How Much Should Content Marketing Cost?

cost of content marketing
cost of content marketing

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the cost of content marketing today. That’s because there are so many variables that go into pricing and overall spend. Each business’s content marketing costs will depend on how developed their existing content strategy is, what the content should achieve and whether an in-house team or outsourcing is a better fit.

We also have to get granular and look at factors such as quality, content type, and frequency.

The truth is, there isn’t a single answer to the question of how much content marketing should cost, or even a ballpark figure. You can, however, gain clarity when you reverse engineer the pricing question.

Instead of asking how much it should cost, a better question is: How much should your business spend on content marketing?

Quick Takeaways:

  • Content marketing costs are going to vary based on what a business needs.
  • Understand what businesses in your vertical are paying to help inform your budget.
  • Ultimately, a business’s unique content marketing goals and budget will dictate the cost.

Aligning Content Costs with Business Goals

Know what you’re willing to spend based on the business goals content marketing helps you achieve. For example, how much are 20 new leads a month and a 10 percent month-over-month increase in sales worth to your business? How much value would a 50 percent increase in web traffic bring to your company?

Then, leverage content to reach those objectives, using your budget to inform your content plan. Implement it, track your return on investment, and keep making it better to yield optimum results.

Let’s take a look at the factors involved and the actual numbers. Use this information to decide what content to use to reach business goals while staying within a budget that works for your business.

1. Do You Already Have a Content Marketing Strategy?

Paying an agency for a comprehensive strategy can cost several thousand dollars for a small to medium-sized business in any vertical. For an enterprise company, the cost can reach $50,000 or more.

Why do you need a content marketing strategy? Can’t I just start publishing blog posts and sharing on LinkedIn or Instagram?

Without a strategy, you’re probably not going to see results. And if you do, they’ll be fleeting. A strategy involves developing buyer personas, audience and competitor analysis, goal-setting, and forming an actionable content plan.

It covers all the information gathering and groundwork necessary to leverage content for business goals – and to generate long-term, sustainable, and even exponential results for your business, not just a blip in traffic or a short-term sales boost.

If you want to find out why so many content marketers are strategy-obsessed, watch this phenomenal talk on strategy by the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi.

2. What Are Your Content Goals?

The purpose of content marketing is to use content to reach business benchmarks. Clarify your goals to decide what type of content to use, how comprehensive you want your strategy to be, and how you want it to evolve over time.

Your business will likely want to achieve all of these goals with your content marketing:

  • Bring more traffic to your website – You’ll need a budget for blog posts and other content to generate inbound traffic. Blog post prices range from about $50 to $1,000 or more for content written by an expert content writer.
  • Generate more leads – By offering ebooks, white papers, email newsletters, and other valuable content, a business can entice website visitors to share their contact information and become a lead. The cost of an ebook ranges from $500 at the low end of the spectrum to several thousand, and can include costs for writing, editing, and graphic design. Expect similar pricing for white papers.
  • Build brand awareness – Social media is used in content marketing to reach new customers and increase engagement. Include room in your budget for creating social media posts, including visual content, and managing your publishing schedule. A marketing video to post on social media can cost anywhere from $1000 for a basic video to $50,000 for a high-end one.

Keep in mind, while different types of content are helpful in reaching certain goals, with a good content marketing strategy, all of these elements and more are working together to create results.

3. In-House or Outsourcing Content – Which Costs More?

Another factor that will dictate what a business spends is whether there are enough resources to keep content marketing in-house.

You can outsource some or all of your content marketing. Usually, outsourcing content creation makes the most sense for SMBs. That stills leaves content management tasks to in-house staff unless you choose to work with a content marketing agency.

In addition to content creation, someone needs to:

  • Create and manage the editorial calendar
  • Set brand tone standards and ensure they’re followed
  • Publish content on the right channels
  • Measure content ROI
  • Continually reevaluate the existing content strategy and refine as needed

For enterprise companies, having an in-house team may be more practical because the amount and quality of content they need justify paying full-time salaries. Here are some updated figures from Glassdoor:

  • The average salary for a copywriter is $58K.
  • For a copy editor in the US, the average salary is $44K.
  • An in-house social media strategist will cost about $50K per year.
  • The average salary for a graphic designer is $45k.

4. What Content Marketing Tools Will Your Business Use?

The tools your business utilizes will influence how much you spend every month on content marketing. It’s worth exploring what types of technology are available.

Determine where you can use content marketing tools to automate tasks, improve outcomes, and save money. Then, invest in the platforms and apps that are worthwhile. Some will involve an upfront investment, but many useful tools for project management, email automation, SEO, and more are available under a Software as a Service (SaaS) business model, which means you’ll pay a fixed monthly subscription fee.

5. How Much, How Good, How Often?

After you create a strategy with clear goals and benchmarks, you’ll know what content to use to reach those goals and what tools can help you along the way. With this information, you can estimate how much you’ll spend on content marketing, whether you’re outsourcing or creating content in-house. This is your cost baseline.

The next step: the details. Now, decide how much content you need, how high you want the quality to be, and how often to post. Then, you can tweak your content marketing costs to fit into your budget.

The specific costs are really up to what your business wants right now. For example, you can pay a video production company to create a premium marketing video for $20k, a more basic video for $1,500, or you can invest $5k to $10k in video equipment and create videos in-house.

The Costs of Content Marketing Are Flexible – Use That to Your Advantage

The beauty of content marketing is, if you do it well and stick with it, it will drive business results. I’ve watched it happen with all our clients. I know it works.

It will lead to an increase in revenue. And, you will have more resources to keep investing in content marketing to get even greater results.

Start where you are right now. Use a strategy. Execute it, measure the results. Then evolve and scale your content marketing as your business grows.

If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content published consistently, check out our Content Builder Service.

Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today – and generate more traffic and leads for your business.

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.

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