5 Steps to Creating a Content Marketing Budget

    Posted by Ryan Malone on Apr 13, 2013 7:56:00 AM

    According to an Ad Age survey presented by Marketing Charts, content marketing comprises an average of 12% of overall marketing budgets. A full 10% of marketers spend more than 30% on content marketing, and 9% spend 19-30%. This means that approximately one in five marketers with a budget of $100,000 would spend up to or more than $30,000 per year on content marketing. Also worth noting is that 55% of those surveyed indicated that they would be increasing their content marketing budget for 2013.

    The results of the survey are below:

    content marketing budget

    This many marketers can't be wrong about content marketing. If you're not using this important tactic as part of your marketing strategy, you're potentially missing a major opportunity to reach more new customers.

    Why is content marketing so popular?

    Consumers find products and services in a variety of ways, but one of the most popular is through Internet searching. The more content you have on your website, blog, and social media pages, the more likely it is that a lead will find you. However, when it comes to content marketing, quality is just as important as quantity. Consumers respond best to content that provides value. Whether it is advice or entertainment, quality content that is regularly updated will attract and retain more leads than simple sales pitches. The best content marketing campaigns build trust, educate the consumer, help you develop a loyal community, and increase sales conversions.

    Important factors for creating a content marketing budget

    There are many different types of content marketing, including:

    • Blog posts
    • White papers
    • E-books
    • Social media campaigns
    • Videos
    • Infographics
    • Buyers' guides

    The types of content that you should use will depend largely on your target audience, but it's important to use multiple approaches. For example, if you offer professional accounting services, you might create an informative white paper that describes recent tax updates, and a series of blog posts that answer the most common questions about changes to the tax code. On the other hand, if you sell flower arranging kits, a more effective approach might be to write a graphic-rich e-book and create a series of how-to videos.

    Either way, the importance of ongoing content updates cannot be understated. After a lead reads your white paper or e-book, you need to create fresh new content that will keep them coming back for more. Factor this into your content marketing budget so you have enough funds to keep it going all year long. Remember, online content provides ongoing benefits beyond the initial attention it receives. A white paper will draw in new leads long after you have seen a return on the investment, and regular blog posts have a cumulative effect of improving search engine rankings.

    How do you create a content marketing budget?

    If you are introducing content marketing or placing more emphasis on this important component of an effective marketing strategy, you'll need to create a budget. Follow these steps to get started:

    1. Decide what percentage of your overall marketing budget will go to content marketing. If you follow the current trend, this will probably be 20-30%.
    2. Decide which types of content marketing you want to do. Remember, it's important to have ongoing content development in addition to the occasional e-book or white paper.
    3. Allocate your resources. Factor in the personnel time and costs (either in-house or outsourced) required for writing, editing, video production, graphics, distribution, and content promotion.
    4. Estimate monthly expenses. Create an annual editorial calendar so you can predict how much you will need each month. For example, if you plan to launch a new product or service in May, you might bolster your content marketing efforts around that time.
    5. Stick to it. A budget is useless if you don't actually use it. Track actual expenses so you can modify the budget as necessary. Don't forget to track successes and failures so you know where to focus your content marketing efforts in the next year.

    It's clear that an effective content marketing strategy requires ongoing effort. Unfortunately, not all businesses have the talent or resources to do it on their own. This is why so many small businesses choose to outsource content development to a company that has the expertise and staff to generate quality content. 

    How do you use content marketing for your business? What percent of your overall marketing budget is used for content creation and promotion?

    About the Author: Ryan Malone is the founder and CEO of SmartBug Media, a strategic inbound marketing agency and Hubspot Gold Partner based on Southern California. Go Lakers.  

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    Topics: content, social media marketing, business blogging, inbound marketing, content marketing, marketing planning, inbound marketing agency, smartbug media, ryan malone, how to generate leads, buyer persona, content creation

    Crafting A Blog Post for Your Business: 4 Keys to Success

    Posted by Todd Hockenberry on Feb 13, 2013 7:14:00 AM

    crafting a blog postOnce you've got your salespeople to come around to the idea of inbound marketing, what do you do with their content ideas? If your salespeople followed the "notepad method" of content creation, then after a couple of weeks they should have plenty of ideas just waiting to be turned into killer content.  Check out this recent interview where I discuss this idea in detail.

    But pages of questions, comments, and unconnected ideas aren't going to cut it in the content-centric world of inbound marketing. You've got to tie all of those great ideas into a cohesive whole. 

    One of the best ways to put all of your content ideas into use is by turning them into blog posts. Blog posts are awesome because they:

    • don't have to be terribly long
    • tend to be written informally
    • allow you to offer up concentrating chunks of information
    • and the comments section gives you an avenue for interacting with prospects.

    As great as blog posts are, writing a post can be challenging. There is no single "right" way to take an idea for a blog post and turn it into a finished product, but there are a couple of suggestions I can offer if you're having trouble.

    1. Stay focused

    You might have a hundred great ideas for blog posts, but I guarantee they aren't going to work if you try to shove them all into one post. Stick to one central idea and follow it through to conclusion. There's nothing wrong with a personal anecdote or digression here and there as long as they bolster your main idea, but try and keep it to a minimum. If your post is a series of unconnected personal stories, then your readers are going to lose sight of your point. One way to make sure all of your paragraphs and ideas work together is to outline your post. For example:

    Introduction and Main idea: Pens are better than pencils.

    Supporting detail 1: Pencil lead smears, but ink doesn't smear after you let it dry.

    Supporting detail 2: You don't need to sharpen pens.

    Personal Story: Short paragraph about that time I couldn't write down a number because I had a broken pencil.

    Conclusion

    You don't have to write out an outline, but keeping a format in mind while writing can help keep you focused and on topic.

    2. Let SEO Be Your Guide

    If you find yourself casting around for something to write about, or you're drowning in too many ideas and don't know which to focus on, choosing one or two high ranking keywords to use as a guide is a great way to gain focus. Do the leg work and research the keywords that have clout in your industry, the keywords you rank for, and the keywords that you want to rank for. Once you know the keywords that you want to go after, dig into your pile of ideas and create posts around those keywords. Creating blog posts around keywords is a great way to work on your SEO and get content out there.

    3. Stay Calm

    You aren't writing an academic paper, you're writing a blog post; you don't need to overawe your readers with four syllable words and a formal tone. Write in the same tone that you would speak in as if you were talking to a prospect. If you're having trouble getting into the right frame of mind imagine that you're having a conversation with a prospect. What questions would lead into the point you want to make? What would the normal progression of ideas be if you were having a conversation? If it makes sense, you can set up your post in a question and answer format. If the best way to explain your point is with a numbered list, then format your post so that your points are in a numbered list. Write your post in whatever way is the most natural and clear.

    4. Write

    The best suggestion I can give is simply to write. You don't have to have a perfect post the first time through, but you do need to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). If you find yourself putting off writing your next blog post, then I recommend scheduling yourself time to write. Block off a half an hour or an hour just like you would for a meeting, and don't let yourself do anything else until you have your first draft down on paper. You can always edit later, but the most important thing is to get your ideas out.

    Salespeople are excellent sources of content for blog posts and they can then use them to build credibility with prospects as they progress through the buying process. Salespeople that are also blog authors build a reputation as thought leaders and establish themselves as helpful resources and not just order takers.

    About the Author: Todd Hockenberry is the founder of Top Line Results, an inbound marketing agency that specializes in leading top line revenue growth at small and medium-sized companies with a focus on manufacturing, technology and capital equipment.

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    Topics: how to start a blog, blogging for business, Top Line Results, content creation

    The Fundamentals of Middle Of The Funnel Marketing [Infographic]

    Posted by Steve James on Dec 13, 2012 8:02:00 AM

    This infographic was created by Steve James (@steve_james), a Partner at Stream Creative (@streamcreative), a Milwaukee inbound marketing agency and Gold HubSpot Certified partner. This is the second infographic for their inbound marketing series on the topic of Middle Of The Funnel (MoFu) Marketing.

    Feel free to share this on your blog by copying the html code below the graphic or pinning it on pinterest using the button below.

    Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) Infographic

    New to Infographics? See this infographic about infographics on the HubSpot blog.

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    Topics: marketing funnel, lead generation, stream creative, inbound marketing agency, content creation

    I Can't Believe You Still Spend Money on Brand Awareness

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Aug 29, 2008 8:50:00 AM

    It's absolutely ridiculous that the marketing departments of soooo many b2b companies are not developing online lead generation processes that produce sales ready leads; that they don't practice measurable marketing.

    Historically, sales has always had a funnel. Marketing should have a funnel too. Brian Carroll has a great post about building a marketing funnel:

    Most organizations don't have a marketing funnel; they have a sales funnel that looks more like a bucket with lots of holes in it where leads leak out. Marketing needs to create its own funnel to understand whether leads are sales ready or not.

    The purpose of the marketing funnel is to bring leads into one spot and qualify them. By qualifying them, I mean that the leads are ready to talk to someone from a sales perspective. Then there is the hand-off process between marketing and sales. I find that connecting the marketing and sales funnel together is really a big challenge. You have to understand your sales process to know at what point the sales team views a lead as an opportunity and begins actively pursuing it.

    Lead generation really is about building relationships. It's how can I help my sales team build relationships with the right people and the right companies. The marketing funnel creates sales-ready leads and nurtures the leads that aren't sales ready.

    The bigger and better you make your marketing pipeline, ultimately the bigger and better you make your sales pipeline. In the end, this isn't about generating more leads; it's about generating actionable leads.

    A company where the sales teams and marketing teams work together, should have a combined funnel. It should look something like this:

    For those of you who do better with words, you should know exactly how many visitors to your website convert into leads; how many of these leads your salespeople convert into opportunities; how many of these opportunities your salespeople convert into clients. You should also be able see at a much more granular level... what marketing activities, campaigns and referring sources those customers originated from, as well as what marketing activities made them "sales ready". That's closed loop marketing.

    If you're a b2b marketer and you're not trying to figure out closed loop marketing, I personally believe you should be fired. You should be fired today, if you're still asking for $ to build your brand while your sales team is primarily cold calling prospects. It's absolutely amazing that more CEOs don't demand a measurable ROI from their marketing teams. It's absolutely amazing to me that marketers don't demand that their organizations committ the time and resources to create compelling content and participate in the conversations happening in their marketplace on social networking sites.

    Brand awareness should be a side effect of a great product, great marketing and great customer service.

    However, your marketing activities should be measured based on leads generated, leads qualified and customers acquired. Not some fuzzy notion of brand awareness.

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    Topics: closed loop marketing, brand awareness, brand building, sales funnel, marketing funnel, business to business lead generation, social network marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, online lead generation, b2b lead generation, content creation

    Business Advice from Sanjib Sarkar

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Jul 2, 2008 6:25:00 AM

    Business advice from Sanjib Sarkar 

    1. What is your company's unique selling proposition? We sell homeopathic medicine products online.  Our company also sells other natural products to consumers such as Poison Ivy Lotion, Poison Ivy Pills, Natural Pet Meds, Sun Block and other products.   
    2. When & why did you start your current business/take your current position? Our website started in March 2001.  I basically saw a need to provide homeopathic medicine on the Internet.  We were the first company to offer this type of service.  Now many other companies are started to offer similar services.  I have been president of Hmedicine.com since 2001.
    3. What was the smartest business decision you've made in your current business/current position?  Drop shipping products.  We carry quite a bit of products so our company is not a 100% drop ship company.  However, we specialize in selling hard to find homeopathic medicine.  These are great items to drop ship because consumers have a difficult time finding them.  Also, they make poor items to stock because a few select people are looking for these homeopathic medicines.  We were able to create a niche market because of this.
    4. What person has had the most impact on the success of your business/career? It has been a host of partners and people helping with the business.  I could not name just one.  It really takes a team effort to be successful.
    5. What do you like most about internet marketing?  The challenge of dealing with Google.  Your site can be ranked in the top 10 one day and you may be in the top 100 the next day.  This makes Internet marketing very challenging but at the same time very interesting.
    6. If you had one piece of internet marketing advice for another business owner, what would it be?  Patiently create great content.  The website rankings will take care of themselves if you create the great content.  You need to have some patience because it may take search engines and people longer than 6 months to start responding and sending you traffic and sales.
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    Topics: small business advice, internet marketing, content creation

    Content & Links, Content & Links, Content Links

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Apr 24, 2008 2:03:00 PM

    Content & links are critical to internet marketing success.

    Just so you guys know I'm not making this up, here's some very smart and successful people saying the same thing. 

    This is the most important stuff if you want to increase your organic search rankings.  And if you're doing it right, compelling content creates links. 

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    Topics: SEO, search engine optimization, link building, content creation

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