Content marketing has become a fundamental channel for many businesses, with 88% of B2B teams conducting a content strategy. The popularity of this approach continues to rise; your buyers consume an average of 3-5 pieces of content before they contact your sales team, and the valuable assets created for this approach heighten product value throughout the pipeline for increased average order value and prolonged customer engagement.
Whilst there’s little doubt the need for content marketing grows, and the number of teams investing in the approach is also on the rise (0% of businesses conducting content marketing plan to cut all spending in this area), some worrying facts have recently been unearthed.
28% of businesses are unsure how much they currently spend on content marketing, and only 64% of teams have outlined an official budget for their content marketing strategy. With $1 billion wasted every year on the creation of ineffective and ill-fitting content, now’s the time to re-evaluate your plans and ask- how much should you spend on content marketing?
The truth about content spending
Before discussing how to build an effective budget for this intricate channel, it’s important to gauge how other marketers utilize their funds. Many teams spend a large amount of their overall budget on content marketing alone, with the average spend being around 29%- for a whole department budget, that’s a large percentage devoted to a singular channel! The best performing teams spend as much as 40% of their entire department allocation on content marketing, but is this money well spent?
With 51% of marketers planning to increase their content spend over the next 12 months, the majority seem to think so. But we must ask the essential questions- are they seeing a return on their investments? Around 63% of marketers say they are, but with such heavy spending occurring daily in the content sphere, it’s key to note that 37% currently struggle to see the desired return.
It’s evident that marketers everywhere understand the potential of content marketing, but many are still unsure about how to achieve their best results whilst effectively managing budget allocation and expenditure. The debate over “spend more to gain more” continues, and many teams ask where they should indeed “spend more” to see those improved results they crave, for all important ROI.
Building an effective content marketing budget
It’s time to tackle this issue head-on and help your team discover the best way to invest in content marketing, building a budget properly strategized to achieve exceptional results and ensure the desired return.
Identify your team
Start by outlining your content marketing team, understanding how much budget is allocated to headcount, and which processes you currently outsource. Only 43% of teams have a dedicated content manager, and 44% of teams have the in-house resources needed to create content copy and graphics; understanding who in your team works on content strategy, and what tasks they fulfill for your business hugely effects budget. This process highlights how much is currently allocated to outsourcing skills such as asset creation and SEO optimization, posing the question- would it be cheaper to recruit for these skills and bring them in-house? Weighing up the cost of an agency versus an in-house team is key to content marketing success and will need to be re-evaluated regularly.
It’s additionally important to ask who will be responsible for content distribution– will content shared on social media be actioned by your current social team? Does their head-count cost stem from a different channel’s budget? As content marketing can move fluidly between other channels, and assets are maximized across many platforms, carefully outlining which headcounts fall under content, and which don’t is an essential starting place when building your budget.
Break down your strategy
Though content strategies are intricate, they split nicely into two key categories- asset creation and asset distribution. Asset creation includes processes such as planning content assets based on current search trends and audience preferences, conducting detailed research into various content topics then seamlessly creating and publishing a regular stream of assets. Distribution, however, is quite different- these processes include the amplification of content across a multitude of channels and platforms to ensure the widest audience possible is reached, whilst analyzing content engagement to understand conversion rates and successful distribution techniques.
When discussing budget, many businesses feel placing additional funds in distribution will bring improved results but be warned- this isn’t always the case. 96% of B2B buyers want content with more input from industry thought leaders, proving the quality of assets created is equally important.
Ensure you strike a harmonious balance between these two areas of your strategy, investing in both the creation of world-class content that boosts brand expertise and the effective distribution of these assets through a mixture of owned and paid media. We’re not saying the split should be 50/50, but if you see a majority of budget allocation passed to one of these two areas, question why, and ask if it’s the best use of funds.
What tools do you need?
Understanding what you’re going to do, and who’s going to do it is just the beginning- now it’s time to ask how. How will your team conduct this content strategy? What software solutions and tools will they need? Our modern world is powered by a digital age, especially in B2B marketing, so it’s key you carefully consult the programs your team use to ensure the best investments are made. Start by outlining the type of tools required, for example, your team will undoubtedly need a CRM, they’re likely to require a content publishing platform to release new content on your website, along with a website analytics tool to measure success- and those are just the basics!
With the essential tool types outlined, look to your current providers, asking whether you’d like to continue using their services, or find a cheaper solution. It’s important not to scrimp on technology budget, as these tools build the essential everyday processes your team will perform to get results, so think carefully. Try running side-by-side trials of software you’re considering, to understand how they measure up to current processes and be sure to ask if each investment is vital, so budget is only spent on software paramount to success.
Budgets always shift
Nothing in marketing is constant, and no matter how much detailed planning and sturdy analysis your team carry out, there will be times when your content marketing underachieves. However, this is where your budget can offer the boost needed to re-evaluate plans and achieve last-minute wins! When building an effective content marketing budget, it’s important to leave a small pot of funds aside for any contingency measures required. These will be properly outlined in your strategy, so ensure your budget reflects them!
It’s very easy to overlook contingency budget in planning, remaining optimistic and telling your team it won’t be needed, but it’s always better to play the realist and expect the worst. Your budget can save your marketing results and offer your team a myriad of solutions when times get tough. Instead of feeling trapped, or out of options, keeping budget aside for a rainy day ensures your team can deliver constant results all year round.
Understand your audience
To revolutionize your content marketing budget, take time to understand your ideal buyers, and how they respond to this approach. What audiences access your content? What asset types and topics do they prefer? How do they discover your latest assets? This knowledge will ensure your budget is allocated in the most effective way, in the appropriate areas. There’s no point investing regularly in social media adverts if your content audience rarely uses those platforms. Equally, it’s a waste of resources to create new assets that speak to an audience who’ll never purchase your productWhy not use Lead Forensics to gain incredible insight into your online audience and their behaviors? Identifying the businesses visiting your website alongside detailed website journey analysis, Lead Forensics offers your team an elite understanding of online audience and their content preferences. With contact details provided for the key decision makers from visiting businesses, your team is quickly armed with all the data they need to make instant follow-up communications for an advanced lead generation solution. Find out more- book your free demo today!
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