How Much Budget Do You Need for Content Marketing?

content marketing spend
content marketing spend

Just about everybody knows by now that a great content marketing strategy makes a positive impact on business results. The real question is how much is the right amount for your content marketing spend? 

There are two general schools of thought on this:

  • Invest more to gain more – The bigger your budget the better. With more money, you  can invest in more technology, expertise, and other resources to drive marketing ROI.
  • Keep it cost-effective — Content marketing costs 62 percent less than other marketing strategies and drives 6x the conversion rate. There’s no need to overspend with that kind of built-in ROI.

So which is right? Both, actually.

If you’re a large enterprise with a mature strategy and you have the funds for a higher content marketing spend, the extras like advanced technology tools and a larger, more experienced team will drive results. At the same time, if you’re a smaller independent company or a startup, you can still achieve serious content marketing ROI on a limited spend.

The truth is that the best strategy is the one that makes sense for your company. But that requires knowing how to evaluate what makes sense for your company — which is what we’ll cover here.

Quick takeaways

  • The most important component of a content marketing budget is its alignment with your strategy and goals.
  • On average, companies are allocating about a quarter of their marketing budget to content.
  • To succeed, your budget should include investments in the right team, technology tools, and types of content.

How to think about your content marketing budget

The mistake companies often make when it comes to setting up a content marketing budget is thinking strictly in financial terms. Like: here’s what we can afford, so here’s our budget. Now let’s spend it.

But your content marketing spend is way more than just a number. Thinking only in terms of what you can spend without thinking seriously about how you can execute will lead to a lot of wasted money and unneeded frustration.

In short: don’t budget for money you won’t have the time or resources to spend, and don’t spend money on things you can’t execute effectively. 

There’s no magic formula every company can use to determine their perfect content marketing spend, and the truth is that no budget will ever get it exactly right. But by thinking intentionally about creating a smart budget that capitalizes on every dollar spent, you can set yourself up for success.

We recommend looking at your content marketing budget from a prioritization standpoint: what are the most important items in your budget? Think about how you’ll execute each of these items. What will your timeline for execution look like? Which people or teams will be responsible? What other resources will this require?

Clearly outlining all of this during the budgeting process can help you identify what you can realistically execute well. Once you get to a point where you think you’re spreading resources too thin, it’s time to think about cutting lower-priority items out.

Our recommendation: definitely do set stretch goals, but prioritize setting your teams and your company up for success. Use your best judgement to set a budget that contains the right balance. Check out our recent guide on budgeting for content in 2021 to get a deeper dive on best practices to support this process.

So what’s the number?

If you’re looking for advice on your content marketing budget, you’re likely looking for a number. While we can’t of course know what exact number to recommend for your company, we can look at some industry trends to better understand how companies are investing in content marketing.

Earlier this year, SEMRush conducted a survey of over 1500 content marketers from around the world. Their results give us some good insights into content marketing budgeting trends.

To start, it’s of note that their survey found that 84% of companies today have a content marketing strategy. That means that if you’re here to evaluate whether or not you need a content marketing budget at all, the answer is unquestionably yes.

If you aren’t leveraging content marketing in today’s business environment, you are absolutely missing out on opportunities to grow your business.

More specifically, the survey found that nearly three-quarters of respondents expected their content marketing budget to increase in some capacity in 2021.

content marketing spending change trend

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They also asked respondents to share their content marketing spend ranges, and these were the results:

content marketing spend ranges

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You can see that most companies are spending less than $10,000 on content marketing, meaning you don’t need a huge spend in order to have a successful content marketing strategy. What these results don’t tell us, though, is what percentage of the marketing budget that number is for the companies who spend it.

We think that’s a pretty important piece of the puzzle, so we dug a little deeper.

Research shows that companies spend an average of 26% of their total marketing budget on content marketing. The most successful spend closer to 40%, and the least successful down to 14%.

Again, none of this is one-size-fits-all, but the takeaway here is that while content marketing is extremely cost-effective, it also requires a substantial financial commitment — especially in the beginning stages, when you’re doing a lot of set up like content auditing, website optimization, and building your blog.

Must-haves for your content marketing budget

The right team

Great content requires great creators. One place you should never skimp on your content marketing spend is the right people to create your content. Haphazardly adding content creation to an existing role within your team without thinking about the time and expertise it requires is a dangerous strategy.

Content creators have specialized skills that optimize your content to get results. Here are some roles you might need to invest in as part of your content marketing budget:

  • SEO writers can use keywords and other SEO best practices to optimize your written content to rank on search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • SEO specialists optimize the technical aspects of your website to rank on SERPs.
  • Copywriters are trained to write high-quality, high-performing written advertising and marketing content.
  • Graphic designers enhance your digital and print content by making it visually appealing.
  • Web designers ensure the visual and functional design of your website are both running smoothly.

The list isn’t limited to these roles but does include the most commonly needed skills in a content marketing strategy. Again, assigning these responsibilities to a team member without the appropriate skills and training will likely result in underperforming content.

You can also invest in a content marketing agency to handle your strategy for you. Good agencies have the expertise and resources to deliver consistent content, proven strategies, and frequent performance reporting. This frees you up to focus on other strategic priorities.

While outsourcing your content creation is an investment, it’s often more affordable than hiring full-time staff and it allows you to be confident in your content strategy without being bogged down by the work it requires.

Technology tools

Automation, data analytics, social media — all of these are important components of a good content marketing strategy. You can optimize your capabilities in each of these areas with technology tools to support them.

These tools give you important data insights and allow you to scale your strategy to reach larger audiences. Some examples include:

  • Email marketing software enables you to store, email and track content subscriber lists and provides templates for creating well-designed emails.
  • Social media software gives you the ability to digitally house your content calendar, automate posting, post simultaneously across platforms, and access performance reports.
  • Google analytics gives detailed reports on web traffic.
  • Website CMS platforms have analytics capabilities that every company should be taking advantage of as part of their website management.
  • CRM platforms are more comprehensive and allow companies to automate sales, marketing, and reporting processes.

Your content

Depending on how your team is built, your content may or may not come with its own separate price. Often, though, specific projects that fall outside of the scope of a contract with an agency may require additional costs. 

These can include anything from professional produced videos to whitepapers to print brochures and more.

Think about what types of print and digital content you’ll be creating and incorporate those potential costs into your budget.

Does your content marketing spend align with your goals?

Are you ranking high and driving traffic? Are your conversions on the rise with the power of content? If not, then your budget may not be in alignment with your goals. Let’s get them on the same page.

If you’re ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content published consistently, check out our Content Builder Service and schedule a quick consultation today!

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

4 thoughts on “How Much Budget Do You Need for Content Marketing?

  1. Thanks Michael for the post and highlighting this topic. I think it is also important to have a strategy for reusing the original content in different formats and ready for multiple channels. As a part of my content strategy and budgeting, I plan for the buyers journey of my target audience – who they are, what stage of the funnel are they at, and where they are looking for finding the info. This means I can reuse the same content in multiple forms and post it on multiple channels. I usually map the content into my buyers (customers) journey to meet the needs of the target audience, while allocating some of the budget to the channels that I want to promote it on.

  2. Great article which enlightens people on the budget concerning the growth of content marketing process.

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