Contributed by Ashley Lipman
Content marketing is an important focus for modern businesses. Effective content can drive traffic and create conversions from relevant leads. As such, it’s no wonder that a significant portion of a startup’s marketing budget is allocated to content marketing.
While generally not as expensive as advertising, spending still needs to be monitored. Here are some ways to keep track of content marketing expenses, set metrics, and measure KPIs.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing may be at the forefront of everyone’s minds now, but it’s hardly a new concept. Content marketing is the sharing of information that customers find interesting or useful. This creates engagement with a business. In the past, companies shared flyers and booklets. Today, they share blogs, articles, videos, and digital images. The focus is on building a rapport with potential customers and gently guiding them towards a purchasing decision. This is a passive alternative to more aggressive sales pitch strategies. It’s often more effective too.
There are a variety of ways to connect with customers using content marketing. Email marketing campaigns, for example, are commonly used by entrepreneurs and big businesses alike (check this review article for more information on effective email list monitoring). Blog articles, YouTube videos, social media posts, and shareable graphics are all ways to start building a relationship with customers.
With the right tools and strategies, these things can all work synergistically to create leads and conversions. Of course, many of these tools aren’t free. Content marketing can make your business money but will also cost money to implement.
Creating a Content Marketing Budget
Before you can start to track content marketing expenses, you need to consider your marketing budget. Content marketing can fit into any type of budget. You ultimately want to create content and share it. The more elaborate your content and the further you wish it to reach, the more expensive it will be. However, as an entrepreneur, you can choose to schedule in a few hours a week to craft and publish a blog post on your website. Voila! You’ve engaged in content marketing without spending cash.
Whether you opt to take this approach or outsource to a freelancer or virtual assistant, one thing remains the same: you need to track what you’ve spent. If you’re an entrepreneur who handles your own work, then you’ll be tracking the opportunity cost of the work you’re doing. If your rate is $25 an hour and you spend two hours each week doing content marketing work, you’ve “spent” $50 weekly in your content marketing budget.
You may be wondering why you would bother to track your time spent doing content marketing. There are many benefits to entrepreneurs tracking their hours. In this case, it will give you a better idea of how much it costs you to focus on these tasks when you consider outsourcing.
Types of Content Marketing Expenses
Fortunately, there are a lot of great free tools available online to get you started on your journey to creating a great content marketing strategy. Eventually, you’ll need to be willing to invest in tools to scale your business. Some common content marketing expenses include:
- Outsourcing to freelancers or VAs to create, curate and share content
- Email marketing systems and management tools
- Social media management software
- SEO and digital marketing consulting
- Project management tools
- Promoting content
- Graphic design
- Photography and videography
- Online advertising campaigns
- Sales funnel development
When considering which expenses to track, think about what it takes for one piece of content to get from your computer to the consumer. Every part of the process might have a cost attached.
Keeping Costs Low
The best way to keep your costs in range with your business is to use a percentage of your overall budget to be allocated to content marketing. Then as your business grows, your content marketing budget will grow as well. This helps with sustainable scalability in your business.
By tracking your expenses and setting KPIs, you are also able to determine which tools or approaches are working and what needs to be refined. Monitoring your email lists and keeping them clean means that you can stay under subscription limits and keep monthly costs low while targeting engaged customers. Setting metrics regarding reach and conversions on social media campaigns will let you know if your efforts are valid or if you should reassess your strategy before investing more money.
Keep the Customer in Mind
One of the benefits of content marketing in the digital age is that analyzing the effectiveness of your strategies is as simple as clicking a few buttons. Set goals for incremental improvements in reach, engagement, lead generation, and sales conversions and track them using tools like Google Analytics. This will allow you to determine where you direct your content marketing focus and budget.