When it’s time to create a content marketing budget, it can be difficult to determine where you should best spend your money and where you shouldn’t. With thousands of tools and so-called expert opinions about content marketing, the variables and considerations can appear to be endless. Unfortunately, with all these options, you may lose sight of what is really important, finding a budget-friendly solution that works best for your organization.
When you begin to develop your content marketing budget, (or any budget for that matter) it is important to distinguish exactly what you’re looking to accomplish. You should organize your budgeting after clearly defining your goals through a written content strategy to ensure that your money is best spent on reaching your objectives.
Remember that the purpose of budgeting is to create a means to forecast your expenditures, track your business performance and to become a tool for better decision making in the future. Let’s dive into four considerations that to keep in mind when budgeting for content marketing.
Cost of Paid vs Organic Marketing Channels
Paid and organic marketing channels can be an excellent tool for expanding your audience and expediting the visibility of your content marketing but allocating your budget for paid channels may not be necessary for every budget. Your approach will largely depend on the aggressiveness of your content strategy and your organizational goals.
Paid and organic campaigns are not created equally, and you’ll need to understand the pros and cons of each before setting your budget. Whether you are targeting your audience through television commercials or digital advertising, paid campaigns can increase the visibility of your content and give your marketing department more control over the delivery and placement of your advertisements.
The pay to play model also benefits from being on-demand, meaning, with a flick of the switch (and the money to go along with it) you can turn on your campaigns and begin driving visibility to your content marketing. Feedback is often found particularly fast (sometimes within 24 hours) when using online channels such as Facebook advertising and Google AdWords which can come in handy when testing the effectiveness of new content and marketing messaging.
In contrast, organic marketing is “free”, but can be a lengthy process to develop. There are many variables that can affect your organic marketing efforts, including the amount of content created, quality of the content, keywords, and maturity of your brand. But, while it may be difficult to see the value of organic marketing efforts right away, you should still consider investing into building these channels.
Paid and organic marketing compliment each other nicely and you’ll want to incorporate a mix of these strategies to decide what works for your business best. When budgeting for these channels, look to experiment by allocating money for paid goals and allowing time to develop your organic audience.
Accounting for the Necessary Tools
You’re in for an uphill battle if your marketing department isn’t properly equipped with the right tools to reach your content goals, but with thousands of options ranging from marketing automation software, content management systems to email service providers, choosing the correct set of tools can be a difficult challenge to conquer.
Do an internal audit of your available resources for any missing pieces that could hinder your success, cut anything that is extraneous or problematic, this can even help free up some budget for better investment in other areas.
If you are considering adding new tools, ask yourself why you need that tool. You’ll want to have a reason for each additional expenditure. For example, if marketing automation is one of the tools that you are looking to invest in, ask how it will affect the bottom line. Don’t simply say that you need it because it is helping other content marketing strategies, ask yourself if it is going to reduce the need for more employees or better organize your efforts.
Identify which platforms align with your goals best and understand the strengths and weaknesses of each competing platform. This thorough research can really help when it comes to making a decision on investing in new tools and can also be crucial in getting a budget approved since you’ve provided proof that backs your needs. You may need to repeat the process for other considerations, whether it be investing in a content management system or an analytics tool.
Some marketing solutions offer tiered pricing structures that can throw a curveball into your budgeting plans, but can also be really helpful when first trying out a new tool or software by starting with an introductory or low cost tier. Pay close attention to where you stand within these tiers and if you plan to bump into a new tier during your budget.
Tiered pricing allows you to discover the value of a product, look to take full advantage of these offers to research the best software or platforms for your organization. Be wary of becoming too dependent on a service that you may not be able to afford.
Budget for Employees vs Outsourcing
Content marketing can require a variety of skills to accomplish and although it may initially seem to be the best option to build all your content needs with an in-house team, there are many benefits to outsourcing your content creation as well. You’ll need to carefully consider if hiring additional staff or outsourcing projects will be the best budgeting option for your organization.
If you already have a dedicated content creation team, consult with your employees and ask for feedback to determine if they need more resources to achieve your goals. Look to leverage the existing skills of your employees, as you may learn that your copywriter also has a background with graphic design, which can provide cost savings versus outsourcing.
If you plan to scale your content marketing to new peaks, you’ll want to be careful not spread your team thin with an increase in production. If hiring extra talent is not an immediate option, freelancers can help temporarily fill the gaps to keep up with content demands.
Outsourcing to a reputable content agency can help quickly improve your strategy, as they are already in the business of creating engaging content, something that you may need to learn from scratch with an in-house team. In addition, outsourcing can help you discover what content is the most effective for your various goals, help you test your current content and offer suggestions to get more results.
This may be an effective option if your company is just starting a content marketing strategy, you have an inexperienced team or if want to vary the expertise you’re offering with your content. With outsourcing, you can look to save in many areas including the hiring pains of finding graphic and video production specialists, copywriters, social media and pr specialists, social influencers etc.
Optimize Your Budget as the Strategy Evolves
Odds are, you won’t be creating a perfect budget right away, one that accurately accounts for every variable throughout the year, and you should learn to plan for the the unexpected. You can do this by scheduling re-evaluations every month, and at least every quarter to make sure that you are on track. You’ll discover that with practice and research, you’ll become better at revising your budget to your needs of your organization.
Throughout the execution of your content marketing strategy, you are likely to run into the unknown, in fact I can almost say with certainty that you will. You may find that your audience responds best when you post everyday, but you had initially only planned to publish content twice a week. Learning from the the feedback and data that you receive can help you better adapt your budget moving forward.
For example, you may have budgeted for podcasting but discovered that it just hasn’t been resonating with your audience like you had hoped. Should you keep investing in a this platform if it isn’t working or could that money be better spent promoting another campaign that has been producing results?
Generally speaking, it wouldn’t make sense to continue allocating your budget to the ideas that aren’t working, but your decisions will vary based on your circumstances. The point is, you may not have known what would fail or be the most successful when you created your budget, but you should always allow yourself room to make the appropriate adjustments moving forward.
What considerations do you think about while creating a content marketing budget? Do you prefer outsourcing your content creation to agencies or tackling the challenge in house? What budgeting challenges have you discovered? Leave your answers and feedback in the comment section below.