How to Spend Your Remaining Content Marketing Budget Before 2016 Ends

by Emily E. Steck

How to Spend Your Remaining Content Marketing Budget Before 2016 Ends

Have you checked a calendar lately? Then you know that 2016 is coming to an end. And while you’re busy planning and preparing your content marketing strategy for 2017—from hiring your content marketing team to conducting content audits—you also have a teensy, tiny problem. Don’t worry, it’s a good problem. By some miracle, you have money remaining in this year’s marketing budget.

It doesn’t matter if the remainder is a few hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars—you need to spend it so that next year’s budget isn’t compromised. With only a few months left of the year, here are a few ideas about what to do with your remaining content marketing budget.

Look for Content Holes, Gaps or Opportunities

A budget surplus grants you ample opportunity to look, find and fill any content holes, gaps or opportunities in the past year’s content marketing. If your remaining budget is on the smaller side, you may choose to look for the least-loved assets in your marketing budget. That may mean a chance to design marketing pages, tweak landing pages, invest in the infrastructure of your website, etc. We’ve helped clients transform small, mediocre pieces of content into their best-performing pieces. You’d be surprised at how easy it is with a fresh set of eyes.

Another good starting point is to take inventory of all of your content over the past year. You can then perform an analysis and piece together a holistic view of your content marketing to date. It’s a good way to prepare for next year’s planning.

You can dive also into really specific areas to understand the ROI of your brand’s content initiatives, or understand where in the funnel content is playing the strongest role. You can also conduct market research to better optimize keywords and can even hone in on specific topics.

For most, though, a budget remainder means the opportunity to work with experts who can quickly dive into your content needs. It’s incredibly easy to “scale” content services with a content marketing partner, no matter how small or large the project. You can establish a small project—like the creation of copy for a single landing page, blog post, or whitepaper—or establish a strategic plan for 2017’s campaigns. Or better yet, both! A data-driven content strategy from Quietly, for example, is affordable and immensely helpful at highlighting what content you should create, when and why.

Promote Content Through Distribution Channels

What’s old is new again! Or at least seen by new eyes, if you use your remaining budget to promote existing content through distribution channels.

The nice part of using your marketing money for distribution is that it’s incredibly easy to justify. It’s easy to set limits on how much your campaign will spend, and as a result, it’s simple to demonstrate the results and ROI since it’s a controlled project with a firm start and stop date.

The key is to take content that performed well this year and amplify those efforts for more exposure. Newbies won’t be able to hack the nuances of ad tech like Facebook Canvas, Twitter Ads and Pinterest Ads, but a content marketing partner or an ad specialist can make the most out of a budget, large or small.

Moreover, if you don’t have a set distribution strategy in place for next year, now may be the time to experiment with distribution and a content marketing partner.

Invest in Software and Tools

Who doesn’t love new toys? Probably the people in charge of managing the budget. New software and tools can become expensive quickly—especially since many are billed monthly—but, luckily you can invest money into these tools on a trial basis. With the remainder or your budget, you may just want to upgrade in software and tools that will make your life easier. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Content creation tools: Tools like Canva and Adobe Creative Cloud can save tons of time and headaches in the content creation process.
  • Social media automation: A social media automation service like Hootsuite or Buffer can automate repetitive social media tasks, like scheduling posts, photos, quotes, promotions, listening to social media conversations and monitoring your social media accounts. (Full disclosure: Our CEO is a co-founder of Hootsuite.)
  • Email marketing automation: An email marketing automation service like Mailchimp, AWeber or Active Campaign can organize your subscriber lists, automate email messages, integrate with third-party apps and offer analytics and reporting tools. Consider upgrading to an email marketing service to automate your email channels.
  • Marketing automation platform: A marketing automation platform can align your sales goals, content marketing and other marketing efforts under one roof to effectively market on multiple channels online and offline. Consult with your sales team and/or other marketing departments before deciding on this one.
  • Analytics software: Upgrade to a content marketing partner who has expertise in niche analytics, online and off. There are awesome tools and services out there—we recommend SEMRush and RivalIQ—but remember that these tools are there to help you make sense of your data and then act on those insights with recommendations. In all cases, it takes a lot of time and effort to do this well, even with sophisticated analytics software. Instead, consider working with a content marketing partner who already pays for multiple suites of analytics software and can make actionable recommendations for you.

Invest in Your Content Marketing Team Through Conferences, Training and More

The year may almost be over, but there’s still plenty of time to invest in your content marketing team. Even if you don’t have the budget to hire a new freelancer, full-time staffer or content marketing partner, you can still invest in training opportunities for the team. Conferences, webinars and training days are beneficial reprieves that train the team in the latest tech and trends for the year to come.

That said, attending relevant conferences and training days can get expensive, so if you want to minimize costs consider holding your own mini-seminars or conferences in which team members teach each other new skills, software or ideas. The Quietly team, for example, holds regular seminars and workshops during the workday and the only major cost is a few hours of our time.

Content marketing partners can assist you with everything above and then some, so enlist their help and get the most out of your 2016 budget! Moreover, you can use pilot projects like this to make a business case for 2017, or simply to test the content marketing waters before year end. You can establish benchmarks and demonstrate returns with limited risk, all while informing next year’s plans.

Win win win.

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