Why you should scrap your content budget

With thousands of pieces of content being produced across dozens of channels each day, it’s important that you as a marketer can work with your agency to answer this question:

“Are we paying too much, or too little for the content we’re producing and is it converting in the way that we need it to?”


Talking through how to do that is exactly what we aimed to do in our talk at Brighton SEO this year. We know first-hand how incredibly important it is to be able to prove value at every turn; we also know first-hand that many brands are struggling to prove the value of content creation.

Here’s the full slide deck from my session last week, with key points for you to whiz through at your desk below. Send us a tweet @Builtvisible if you have any questions!

The best minds in our industry still have no consensus on measurement

I knew this already, but it wasn’t until I really dug around to look at the industry advice out there that I realised how confusing this must be for new marketers.

INdustry mindset

The suggested approach broadly seems to be to choose a format, then pick your channel and finally decide how you want to measure. Experts, institutes and agencies alike are plugging an incredibly broad mix of suggestions on how exactly to measure content.

We cannot create coherent and valuable strategies, with that level of subjectivity when it comes to measurement

We have started allocating budget to individual pieces of content, which in itself is never going to produce a truly measurable and trackable outcome. It also doesn’t make sense because budgets should really be channel-related, and based on forecasting. Budgets aren’t meant to be deployed tactically, as has become the case with content.

There is a place for content

It should be designed to service a channel, and budget should only be allocated for its creation when your forecasting, research, and strategy prove there is a need. This should tie your content directly to the performance metrics of the channel it sits within, and ultimately if it doesn’t impact those metrics then it shouldn’t exist at all.

So how do you decide whether you need to create content?

The standard agency approach

The standard agency approach

The above approach is what was pitched to me time and time again when I was in-house and is how much for the SEO world is still deciding how much to spend on content. You simply build a keyword list, identify those keywords you want to rank for and begin creating content for these keywords.

What this gives you is volume, but what you really need to understand is where the specific, realistic and profitable opportunities are for your brand only.

You want opportunities, not volume.

Let’s look at an example…

Digging a little deeper into what I mean, let’s take an example from the financial services industry. Let’s say that you sell ISAs. Obviously, you want to target people who are saving and your keyword research unearths this as a high-volume keyword to target:

This is just one circumstance where KW research alone would indicate that content marketing is right for you and your brand. But it isn’t. If the intent of the searcher isn’t aligned with a brand, or if they are looking for an impartial view you may have a hard time ranking.

So where are the opportunities?

Let’s take a look at some other ways to tackle this query that could give you a far greater ROI.

1. Helping to update old content:

content example

2. Hacking ranking coverage by providing relevant resources:

content example

Sometimes it won’t be relevant for you to rank, and content marketing is not something that you should rely on to deliver you solid ROI unless you know beyond doubt your content can rank.

Sometimes analysing SERP opportunities is far more realistic to your brand, and that’s why keyword research alone can’t deliver strategy.

Ultimately, you are looking to answer the following questions:

In other words, define the size of the opportunity, define the user intent, and align this with the most relevant tactic. You’re then in a position to allocate content spend within the right channel.

We’re always open to conversations and questions, so get in touch if you’re interested in having a chat about how to apply this methodology to your brand.

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