Businesses with razor-thin margins can still generate real ROI.

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You’re running a new startup and trying your hardest to keep your budget alive — sound familiar? If so, content marketing might not seem like your top priority, but it can be vital to your company’s success. According to reserach performed by Aberdeen, 51 percent of companies report that leads from content marketing are of a higher quality than leads found through traditional advertising. So even if you’re busy putting out the various fires that inevitably occur at young companies, the time and money spent on content marketing will give you unmatchable ROI. In a way, you can hardly afford not to do it. 

The question is: How do you create effective content when your budget is smaller than you’d like?

Related: Basic Content-Marketing Formula for Entrepreneurs

Start a Blog (Yes, This Still Works)

Creating a blog is an easy first step toward improving content marketing without breaking your budget. Situate it somewhere on your website that is easy to find, and include links in your posts to other parts of the site. Plus, there are a few options for how you can generate blog content at a low price. First, you can write the posts yourself. After all, you are running a business; you clearly have some expertise in your industry. You can also have members of your team create content, particularly if they have strong writing skills and an open hour or two in their schedules. (A.I.-powered tools like Grammarly are helpful in aiding employees who don’t have writing expertise.)

Another option is to hire a freelance writer. Freelance content writers having varying rates and varying quality levels, so you may need to spend some time searching for who’s a good match with your budget and quality goals.

Monitor Buzzing Industry Topics

There’ll come a moment in every content marketer’s life where they hit a road block in finding topics to write about. Fortunately, there are simple ways to get around that issue. Follow industry leaders and other competitors to see what topics are popular in your field. It’s important to create content based around ideas people want to read about. It’s also important to use data on your own content to see which topics are most effective at turning leads into customers. You can use tools such as Google Analytics to track this.

Build an Engaged Subscriber List

A recent study by Adobe found that roughly 98 percent of millennials check their personal email at least every few hours. It’s not surprising, then, that email marketing has been found to be a highly effective, low-cost, low-effort tack. The first step in email marketing is to produce content that can populate a regular newsletter. The good news is that if you are already putting time and effort into blog writing, you can simply repurpose that content. All it takes is a slight change of format, and you have a ready-to-go message for your dedicated customers.

The next step is to build a strong list of email subscribers. This can be a slow process, but the higher quality content you send, the quicker this process should be. Once you have a large strong list of subscribers, you have access to people who’ve already declared themselves fans of your content and can function as top-quality leads. And with most email-marketing services, you can track open rates, helping you determine which newsletters are more appealing to the largest cross-section of subscribers. Pay attention to this data and refine your content accordingly.

Related: 3 Ways Content Marketing Boosts the Value of Your Leads

Create Video Content 

Written content is awesome, but video has an even higher ROI. A survey conducted by Renderforest found that 78 percent of businesses increased their web traffic after creating video content. It can seem more difficult to produce on a small budget, but there are a multitude of free apps and tools to help you create zero-budget, high-quality videos with your own phone. Apps like Splice, Videoshop and InShot are easy to use and will make your videos look professional.

To save time, reuse topics from your blogs and email newsletters. By repurposing your pre-gathered information, you can create highly engaging video content on a very short time schedule. And as you know — and is central to all the above suggestions — more time saved equals more money saved.

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