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Use It or Lose It: 8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Digital Marketing Budget Surplus

How to Use Your Marketing Budget Surplus

How to Use Your Marketing Budget Surplus For all marketing leaders, effectively managing your digital marketing budget is a delicate balancing act. Spend too much too early, and you’re running ultra-lean for the balance of the year and risk falling short of your goals. Spend too little, and you’ll likely lose those dollars at year’s end—and perhaps put yourself in a position to see cuts next year if your frugalness is taken out of context. In our experience, we often see organizations slow to spend the first nine months of the year and eager to spend in the final quarter. So, if you’ll soon find yourself in the “use it or lose it” position, absolutely use it—but be thoughtful. How and where should you allocate those dollars? Ultimately, your overall marketing goals and strategy should be your guide. But other factors to consider are projected resource constraints, upcoming and future events you’ll be attending or hosting, planned campaigns, and internal expertise. Regardless of the size of your dollar surplus, there are several ways to make the most of it, gain some end-of-year momentum, and set yourself up for more success in the coming year. What are they? Let’s dive in.

Ideas for Making the Most of Your Leftover Marketing Budget

#1 – Invest in a content audit.

As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden has often said: “Content isn’t king. It’s the kingdom.” So, chances are, many of your budgetary resources have been allocated to creating top-notch content such as blogs, robust resource pages, or larger assets like eBooks or white papers. As a result, you have a lot of content. But where are the gaps? What should be killed, kept as is, or updated? A content audit can provide answers here, allowing you to prioritize low-hanging fruit opportunities, refine your 2019 content strategy, and more. [bctt tweet=”Where are the gaps? What should be killed, kept as is, or updated? A #content audit can provide answers here. – @Alexis5484 #MarketingBudgets” username=”toprank”] Depending on the scope of the audit, (e.g  blog content only vs. full site audit) this can be one of the most cost effective uses of your budget.

#2 – Conduct a competitive audit.

There’s little doubt that you’re keeping a close eye on what your competitors are doing, but when’s the last time you took a more detailed deep dive into their activities or position in the marketplace? Better yet, have you had a chance to dig into those who are on the rise? A competitive audit—which can be simple yet insightful (e.g. social only audit) or more robust—can refresh your view and surface insights that were not on your radar.

#3 – Experiment with new content types.

Consumer and buyer preferences are constantly evolving, especially when it comes to wanting more visual or on-demand content. With extra budget in hand, you have the opportunity to experiment with new content types that have the potential to reach your audience in new ways, And can continue to be promoted and drive results in 2019. Some content types to consider include:

  • Podcast series
  • Video interview series
  • Product explainer videos
  • How-to videos
  • Motion graphics
  • Interactive or animated content assets

An important note when it comes to podcasts: Podcasts do require a more significant investment of time, money, and resources. However, they also have the potential to be a staple offering that your audience comes back to again and again.

#4 – Build up your library of original photos.

From social media promotion to blog post header images, many marketing departments often rely on stock photo sites for their image needs. Typically, there’s either no time, no budget, no designer—or a combination of all three—to create custom imagery. So, why not use some of those extra dollars to create a library of eye-catching, unique photos to add some pizzazz to your written content?

#5 – Put paid spend behind your best content.

Whether it’s AdWords, boosted social posts, retargeting, or display, there’s always an opportunity to leverage digital advertising tactics to boost your marketing results. Your top-performing content assets are the best candidates for this approach. You know they resonate. You know they inspire. So, you know they have the best opportunity to deliver ROI in a paid setting. [bctt tweet=”Whether it’s #AdWords, boosted social posts, #retargeting, or display, there’s always an opportunity to leverage digital advertising tactics to boost your #marketing results. – @Alexis5484 #MarketingBudgets” username=”toprank”]

#6 – Add new tools or subscriptions to your technology stack.

These days, I think it’s safe to say that every marketer uses tools and technology to make their jobs easier and their marketing more effective. If there’s a new one you’ve had your eye on, this is the perfect time to invest in a tool which will drive value throughout 2019. Don’t jump right to purchase, however. Nearly every software tool offers demos, free trials, or free versions that you can try before you buy. If you find one you want to test for the long-term, many offer a on-time payment, rather than a monthly option.

#7 – Conduct original research.

Original research has a myriad of benefits. Not only does it allow you to uncover meaningful data about the pain points, attitudes, and insights of your audience, but also enables you to create a credible piece of pillar content that resonates. Like podcasts, this certainly isn’t an initiative to take lightly. For the last two years, we’ve helped our friends at DivvyHQ compile the Content Planning Report. So, take it from us: It’s resource and time intensive, but the reward can be big as you continue to refine each year and become sticky in the content landscape. DivvyHQ & TopRank Marketing Content Planning Report Cover

#8 – Collaborate to co-create content with influential voices.

People trust people over brands. So, if you have extra budget, why not use that to collaborate with industry influencers or thought leaders to create credible, insightful content? This could be a series of long-form interviews or a more robust campaign with assets large and small. Over the last two years, this type of content and program has been at the top of the end-of-year spend list for our clients for two reasons: 1) As an agency, we’ve developed relationships with experts in a range of industries and we’re experienced in making new connections. 2) Influencer content has longevity since it can be sliced and diced or rolled into larger assets, and the insights shared often stand the test of time.

Don’t Lose It

You’ve worked hard to win your marketing dollars—so make them work for you. Whether you want to build up a stockpile of ready-to-go promotional images or go big with an influencer program, you have cost-effective and extravagant options to make the most of your budget. If you’ve found yourself on the other side of the spectrum—facing a budget cut—don’t panic. Check out this piece for tips to prioritize your marketing efforts after budget cuts.

The post Use It or Lose It: 8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Digital Marketing Budget Surplus appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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Interactive Content Marketing: Why B2B Marketers Should Take Their Content from Boring to Bold

Why B2B Marketers Should Consider Interactive Content

Why B2B Marketers Should Consider Interactive Content

Show of hands, B2B marketers: How many of you know which Hogwarts house you belong in? Or which Disney princess best represents your personality and relationship ambitions?

via GIPHY

Don’t be shy. I’m a Gryffindor wizard through and through—and apparently, I’m more of a Jasmine than an Ariel. And I know all this thanks to the rise of interactive content.

From quirky quizzes to ROI calculators to guided eBooks, interactive content is a rising content marketing star. BuzzFeed is perhaps the most prolific example, creating dozens of quizzes each week that are making their way into social feeds and search results. (And almost all users reportedly finish them).

But why should B2B marketers consider adding interactive content to their mix?

Because B2B is often pegged as bland and boring. And in a crowded content market, not to mention the fact that buyers' content preferences are turning increasingly visual, interactive content is the next evolution.

But if that doesn't convince you, read on for a few more reasons why its time for B2B to embrace interactive content.

#1 – Interactive content is more engaging than static content—for the long-term.

Interactive content may seem a little gimmicky for some marketers—especially those in the B2B space. But the vast majority of marketers who use interactive content agree that it not only grabs attention, but can also hold that attention beyond that initial view.

In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and Ion Interactive 2017 Interactive Content Study:

  • 87% of marketers agree that interactive content grabs the attention of the reader more effectively than static content
  • 77% of marketers agree that interactive content has reusable value, resulting in repeat visitors and multiple exposures
  • 73% of marketers agree that interactive content, when combined with other more traditional content marketing tactics, enhances message retention among their audiences.

So, if you’re aiming for awareness, engagement, and attention, interactive content holds incredible potential. But I’d also add that this is only true if you deliver quality, relevant content in an interactive format.

As my colleague Josh Nite points out: “[Interactive content is] absolutely designed to grab attention. But if your content provides value—if it’s worth paying attention to—interactive elements can help you bring in an audience.”

[bctt tweet="#InteractiveContent is absolutely designed to grab attention. But if your content provides value—if it’s worth paying attention to—interactive elements can help you bring in an audience. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

#2 – Interactive content can differentiate you from your competitors.

Content has always been a foundational element of B2B marketing. Buyers don’t make hard and fast decisions. Instead, they do their research, weigh their options, and have multiple engagements with sales reps before they sign on the dotted line. Interactive content can help you make an impression and stand out in a crowed, competitive content landscape.

In addition, according to the aforementioned report, just 46% of marketers report using interactive content right now—which was flat year-over-year. And if history is any indicator, I’d wager that interactive content adoption among B2B marketers is far lower since the industry is typically slower to adopt new tactics.

But that won’t always be the case. Harnessing the opportunity right now has the potential to differentiate your B2B brand from the competition early on, showcasing your commitment to innovation.

For example, Prophix, a leading provider of corporate performance management (CPM) software solutions in the FP&A industry, wanted to drive awareness in a unique way around its report on the evolution of financial planning and analysis, as well as its solutions.

By repurposing its original research and adding influencer perspectives, we created an interactive quiz to help empower their audience to "crush" their jobs to succeed now and into the future.

Prophix Crush It Interactive Quiz

This anchor asset, which was promoted using a supporting mix of blog content, social amplification, email, and more, saw a view rate 6-times higher than the benchmark for a similar resource. In addition, the page where it lived garnered 3-times the average share rate. This unique approach to interactive influencer content made Prophix stand out from the competition and deliver a great resource that performed.

#3 – Interactive tools can provide you with exclusive data and analytics.

Savvy marketers are driven by data insights. And many of the interactive content tools you’d leverage for an asset come with their own analytics dashboards, allowing you to get near real-time data on how your audience is interacting and absorbing your content.

For example, Ceros, an interactive content software that simplifies the creation process, provides all the basic KPIs such as visitors, opens, and pageviews, as well as engagement metrics like time spent and interaction clicks. But they also track inbound referrals, social shares, video plays, and outbound link clicks.

Oh, and that data is viewable in its Analytics Dashboard within second of it happening.

Ceros Interactive Content Tool

While traditional analytics platforms and the data within them is invaluable, from my perspective, this more niche data can help uncover some insights that can help you refine your asset on the fly or consider how to improve other content types moving forward.

#4 – Interactive content can drive results at every stage of the funnel.

From educating buyers to creating customer loyalty, interactive content can serve a purpose (and drive results) at every stage of the funnel. Interactive content users report using the tactic for lead generation, lead nurturing, customer retention, and the list goes on.

And interactive is especially powerful, when combined with other tried-and-true content marketing tactics.

To help promote the Influencer Marketing 2.0 report based on research conducted by Traackr, Altimeter Group and TopRank Marketing, we partnered with interactive content platform Ceros to produce an Influence 2.0 interactive infographic.

Influence 2.0

The infographic was promoted via blog posts, social channels, email, and through the influencers that contributed. With calls to action embedded within the interactive infographic, this content succeeded at attracting over 1,700 prospective customers to download the full report with a 43% conversion rate.

What Opportunity Does Interactive Content Hold for Your B2B Brand?

Interactive content is here to stay. But the real opportunity doesn’t lay in the interactivity itself. The real value creation is in the excitement or connection that you can make with your audience, as well as the potential to hold their attention for long enough to engrain your message or inspire action.

[bctt tweet="The real opportunity with #interactivecontent doesn’t lay in the interactivity itself. The real value creation is in the excitement or connection that you can make with your audience. - @CaitlinMBurgess" username="toprank"]

So, B2B marketers. If you’re ready to break away from boring and drive better engagement, interactive content deserves your consideration.

How can you leverage interactive content? Check out our post featuring five ways of making marketing magic with interactive content.

The post Interactive Content Marketing: Why B2B Marketers Should Take Their Content from Boring to Bold appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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