4 Essentials to Wring Results From Your Content Marketing Budget

Are you confident that your content marketing budget for 2016 is sufficient for your needs?

Or maybe this is the better question: do you even have a content marketing budget? In many companies, content marketing simply gets rolled up into the general marketing budget. This means that even if there are funds available, it may be hard to justify larger spends, request a budget increase or accurately calculate ROI specifically for content marketing.

In larger organizations, CMOs are more likely to have a dedicated budget for content marketing. According to recent research from the CMO Club, marketing budgets are on the rise in 2016, and content marketing is the primary area where this increase is being spent.

Because we’re seeing this increased investment in content marketing (which incidentally, the Content Marketing Institute confirms), I thought it would be helpful to provide a primer on how to plan your content marketing budget for 2016 and beyond. Following are four strategies or considerations to keep in mind.

1. Consider budgeting by customer journey rather than by channel.
Perhaps the most common approach to budgeting for content marketing is to break costs down by the three primary marketing channels: owned, earned and paid. Allocating funds to each channel tends to make the most sense and may appear to be the simplest way to break down costs.

However, organizations are increasingly moving away from this model (which I’ll outline in more detail below) in favor of budgeting according to the entire customer journey. According to the CMO Club, CMOs are finding it more effective to allocate costs in this manner: “[T]oday’s CMO is much more focused on investing across the entire customer journey from discovery to advocacy – with an understanding that journeys have changed dramatically.”

So, what does this mean in terms of hard numbers? On average, marketing budgets are being allocated as follows: buying stage (21 percent), discovery stage (20 percent), learning stage (16 percent), trying stage (16 percent), advocate stage (14 percent) and use (13 percent).

Related: 6 Content Marketing Tips for Non-Sexy Industries

CMO research: marketing is a buyer journey not a destination

The customer journey model you’re using doesn’t have to look exactly like this. However, it should be differentiated from a simplistic buying cycle (e.g., awareness, consideration, purchase) which doesn’t take into account the post-purchase stage.

It should also be noted that you shouldn’t be afraid to change direction mid-year, and pivot, especially when using a new budgeting model. According the the CMO Club, many CMOS are seeing the benefits of shifting focus as they see the success or failure of different strategies: “Marketers are testing the waters by experimenting across tactics and buyer stages. In a sense, they are initially putting bets on every horse at the start of the race, but leveraging agile approaches to reallocate resources to the leading “horses” mid-race and increasing their chance to win the day.”