Are you feeling pressure on your marketing budget? If you think you can’t stretch your dollars to meet all your marketing needs, you may actually need better allocation, not more money.
The objective of marketing is to attract, engage, convert, and retain customers. And we have found that most small to midsize organizations can do all that and more by focusing on content marketing. So what amount do you need?
In looking across our clients and some of the most successful brands doing content marketing today, we have found that the number is around $8,000 a month.
That’s right, for just $8,000 per month, you can get a content marketing strategy, a year’s worth of content ideas, an SEO audit and keyword strategy, external link building, conversion funnel development, and paid promotion to reach all the new people you need to grow your business.
What about the results? On average, this investment delivers measurable returns in the form of 138% more inbound traffic to your website vs last year.
But we can’t take traffic to the CFO. We also help our clients deliver 7x in return for every dollar spent. That’s $56k in revenue for every month. But these results don’t come overnight, These numbers are for content marketers who invest for at least a year. The average break-even point in around 7 -8 months.
So let’s dive in and learn how you can get these results as well!
- You don’t need to spend more money or spend a lot to get real marketing results.
- Budgets are changing but you only need a small investment for big results with content marketing.
- Our content marketing expertise costs a fraction of what you may be spending now on marketing efforts.
Marketing Budgets Shifting and Changing
Marketing budgets had been steadily rising, up from $12.3 billion in 2018 to $15.2 billion in 2019. The pandemic’s impact on marketing budgets continues to play out, but The CMO Survey, published in June 2020, shows a decrease in spending across the board.
One of the areas with the biggest hit per the study is traditional ad spending. Paid advertising is somewhat of a dinosaur. There are, of course, many channels to use for traditional advertising, but its value, especially to B2B companies, is diminishing.
In some cases, however, marketing spend is up. A survey from Merkle of 400 companies revealed that the majority (52%) are increasing marketing spend. The priority of these dollars was:
- Adopting new marketing technology.
- Becoming more consumer-centric with messaging.
- Developing new capabilities to fulfill transactions.
These focuses are in alignment with how customer needs change and other disruptions.
With budgets being in flux and lots of uncertainty, reallocation of dollars is a necessary consideration.
How Do Marketers Spend Their Budgets?
It’s not really what you spend but how you spend it that matters in any budget. So, how are most organizations spending their dollars?
To look at where the money’s going, the CMO Spend Survey provides context.
Digital accounts for 80% of marketing channel budgets in 2020 across paid, owned, and earned channels. Digital advertising has the most significant chunk of companies’ budgets, followed by social, website, SEO, and mobile marketing.
This survey doesn’t ask about content marketing spend, which could fall under the website and SEO categories. The ANA (Association of National Advertisers) recently released a report, Growth, and Opportunities in Content Marketing. Based on a 2019 survey, the data showed a 73% increase in content marketing spends in the past two years. It also projects a 42% further increase in the next two years.
Brands are showing a commitment to content marketing with substantial dollars, but are they really getting positive returns? Much of that has to do with if they are properly following the tenets of content marketing. The ANA report found that 59% of the respondents lack actionable insights with current content performance metrics.
Putting money into the right channel is only the beginning of maximizing your marketing dollars. If you aren’t engaging in the most important aspects of content marketing, which is to produce and publish relevant content consistently that ranks high, you can throw money at it all day and not see the results you desire.
However, you only need to spend $8,000 a month to “rank and win” with content marketing. Here’s how far that money goes.
Content Marketing Strategy
The first step to only spending $8,000 a month on marketing is having a content marketing strategy. Most organizations don’t have this—the ANA study discovered 52% of organizations responding did not.
Without a content marketing strategy, it’s impossible to follow the tenets of the discipline and expect to drive traffic and convert leads.
We work with our clients to build one from scratch or optimize their current one. A comprehensive content marketing strategy includes:
- Content mission, purpose, and goals.
- Content pillars: The category topics you’ll write about.
- Content types: Blogs, long-form, social, etc.
- Brand voice and tone: Attributes of your brand’s voice, foundational language, and other elements that impact the words chosen.
- Content output: How much content you’ll produce on a monthly basis.
- Buyer personas: Fictional representations of who your buyers are that help you understand their needs and motivations.
- Roles and responsibilities of content creators: Writers, editors, designers, etc.
- Distribution methods: Social media, third party sites, email marketing, etc.
Another important aspect of your strategy is keywords and SEO best practices, but that deserves its own section.
Keyword Research and SEO Audits
One of the first things we do with new clients is an SEO audit to understand what, if any, keywords you currently rank for on Google. Keywords still matter ineffective marketing.
Additionally, such an evaluation looks at the mechanics of SEO behind the content, such as URL formatting, meta descriptions and titles, and alt tags. The last part of the audit is off-site assessments to see if any backlinks exist and their quality.
Once we have a baseline for keyword ranking, it’s time to conduct keyword research. Keywords have considerable value for your content marketing efforts. You may just be looking at them from a slightly distorted angle.
Keyword Research Is Audience Discovery
When you begin a strategic keyword search, you’re really learning about your audience and what and how they search.
We start with seed keywords that are relevant to your industry, solutions, and themes. The data from this include:
- Volume: How often users input that keyword when searching.
- Competition for the keyword organically and paid.
- The average cost-per-click for that keyword.
That’s only the beginning. Most seed words are very general, and if you can get more specific, you’ll be more relevant to your buyers and possibly face less competition.
SEO Tools Provide More Insight
Using a tool like SEMRush, we take a seed word then expand to find complete phrases or questions searchers are typing into Google. We also use tactics like looking at Google autocompletes for the phrase and related searches.
We start to develop a keyword master list with targets, but you also need to understand who your competition is for that keyword. SEO competitors aren’t always direct competitors. For us, Hubspot sort of competes with us on content, but not in anyway in the real market. We don’t sell CRM so we partner with them on content.
Understanding competition is not about copying what you know is ranking well. It’s about analyzing why it’s ranking well—then developing a piece of content that’s better. The “better” means optimized with keywords but not stuffed, high readability scores, internal linking, and ensuring all the details around metadata, alt texts, slugs, and more are accurate.
Our Keyword Research Is Ongoing
The keyword research we provide our clients is detailed and ongoing. Each month, they receive a search visibility report charting the improvements in ranking. SEO is a long-term, integral part of content marketing. You’re never really “done” with it. Everything can change in an instant. Simply consider how the pandemic changed online searches in basically every vertical.
The next part of your $8,000 a month program is content ideas. It brings together the first two parts of the plan—your content strategy and keyword research.
The output for our clients is two articles per week, one long-form article, and one landing page per month. That’s roughly nine pieces a month. Coming up with ideas isn’t necessarily hard if you have the research and foundation in place. However, it’s not just the actual topics to ponder. You also need to ensure you have the right mix of content for each buyer persona and each stage of the sales funnel.
We provide our clients with a year’s worth of content ideas. How do we do this?
The content strategy has a lot to do with content ideas. From this, we know the content pillars most important to your company and customers. We’ve defined your buyers and what challenges they face.
Next, we leverage keyword research. We choose the keywords with the most relevance and opportunity. Opportunity is a correlation between volume and competition. We want to aim for those with the least competition, but depending on your industry, it may be high across the board. We also use the data we collected about the specific content pieces ranking high for that keyword.
Content ideas can change as we collect more data about what your buyers find interesting. This data is imperative to maintaining relevancy to your audience.
Building Your Editorial Calendar
In developing your blog editorial calendar, we also want to make sure you have content for top-of-the-funnel, middle-of-the-funnel, and bottom-of-the-funnel. It’s critical to have a balance to engage buyers at every phase, attracting, nurturing, and closing.
On your calendar, we place content based on your goals, promotions, and prioritizes. If you’re rolling out a new feature to your software in the next 90 days, you’ll likely want to produce several pieces of content about it and the problems it solves. Seasonality can also impact what you schedule. Businesses that sell to secondary or higher ed work their content around school years and understand when these customers are most likely to buy.
Content Promotion with Contextual Ads
Content marketing will produce results. You’ll see most of these results through slow growth in organic search traffic. And while this is the goal, it also helps to prime the market with paid promotion. This helps us to nearly guarantee results.
We do this with contextual ads, using a native AI-driven placement platform. Our paid content promotion gets 80% lower PCP and nearly 6x the CTR of the average company’s paid promotion!
We are able to accomplish this because we only promote your best content, to a relevant audience, on contextual platforms. And our AI-engine optimizes the spending so we are always reaching the right people in a more efficient way.
Your content is matched with other relevant digital content via algorithms that look at keywords and other metadata. It works to create an integrated solution that doesn’t require hours of manual work.
With multiple channels, campaign automation, and tracking, it’s an excellent choice to disperse content in a very targeted and strategic way.
Optimizing For Conversion
It’s not enough to publish content and promote that content to new audiences. We need to nurture that traffic and conversion. We do this in a variety of ways:
- Offer development
- Landing page copywriting
- Goal tracking
- Email Nurturing
- Audience Re-Targeting
Reporting and Metrics
With all these initiatives, you certainly want to know your return on investment (ROI). As you’ll recall, content marketing ROI is elusive to many organizations. It’s hard to connect the dots and discern what content led to meeting goals. Further, many brands don’t necessarily define what ROI means to them. There are three key metrics that essential to content marketing ROI:
- Conversions: How content directs users to convert, whatever the definition of conversion may be.
- Percentage of closed leads: Every lead has a source; if the content is what brought that buyer to the table, then it’s responsible, at least partly, for the win.
- Percentage of sales: Some customers close without ever talking to sales. It’s happening more and more for B2B companies, especially those with millennial decision-makers. Look at the percentage of your sales that you can directly contribute to content marketing.
So we start by identifying how much traffic and visibility we are bringing to your website.
Then we analyze your conversion paths and make sure we have enough offers, subscriber landing pages and calls to action. We even will setup goals for you in google analytics to track all these.
Then we automate reporting from GA and your CRM tool to show actual conversions, leads, and sales.
How We Provide You ROI Insights
Each month, we provide our clients with the SEO visibility report, as well as Google Analytics goal reporting. Goal reporting is an essential metric for content performance.
You can clearly identify that users completed your goal. The goal could be they go from a blog to a landing page with a demo call to action. It could be that someone provided their contact information to download a gated eBook.
You’ll also be able to see how much traffic your content is pushing to your site and from where—organic results, paid, social, etc.