With the announcement this week of the first Conservative Budget since Ken Clarke’s in 1997, we are taking a look at how the second Budget of 2015 will affect the content marketing industry, including the digital and tech industries and UK businesses in general. As a content marketing agency, we are obviously keen to assess what impacts there could possibly be on our industry, and to share our thoughts.
Content marketing industry
Ours is a fast-growing sector, with 88% of businesses investing in content marketing of some kind and allocating 31% of their marketing budget to it, according to the Content Marketing Institute. Of those that are investing in content, nearly half of businesses (47%) outsource the work, making content marketing agencies an important part of the UK economy.
Although the tech and digital industries get a mention, there are no specific references to digital marketing or its sub-sectors within either the previous Budget 2015 or this revised summer Budget. However, there are several areas which are likely to impact on the content marketing sector.
Broadband and mobile broadband
The summer Budget continues the government’s ambition to deliver ultrafast broadband (of at least 100 Mbps) to all UK homes and businesses. They pledge to take more action to support the delivery of broadband in rural areas, with further investment into the mobile broadband network and free WIFI in libraries.
Additional investment into broadband speeds is likely to increase the amount of content that is being read and watched online, increasing the opportunities for businesses to market themselves with engaging content.
Increased resources for UKTI
Support for companies selling their goods abroad has increased, with the budget for support to companies selling to China doubling. We have ourselves taken part in a UKTI-backed Digital Mission to New York, so we are hopeful there may be further opportunities to build overseas connections.
As a result of increased international trade, international content marketing is likely to increase in importance, with the need to produce content for more markets and cultures. This is very much a growing part of what we’re doing here at Write My Site. In the last 12 months, we have taken on a record number of international clients who, in many cases, had already translated their content into English but recognised the need to localise it for a British audience. We anticipate growing this part our content marketing agency even more in 2016 and beyond.
Digital marketing and tech sectors
Content marketing is part of the wider UK digital and technology sector. Technology was a particular focus in the Budget, with pledges to increase support for regional digital hubs, as well as specific sub-sectors such as intelligent mobility and the Internet of Things.
Entrepreneurial hubs and enterprise hubs
Regional startups will benefit from an £11-million investment into “entrepreneur hubs” to support the growth of digital businesses outside London. The investment will go to digital and tech startups in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.
There will also be continued investment into general enterprise zones, such as those in Liverpool, Yorkshire, Manchester and Oxford. The existing zones were created with 2012, and two new zones, Blackpool and Plymouth, will be introduced. So far it has been claimed the initiative has created 12,500 jobs and generated £2bn in investment, so this move should spell more good news for businesses in the areas targeted.
Internet of Things
A total of £40 million has been earmarked to develop the UK’s technological capabilities in the Internet of Things. Osborne said this will be spent on “demonstrator programmes, business incubator space and a research hub to develop applications for Internet of Things technologies in healthcare and social care, and Smart Cities.”
Intelligent mobility, such as driverless cars, will get an injection of £100 million for research and development, particularly into the systems and technology advances that are required to implement the technology in the UK.
Another digital initiative is the funding of research into digital currency technology. Two research councils will get £10 million to investigate the opportunities and challenges of digital currencies such as Bitcoin.
Overall, the digital and technology sectors are benefiting from significant investment, which we can only hope will positively impact on related sectors such as content marketing, with increased demand for content production.
Businesses in general
Further cuts in the main rate of Corporation tax were announced, designed to boost the competitiveness of the UK. It has already been cut from 28% to 20%, and will now be cut further to 19% in 2017, and 18% in 2020. The move is expected to benefit 1.1 million businesses, saving £6.6 billion by 2021.
One of the biggest announcements of the summer Budget was the introduction of a National Living Wage. This will see the minimum wage for employees over 25 increase to £7.20 per hour in April 2016, and then to £9 per hour by 2020. Although good news for employees, it is currently unclear how businesses, particularly SMEs, will be impacted by its introduction.
Significant investment into transport and infrastructure improvements has been pledged, including road improvements and train links.
Employment Allowance increase
Although the introduction of the Living Wage may be problematic for small businesses’ budgets, they will benefit from an increase in the Employment Allowance from £2,000 to £3,000 next April. The Employment Allowance allows businesses to claim back the National Insurance they pay for their employees, and the increase means businesses employing four people on the National Living Wage will pay no National Insurance at all.
Three million new apprenticeships
Another announcement was the creation of three million new apprenticeships by 2020, funded by a levy on large employers. The digital and content marketing sectors are big employers of apprentices, so this is likely to be well-received.
The tax relief to businesses as a result of cuts to corporation tax and increase in employment allowance is likely to give businesses more cash to spend elsewhere. As 77% of businesses were already planning to increase their digital marketing budgets, with 73% planning to increase investment in content marketing, it is very likely some of this extra cash will make its way into our increasingly vital sector.