Producing content that engages and converts can be a challenge on budgets of any size. While 76% of North American marketers are increasing their content budgets, spending more simply isn't an option for some brands.
Becoming a publishing powerhouse can seem impossible to companies who can't afford high-dollar efforts. Forget glamorous brand videos or niche microsites; for some brands, simply publishing blogs consistently is a stretch.
Content Marketing Tips for Small Budgets
The key to making the most of any sized content budget is thinking like a growth hacker. Measure continually and improve quickly. There's a famous saying that startups should learn to "fail quickly." Not every piece of content you publish will turn out to be relevant or valuable to your audience. With limited financial resources, learning quickly from mistakes is especially critical.
In this blog, you'll learn content marketing hacks that work well for time-poor or budget-poor inbound marketers. However, if you're not low on funds, keep reading -- these budget-friendly content tactics are downright smart for brands of any size.
1. Turn Your Email Outbox into Blogs
Your email outbox is probably filled with customer communications that are almost blog-ready. Sort through your sales and marketing team's customer interactions, and you'll likely find tons of answers to customer frequently-asked-questions (FAQ). Add an introduction and a conclusion to these FAQ emails, and you've got a full-fledged blog article.
As a bonus, be sure to check if your sales team has an existing document of customer answers for copying-and-pasting into emails. Many organizations are sitting on brilliant resources.
2. Modify Training PowerPoints into eBooks
If your newly-hired employees are trained via PowerPoint, take a close look at these resources. Often, the product or service training resources available to new hires can be transformed into a prospect education eBook very quickly.
3. Repurpose eBooks into Blogs (and Vice Versa)
Repurposing your existing content assets is often the single best way to achieve a higher ROI. Excerpts from your company's current eBooks can quickly be published into blog posts. Grouping topical blogs into an eBook can provide a brilliant and fast lead generation offer. Using and updating what you already have is perhaps the single most important concept for low-budget companies.
For more insights on repurposing, I recommend the blog How to Repurpose Your Content: The Best Way to Increase ROI.
4. Interview On-Staff Experts
Taking an hour to sit down with your CEO, a product expert, or another subject matter expert can serve as the starting point for a wide array of content, including an interview-based blog posts or even a series of blogs. Consider filming a video interview to enhance your visual content offerings.
5. Create Industry "Top Ten" Lists
Content marketing expert Marcus Sheridan is a major proponent of the "industry best" list. By creating a truly objective list of the best providers in your industry, you can provide a valuable service to your customers. This means linking to your competitors, but that's not a bad thing.
Tastefully and objectively-compiled lists aren't just a valuable service to your customers. They're amazing link bait, and you'll almost certainly find improved SEO when your competitors link back to you and share your post on their social media channels.
6. Assign Blogs to Staff Members
"In-sourcing" could be the solution to your low-budget content woes. Asking each member of your company's staff to write one blog a month can take a significant time commitment from your marketing team while filling your editorial calendar with content.
The resulting blogs from your leadership, sales, customer service, and product teams may require significant edits. But that's okay. Removing grammatical errors and awkward phrasing will likely be quicker than writing content from scratch. As an added benefit, your blog subscribers and prospects can benefit from hearing from a wide array of voices on your blog.
Your staff members may initially be really hesitant about the prospect of taking on more work, particularly if they're not confident writers. Offer to let your colleagues create alternative types of content, including videos, podcasts, or infographics. Additionally, be sure to sell the benefits of blogging to your coworkers, including improved thought leadership and having materials to add to a professional portfolio.
7. Transform Blogs into eCourses
Grouping a series of topical blog posts into an "eCourse" is a brilliant way to shine a light on your older blogs and content assets. Use these "eCourses" to generate new contacts and nurture your existing leads. If your company has already built lead nurturing workflows, these assets could potentially be repackaged as courses for generating new leads.
8. Start a Podcast
While podcasting has been called the "dark horse" of inbound marketing, it's a concept to consider. As consumers increasingly adopt smartphones, podcasts are becoming a more popular way to learn and stay entertained at the gym, during long commutes, or at other periods of downtime during a customer's day.
Kapost reports that 55% of marketers either have plans to implement podcasting or are interested in learning more about it. Fortunately for low-budget content marketers, getting started simply requires a quiet space and a high-quality microphone.
9. Run a Webinar
Webinars are probably much cheaper than you think. The average cost is just $100 to $3,000, which largely depends on how much a company invests into webinar promotion and the technology platform used for broadcast. By selecting Google hangouts and avoiding paid social promotion or PPC campaigns, you can almost certainly pull off a webinar at the lower end of the cost spectrum.
Considering that 20-40% of webinar attendees typically turn into qualified leads, this form of content could be a powerful addition to your low-budget strategy. Honestly, compared to the average $80,000 cost of participating in an industry trade show, webinars are often a downright bargain.
10. Share Recorded Webinars
If you do run a webinar, capture the recording and offer it as an on-demand option for professional education on your website. Research shows that only 16% of webinar enthusiasts prefer a live broadcast to a recorded webinar. Building out a landing page for your recording can be a tool for passive lead generation over time.
11. Turn Sales Presentations into eBooks
Your sales team is probably sitting on a wealth of customer-friendly resources. If you haven't checked on their files, you could be amazed at how easy it is to transform their assets into lead generation tools. Sales presentations for prospects can often be repurposed very quickly into eBooks, comparison guides, or tip sheets.
12. Debunk Common Myths
Much like frequently-asked questions, your sales and customer service reps probably are well familiar with common myths they debunk on a daily or weekly basis. Interview a sales rep for more insight into some of the most frequent false perceptions in your industry.
Compile brief answers to common myth questions into a "Top 10 Myths" eBook. Alternatively, providing an in-depth overview of why a rumor rings false can be a brilliant blog post. Not only is refuting myths a valuable service to your prospects and customers, but it's also the perfect opportunity to perform keyword optimization around "negative" industry terms that may come up in search.
13. Focus in on Promotion
Marketing expert Derek Halpern once stated that the secret of successful blogs is "20% creation, 80% promotion." If you need to make the most of a tiny budget, shifting more efforts towards promoting your assets through email, social media, and other channels can be the right way to build an audience of qualified leads.
Taking an iterative approach to promotion is always important, but low-budget marketers need to pay especially close attention to the promotion methods that work best for them. The Help, a Reporter Out email list-service, Reddit, and link harvesting (emailing people who cite you without a proper link), are three uncommon promotion tools that can prove very effective.
14. Turn Statistics into Infographics
Infographics are an incredibly shareable, visually-stimulating form of content. Even individuals without a background in digital graphics can typically quickly pick up Visual.ly and Canva, which are two easy-to-use tools for creating custom infographics.
Even if your brand doesn't perform in-house research, infographics are still an option. Simply seek out and cite key findings from recent research reports. To maximize the benefits of your infographics, generate a custom embed code using a free tool like embed.ly to earn links from your infographics.
15. Update Existing Content Assets
Your existing blog posts on important or evergreen topics can continue to generate leads and educate prospects. Audit your content marketing metrics at least once a month, and take note of any well-performing resources that haven't been updated in 6-12 months or more. Systemically reviewing your best-performing evergreen resources can ensure your most valuable content is always up-to-date. Additionally, review and updates to content that performs well in organic search will allow you to continue to rank well for important key phrases.
16. Sponsor In-Person Events
For four consecutive years, B2B marketers have ranked in-person events as the most valuable form of custom content they generate. Sponsoring events doesn't have to be a high-dollar affair. Using your office space or a local restaurant to facilitate user groups or networking sessions can actually be an incredibly cost-effective mode of lead generation.
17. Interview Customers
Performing a video or audio interview of your customers can be the first step towards an abundance of high-quality content. A single, one-hour phone interview can simply be repurposed into a podcast, a case study, testimonials, social proof for landing pages, and several blog posts.
Case studies are actually the second most popular form of content offer among B2B decision makers. Scheduling phone or video interviews with your most loyal promoters carries a remarkable ROI and a lot of potential for repurposing.
18. Accept Guest Blogs
Adding a landing page to your website with well-defined guest blog criteria can allow you to flesh out a barebones content calendar. Make it clear that you're open to accepting high-quality posts from industry experts, and spread the news on social media and in LinkedIn groups.
Guest blogging isn't completely dead. Low-quality guest blogging for the sole purpose of link-building is outdated, though. Be sure only to accept relevant, high-quality content from subject matter experts. If a potential guest blog doesn't provide some serious value to your audience, it's probably not worth publishing.
19. Create a Definitions List
Your average marketer knows more jargon and technical terms than they realize. In fact, I bet you can come up with a list of the top ten "insider" phrases that confuse your customers in minutes.
Create a list of need-to-know definitions as a starting point for custom content. If your company has content brainstorming sessions or weekly team meetings, use this as an opportunity to get your colleagues to contribute to your buzzword compilation. The resulting list of definitions can function as a series of blog posts, a website page, or a full content offer.
20. Welcome User-Generated Content
User generated content: (almost) everyone is doing it. Nearly 80% of organizations plan to integrate customer photographs, testimonials, reviews, and other user-generated content (UGC) in their marketing strategies. Your customer's feedback and content is free marketing materials for your website, blogs, and social media channels. Not only is integrating UGC extremely cost-effective, but it's also a powerful form of social proof.
21. Create Checklists
Single-page checklists are among the most time-efficient forms of lead generation offers for brands to generate. With the help of a tool like Canva, even content marketers with limited graphics skills can typically create a checklist in just a few hours. By suggesting steps towards appropriate use of your product or best practices, you can provide serious value to your prospects and customers.
22. Use Vine
HubSpot has officially declared 2015 the "year of video marketing." YouTube and other videos now account for a staggering 50% of all mobile web usage. Vine, Periscope, Meerkat and other short-format or streaming video applications don't require high production value or any special equipment. Provided someone on your marketing team has a smartphone or tablet; you're effectively set.
Use short-format video or live streaming to provide a behind-the-scenes look at your company, share brief best practices, or spotlight advice from on-staff experts.
23. Share Internal Assets
High-quality internal assets can be a great brand awareness tool if they case your company in a positive light. Even if your internal assets aren't directly related to your product or services, you could be amazed at just how well they're received by your customer base.
Marketing software company HubSpot publicly released their "culture code" slide deck, a 128-slide source of insight into how the startup maintained their reputation as a positive, challenging place to work. Even though it wasn't product-relevant, the slide deck went viral and continues to inspire companies worldwide.
Content Marketing on a Budget
Reduce, reuse, and recycle.
When it comes to inbound marketing on a tight budget, the key to producing fresh assets is to look toward your existing resources and on-staff experts. By transforming existing customer documentation and sales materials into educational content, you can improve your traffic, lead generation, and sales metrics.