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How to Develop a One-Man Content Marketing Strategy on a Budget

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 25 Jan, 2016
Essential Essential topic

Creating a strategy in a team of one can be a challenge. Here's how to overcome it

In 2016, according to Curata reports that 60% of companies will have an executive who is directly responsible for an overall content marketing strategy. Yet despite the increasing emphasis that is being placed on content, a single executive is the often only resource that is allocated to an organization’s content marketing efforts.

Whether you are solely responsible for your company’s content marketing strategy, or part of a compact team, there are approaches you can take and tactics you can adopt to guarantee maximum results with minimum resources, from content creation right through to distribution. This article will show you how you can develop and implement a content marketing strategy on a limited budget.

content marketing on a budget

Build trust and authority, develop your brand identity and convert customers. Lay the foundation for a successful, scalable content marketing strategy, and do it all by yourself in several easy steps, with insights from our own experiences within the Digital Marketing Institute!

Step 1: Define your objectives

This is the single most important piece of advice that you can apply to any digital marketing activity; outline what you want to achieve from the very outset. Setting clear, explicit objectives and content marketing KPIs will provide structure to any strategy and help you to make efficient use of your time and resources. You can also align those objectives to metrics that will enable you to measure the effectiveness of your content marketing.

Whether it’s prospecting, lead nurturing or community engagement, outlining your goals from the outset will help you to shape your editorial calendar and inform what you write. This will help you to maximize the utility and value of your content and ensure you spend your valuable time writing about the topics that matter most to your target audience.

At the Digital Marketing Institute, we do this in a simple word document (fancy formatting and charts are optional!), which outlines our content strategy for the year ahead, and states our objectives upfront. This is a collaborative document that each member of our marketing team can all edit and add to as the year progresses. We recognize the need to be adaptive and flexible with our strategy, but those goals are what lends it an enduring structure and direction.

Step 2: Write for your target personas

A necessary step that’s often overlooked, developing well-defined target audience personas for content marketing will equip you with an insight into the content topics and types that your audience most engage with, which in turn can influence how you create new content, as with defining specific objectives. Any effective content marketing strategy is underpinned by a commitment to creating content that identifies and addresses the needs and interests of a target audience.

If your organization hasn’t already, you can develop detailed customer personas using HubSpot’s Make My Persona Tool to very explicitly define the audience groups you want to target with your content. Once you have done this, you can attach more specific, drilled down goals to your/audience personas and develop content around them. Try to find a unique angle, a hook that will engage, persuade and convert. If a topic or idea doesn’t relate to your target personas, you shouldn’t spend time creating it!

We recently ran a campaign that marketed a Digital Marketing Institute course to four distinct buyer personas, around which we created bespoke product pages, ads, email copy and blog content. The personas were outlined in a spreadsheet, in which we captured the following details:

  • A brief description of the persona
  • Their motivation/goals
  • The challenges they faced
  • The Digital Marketing Institute’s Unique Selling Point for the persona
  • Their preferred channels
  • Messaging Style
  • Relevant Keywords

By taking the time to craft these detailed personas, we were able to execute a highly targeted campaign with tailored content that increased traffic to both the product pages and blog; a tangible result of targeting our audience with the content that mattered most to them.

Step 3: Be canny with your content

You should always create content with the intention of repurposing it at a later date; focusing on evergreen content with a lifespan that you can extend through repurposing is the most efficient and effective way of maximizing the return on your content creation efforts! Try to write on topics that are continually relevant and will age well. Use different content marketing formats like How-to guides, videos, or webinars that focus on strategy and technique serve as perfect timeless pieces, whereas news articles, or anything centred upon a product or tool that could become quickly outdated wouldn’t be suitable for repurposing. Creating content around one particular theme is also a good tactic to consider because it allows you to develop a series of articles that can be repurposed either separately, or together, perhaps as an ebook or SlideShare presentation. This means that you can populate your editorial calendar with an assortment of content topics and formats without having to exponentially increase production!

The best way to guarantee that your content will really resonate with your target audience is to listen to what they want. Using a tool like BuzzSumo will allow you to analyze the top performing pieces of content for your own website, and your competitors’, as well as identify trending content across a variety of categories. Topsy is great for aggregating top Tweets, links, photos and videos based on certain search terms so you can determine the topics that instigate the most conversation and appeal to your target audience.

Step 4: Influence and engage

One very effective technique that you can implement to amplify your content strategy with ease is to conduct influencer outreach. Identify industry experts, or different types of influencers, and contact them (by email if you have it, or a private message via social media) asking for a quote or key insight you can attribute to them within your content. We like to make it even easier for them by providing a potential list of questions that they can provide answers to! Better yet is if they are willing to write a guest blog for your publication. If successful, your influencer outreach efforts will introduce your content to previously untapped audiences and cross-promotion as any influencers you credit will likely share the content with their own social media followers. Better yet, guest blog spots in your editorial calendar will free you up to write guest blogs of your own for other publications. If you reference your organization and link back to them in your author bio, this can help to build brand awareness and extend your reach even further!

Step 5: Promotion

When it comes to content marketing promotion or distribution, as with every other aspect of your content marketing strategy, you need to be economical as possible with your time and efforts. Promotion is equally, if not more important (why write a beautiful piece of content if nobody will see it?) than content creation, so it’s important to ensure you can allocate sufficient time to your distribution efforts.

Be selective when it comes to the social media platforms you choose; carry out research to discern the platforms on which you target audience are most active, as well as the platforms your competitors have adopted. Selecting a few key social media platforms and optimizing your use of them is preferable to trying to establish a presence everywhere and not having the time to dedicate the requisite attention to them.

When you’re promoting your content across your social media channels, don’t forget to tag or mention any contributing influencers to entice users to click through and acquire their authoritative insights. If you decide to create a series of content, you can capitalize upon that to pique your readers’ curiosity and encourage them to engage with upcoming installments. Incidentally, crowdsourcing content topics and ideas is the perfect way of stimulating engagement and making sure you create the kind content your target audience prefers.

If you haven’t already, build out an email list so you can send your subscribers new content direct to their inboxes on a regular basis. These recipients have made the conscious decision to receive your emails, which automatically increases the likelihood of engagement with your content; using the Digital Marketing Institute as an example, email is the second most effective channel for driving traffic to our blog after organic search. By incorporating a few simple Calls-To-Action in existing blog posts and strategic sign-up boxes across your website, you can very easily grow your subscriber list and take advantage of an already-invested audience for your content.

If you have a small budget for content distribution, the best way to use it wisely is to look at your organic channels as a measure of interest. Within Google Analytics, you can check to see which social media platforms drive the most traffic to your website or blog and use this insight to amplify your content using paid promotion. If Facebook or LinkedIn are the channels through which you generate the most engagement, that’s where you should attribute your spend. In essence, you can use organic as a benchmark for paid.

Step 6: Measure your effectiveness

Once you have optimized your content creation and promotion, the third and final element that you need to master is your use of analytics. Measurement is critical to ensuring ultimate efficiency; you can implement your insights to identify and addresses both strengths and weaknesses in your content strategy and refine your approach to get the most out of your efforts.

You should align your key metrics with your overall objectives; the most important thing you need to understand is how to create valuable content that resonates with your audience; anything else is a waste of your limited resources.

Whether you want to ascertain what percentage of traffic to your site comes from mobile devices, the clickthrough rate on your email newsletter, or how many social shares your content can acquire, measuring your content marketing ROI is a foolproof method to ensure that you focus your efforts on what works and circumvent what doesn’t, so you can guarantee success for your content marketing strategy, regardless of how much time, budget or resources you may have!

Sophie Elizabeth Smith is a content marketer for the Digital Marketing Institute. Sophie enjoys creating content that connects with readers and helps them to better understand and practice all things digital.



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