We work with brands with all kinds of budgets. Regardless of how much they have to spend on content marketing, naturally they all want to make sure they’re getting the most bang for their buck. 

For many brands, content marketing is hit and miss. According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), less than half (49%) of marketers feel like they’re using content marketing successfully.

To see real ROI, content production has to be effective and efficient. In other words, you’ve got to create the best content you possibly can utilising the resources available to you – and we’re not just talking about budget here.

Small brands seeing little return

You don’t have to spend tens of thousands a week on content to see some valuable returns – although admittedly, it can help. However, if you do have a limited budget, you’ve got to spend it wisely – something smaller businesses are struggling to get right.

In a recent Exposure Ninja survey, 79% of the SMEs quizzed said they were getting no leads from their content marketing efforts. None at all! 

These brands understand the benefits of content – 43% said having a blog enhances their overall brand, while 37% see it as a way to develop relationships with customers – they just can’t seem to realise them.

What are they doing wrong? It’s hard to give a general answer to that question, as it could be any number of reasons. They might be lacking some domain authority, which is translating into scant organic traffic. Or it could be that they’re not creating content that’s designed to convert. 

Whatever the reason, they’re spending money on content and seeing very little return for their investment. If you find yourself in a similar position and are effectively throwing away your content budget, the following three tips will help to turn things around… 

1.       Prioritise quality over quantity 

If you’re a newish business – or one that’s just trying to assert your authority online – you need to find a way to be heard. Or to put it another way, you need to ensure you’re getting enough traffic to your site. 

Content is an obvious way of giving your brand a voice, but unless you’re speaking in the right way, your words will fall on deaf ears.

Growth marketing expert Alex Birkett explains very succinctly what new brands have to do to get their name out there:

“When you’re first launching a website and up until you have the ranking power of the biggest competitors, you have to compete on quality or differentiation. There’s no other way to break through the noise,” he says.

This might explain why so many SMEs fail to see a return on their investment in content. They’re just throwing more low-quality content into an already overflowing pot. All it’s going to do is fall into a pit never to be discovered.

Instead of investing in low-quality blog posts, focus on producing link assets, top-of-funnel content, and highly socially shareable content. That’s the stuff that will prick the ears of the search engines, and in turn your customers.

2.       Get maximum value from your big assets

It’s only normal for a new or unknown brand to want to ‘start small’ and build their way up to bigger, more impactful content. We hear that time and time again. But it actually makes more sense to start big and draw down maximum value from those big assets.

We call this “sweating the asset” at Q, which isn’t perhaps the most alluring phrasing, but you get the idea.

Again, we defer to the aforementioned Birkett who agrees with us on this. He suggests that by creating that noteworthy, remarkable content, you’re almost earning the right to create ‘cheaper’ content later down the line.

If you sweat those assets good and proper, your longer-form content can prove extremely valuable over time. For example, if you go to the effort of conducting some original research, what’s stopping you from building a podcast around it? Or a short social video? Or a blog post? Nothing. 

As a brand that’s ‘done its research’, you have more credibility in customers’ eyes, too. You’ve earnt your right to be part of the conversation.

3.       Create workflows to get things done

Another reason that brands tend to start small with content marketing is they’re keen to get ‘something out there’. That’s totally understandable. If you’ve got a product or service coming to market, you want some content to back it up.

But who’s to say that you can’t go big early? You just need to get the right process in place and you can get a lot done in a relatively short space of time.

We’re talking from experience here. Once the initial foundations have been laid – agreeing on tone of voice, target audience etc. – we’ve helped clients to get white papers, e-books and other big pieces of content out into the world with a fast turnaround.

The key to getting things done quickly is having a content marketing workflow in place. Whether you’re working alongside an agency or producing content in-house, you’ve got to find a way to grease the wheels.

Here at Q, our workflow for producing content looks a bit like this:

·       Content manager creates a list of topics

·       Client agrees on a topic

·       Expert insight is retrieved

·       Content manager creates a brief for writer

·       Writer writes and formats content

·       Editor reviews and edits content

·       Create/source images

·       Content is published

·       Content is promoted

Using workflows will have many benefits, including increased efficiency, improved collaboration and better planning. Not only is content created more quickly, it has greater value for the end user.

Properly planned and designed content has greater value for you as a business, too. By ensuring that every piece of content you create is packed with expertise and, crucially, conversion techniques (CTAs, enquiry forms, internal links etc.), you won’t waste all that traffic you’ve managed to attract from having improved your domain authority with relevant, high-quality content. 

If you’re planning to get serious with content in 2022 and want to see some real returns for your efforts, get in touch. We can help with everything from strategy to production to create content that delivers results – no more crossing your fingers and hoping for the best! 

Ben Hollom

February 2, 2022