Social media marketing, blogging with search engine optimization (SEO) best practices and email marketing are three of the most common forms of content marketing businesses rely on. But before you jump into managing your company’s Facebook page or sending out an e-newsletter, you need to have your marketing budget in place.

Last week I shared an overview of how to create one and important considerations for your social media advertising campaign. Today I’ll focus on organic social media management, blogging for SEO and email marketing.

What are your goals for these tactics? Which ones will draw more of your focus? How much do you plan to spend on them? Before you can answer the question of the dollar amount to place on social media marketing, blogging or email marketing, it’s important you have a clear overview of all the different variables involved.

Marketing Budget Consideration: Organic Social Media Management

Social media technology connection concept

How much of your marketing budget should allocate to social media?

Unlike social media advertising, organic social media management focuses on your non-paid presence. Although social networks are increasingly playing to their advertisers, it’s still important for your brand to have an unpaid presence. As explained in this post about why organic social media is still important:

  1. It’s Cost-Effective
  2. It Provides Authenticity
  3. It Compliments Advertising
  4. It Fosters Your Creative Voice
  5. It Provides a Forum for Customer Care
  6. It Builds Engaged Communities More Effectively
  7. It Helps Search Engine Optimization

Although organic social media marketing is cost effective, it’s important to remember it’s not free. No, you don’t need to pay Facebook or Twitter to publish updates on your page, but it does take time and resources to develop a strategy, carefully craft your updates, publish them on the page and monitor for engagement. Whether you take it on in-house or outsource to a social media firm, it will cost your business dollars and cents.

As you determine how much of your marketing budget to spend on organic social media management, consider the following questions.

1. Which Platforms Will You Focus On?

While you don’t need to be on every social media channel, you do need to have an active, well-managed presence on a few. As CEO Erika Montgomery recommends below, focus your efforts on a couple of networks.

Consider which social platforms your target audiences uses. For example, if you’re trying to target millennial women, you probably want to invest in Facebook and Instagram. However, if your target is millennial men, Twitter and YouTube would be better sites to focus on. Or, if you’re a B2B company trying to reach older decision-makers, you may want to spend more of your marketing budget on LinkedIn, and then secondarily invest in Facebook. Check out this infographic about the demographics of social media for helpful insight.

2. How Often Will You Post?

Once you’ve determined which social media platforms you’ll focus on, you need to think about how often you’ll post new updates. There’s a big difference between basic page maintenance (posting one or two times a week) and a robust presence (two to three updates going live a day).

As you think about how often you’ll post on each platform, remember to factor in the amount of time it will take to create the updates. What types of content will you publish? Are you sharing posts from your blog, articles from other websites that are related to your industry, videos you create, inspiring images or insightful infographics?

At Three Girls, we recommend sharing a variety of content by following the 80/20 rule. Aim for about 20 percent of your updates to be self-promotional and the remaining 80 percent to reinforce your expertise by being related to your industry, but not all about you and your business.

3. How Much Time Will You Spend Preparing Updates?

People connecting with social media

Remember it takes time to create social media updates! Account for it in your marketing budget.

How much time will it take you to look for and choose articles to share, design images to post or create a quick video? Some videos, like Facebook Live, won’t take much time as they’re so quick and easy, but if you’re planning to share videos that require scripts, editing and other post-production work, factor that time into your marketing budget.

4. What Tools Will You Use?

Will your social media strategy require that you invest in specific tools? Here are some you may want to factor into your marketing budget:

  • Stock Photos – if you’re going to be creating images to share, and you don’t have the time or ability to take photos to use in them, consider a subscription to a website like 123RF so you can rest assured you aren’t breaking any copyright infringement laws.
  • Photo or Video Editing Software – Are you planning to purchase a program like Adobe Photoshop to edit photos for your social media pages? If so, include it in your marketing budget. The good news is, depending on how much editing you plan on doing, there are some really great cost-effective or free graphic design options out there.
  • Third-Party Scheduling Software – In effective social media management, it’s important you post regularly. But you don’t want the headache of needing to log into each account every day, find the update you already wrote and cut/paste it in. While Facebook pages do have a scheduling option, you may want one central hub where you can upload all your updates for multiple social sites at once and see where and when each will go live. There are a wide variety of social media scheduling websites out there, but we recommend Hootsuite as it’s both cost-effective and relatively easy to use.

5. How Regularly Will You Monitor Your Pages?

Your answer to this should be very regularly – at least once a day, although a few times a day is better. While it doesn’t take a lot of time to log into Facebook or Instagram, check for interaction and respond as appropriate, it does add up. Spending 10-15 minutes a couple of times a day is approximately 15 hours a month. Make sure you factor this time into your marketing budget.

Marketing Budget Consideration: Blogging For SEO

Portrait of happy businessman sitting in a cafe and working on laptop

How much of your marketing budget are you spending on blogging?

One of the best ways to increase online visibility for your brand is through blogging for SEO. This means you’re consistent and strategic with each post. While this is a long-term strategy, it’s worth allocating part of your marketing budget to it.

Here are a few statistics about the importance of blogging (via IMPACT):

  • 47 percent of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.
  • B2B marketers that use blogs get 67 percent more leads than those that do not.
  • Marketers who prioritize blogging are 13 times more likely to achieve a positive ROI on their efforts.
  • SEO leads have a 14.6 percent close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7 percent close rate.
  • 51 percent of business owners report that content management is “very important” or “absolutely critical” to creating a cohesive buyer journey.

So what questions do you need to answer as you determine how much of your marketing budget you’ll spend on blogging?

1. How Often Will You Publish New Posts?

It’s important you publish new articles on your blog regularly. Search engines will monitor websites for new content; the more frequently you update with fresh articles, the more often they’ll come back and index your posts, which can benefit your SEO.

In the ideal world, you’d publish a new post daily. However, that could be extremely expensive, especially if you focus on longer articles – many top performing posts on Google these days are 1,000 words or more. The good news is that even if you only publish once a week, if you’re uploading a well-written, strategic post on the same day of the week and the same time of day, it can greatly benefit your business’ online visibility.

2. How Much Will Blog Writing Cost?

If you write your blog posts yourself, how much of your valuable time will they take? Recent research shows the average blog posts takes professional writers 3 hours and 20 minutes to write. Do you have that much time to carve out of your schedule each week? Remember that your time is valuable too.

If you’re trying to put a dollar amount on it for the sake of your marketing budget (or if you’re considering outsourcing to a content marketing firm), remember how much you bill clients for your time.

Also, it’s worth noting that time estimate is for professional writers. Depending on how much experience you have researching a topic, typing it out into an article that makes sense and editing the post, you may want to account for more of your time.

Another factor to consider is your own knowledge regarding SEO, too. Are you familiar with best practices? It will take time to research them, and to stay up-to-date as search engines update their algorithms.

3. How Will You Publicize Your Blog Posts?

Just because you write the blog post, it doesn’t mean your target consumers will automatically find it. How will you publicize your post? In addition to creating a publicity plan, you’ll need to follow through. If you share the post via social media, how much time will it take you to write and schedule the updates? Are you going to run a social media ad around it? If so, that needs to be factored into your marketing budget as well.

This is why it’s good to physically write down each piece of your overall strategy to plan your marketing budget. Because the various tactics aren’t completely separate, you’ll need a clear picture of your overall approach to know how much to factor into social media ads or organic updates in regards to your blogging plans.

Marketing Budget Consideration: Email Marketing

Email marketing design over white background, vector illustration.

Consider these email marketing elements as you put together your marketing budget.

The final piece of many standard content marketing campaigns is email marketing. While some people claim email is dead, research shows this isn’t true at all.

  • Statista reports there were 3.7 billion email users in 2017, and it’s projected to grow to 4.3 billion by 2022
  • According to eMarketer, email had a media ROI of 122 percent. This is four times higher than social media, direct mail and paid search marketing formats
  • Hubspot reports 86 percent of consumers would like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with at least monthly

Here are some important considerations when factoring email into your marketing budget.

1. Which Email Marketing Platform Will You Use?

While some, like MailChimp, offer a free plan, once you reach a certain threshold you’ll need to subscribe to a paid account. As you research which email marketing platform to use, consider how many contacts you have and how often you plan to send out an e-newsletter. Some charge based on the number of distributions within a given period (such as a month).

2. Who Will Create Your Email Design?

Will you create one based on a template that’s provided, or will you hire someone to create a custom design for you? Many email marketing providers offer custom design services, but they come at a cost.

3. How Will You Create Emails?

It’s important to think about the amount of time you spend creating emails each month – your time is valuable. Will you write, upload and format it monthly? Bi-monthly? Weekly?

In addition to thinking about how many emails to allow for in your marketing budget, consider how long each one will be and how you’ll develop the content. Will you pull articles from your blog? Share news stories relevant to your industry? Write completely new content every time?

Remember to factor in potential additional costs, such as purchasing stock photos, designing accompanying graphics or creating videos you embed in the newsletter.

4. How Will You Manage Your List?

Email marketing concept with hand pressing social icons on blue world map background.

Remember managing your email marketing list as you put together your marketing budget.

Are you going to segment your list? Depending on the type of business you have and what types of emails you’re sending out, you may want to!

Hubspot reports segmented e-newsletters are responsible for 58 percent of all revenue. If you segment your list, though, how do you plan to manage it? Segmentation can be powerful, but it also requires keeping up on the various lists.

For example, if you have a list for current clients and then a customer leaves, you’ll want to move them to another list. It takes time and attention to detail to do this well, so make sure your marketing budget factors in time to do it yourself or to hire someone to manage it for you.

5. How Will You Grow Your List?

Spend time creating a strategy to increase your list. While we don’t recommend buying lists of email addresses, growing your list organically or through targeted advertising can be a highly effective way to populate your list with potential customers.

Here are specifics to look into and add to your marketing budget:

  • Will you add a plug-in to your website to prompt visitors to join your list? If so, is the one you want to use free or is there a fee involved? Is it a one-time fee or will you need to renew your subscription either monthly or annually?
  • Will you run an ad campaign to increase your subscribers? Facebook’s lead ads can be a powerful way to specifically grow your list, but the cost per lead rate is higher than some of their other ads; in addition to the creative you’ll need to create, factor the higher ad rate into your marketing budget.
  • Will you offer download incentives on your website? A lot of businesses have a page on their website that offers a white paper, report or guide in exchange for a name and email address. If you use this approach, what will you offer? How much will it cost to create? How often will you change to a new incentive?

More Marketing Budget Factors To Come!

Creating an effective marketing budget takes a lot of strategic planning, but it’s worth it! While organic social media marketing, blogging for SEO and email marketing are the most common content marketing tactics, there are more worth exploring. Stay tuned for next week’s post, which will share additional marketing approaches you may want to consider as you put together your marketing budget.