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How You Can Squeeze the Most Out of Your Content Marketing Budget in 2021

How much, on average, do you spend on content marketing each year?

Some resources suggest that companies need to invest 7-8% of their revenue into marketing, with 25-30% of that going towards content. And there’s been a steady trend for the past decade of digital marketing budgets increasing each year.

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But what does that mean in numbers? How do you know where you stand?

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 47% of B2B companies spent less than $100,000 on content. In the B2C sector, content marketing budgets went slightly higher, with 41% of organizations having to limit themselves to $100,000 or less. But there’s one fascinating piece of info that seems to be in common for both groups. It turns out that in the past 12 months, almost 30% of companies worked without having an established content marketing budget. In 2021, that’s mind-boggling.

So, how do you compare? Are you spending as much as your competition is likely to be spending? Or are you lagging with limited funds, trying to make the absolute most of what you have?

Well, whatever your allotted content marketing budget, it’s safe to say that getting the most out of it takes effort and experience. And if you’re ready to roll up your sleeves, here are the top tips on how you can do just that.

Learn How Much You Can Expect to Spend

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The cost of content marketing varies greatly. It doesn’t just depend on who’s doing the production for you. The formats you’re investing in will have an influence, as will the distribution channels you choose. Furthermore, how much you spend on promotion also plays a role in determining your budget.

Nonetheless, there are some general rules about how much you can expect to spend per piece.

If you’re comfortable leaving the job up to freelancers, you can expect to spend anywhere between 3 and 35 cents per word for blog posts. The sum goes up to $200-$500 for a decent quality podcast and anywhere between $40 and $40,000 for videos. To get more detailed insights into the price of content-making services, you can browse sites like Upwork or Fiverr to see what you can get for your money.

If, however, you prefer to hire an in-house team, know that the average base pay for content creators falls at just over $46,000 per year at the time of writing. You can leave things to an agency as well, which can set you back anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000 per month.

Now, you may be thinking that the best way to save money on content marketing is to do as much as you can by yourself. But think again.

Are you a professional writer, visual artist, or filmmaker? Do you have all the necessary tools to produce a top-level piece of work? How much time will you need to create a well-written blog post or attractive visual?

Sure, sometimes, the DIY route works well. However, if it means taking away from other, more impactful jobs related to your business, you’d probably be better off leaving things to the professionals.

Set Explicit Goals

A content marketing plan without a strategy is nothing more than wasting precious funds. So, if you want to put your money where it counts (and get a good ROI), you will have to learn how to set goals.

The first thing you need to decide is what you want to achieve with your content. 

Are you looking to raise brand awareness? If that’s the case, you’ll need to produce posts that target potential customers in the top stages of the sales funnel.
You can do this by focusing on informational keywords with large search volumes, as Each night has done with their Mattress Sizes and Dimensions post. As you can see from the Google Keyword Planner result below, the phrase ‘mattress sizes’ shows excellent metrics and offers outstanding potential.

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Of course, your goal may be to build relationships with customers who have already bought from you. In this case, you will want to work on building brand loyalty.

To do this, you may want to start an informative resource for your buyers. For example, you can write educational blog posts on how your customers can take better care of their purchased products. Brooks England does something along those lines on its YouTube channel, with videos dedicated to its different product categories.

Or, say that you want to engage followers on different social media platforms. In this case, you’ll want to create as much opportunity for interaction as possible.

Use features like polls, questions, hashtags, and clickable CTA links to encourage users to take action. Then, use follower reactions to start conversations, learn more about their consumer experience, and further direct your content marketing strategy. 

Something as simple as asking your followers what story they’d like to hear next could be of immense help in ensuring that your content marketing efforts yield the desired results.

Do More Than Just Blogging

In 2020, the average person’s screen time skyrocketed. Brought on by worldwide lockdowns and restrictions, online content consumption doubled when compared to previous years. On the whole, people spent most of their time on social media, news websites, and streaming services.

But here’s the thing. While you may think that writing blog articles is the best way to use your content marketing budget, statistical data may be suggesting otherwise. 

According to Statista, the most used social media networks as of January 2021 include Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. And the one thing all of these have in common is that they greatly favor visuals and video over text. The logical conclusion is that getting the most out of your content strategy in 2021 means exploring multimedia formats.

Does that mean putting a full stop to your blogging? No. Written content is still crucial for ranking on SERPs. However, it does mean looking towards investing in more engaging formats.

Start short and small. Explore ephemeral formats like stories, offer behind-the-scenes looks, introduce new merch with video, show off the best way to use your products, or just record short messages for your followers. As you become more experienced (and get more insights into what works with your audience), you’ll have the info needed to make more substantial investments. 

If you need inspiration on engaging (and budget-friendly) ways to create video content, look no further than Vessi. This brand’s TikTok profile features helpful and fun clips about the things consumers can expect from its products.

https://www.tiktok.com/@vessi/video/6924511404888165638?lang=en&is_copy_url=0&is_from_webapp=v1&sender_device=pc&sender_web_id=6930243440538764806

Use User-Generated Content and Work With Influencers

Great content goes hand in hand with collaboration. After all, there’s no better way to show off the full potential of your products or services than to offer as many points of view as possible. But the one mistake many small brands make is that they think they’ve got to work with celebrities to get results.

And that’s just not the case.

In its 2021 State of Influencer Marketing Report, Hype Auditor analyzed over 12 million Instagram accounts to check and compare their performance. And the findings were perfectly in line with previous years’ trends. Namely, accounts with smaller followings (1k-5k followers, referred to here as nano-influencers) had more than double the engagement rates: 5% vs. 1.7% of their 5k+ follower peers. And that’s not the only thing recommending smaller accounts to brands. Nano or micro-influencers are easy to get in touch with, create high-quality content for lower fees (or even for free), and their audiences are much more likely to trust them than celebrities.

Follower numbers aside, it’s crucial to choose collaborators whose interests and following align with your brand’s goals. You can use dedicated influencer outreach tools. Or do your research through hashtags and locations, and see whether anyone stands out. 

For example, if you’re a fashion business, you will want to work with users who create content about fashion, as Retrouvailles does. The brand chose to collaborate with an influencer with a big following whose aesthetic perfectly collided with their artistic direction.

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Alternatively, you can forego the influencer route and turn to UGC instead.

By encouraging your existing customers to tag you in their posts or use dedicated hashtags, you can get a steady influx of unique content created by people who are genuinely passionate about your products. 

The best thing is, you won’t just be getting images, videos, and feedback you can share (with the author’s permission, of course). Those posts will automatically be shown to your customers’ friends circle, doubling as social proof.

Don’t Be Afraid To Reuse and Recycle

Marketers often feel pressured to keep coming up with fresh content. And, sure, novelty does get users excited. But that doesn’t mean that you have to come up with 15 brand new Twitter posts per day

Yes, it’s great if you have dozens of interesting articles, videos, images, and thoughts to share. But posting something for the sake of being present on your followers’ timelines isn’t necessarily the best way to go forward. After all, they don’t want to consume any content. They want value.

With this in mind, it’s not a bad idea to consider applying a few ecological tenets to your content marketing strategy. By reusing and repurposing the great posts you already have, you can give them a new life and allow them to reach wider audiences. Plus, you can lower your costs while maximizing your ROI.

The first way you can reuse existing content is to repost it on social media. Let’s say you’ve written an article and want to distribute it to your followers. The first time you share it, you’re most likely to use the article title and URL as the caption. 

However, keep in mind that not all your followers are online all the time. Re-sharing, this time with a different caption, could help you reach the people who have missed the first post.

Alternatively, you can do what Buffer does on its Twitter account and choose to share the same content, but by taking a different approach each time. In sharing its State of Remote Work Report for 2021, the brand created two tweets with diverse POVs, each appealing to a different follower persona.

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Another budget and time-friendly strategy worth looking into is to find ways to reuse the content you already have.

Let’s say you’ve recorded a podcast. Now, although the audio format offers plenty of opportunities to build loyalty among your buyers, it’s not entirely optimized for discovery. However, if you create a transcript of each episode, paying attention to SEO, the text will automatically become searchable. Consequently, it will help bring new followers and boost traffic to your website.

Use All the Data You Can Get

Do you measure the results of your marketing campaigns and use the data to make your decisions? Or do you make guesses and hope for the best?

Needless to say, the absolute best way to ensure the success of your business is to have a strong basis on which you build strategies. And that means having access to data.

Now, with content, this can be a bit tricky. Yes, you have access to free analytics tools for both your website and social media profiles. But, if you’re just getting started, you’re unlikely to be getting the amount of traffic needed to optimize your content.

One solution to the problem could be to invest in promotion and distribution. Sponsoring on social networks, link building, and guest blogging are excellent ways to build your brand. So is posting to discussion forums like Reddit, as you can see in the example of Apple Insider. It’s also not a bad idea to measure (and A/B test) your email marketing campaigns and see what subject lines get the most opens and what type of content gets you the most traffic or conversions.

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But, these methods are also time-consuming. Hence, if you need quick results, it may not be a bad idea to set up and run PPC campaigns to determine your content strategy.

So, a set of Google Ads could help you identify relevant keywords and topics for your content or find the best titles and headlines to use. Alternatively, split testing on social media can help you decide which visuals work best. By creating several versions of the same ad, you can determine which direction yields the best results with your audience, then carry on along the same vein for your non-sponsored content.

Any of these strategies work great. And, if you’re already running paid campaigns, it’s only logical that you would want to get the absolute most out of the money you’ve spent.

Final Thoughts

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As you can see, there’s plenty you can do to ensure your content marketing efforts result in the best possible outcomes. And it doesn’t necessarily take money. You can do a lot with absolutely no resources at all.

That being said, however, don’t forget that investing isn’t always a bad thing. 

Don’t let an inadequate budget limit the success of your business. Instead, give your marketing team as much funding as possible and encourage using it in creative, value-boosting ways. That way, you won’t just make savings, but you’ll get great results at a fraction of the cost.

Featured Image from Depositphotos.

Natasha is a lady of a keyboard and one hell of a geek. She has been working for, and collaborating with, individual clients and companies of all sizes for more than a decade. Natasha specializes in writing about design, branding, digital marketing, and business growth. She is also addicted to art in all its forms and grilled tofu.

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