Unless you work in the marketing departments of the Amazons, Googles and Microsofts of this world, you probably feel your marketing resources don’t quite match up to your aspirations.
So how do you do content marketing on a budget? How can you make your meager-feeling headcount and resources go further? That was the topic of our recent webinar: Building a Content Machine When Resources are Thin.
I co-hosted with Lisa Toner, Senior Manager, Acquisition, at Hubspot and fielded questions via Slido. Here is a sample of the most upvoted questions posed and answered.
1. What are some cheap tools that help with content creation?
2. Is blogging even worth it? How do I write relevant content people will engage with?
3. I don’t have time, how can I get more the content I have?
4. How do I gather user-generated content?
5. How do you do social media video cheaply, but credibly?
1. What are some cheap or free tools that help with content creation?
Lisa Toner: Anywhere we can get help is very much appreciated. So here are a few tools that you can use in your content creation efforts:
- Canva is my ultimate favorite, many of you will be familiar with it and it has templates for almost anything. Use it as much as possible.
- iMovie is built in for free on a Mac. You can create really great videos just by filming on your phone or webcam and then chopping it up and adding transitions. I learned how to use it just by playing around with it. You can definitely create good content here for Youtube or Facebook. Remember, as long as you have a strategy behind it, the consistency of the quality isn’t that important—just as long as the content is valuable (more on that later).
- Hubspot has 386 content templates to help you create content with. Just go onto hubspot.com/resources/template and download them for free.
- Speech to text is something that most devices have built-in, but no one uses them for their blog, which is a lost opportunity. Everyone knows the pain of sitting in front of the blank screen with a blinking cursor and no idea what to write. But it is all in there somewhere! Using the speech to text functionality you can just talk it out and fix it later.
- Buzzsumo is one of my favorite tools for ideation. You can find influencers, content from competitors, there are loads of ways to use Buzzsumo to shape your content strategy.
- Venngage is great for companies without a lot of design resources. You can use it to create reports, social media visuals as well as infographics.
Click below to watch the full on-demand webinar where we cover even more questions on how to do content marketing, including: Where do you get ideas for content? Which content is best for which channel? Is influencer marketing truly possible on a tight budget? How do you create content for a B2B company with a generic service where you can’t showcase a product? …and many more!
2. Is blogging even worth it? How do I write relevant content people will engage with?
Chris Sugrue: The answer to the first part is yes it is, if it’s done properly.
According to a study by Hubspot, companies that blog generate on average 55% more website visitors, 97% more inbound links, and 434% more indexed pages.
I know there will be skeptics out there.
We live in an era of fleeting social feeds—where we’re repeatedly told that we now have the attention span of goldfish. So how can long-form blog posts possibly have a role to play anymore?
But they do. They really, really do.
There are three primary reasons to invest in a blog. First, it can be a huge driver of traffic to your website and your sales funnel. That is certainly the case for us here at Falcon.io.
Second, a blog can be the seed and foundation of so much other content—we talk more about repurposing content further down. And third, it’s a place to build your thought leadership, which is a vital pillar of successful content marketing.
But if you do it, lean into it
If you are going to run a blog, you do need to invest the time and care or it simply won’t be worth it. The good news is that this investment is far more about smart tactics than budget or headcount.
Like most successful content marketing, success rides on hitting the right note with the right audience. That means going as niche as possible with your topics. The Buzzsumo site that Lisa mentions is a great free tool for exploring what your audience is interested in. There is also Google Trends and I would recommend joining relevant LinkedIn groups as a source of inspiration.
SEO is crucial – and accessible to anyone
Search engine optimization is your best shot at getting your content in front of people. And while SEO sounds like an arcane art, you don’t need an in-house SEO expert to make it work for you. Some basic knowledge will take you a long way and it doesn’t have to cost you either.
Here at Falcon.io, we use Ahrefs as our SEO tool, but Moz and SemRUSH are also highly rated. For fully professional tools you’re looking at annual subscriptions of around 1500 USD, which I would say is worth it. But if you want free tools with more limited functions, Google Console, LSIGraph and the MozBar Chrome extension are a good start and will really help you out.
Getting the hang of SEO is complicated, but there are some easy-to follow-formulas that anyone can learn. Check out Neil Patel of neilpatel.com and Brian Dean of Backlinko.com, both offer loads of advice for SEO novices.
Contrary to many expectations, longer-form articles perform the best. If I look at our top 10 best-performing blogs for the last fiscal year, the average length was 1500+ words, with some surpassing the 4000-word mark.
Obviously, this is a time investment. So it’s best to go with evergreen topics that you can continuously update and that will continuously generate traffic and backlinks—Lisa covers that in detail soon.
Seek out guest bloggers
There are a lot of people trying to establish themselves as content writers and marketing influencers out there. Many will gladly write for you for free to grow their portfolio and profile. To find them, put out feelers on social media (LinkedIn groups devoted to marketing are a great option) or in other online communities—here we’re big fans of the Online Geniuses Slack channel.
The stronger your brand’s thought leadership, and the higher your domain authority (how your website ranks on google), the more likely it is that high-quality contributors will guest blog for you. This is just one of the ways that blogging is a self-perpetuating practice.
3. How do I gather user-generated content?
Lisa Toner: User Generated Content is a great way to generate content when you lack budget or people to create the content for you.
Starbucks and Lego are two great examples. Starbucks gave away plain cups and encouraged people to decorate them then share the image with the hashtag #WhiteCupContest. The best design won, so they got people to share across all their networks without lifting a finger!
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) April 28, 2014
Lego has its Ideas forum where people can submit ideas for things they would like to build with lego. Lego then creates the ideas with the most upvotes. You can imagine that people who submitted shared their idea with their entire network, friends and family to get them to the website to upvote.
That’s a great way to create a ton of traffic without creating any content.
How can your business do it?
It really isn’t rocket science. It’s just engaging customers to get them to tell your story. Here are some ways to do it:
- Run a competition – get people to use hashtags, which gets it spread it throughout their networks.
- Use polling on social media to get unique data points that you can use in your content.
- Use tools like Boast to embed video software on your landing pages. People can just press record and do a testimonial that will be automatically featured on the landing page – that’s very little work to get a page full of video testimonials.
- Create a Facebook community where people can answer each others’ questions, then use that content for your blog articles.
- Collect reviews/testimonials and leverage them in your ads.
Ultimately it’s about making your customer the hero or giving their story a platform.
To illustrate Lisa’s final point, here is an example from Blenders Eyewear who blend their customer reviews into their ads using Facebook’s Dynamic Product Ads format. The result: the brand lowered their CPA by 38%, increased their return on ad spend by 62%, and decreased their CPC by 40%.
4. I don’t have time, how can I get more the content I have?
Lisa Toner: There’s a lot you can do here.
A few years back, we found that 92% of HubSpot’s monthly blog leads come from posts that were more than six months old. It takes that long for Google to start ranking your content and for people to start linking to it.
Optimize the past!
I advise people to take the time to do an analysis of their blog and identify which blog posts are getting the most traffic. They should then look at the ones that are actually converting the most leads, or no leads.
Hopefully, you have calls-to-action on all of your blog posts to begin with and they’re converting people into something. The offer on your blog post should be something relevant to the topic of the blog post but valuable enough that people will want to click through to learn more.
For example, if it’s a post about infographics, we then offer them an infographic template as the next step we want them to take.
Update high traffic, low conversion articles and vice versa
Once you’ve identified the highest traffic blog posts and how they’re converting, you should take those with high traffic and a low conversion rate and create a more relevant conversion point for them. The idea is to turn all that traffic into something more meaningful for your business.
For example, a blog post about the best running shoes for speed could have a CTA to a more in-depth guide about getting the most from your training. A CTA about something completely irrelevant to the topic of the post will not convert leads.
Similarly, take the lower traffic posts that have high conversion rates and optimize the post for higher traffic. That could mean SEO optimizing them and adding more content and value. There is also backlinking where you reach out to high-quality websites and ask them to talk about your post. You can also do guest posting on these sites that link back to the article or simply promote it further through social, email, or ads.
The main takeaway is you don’t need to focus only on creating brand new content all the time. Do an analysis every six months to identify those opportunities to optimize what you already have to get more out of it.
5. How do you do social media video cheaply but credibly?
Chris Sugrue: There are a lot of stats I could fling at you emphasizing the value of video. Here is just one: according to Wyzowl: 70% of consumers say that they have shared a brand’s video and 72% of businesses say video improved their conversion rate.
But how do you do it well when you don’t have dedicated design or film resources?
Thankfully, we live in a time when marketing is all about authenticity, which is a blessing for marketers wanting to ramp up their video content.
So, as Lisa mentioned earlier, don’t be afraid to get rough n’ raw with your video. No one is going to be turned off by your off-the-cuff, hand-held iPhone clip if it is relevant to them.
That said, you are really spoilt for choice in terms of free, freemium or inexpensive tools and apps to help you dress your videos up: LightWorks, VideoShop, Adobe Premiere Clip are just a handful.
Laura our Social Media Manager is currently fond of the Mojo Stories Editor app for Instagram.
The key thing here is to just do it. Don’t be intimidated by it
Many of the people who attended the webinar this article is based upon did so because they saw the promo video on social. All that was, was Dino in our New York office and one other Falconeer taking five minutes with an iPhone.
He used it to advertise the webinar, you could use video for anything from:
- Promoting your latest product release or content piece
- Turning your blog into a vlog (video blog)
- Announcing a winner to a competition you’re running
- Live-streaming from the events you attend
Just a thing to note, most social videos are viewed with the sound off—85% on Facebook—so do like Dino above and make sure to write captions or subtitles for all your videos.
The possibilities are endless. So don’t be afraid to aim low production-wise here, as long a the message hits home you may well be extremely surprised by how effective it proves to be.
Watch the full webinar for all the tips
These were just five of the most upvoted questions. It came as no surprise that this was a heavily-attended webinar because as marketers we all wrestle with this challenge on one level or another.
For the answers to many more questions about how to do content marketing on a shoestring budget, watch the webinar here and check out our other on-demand and upcoming topics.