Content is an integral and important part of every modern marketer’s arsenal, but often, when working with small businesses, it’s difficult to be effective on a budget. Due to this, many companies end up starting a blog but then abandoning it when times get tough.
It’s thought that 62% of websites have a blog, but 80% of those blogs have 5 posts or less. This suggests that many businesses consider content marketing, but then either find they don’t have the time or budget to maintain even a simple blog. However, it is possible (and desirable) to gain ROI on content marketing. A sound strategy coupled with setting goals and studying metrics is a huge part of this and research has shown that for those companies that create a documented content strategy, it’s easier to measure and prove ROI.
With this in mind, your first steps should be in determining what you hope to gain from content marketing (leads, traffic, sales) and in creating a strategy to help you to achieve your goals. This is the least expensive part of the mix, unless you hire a large agency which will charge you for coming up with a strategy. It does cost in terms of time of course, but spending a little time on strategy can go a long way.
Types of Content
You should aim to post a blog at least once a week, and if your budget allows for it, you should also look to create various types of content, such as:
- Whitepapers – these are a form of report which can help to showcase products and services. They are often used as downloadable content in order to help a company to grow their email list.
- EBooks – again, can be used as downloadable content or to promote thought leadership.
- Images – should make up a part of your plan and should include illustrative, editorial images for blog posts and articles, social media images for boosting engagement and infographics for further demonstrating industry knowledge.
- Video – is highly engaging and swiftly becoming the favoured type of content for many marketers.
- Case studies – are useful for turning leads into sales as they showcase what your company can do and how you have successfully solved a problem for a customer.
As many of the above as are appropriate should be added to the content strategy and you should research subjects and titles to see how well they go down with your audience. When it comes to the strategy document, do work within your means and keep it relatively simple. Many content strategies don’t work as a huge, complex document is created which people don’t actually adhere to.
Source Your Writers
Content can be expensive largely depending on who creates it for you. The cheapest way is of course to do it yourself. By all means do this if you have the skills and the time, or if another member of the team does. If not, consider using a professional freelancer who writes within your niche.
Freelancers vary in cost. Some charge as little as $45 per hour, whilst others will run into the $100s. You can also purchase content from a content broker/provider, but bear in mind that these are often of a very low quality. The same goes for sites like Upwork that allow freelancers to bid against each other for jobs. Whilst there are some good freelancers to be found on sites such as this, there are plenty more that offer low-quality and with content, you do get what you pay for.
For images and video, you can again use freelancers, or a small agency that offers writing services alongside graphical ones.
Create an Editorial Calendar
These allow you to plan out your content going forward. You should plan titles to coincide with holidays such as religious celebrations, the release of products and so on.
It should include:
- Posting schedule
- Who is responsible for creating content
- Who edits/approves content
- Who is responsible for posting to website/social media
- Tracking content
If you use WordPress, you can get some nice editorial calendar plugins to work with directly on your site. For video and image creation, you can create them yourself using the tools below.
- Spruce (free) – for creating text on images, Spruce is simple and easy to use.
- Piktochart (free or premium) – for creating social media images and infographics, Piktochart has a simple drag and drop interface so you don’t need to be a graphic designer to use it.
- RenderForest (free) – allows you to create videos using a simple interface based on templates.
Distribution and Tracking
Once you’ve started producing your content, then you should get it out there on all of your social platforms and add it to your weekly or monthly newsletter.
To help you with this, you can use scheduling tools such as:
- Hootsuite (monthly cost) – this allows you to schedule content to be posted to your social media accounts at times of your choosing. Hootsuite also has its own analytics so that you can track engagement, etc.
- Rignite (monthly cost) – very similar to Hootsuite, but Rignite has more scheduling options.
- Tweet Jukebox (free) – great free Twitter tool with loads of scheduling options, Tweet Jukebox allows you to create a ‘Jukebox’ of 100s of tweets, switch it on and it does the rest. You can also thank up to 50 followers each Friday.
- Commun.it (monthly cost and free) – allows you to track engagement and discover influencers. Very handy tool but the free version has limited functionality.
- Google Analytics (free) – a tool I’m sure you’re familiar with for tracking visits to your site and where the traffic originates, as well as what content gets the most attention. You should set up goals to help you measure your ROI.
- Mail Chimp (free for up to 2000 subscribers) – allows you to create and send regular newsletters using a simple drag and drop interface. You can also test subject lines, create A/B test, send to specific groups and more.
You should note how much engagement your content receives and adjust strategy to suit. For example, you may note that your audience can’t get enough of ‘how to’ posts, but doesn’t enjoy more formal posts.
Finding and using the right tools will go a long way towards cutting the time it takes to create and distribute content. This in itself will also reduce costs and help you to work within your budget.
Content marketing can be expensive, but if it gives your business a return on investment, then it’s worth it. Use my tips to help cut both time and costs and aim to create as much content as you can. Make sure that you’re consistent and post regularly and you’ll soon see visitors coming back for more.