Cost-Effective Content Marketing 101: The Ultimate Guide


Okay, you’ve found this blog post, so we’ve done our job. This right here is content marketing. Chances are, you already know it can drive organic traffic or help you generate leads at a lower cost than other advertising models.

The question is, how? 

Well, you’re in luck. In a digital marketing agency like Brafton, answering that question is as common as walking is to a racehorse. Let’s break down where content marketing takes the lead and how it can augment your marketing strategy to improve customer satisfaction and return on investment (ROI).

Is Content Marketing a Cure-All?

Sorry to disappoint you, but no. So far, we haven’t seen one form of advertising that does it all, just like with your toolbox at home. A hammer may be cheap and excellent for driving nails, but your crafty neighbor might give you a skeptical look across the fence if you use it to jam screws into a wall. 

That said, digital marketing stands out from other forms of advertising in a few ways, and knowing about those differences will help you reach a wider audience.

Digital Marketing’s Biggest Advantages: Hard Numbers and Repurposing Assets

For one, online marketing gives you the biggest bang for your buck, and that’s not us saying that, it’s the numbers. If you’re shooting for organic traffic, content marketing cost breaks down into production and some technical maintenance or hosting. And in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, you can even fine-tune your budget and demographics to reach potential customers more cost-effectively. 

Compare that to nebulous promises about exposure and authority in many traditional marketing formats. There’s nothing wrong with reading newspapers or watching TV, of course, but your partners in traditional advertising often simply don’t have the insights into their own viewers or readers to allow for cost-effectiveness.

Besides, we’re not looking for the top platform to advertise, but the most productive way to do so cost-efficiently, no matter the platform. So your best bet is to repurpose content, and well-structured content distribution strategies will allow you to do just that. Now, the order in which you reuse blog content may differ depending on the strategy. But basically, you can think of it as squeezing the last penny out of every asset.

Many people hesitate to do this at first because they see the same blog posts over and over, so they’re afraid others might too. But what you don’t consider is that every social media platform filters recent posts to make our feeds manageable, and even your most loyal email subscribers don’t open all your emails. So by all means, repurpose your existing content across social media, email marketing and SEO-driven campaigns. It’s tough to predict exactly how every blog post will perform overall, and that way, you can improve your content marketing ROI.

Treat Every Content Marketing Campaign as a Conversation

Another strategy is to encourage engagement, and you’ve certainly come across examples of this. When was the last time someone asked you to leave a like, smash the subscribe button, respond with your story or tickle the notification bell? The deeper the engagement, the better. 

Why? Because YouTube is a search engine too, and reactions on social media platforms or forums count as signals for valuable content, as Google’s recent collaboration with Reddit demonstrates. If you encourage engagement, those shares and responses can give algorithms a hint to look for more relevant content in your library while offering you deeper insights into your target audience’s needs.

Still, what we love the most about the content marketing world is the ability to drive organic traffic. If a content marketer follows the rules and provides helpful content, Google, Bing and others will reward them with more visitors. Simple as that. 

For you, that means you need the right content creation workflows and teams — and some patience. Brand awareness doesn’t happen overnight, but if you keep providing high-quality content and establish your expertise in your industry, you can leverage those assets as a conversation starter with other experts. So even if Google isn’t coming a-knocking just yet, you can build trust and credibility over time.

Creating a Cost-Effective Content Marketing Strategy

So, we know the Why. Let’s laser-focus on this and save some money. To get the most out of your marketing budget, you need a well-thought-out content strategy.

Envision Your Destination With Clear Goals

You don’t want your marketing strategy to be another New Year’s resolution. To make sure you stick with your plan, you have to define specific measurable goals that are in your control. Increasing website traffic or generating leads is a decent start, but try to think about the steps going into that, like keyword research or making your landing page more accessible for better conversions.

Decode Your Crowd: Get Inside Your Audience’s Mind

While your target audience will follow fairly predictable behavioral patterns in some ways, other’s actions will deviate even from industry averages. The only way to account for this is to conduct thorough research yourself. Try to understand their preferences and pain points to tailor your content marketing effort as a direct response.

Quality Comes First

Now that we all live in the magical world of artificial intelligence, we’re finally done trying to churn out more blog posts and video content than our competitors. Rather than thinking about adding 3 steps to a 7-part listicle or posting on social media two more times, you should prioritize creating high-quality content that resonates with your audience. That can mean anything from delivering in-depth research or curating industry news to sprinkling some humor on top.

Give Old Content a New Twist

Once your team produces that content, it shouldn’t just sit there. Get more value out of it by repurposing it across different formats and channels. If you notice that your audience keeps coming back to one of your long-form blog posts, breathe new life into it. Add some infographics, like this one, that you can repurpose in social media marketing, turn it into a video or discuss your findings on a podcast. All of these strategies will extend your reach and demonstrate your content’s relevance to your audience.

Use Free or Low-Cost Tools

There’s no shame in taking advantage of affordable tools for content creation and distribution. Sure, a Pinto didn’t have ventilated leatherette seats, but it got you from A to B. Remember, we’re looking for ROI; there’s still time to get Maybach-style ambient lighting once our strategy works. Look for free or low-cost tools for graphic design, social media management, email marketing or even analytics.

Ride the Wave of Your Fans’ Creations: Tap Into User-Generated Content

Again, it may feel odd to have your customers create content for you, no matter how satisfied they are with your service. But remember, you’re not doing this to replace your content marketing efforts but to augment them. If you encourage users to share their experiences, that can be a cost-effective way to generate authentic engagement and build a community around your brand. And as we just learned, that’s exactly what search engines want to see these days.

Gauge, Adjust, Excel: Track Performance and Progress

Without hard numbers, your goal is just wishful thinking. That’s why your first target should be to regularly track and analyze the performance of your content marketing efforts, be that month over month or quarterly. Choose a rhythm that works for you. Once you identify what’s working well and what’s flopping, you can use that data to refine your strategy and allocate resources more effectively.

Think Beyond the Now: Focus on Lasting Value

We understand the need to justify every investment all too well. Depending on your business’ age and industry or your organizational structure, it might be even harder to do so. If you’re considering investing in content marketing, you also have to prepare yourself for skeptical team members who don’t see the immediate value. Rather than argue with fancy buzzwords, invite them to think strategically about hard numbers, like saved expenses on PPC advertising or return customers.

Create a Content Calendar

Whether you use one of the free tools you found earlier or just a giant whiteboard, a content calendar lets you define clear workflows and responsibilities. And that allows your content to come out with the same predictability as the evening news. It also enables you to track results if you experiment with new content formats. That way, you can always stay abreast of industry trends without risking following a hype cycle. 

Our Final Two Cents

Above all, you should design a strategy that holds your team accountable while giving you enough flexibility to adapt your strategy. You never know when the next giant trend comes out of the virtual bushes, so it’s best to guard yourself.

And no matter which formats, production cycles or tools you pick, remember to tell a story. That’s the one thing your competitors or AI can’t replicate. It’s yours forever. If you learn to leverage that, you’ll succeed.


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