We've officially passed the halfway point of 2016, and it's time to take a look at how your content strategy is performing. Hopefully, you set a new course for your operation at the beginning of the year (or at least updated it to account for new development), but things change quickly, and it's never a bad idea to run a quick audit of your position to see what needs adjusting.
I can't make specific recommendations for tactical changes without seeing the complexities of your unique company, audience, and objectives, but I do have one piece of advice I've been giving to almost everyone: increase your content marketing budget.
There is one caveat to this piece of advice, of course: you can't just spend money blindly to see better results. I'm assuming you'll be keeping your content standards and direction relatively consistent, with more time and money to produce better pieces more frequently. The benefits of content marketing are clear, but why is it important to increase your budget now?
1. Demand is still rising.
Despite the fact that millions of new articles and pieces of content are published every day, and that content usually lives indefinitely online, consumer demand for new, better content is still on the rise. People want more specific information, more interesting material, and they want the latest and greatest content delivered to them on a near-constant basis. If you spend the money on this type of valuable content, there will be people who want to read it. This high and rising demand practically guarantees you'll see some level of return on every dollar you spend--provided you're spending it wisely.
2. Everybody's doing it.
According to a survey my company recently conducted, What Works in Online Marketing, 81 percent of marketers are planning to either increase their on-site content marketing budgets or keep them the same. General online marketing budgets display a similar trend, with 84 percent keeping or increasing their budgets. Obviously, just because other marketers are increasing their budgets, it doesn't mean you have to follow suit. It is, however, a good indication that the industry is undergoing growth, and that marketers are seeing increasing returns from their content investments. It's a good sign of strong returns in the near future, and you should take it as a good omen.
3. Social media is facilitating diversity.
We're past the days when social media platforms were seen as fads. The major players, such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram, are now cemented mainstays in our lives, and even the newer players are starting to chart out their own territories. These platforms are competing to stay alive, stay relevant, and stay ahead of the curve, which means they're launching bigger and more interesting functionality for their users. Much of this is visual, such as the growing trend of live-streaming video, but the content capable of being supported by social platforms is constantly diversifying. What does this mean for you? New opportunities and new areas for content growth--which demands a heavier upfront investment, and therefore a bigger content budget.
4. The competition is getting fiercer.
As more marketers and entrepreneurs realize the value of content marketing, you can expect to see an increase in the amount of published content in the next several years (as you have the past several years, in hindsight)--the fact that content budgets are rising is an even clearer example of this. Increasing your own marketing budget is a way of safeguarding yourself against these competitors, by making yourself bigger and better in the field.
5. The content landscape is shifting.
The content marketing world is changing in a number of ways. Mobile users, demand for video, search disruptions like the Knowledge Graph and machine learning updates like RankBrain, and new forms of communications devices like the Internet-of-Things (IoT) are all moving together to change the way people interact with content--and that's not even mentioning virtual and augmented reality! Increasing your budget now will give you more flexibility to get involved with and experiment with these bold new directions, allowing you to build a runway and get ahead of the curve so you can remain a thought leader for the years to come.
6. The time factor.
Content marketing is a long-term strategy with compounding payoffs. As your reputation builds, your content empire grows, and your readership becomes more and more invested in your brand, every piece of content you produce becomes more valuable. That means the $100 you invest at the beginning of your campaign will pale in comparison to the $100 you invest after three years of steady growth. That's a major incentive to get more involved with content marketing as soon as possible; investing more now means a faster trajectory of growth, so you can start reaping those long-term compounding benefits sooner.
As long as you spend it wisely, every extra dollar you put into your content marketing campaign will be returned to you, many times over, and the sooner you get involved, the better. The content industry is undergoing massive growth and massive changes, and users are hungry for more and better content. If you're part of the first wave of competitors that gives it to them, setting the new standards of content, you'll be immortalized as a trustworthy and leading brand. But if you don't, you'll fall behind, and you may never catch up. If you need help getting started with a content marketing strategy, see my comprehensive guide, The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy, or check out my webinar, Content Marketing 101: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started.