Content marketing justifiably gets a lot of praise for being one of the most cost-effective strategies available to businesses, but it still costs a lot of time and/or money. Accordingly, most practitioners have a strict content marketing budget they’re willing to allocate, either by paying external agencies and contractors, hiring people in house, affording the costs of distribution, or some combination of the three.
How you use your budget, then, is the single biggest predictor of your success. Unfortunately, in my experience, many entrepreneurs and marketers end up wasting a good chunk of that budget on inefficient processes and missed opportunities.
Here are 10 of the most common mistakes I see:
1. You haven’t done market research. If you don’t know your audience, how will you be able to write content that provides value to your audience? This seems obvious, but many marketers skip the market research phase because they believe they already know their target audience. It might cost some time and money up front, but conducting surveys, reviewing the competition, and getting some firsthand impressions can allow to you strengthen your content significantly.
2. You haven’t explored your options. If you haven’t changed your strategy since you came up with it, you’re probably wasting your budget. There are many channels and tactics in content marketing, and odds are, the first ones you pick aren’t going to be the best ones for your brand. It takes time to experiment and figure out what works best for your industry and your customers; again, this is an upfront cost that makes all your future content more valuable.
3. You aren’t doing AB testing. You should also be employing AB testing, launching different types of articles in similar environments, and experimenting with different calls-to-action. AB tests let you compare two different tactics, apples-to-apples, so you can gradually weed out underperformers and wind up with the best fit. This is especially important to do in this era of increased competition.
4. You have all your eggs in one basket. If your entire strategy is riding on a single type of content, or a single social media platform, you’re doing something wrong. The best campaigns are at least somewhat diversified, so you can build audiences in multiple channels, and take advantage of tactics that complement each other.
5. You’re with an inexperienced content marketing agency. It’s not uncommon to work with a content marketing agency, and overall, I’m an advocate of doing so. But if you’re working with an agency that isn’t experienced, or if you have one that isn’t tapping its full resources to get you better results, you’re wasting your money. You need to find an agency that will work actively on your behalf, doing whatever it takes to appeal to your audience and earn you a higher ROI.
6. You’re depending on generalists. In the content marketing world, there are specialists, who have high skills in very specific, niche areas, and generalists, who have low to mid-level skills in a wide range of different areas. Working with generalists is convenient, but if you want to get more value out of every dollar you spend, work with specialists. It’s a way of min-maxing your team.
7. You seek quantity over quality. I see too many marketers who dump money into a content campaign with intentions of producing as many posts as possible, or creating higher volumes of content overall at the expense of content quality. The best way to spend your budget is to funnel it to a smaller number of more valuable pieces; in content marketing, quality is better than quantity. Spamming low quality posts will only get you filtered out as more noise in an already-crowded content arena.
8. You’re not marketing your content enough. Just because you write a fantastic post doesn’t mean it’s going to earn value all on its own. You need to distribute that post, through as many channels as possible, to maximize its visibility. Post it to your social media accounts and syndicate it regularly. Announce it via email, and for larger pieces, consider boosting it with a press release. Most of these tactics are free or cheap, so there’s no excuse not to use them.
9. You don’t gauge your ROI or performance. How can you know you’re using your budget effectively if you have no idea what results you’re getting from your campaign? You need to drill into your analytics regularly, at least twice a month, to understand your content’s performance and make adjustments to improve it over time.
10. You aren’t repurposing your best material. If you have a home-run post that scores thousands of views and shares, don’t just retire it or let it sink to the bottom of your feed. This is grade-A material, and you should make an effort to reuse it however you can. Try updating it with new information every so often, or incorporate it as the first chapter in a bigger eBook. This approach squeezes more value out of your existing assets and helps you understand and maximize your best material.
If you find yourself doing any of these 10 things, you probably aren’t getting the most out of your content marketing budget. Run an audit of all the tactics you’re using, how you’re spending the money, and what kind of results you’re seeing.
Chances are, there’s at least one way you can get more out of what you’re already spending.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!