Holder of the Content Marketing Budget? Here Are 3 Awesome Ways to Spend It In 2018

content marketing budget

With great power comes great responsibility. You’ve been given the magnificent gift of your company’s content marketing budget. Now what?

First, take your content strategy’s temperature. What worked last year? What didn’t? Then, armed with that knowledge (and a plan as to how you’ll up your game over the next 365 days), decide how you’ll allocate this year’s finances for maximum impact and ROI.

Not sure where to start? I’ve got you covered with three smart ways to spend your money and win the race for conversion and customer loyalty in 2018.

Video Marketing

In a 2016 study conducted by Buffer, 83% of marketers said that video creation would be at the top of their no-budget, unlimited-resource wish list. Those marketers are obviously zeroed in on the power of video content, and more than 40% are specifically interested in live video. It’s not surprising that industry experts are going gaga for moving pictures; we all shift gears in response to public opinion, and right now, the public is drawn to video like a cat to a canary.

More importantly, though, is how effective video is at encouraging audience engagement. At a time when brands are practically begging consumers to sit up and take notice, video makes an immediate connection that is proving to be more powerful than plain text or static imagery.

Why is that?

Well, there are several possible reasons. Personally, I love the written word, but I’m always crazy busy. It’s hard to do more than skim a lengthy blog post when I’m also trying to juggle my own to-do list, client emails and actually hit the grocery store so I don’t starve, but I can watch a video while I’m standing in the TSA line or waiting for my dry cleaning.

Live video also inspires urgency. You’ve got a direct line to a knowledgeable influencer who’s offering up their authority on a silver (screen) platter. Facebook says that sense of immediacy leads to triple the watch time and more than 10 times the engagement.

video marketing

Live video can be used for/by:

  • Q&As
  • Product demonstrations
  • Real estate agents taking viewers on a tour of a newly listed property
  • Event companies showcasing their work
  • Bands broadcasting a show
  • Coaches sharing key tips for the day or week

It can also be gated so people can only access it if they provide information or join a private Facebook group, or it can be open to all; the first approach is great for nurturing an existing brand-customer connection, while the latter generates fresh leads.

There are plenty of options for video creation, too. Live is often best left to someone intimately connected to the brand while you can turn to your own team or outsource the creation of pre-recorded videos. Either way, you’re using one of the biggest tools in the marketing universe to shine a light on your authority and your brand’s authenticity, and that’s something your audience can’t help but gravitate toward.

More From Meghan: How To Build a Brilliant Content Strategy In 6 Easy Steps

Voice Search

It doesn’t matter if you have extra money in the budget or just enough to get by, you have to earmark some of those funds for exploring what’s hot in marketing tech. Trends are unfolding and shaping B2B and B2C communication as we speak — quite literally — and it all sounds a lot like Alexa.

The idea of voice-enabled search as part of your content marketing strategy can seem way too Blade Runner to actually be practical, but — surprise! — Blade Runner is set in 2019, so the future is now.

We’ve graduated from treating Alexa like a glorified DJ to having the option of asking Amazon’s #1 robotic know-it-all how to perform CPR, the best way to grill ribs or which kind of dog is the most kid-friendly. All of these queries are questions usually plugged into a search engine, but voice search allows for an animated, engaging response that establishes an instant connection.

There’s no greater endorsement of this brave new marketing world than some of the top marketers themselves. No less than the great Neil Patel and Eric Siu have taken to Alexa, offering their subscribers 10-minute daily doses of actionable marketing tips and expert advice. Ask Alexa for digital marketing tricks or inquire as to what’s in the news, and you’ll get snippets of content that are easy to soak up while you sip your morning espresso.

voice search

Duane Forrester, Yext’s VP of Industry Insights and author of the e-book, “How Voice Search Changes Everything”, talks about voice-activated content as a way to empower businesses and manage data. Software is becoming more and more complex, causing the nuances of voice search to deepen as well. As the voice search landscape expands and more developers and technology companies jump into the fray, voice search is poised to shift from an optional addition to an essential marketing component.

How can you start incorporating voice search? Forrester encourages marketers to dive on in: “If you really want to walk a mile in your customer’s shoes, to really learn what their journey is like, you’ll buy the main voice-enabled devices on the market today. Set them up and use them all day, every day. This practice will uncover new features and highlight new opportunities for you to align with the customer’s journey.”

Outsourcing

Wish you could clone yourself? The ability to make like Dolly the sheep is almost definitely not in your 2018 marketing budget, but you can create some workers in your image if you take the time to strategically outsource.

Here’s why I say “strategically outsource:”

  • Not all freelancers are the same in terms of quality, reliability and skillset (just as not all employees are identically competent)
  • Sometimes bringing on an independent contractor is the right choice; other times, partnering with an intermediary such as a content marketing platform or agency will take a lot of the vetting, interview process, management and editing off your plate
  • The more information you give your outsourced talent, the more effective, interesting and on-brand the content will ultimately be

Building a team of contracted marketers, strategists, graphic designers and content writers is a phenomenal way to expand your bandwidth without taxing your current infrastructure. When you hire full-time in-house employees, you’re taking on another responsibility. There’s insurance to consider, sick days and paid leave, 401Ks and payroll tax — it all adds up to paying a lot more than you’d dole out for outsourced talent.

Contracting a freelancer content writer is like playing Super Mario Bros. and powering up with a mushroom or fire flower. You only take advantage of the extra help when you absolutely need it, which is nice, because then you’re not running around with your overalls on fire when business is otherwise quiet. Outsource the tasks your core group of employees can’t tackle on their own and you’re revving up productivity without burdening your bottom line.

Real talk: content marketing costs a staggering 62% less than traditional marketing but returns triple the number of leads. That’s the very embodiment of value. Don’t waste your time, money, or energy on strategies that don’t work. Think smart, outsource smarter, and use all the advancements flooding our exciting industry to give your brand the boost it so richly deserves.

Keep Reading: The Struggles With Content Planning and How to Overcome Them

Meghan McKenzie

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Meghan heads up Enterprise Sales with Crowd Content and comes with 10 years of sales and marketing experience. She loves selling awesome writing services that are proven to work, because she'd rather express herself through eating cheese and drinking wine and leave the writing to the pros.

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