It’s Not Too Late to Plan Your Content Marketing Budget for 2015


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By now, I’m confident that everyone sees a great deal of marketing ROI in content marketing. Depending on how aggressive your approach is, strong content development can take up significant business resources over the course of a year. Being extremely mindful of all the moving parts within your content marketing strategy is an important place to start directing and planning for those resources.

And there’s no better time than the beginning of the new year to start planning your editorial calendar and breaking down your budget to make sure you don’t overspend or exhaust your available resources.

Write a Comprehensive Content Marketing Plan

Create a marketing plan for the year. This is the first crucial step that guides all others. If you haven’t created one yet, you still have time to write a plan with a set of objectives to achieve this year. As noted in the Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs 2015 Benchmarking study, “60% of those who have a documented strategy rate themselves highly in terms of content marketing effectiveness, compared with 32% of those who have a verbal strategy.” (Get the full study on SlideShare)

Your plan will guide you in how to best allocate your budget. Write it with achievable steps that can be clearly measured and evaluated within the year. It will act as your scorecard to crosscheck success and to determine how far you have to go for each step.

Along with a plan, it’s a nice idea to have a way to track your budget. (Here’s a template from Demand Metric that can help) Once you’ve figured out the budget you plan to devote to content marketing, you’ll have a better, realistic idea of how aggressive you can be. A few things to consider when planning out your content marketing budget:

Automate Your Content Promotion

Any good piece of content needs the support of multiple channels. From email newsletters to social media posts, if you truly want to build better relationships with your audience and get your message out there, you should allocate resources to automation.

Segment your mailing lists by interest and by how long someone has been on your list. For new subscribers, send top-of-funnel pieces that introduce your company or products as the sponsor of useful materials. For subscribers who have engaged with you and converted to leads, send more advanced materials such as case studies. You can create automated programs that send content progressively, so people who join your lists can begin at the beginning and be nurtured through the buyer’s journey with your content. Set up timed announcements ready to go on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., to draw attention to your automatically scheduled blog posts and drive organic traffic to your website. Automating content distribution is a great way to reduce costs and get a lot more done with less – and a great way to get a jump on the rest of 2015.

Allocate Funds to Paid Campaigns

If you’re developing content to garner new leads, such as downloadable eBooks and white papers, it would be of benefit to earmark some of your budget to paid initiatives such as PPC campaigns, social media advertising, and various online sponsorships to drive traffic to your content.

This can be an expensive endeavor. However, targeting on paid advertising outlets can save money while still generating the quality traffic and conversions you’re looking for. Experts in this field use tried-and-true methods such as A/B testing with different copy options and bids to discover and generate the most qualified leads.

Hire Professional Content Writers

Content, without a doubt, is an excellent way to sell your products online. Not everybody has the skill and knowledge to create high-quality, varied, content, however. You need content that catches the attention of prospective buyers and leads them to make a purchase. If you don’t have that talent on staff, make sure that part of your budget is set aside to hire professional writers or an agency to create content for you. Plan to develop content that can be repurposed. If an agency creates a white paper for you, for example, you should be able to turn that into a webinar or blog posts with your own staff. If they make a video, get a transcript and parse it out into tweets that drive traffic to the video.

Research Current Content Marketing Trends

Make sure you stay on top of trends that help you know how your content will be received and what will be the best bang for your buck. Here are 10 notable trends in content marketing that we think will generate a lot of business, if followed:

1. Per dollar spent, content marketing produces three times more leads than paid search. Additionally, it costs less than paid search: 31% less for small and mid-sized companies and 41% less for large companies. (Kapost, Content Marketing ROI, Jun. 2012)

2. For B2B marketers, the top goal of content marketing is “lead generation” (80%), whereas B2C marketers cite “brand awareness” as the top goal (79%). (Content Marketing Institute, 2014 Trends reports for B2B and B2C, Oct. 2013)

3. Companies that use marketing automation are more likely than companies without automation to re-purpose content for efficiency (45% vs. 28%). (The Lenskold and Pedowitz Groups, 2013 Lead Generation Marketing Effectiveness Study, Nov. 2013)

4. 33% of B2B marketers cite “targeted delivery of content” (i.e., delivering the right content to the right people at the right time) as their biggest challenge. (Forrester Research, The Forrester Wave: Lead-To-Revenue Management Platform Vendors, Q1 2014, Jan. 2014)

5. B2B marketers at small and mid-sized companies rate the following content marketing tools as most effective. (Content Marketing Institute, B2B Content Marketing 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, & Trends Report, Oct. 2013)

  • Case studies (69%)
  • In-person events (67%)
  • Blogs (65%)
  • Email (65%)
  • eBooks (64%)
  • Videos (63%)
  • Webinars (63%)
  • Website articles (59%)
  • Research reports (59%)
  • White papers (58%)

6. 97% of B2B buyers said they give more credence to content that includes peer reviews and user-generated feedback. (DemandGen, 2014 B2B Content Preferences Survey, Jun. 2014)

7. Companies using video see an average cost per marketing-generated lead at $93, compared to $115 for companies not using video. (Aberdeen Group, Analyzing the ROI of Video Marketing, Jan. 2014)

8. The average number of different audiences B2B marketers target with separate content marketing strategies is 4. The average number of content marketing initiatives B2B marketers work on at any given time is 13. (Content Marketing Institute & MarketingProfs, 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America, Sep. 2014)

9. Companies that incorporate Responsive Design into their customer experience management programs (e.g., website, forms, email) see a 4-fold increase in visitor-to-buyer conversion rates and a 2-fold increase in company revenue compared to companies that don’t use Responsive Design. (Aberdeen Group, Responsive Design Boosts Customer Engagement Results, Apr. 2014)

10. When comparing the eventual winning vendor to the rest of the considered vendors, 61% of respondents agreed that the winning vendor delivered a better mix of content appropriate for each stage of the purchasing process. (DemandGen, 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey, Jan. 2014)

Measure Your Successes

How effective is your content marketing? Attribution can certainly be challenging but not impossible. Knowing your way around different analytics tools and setting up goals will really help you determine the ROI of your content marketing efforts and surrounding campaigns. Measuring what matters and being able to interpret your data with accuracy is very important.

Keep Up with Your Competitors

The online market is becoming more competitive every day. In 2015, take the time to analyze your competitors. Look at the formats and strategies they are using and how effective they are. This lets you make moves that counter the ones your competitors are using, or one-up them with better content on a hot topic.

Have Confidence and Carry On

Your well-rounded content marketing plan, tied to an overall plan for your marketing performance, will help you achieve your goals. Sure, you’ll need to build in a contingency for life’s unexpected twists and turns, but you’re at least prepared and have shared your vision in a clear and concise manner with your team and stakeholders. Now that you have everything in your budget accounted for, you can move forward as thought leaders in your space and reap the benefits of having a sound strategy in place.

Martin Laetsch
Martin Laetsch is the Director of Online Marketing at Act-On Software. He is a marketing strategy leader with more than 15 years of experience with prominent companies guiding product management and marketing.


  1. Lots of useful tips there & a timely reminder to have that degree of planning & rigour in both your content marketing strategy and it’s execution. Thanks for sharing.


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