. Externally
Companies often handle some content projects in-house, while hiring external agencies for other projects. It depends on the company’s:
-Size and skills of the internal team.
Once you’ve got your content strategy mapped out, break down the costs of creating content internally and externally for each project to get a clear picture of the best route.
Having a skeleton for your content pieces that allow you to drag and drop new content can help your team save time and make content creation more streamlined. Here are some examples of content formats we frequently build templates for:
-Thought leadership articles
-Marketing emails and newsletters
-eBooks and guides
-Whitepapers and datasheets
Explore Design Tools
You’re probably no stranger to design tools like Canva and PicMonkey, but there are several others that allow you to do some pretty advanced stuff, without needing to hire a designer.
Thinglink allows you to create images with clickable elements. With this technology, you can create:
-Infographics with links to more information or sources
-Social media images with clickable elements.
Leverage Free Video Production
Creating video content is becoming much easier for organizations with the help of social media. Businesses are taking advantage of Facebook Live and Instagram Stories to deliver content to directly their audiences where they’re spending time. These types of videos are recorded using a Smartphone, require little to no editing making them cheaper, faster, and easier to share than heavily produced videos. As people’s attention spans get shorter (eight seconds!) businesses and marketers can continue to capitalize on these shorter more budget-friendly videos.
Once the Content is Created…
Use Marketing Automation
Once your content is created, automation tools can help distribute it to the right people at the right time, thus saving your team time. A study on content consumption indicated that people spend an average of 17 hours per weekday consuming content! Marketers can’t possibly allocate 17 hours a day to creating and sharing content, which is why automation is a must. Marketing automation also allows businesses to create personalized content faster and more affordably. Rather than crafting 1,000 different emails, many marketing automation tools allow you to leverage smart content to create an email with customized messaging.
Create “Aggregated Pages” to Make Your Content Easier to Find
After your content has been promoted on social media and email, it shouldn’t get lost forever. Create a resources page on your website for customers and sales managers to quickly find your content.
Quality content will save you time and money and should pay for itself over the long term. When your content speaks to your audience, provides value, and turns the reader into a lead, you’ll likely be earning revenue from your efforts, which you can invest back into your budget.
Which aspects of your content creation are the most costly? What areas have you successfully cut costs while maintaining desired results?
Andrea Moxham is a contributing writer at Content Harmony. She is a creative, driven marketing and communications specialist with a proven track record in developing lead generation content. Her entrepreneurial spirit and experience with inbound marketing, social media, communications, and design help her connect clients with new customers.
Original post: 8 Ways to Cut Costs on Content Creation