It's October, and as focused as you may be trying to make sure you finish the year strong and hit your sales goals, it's incumbent upon you to carve out some time to thoughtfully plan your strategy and budget for next year.
After all, the Time Square ball drops in about 10 weeks and there are two holidays between now and then.
If you're like most B2B marketers, you are well aware by now how important content is to your marketing mix. In fact, 88% of marketers say content marketing is important to their organization's marketing program, according to the 2017 Content Marketing Trends report recently published by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.
What I found staggering in this report was that despite the majority echoing the importance of content, there are conflicting stats about what they are willing to invest in content creation:
Only 22% of organizations are "extremely committed" to content marketing, with 41% being "very committed"
22% of companies surveyed are extremely or very successful with their overall approach to content marketing
55% of content is being created by small teams (or a team of one!)
53% of companies believe their overall approach to content marketing is moderately successful
80% of companies' content marketing goals are to drive more qualified sales leads, yet only 57% of companies have said it's helped increase sales
According to this report, less than one-third of marketing budgets are spent on content marketing, with almost 50% the companies planning to keep their budgets the same as last year.
So, I am trying to make sense of this. Marketers are in agreement that content is important, yet they aren't putting the same significance on the amount of resources and budget needed to drive the desired sales results.
So what needs to change?
Your marketing budget needs to match your expectations.
If you want to see results from your content marketing and lead-gen strategy, then you need to allocate the appropriate amount of resources. According to the Wall Street Journal, companies on average spend 7.5% of total revenue on marketing.
No matter what percent of your overall budget you decide to spend, this is a roadmap will help you segment your marketing budget:
This is the biggest budget bucket needed to drive inbound marketing results. Content is what fuels the inbound engine, they say. Content comes in many forms, shapes, and sizes.
It's much more than written blog posts. Content marketing success relies on understanding what your audience needs and where and how they can access it. It's video, infographics, reports, calculators, podcasts, webinars, newsletters, etc. Content is also what you need to drive results from your social media channels.
The amount of content needed is contingent on what your goals are. Typically, goals fall into one of two areas – awareness and conversion. All of this takes time, which means if your company has a content team of one, then adding more resources is essential.
The days of thinking about video as a "nice to have" rather than a "must have" are gone.
Video is the connecting force between a brand and their customers. It allows a raw and authentic connection. They want to know you and the company in a way that feels personal.
Videos are effective for driving conversions on landing pages and blogs and are changing conversion strategies across existing and emerging social media platforms.
Because video is driving ROI, unlike other forms of content, marketers who use video are seeing growth in revenue 49% faster than non-video users.
Social Media: (10%)
The adoption of social media has further blurred the lines between personal and professional.
According to the State of Inbound 2017 report, 74% of marketers surveyed use Facebook professionally and 78% use LinkedIn. C-level executives are the most active on various social channels for professional purposes.
What may surprise you is that almost 25% of businesses today have no social media strategy.
In this rapidly changing social media landscape of new innovations like messenger apps and bots, investing in resources to help your organization stay relevant and connected to your customers is essential.
And don't forget about Facebook advertising. Currently, Facebook is testing an algorithm that gives no organic reach to Business Pages. ZERO. While the results of this experiment remain to be seen, the Facebook advertising platform is robust and not just for B2C.
By utilizing features like the Facebook pixel and Lookalike Audiences, this tactic is a viable option for the majority of businesses.
Marketing Automation Platform/Strategy: (25%)
Converting leads into customers tops the list for both marketing challenges and future goals for most companies.
Having marketing automation tools in place as well as the right team (internal or external) to manage the software and create and execute the strategy will be a priority.
Only 61% of C-level executives feel their strategy is effective. That suggests there is a lot of work to do in improving the outcomes of your inbound marketing strategy.
Marketing Automation Platforms 2017 (via Chief Marketing Technologist)
Search Marketing/SEO: (5-10%)
Organic traffic is unbeatable for creating long-term sustainable SEO results. However, having a budget to promote your content is often just what is needed to increase conversion as digital integration continues to rise.
Forrester predicts that search marketing will capture the greatest share of online spend in the next few years. Creating an effective search marketing strategy could mean investing in training, hiring a consultant, or creating an in-house position.
Every brand is unique and we all have different goals, objectives, and timelines to support the growth of our businesses.
We all need to invest in tools, technology, and resources. We need to be strategic with our marketing spend and be willing to embrace forward-thinking ideas.
Given that the desired goal is that 88% of marketers have to derive results from content and inbound marketing, it's essential to match your priorities with your pocketbook. Remember, a flat budget may mean flat results!