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

    JetBlue Knows How to Respond to Positive Social Media

    Posted by Peter Caputa on Aug 17, 2012 11:13:00 AM

    Many PR people talk about the importance of "crisis communication" when it comes to social media. But, very few talk about how to respond to positive messages people share about a company. 

    A Worcester native, Bill Randell, started a contest to petition JetBlue to start flights out of the Worcester airport. Here's a good story from the Worcester Telegram and Gazette about the contest. Bill offered $2k to the best video. Each video must petition JetBlue to come to Worcester.

    Here's an example that was created by a buddy of mine and his daughter. I may be a bit biased, but I think this is the cutest and funniest video out of the ones I've watched.

    JetBlue noticed the competition and they also created a cute funny video in response to it.

    Whether JetBlue comes to Worcester or not, Worcester residents will no doubt think of JetBlue as a cool company. They demonstrated that they're listening. And by relating to how most people struggle with pronouncing the name of the city like natives do (you have to watch their video to know what I'm talking about), Worcester natives will feel like they share a common joke with JetBlue. They not only responded, they related.
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    Topics: social media marketing

    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

    Why Leaving Comments is a Good Online Networking Activity

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Jul 27, 2008 9:40:00 PM

    The other day, I posted a guest article to my blog about why small businesses need to take control over their online presence, because if they don't someone else will. It was written by Malcolm Shepperd from Gill Media, a smart guy who knows his stuff.

    Shortly after the article was published, I received three comments from the same person. The first one said, "Does any mailer out there track the opens when they deploy". Not only does the sentence lack punctuation, it is irrelevant to the article. I clicked the person's name to go check out their website and I saw a press announcement about how they just launched an email marketing tool. If that wasn't enough, she posted the question twice and then left a third comment that said "Great Post. Very Informative" with a link to her website in the text of comment.

    Malcolm's whole post was about protecting your online reputation from other people who might try to sully your company's reputation online. I didn't think I'd have to advise people to avoid being idiots in order to protect their own brand online.

    So, I called and her and told her that link building by leaving comments is not that effective and that I'd send her an email with a link to article about why leaving comments does not usually support search engine optimization if a site uses no-follow. I asked her to stop doing it on my website. She said, "no problem". I told her I'd be happy to talk to her if she wanted to talk about proper ways to build links for her company and her clients. Yes, her company provides internet marketing services, believe it or not.

    I also told her that leaving comments is a good idea. But, they shouldn't be covert attempts at promoting her own business; that they should add to the conversation with an insightful question or comment that is relevant to the article; and that she shouldn't include URLs in the body of the text. Here's good advice:

    Why not worry about No Follows? Because ALL humans ignore No Follow. If you participate in a blog comment discussion and link to your site, chances are readers of that blog will follow the link ... building to your site's traffic. The more popular the blog, the more traffic you can build.

    But do not place a signature link in the comment body itself except for critical circumstances. Linking to your own site in the comment body is not only spammy in nature, but can also get your name, site, email and IP flagged by 'social' blog spam software like SpamKarma, and get your comments automatically deleted from dozens of blogs which use the application.

    Using blatant Anchor Text instead of a handle or name in the Name field of blog comments can have the same result, so don't do it!

    The conversation reminded me of all of the comments we had on the HubSpot blog about link building, leaving comments and SEO. We got a pretty good chuckle out of that comment thread, where many of our commenters refused to believe that leaving comments on blogs that employ no follow didn't help their search rankings.

    There was one very valid point that several commenters made, though, and it's best summed up by an article on Search Engine Journal:

    I've always been an advocate for active blog commenting playing an important role in the online marketing mix for a massive amount of reasons, even beyond SEO.

    By taking the time to comment on blogs, even one or two comments per day can lead to extremely positive results such as reputation building, expert positioning...

    While SEO Consultants will debate whether No Follow links from blog comments help out with SEO or not, marketers should leave comments on other blogs as a way to generate direct traffic and to network and meet people with common interests.

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    Topics: link building, social media marketing

    Online Networking Seminar in Westborough, MA

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Apr 29, 2008 11:23:00 AM

    The Corridor Nine Chamber of Commerce has invited me to speak to the HYPE9 group, Helping Young Professionals Engage in Corridor 9. It's a great group designed to help younger (21-40 year old) professionals develop their networking skills.

    I'm looking forward to doing my "online networking presentation" to this group as many are web natives. Most of the time I'm giving this presentation, I'm talking to people that grew up with a typewriter and rolodexes that sit on their [real] desktop, not online. Many in this group grew up with their "contact list" on facebook and AIM. 

    My focus will be less on how to use the tools. More about leveraging the these tools to initiate new business.

    If you fit in the demographics and are local enough, here's the registration page. If you're coming, make sure you do the homework listed on the registration page, assuming you want to walk out with referrals. 

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    Topics: social networking, online networking, speaking, event, social media marketing

    Measuring the Impact of Social Media on Your Business

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Feb 9, 2008 8:13:00 AM

    Most small and mid sized businesses are just dipping their toes into blogging. With keyword research and a good analytics package, it's not hard to plan and measure how blogging will impact the bottom and top lines for a business. If it's an ecommerce site, blogging is a no brainer. If you're a b2b company trying to generate leads... again... a no brainer. If you're b2c and people are passionate about your types of products (ie you sell wine not hammers), also a no brainer. If you're a realtor, you should be talking to Real Estate Tomato about how to start a real estate blog... umm... yesterday. (Of course, you shouldn't underestimate what's required to be successful with a blog - no matter who you are or what you sell.)

    All that said, social media is still the wild west. There's no best practices. There are very few services that assist business owners in a meaningful way. The only businesses that are taking advantage of social media are big brand name F1000 companies. They have the budgets to deal directly with the big social networks and the budgets to tap the big ad agencies who deal with the big social networks.

    Everyone else is sorta left figuring this out themselves. I've been able to successfully generate leads from social media activity. So has the internet marketing company I work for. We teach our clients best practices for the sites that actually drive traffic directly, and support our clients' SEO strategy. We also give them the tools to analyze effectiveness in terms of traffic, leads and soon: sales across their SEO, PPC, blogging, and blogosphere/social media activity. This informs what works and what they should do more of. For example, if Digg reaches your audience, you should learn how to use Digg. If you're trying to reach a younger crowd, join facebook. If you're trying to reach CEOs, start answering questions and endorsing people on LinkedIN.

    But, this list could go on and on. How does someone know where to focus their efforts and how do they measure what's working before the leads come in? As this map indicates, you could literally spend all of 2008 registering and learning social media services. There certainly isn't a comprehensive tool within the reach of the average mid sized business to track all the leading indicators of social media success or failure. However, is it really necessary to track the leading indicators? If you have a website that converts visitors into leads and you can successfully generate traffic from social media sources and measure which social media sites send visitors with a high likelihod of converting to a lead... then... I'm left with the conclusion that you should just find yourself a social media advisor. I'm sure that 1 out of 50,000 people are like me (or the guys at Read/Write Web) who spend too much time tracking the social media landscape, who can interpret it and translate it for the average business owner so they know what to do first.

    And if in doubt and you don't want to find an advisor, start with LinkedIn. If you're in business, chances are that your best prospects are on there.

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    Topics: blog advisor, social media advisor, lead generation, social media marketing, marketing analytics, linkedin, blogging, blog coach

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