It’s a well-known fact that good content can make or break a business. Many start-ups and small businesses in particular depend on low-budget content marketing as a way to dip start growing their audience and brand. As a writer myself, I highly approve of this concept.
There are many compelling reasons to focus on content marketing. For example, you can increase website traffic and purchases, improve SEO, develop great relationships with influencers and customers, show you are a thought leader, and more.
That said, if you don’t do content marketing right, you won’t get the results you want, regardless of your budget. Here’s what you need to know before you dip your toes into low-budget content marketing and as you hone your content marketing program.
Invest in low-budget content marketing tools
Yes, I know we’re talking about low-budget content marketing. That doesn’t mean you can’t use a few tools to make your processes more efficient and effective. The good news is that “investing” in your tools often means spending the time to figure out the right tools for you, not necessarily spending tons of money.
A low-budget content marketing toolbox should, at a minimum, include these categories:
- Writing – Google docs is a great tool for writing, especially if you are working with a group of people or will need multiple people to review or edit your piece. Coschedule helps you develop sharp headlines and the Hemingway App is a grammar and readability tool you can use for free.
- Visuals – For creating videos or graphics, your phone can work well. The cameras on phones these days are excellent for everything from employee or product photos to low-budget videos. Sites like Unsplash, Pixabay, and Burst offer free, high-quality pictures to supplement your own work.
- Photo/video editing – There are a million editing tools you can utilize without paying a cent, including Adobe Spark (create great social graphics), Pic Stitch (make photo collages), Boomerang (shoot short, fun, looping videos), and more. All of these are free and some have paid options if you want additional features.
- Social media sharing – Sharing your content on social media is a key part of a low-budget content marketing process. All social sites have great sharing capabilities natively. You can also use free tools like HootSuite or low-cost tools like AgoraPulse if you’re looking for more features and more powerful functionality.
- Storing – Once you’ve created all this great content, you need a way to find it easily. Google drive is a good free starting point, but you may want to look into a more powerful yet still cost-effective tool like Enablix. Then you can give documents multiple tags and make it easy for employees to find and share your content at the right time.
Looking for more low-budget content marketing tools? Check out these 25 Free Content Marketing Tools to Radically Boost Your Results and 21 Content Marketing Tools Every Marketer Needs.
Make value central to your content marketing plan
Anyone can pump out a bunch of content, but not everyone can create content that provides value. In this day and age of content glut, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. This is especially true now that many businesses have moved their processes online.
The winners in the low-budget content marketing game are those who provide valuable content readers can use right now. For example, you can:
- Answer customer questions you’ve received
- See what people are searching for on Google and talk about those topics
- Supply unique and/or niche information and insights
- Offer step-by-step instructions for accomplishing specific goals
- Entertain (yes, making people feel emotional is a way to provide value – and grow audience loyalty!)
The key is to go beyond what you, as a business, might want to say. Instead, think about what your prospects want to hear. Sure, your offering is great. However, if you show people how to solve problems and come out a hero at their own business, you’ll gain their loyalty much faster than if you wax poetic about your solution.
Wondering how to make your content both valuable and engaging? Take a look at these 5 Cool Tips to Make B2B Content Engaging.
Once you’re done brainstorming, make a list of top content topics that provide value to your audience. Then match those topics to your plan. What’s that you say? You don’t have a plan? Better read the next section, ASAP!
Develop a content marketing plan
Choosing the right content topics is critical. At the same time, if you want to get good results from your low-budget content marketing process, you need to take it to the next level.
Plan your content marketing efforts as follows:
- Make a schedule – Plan out at least one quarter of content topics ahead of time. Make sure your plan fits in within your company goals, your content creators’ bandwidth requirements, and your customers’ needs. Be realistic about the volume of content you can and should produce. Remember that one good piece of content is generally better than lots of mediocre content.
- Develop goals – Understand what you want to accomplish with your content marketing efforts. Are you trying to build your audience? Close deals? Grow brand recognition? Attract media attention? Or something else entirely?
- Set metrics – You need your content marketing to have measurable results. That requires developing the right metrics – ones that are achievable, measurable, and time-based. For example, want to build an audience? Your content marketing metric could be, “Grow my social media following by 25% over the next six months.” Are you looking to close more deals with your content marketing efforts? Your metric for content marketing success could be, “Log purchases from at least 50% of the people who click on our Facebook links.”
Now it’s time to plan out a content piece to get you going!
Follow a content development process
A major thing to know about using content marketing to grow a business is that it’s time consuming. While you aren’t spending much in the way of money, you definitely need to invest the time to do it right.
To the results you want from your low-budget content marketing program, follow a multi-step content development process:
- Plan your piece – Understand everything that needs to go into the content you are creating. Answer questions like what is the piece about? Who is your audience? How long will your content be? What will be the most sharable and effective format for the piece (e.g., blog post, video, slides, etc.)? Where are you going to post it? Will you make several pieces based off that one original piece (e.g., an infographic, video, and blog post based off a white paper)? Is this an evergreen piece? Is this a news- or time-based piece?
- Plan your resources – What resources do you need to make your content effective? For example, will you need photographs or diagrams? Will you incorporate feedback from a multitude of people or links to various resources? Who will edit the piece for SEO/grammar/readability and who will edit it for accuracy?
- Plan your sharing strategy – It’s not enough to make a great piece of content. You also have to drive people to consume it (hence the need for content marketing). Where will you share your content? What social media channels will be most effective for promoting the content? Who will you tag when you share the piece? How will you convince others to share your content?
Once your plan is ready, create your content!
Optimize your content for search and sharing
You followed your low-budget content marketing plan, you created a spectacular piece of content – now it’s time to put the icing on the cake!
Here are a few steps to take to optimize your content for maximum efficacy:
- Make sure your title is gripping – Titles make a huge difference in whether or not your audience consumes a piece of content. You may want to A/B test your title to see what will be the biggest draw.
- Check your SEO – Have you used keywords that are relevant to both your business and your piece of content? Wondering how else to improve SEO? Check out the Definitive Guide to SEO Content Marketing.
- Check your tags – Have you added meta information? Did you tag your content appropriately so people can find it?
- Make your content shareable – Add social sharing icons to anything posted on your site. Include tweetable quotes and stats in callouts.
- Share your content – Make sure wherever you share your content is where your audience resides and engages. Some content may be more applicable to LinkedIn vs Facebook, or for long-form places like Medium, or for more targeted groups like a conversational channel developed on Slack.
- Invite others to engage – There are loads of ways to get people more engaged with your content. For example, you can tag relevant people who might be interested in your content, share your content in private messages with people who are looking for information around that topic, or ask a provocative question when you post your content.
- Avoid being spammy – You don’t want to lose credibility, look desperate, or cause people to feel negative about you or your business. Don’t tag people who might not care. Don’t keep hounding people to read your piece. If it’s a strong piece, they will read and share it of their own volition.
Moreover, no content piece has to die. It can be reoptimized over time to drive more traffic and even better results!
Remember that no one is an instant authority
Congratulations on creating an effective low-budget content marketing program! Now keep at it! Yes, you’re not done. Ever.
The fact of the matter is that effective content marketing – whatever the budget – requires consistency. No one is an instant authority. Moreover, you will not stay top of mind unless your content marketing process continues to be tweaked, grown, and fed on a regular basis.
That said, content marketing can be an extremely effective way to grow audience trust, engagement, growth, and purchases. It’s well worth the time and effort. Here’s to your success! Let me know how it goes!