As you work through your strategic planning process, you’re probably required to submit your marketing budget for the next year. The following are the top items you’ll want to consider as you determine what your team can handle, and where you’ll need to bring in outside expertise.

1 | Buyer Persona Research

You may be able to handle this by having a quick discussion with your team to determine if technology or environmental changes have occurred and impacted your buyer personas. For example, if you work heavily within the automotive segment and the past year was full of recall issues that have negatively impacted trust levels among consumers, you’ll want to refresh your persona and act accordingly. You can never know your buyers or the challenges they face too well!

2 | Content Audit

It’s important to keep an active inventory of every piece of content created across your organization and categorize it within the proper stage it falls within the buyer journey (awareness, consideration, decision). Keep this information up to date and readily available to assist you with content ideas as well as to identify opportunities to repurpose existing content into larger pieces of premium content that help your buyers solve relevant problems.

3 | Digital Strategy

Set it and forget it is NEVER a good idea when it comes to your digital strategy. There are factors that impact your market popping up constantly. It’s important to remember to spend time recalibrating your strategy at least once per year as a worst case scenario. Considering you have the ability to actively monitor and measure your results in real time, you should consider revisiting your strategy and corresponding results each month. That will help prevent you from getting too far off course from hitting the targets you’ll be judged on.

4 | SEO

This is something you’ll need to keep an eye on each and every month. You’ll want to keep up to date on which keywords you are ranking for, which keywords are positively impacting your KPIs, what your rank is,  any movement (up or down) for your keywords, how many inbound links you’ve gained and also actively track your competition’s movement. You may be limited to how many things you can keep an eye on based on the size of your team, but it’s important to proactively manage your SEO efforts to ensure you’re taking advantage of all your opportunities!

5 | Blog Posts

It seems this topic makes a lot of marketing professionals groan whenever they hear of it. I think that’s mostly due to the difficulty they face in getting “buy in” from the key players within the organization or how the heck they are going to handle the monumental task of finding the capacity to blog frequently enough to produce results. This can be the largest driver of your success if you’re measured by the number of leads or online revenue you produce, so it is definitely worth the energy you invest to overcome whatever hurdles get in your way.

6 | Video Posts

If you’d like to add a little life to your blog, or if you have a person or two who are comfortable in front of a camera, this is definitely an element to consider. Do you have the ability to shoot and produce the videos in-house, or do you need to bring hire someone to pull it all together? Even if you are forced to do the latter, you can gain some economies of scale by planning multiple segments and shooting all at once.

7 | Infographics

Data is everywhere and the ability to share the story data tells with easy to understand graphics is extremely valuable. Are there some “data stories” that exist within your market that your buyers would be interested in understanding in a clear and compelling manner? If so, you should consider adding infographics to your content marketing efforts.

8 | Free Guides

If you’re only relying on your visitors to click the Contact Us link or fill out the Quote Request form on your website, you’re missing out on a lot of potential customers. What type of information could you put together in a “free guide” that your potential buyer would find valuable enough to give you their email address in exchange for a download of your guide? This can help position you as trusted advisor throughout the buyer journey as long as you’ve created value at each stage.

9 | Case Studies

This is your opportunity to shine and prove your relevant expertise to your potential buyers. Consider investing time to create a Case Study Creation Process that includes active metric tracking and reporting so you can consistently and efficiently create social proof that relates specifically to each buyer persona you serve.

10 | Landing Pages

Don’t fall into the trap of driving all your traffic to your homepage! Make sure you create calls to action that direct your visitors to specific landing pages on your site so they can complete a predetermined conversion activity. Whether it’s to download a free guide or opt-in to a digital course you’re offering, this is definitely a line item you’ll want to include in your budget.

11 | Promotion & Distribution

You’ll want to consider whether you’ll be doing any PPC advertising, retargeting, influencer outreach or any other promotion methods. If you don’t want anyone to find your content, go ahead and subscribe to the “create it and they will come” philosophy … and they won’t! You’ll need to determine how much you’re willing to invest to ensure your content is seen far and wide.

12 | Email

Don’t just resort to the old batch and blast email philosophy! If you consistently send valuable content via email, you’ll find it to be an extremely effective way to reach your buyers and drive action on your website. You’ll want to build in time to segment your database, build workflows, and nurture campaigns to automatically guide your visitors through their buyer journey while nurturing your relationship.

13 | Social Media

Social media is the second most effective tactic for driving traffic to your website behind blogging and definitely a tactic you’ll want to invest in. Take the time to determine your tone and voice, find time to engage with your social audience, share content and continually build your connections by creating a personable and value-based relationship with your community.

14 | Management

If everybody is in charge, then nobody is! It’s critical to have someone in charge of your content marketing efforts for both accountability and most importantly thoughtful execution. It doesn’t matter if you have someone in charge from within your organization or you bring someone in from the outside. The bottom line is you’ll need a quarterback to make all the calls and tie everything together. It’ll be well worth the investment!

Your Budget

Are there elements you’ve considered as you’re putting together your content marketing budget that I have missed? Were there any elements that you don’t feel are necessary? Leave any comments below.