Once you know what content marketing is, the next logical question is, what’s it going to cost?
The answer is, of course, that it depends.
The U.S. Small Business Administration says companies with less than $5 million in annual sales and net profit margins of 10-12% should spend 7-8% of gross revenues on marketing and advertising. Other figures are 1-2% and 3-5%.
Marketing Costs Are Discretionary Spending
Of course, marketing has always been considered a discretionary expenditure. In recessions, depressions, and other economic downturns like the Great Pause and age of Coronavirus, marketing may not be top of mind (or top of budget).
This isn’t new: the late 20th century, it was often remarked that you could see a recession was on its way when magazines started to shrink due to reduced ad pages. It was a pretty accurate benchmark.
We live in a world of digital marketing now, though, and what constitutes marketing has changed dramatically. It’s not about weekly newspaper and monthly magazine ad spends that allow you to simultaneously target broadly and narrowly.
Importance of Digital Marketing
Instead, it’s about your digital presence, from the landing page of your web site to the user interface of your ecommerce checkout software and the smoothness of your chat bots. It’s about being found among the cacophony that is the online world, and knowing how to get people to your single-most important marketing asset, your web site. Then, it’s about keeping them there for long enough to persuade them you have something they want. Not necessarily today or even tomorrow, but ultimately.
The graphic above is an approximation of elements of a marketing plan and the suggested weight you should put on each activity. Again, the current economic climate may deter you from these sorts of expenditures, and that’s okay. Now’s the perfect time to plan your future marketing strategy, however.
Ad Saturation on the Internet
Back in 2015, Americans were exposed to between 4,000 to 10,000 ads on a daily basis. Ironically, that incredible a volume of “buy me now” demands is counter-productive. We start tuning out, both literally and figuratively, when faced with such an overwhelming number of ads.
We can literally tune out by closing ads, on Facebook and other web sites, with the promise that if you click on “hide this ad” you will never be shown another for the same product. Or we can invest in free or paid ad blocking software. Figuratively, we tune out by doing the digital equivalent of going to the fridge for snacks during commercials: we skim, we let our eyes slide by, we zoom in on something that actually does interest us.
Pillars of a Marketing Platform and Strategy
When you consider the infrastructure of your marketing platform, its three pillars are:
● Your brand and its values
● The marketing strategy you’ve developed to promote your brand and to reach your target audience
● Your brand’s digital presence, starting with website design and development.
A subset of your marketing strategy is the content strategy you develop.
Before you can develop that content strategy, you need to do a complete audit of your site, looking at:
● Existing site content inventory
● Social media efforts
● Competitor performance
● Website optimization, and
● Analytics tracking.
Then you need to determine your content marketing goals, and set measurable targets that will let you know when you’ve achieved them.
These can include:
● Building brand awareness
● Growing traffic to your website
● Increasing leads, and
● Boosting online sales.
Developing a Content Strategy
Once you’ve analyzed your marketing plan, it’s time to develop your content strategy. A blog post is one tactic you might employ, but tactics are doomed to be ineffective if they don’t support an actual strategy. As such, skipping the strategy step of your marketing plan is ill-advised, and doing so would almost certainly lead to a waste of marketing dollars.
Once your content inventory is complete, your target audience has been determined and described, and your content marketing goals have been set, it’s time to create a custom content plan.
The backbone of a custom content plan is an editorial content calendar. This will help you consistently engage with your audience, and, while it won’t completely automate the process, it will make it easier to stay on top of things and ensure they get done.
Built into the content calendar is outreach via various forms of social media. For B2B, that may include dedicated LinkedIn posts. For B2C, it may involve a greater emphasis on Instagram or Pinterest. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube strategies are important for both B2B and B2C.
Analyze Existing Content
Consider the content you already have for or on your site. Depending on its nature, you may be able to revise and update what has performed well or has the potential to drive engagement with some updates and SEO refreshes. That said, be sure your content includes some of the following elements for maximum return on investment:
● Case studies
● Curated content
● Resource pages
● Blog posts
SEO Refreshes are Essential
Search engine optimization of existing, repurposed content, is important. Page titles, SEO-friendly URLs, header tags, and inclusion of often-searched keywords in your industry and geographic location are key to driving traffic to your web site.
Promoting Your Content
Whether you plan to promote your content yourself or outsource promotion will affect your overall content marketing spend. If you don’t have a plan and the internal resources to promote your content on the social media platforms most relevant to your customers, outsourcing its social media promotion is important.
Yes, to some extent, the point employing SEO strategy to capitalize on organic search is that once you’ve built it, they will come. But more of them will come if you promote the great content you’ve developed — and paid for.
Investing in a Content Marketing Plan
The good news about investing in a content marketing plan is that, whether you choose to outsource your social media marketing and promotion or keep it in-house, having a content marketing agency on retainer for your regular content needs means you also have an established relationship with them should you ever need help.
Furthermore, you never know, these days, when your brand is going to get into hot water. Certainly Yorkshire Tea was surprised when it had to endure three days of Twitter trolling after the British Finance minister posted a photo of himself making — you guessed it — Yorkshire Tea for himself and his staff.
Savvy issues management and the British gift for keeping things light while not being a pushover illustrate precisely what consumers are looking for in brands these days: “authenticity, transparency, and friendliness.”
How Much Does Content Marketing Cost?
While some estimates of the cost of content marketing are as high as $5,000 to $50,000 per month, what you spend on marketing should be dependent on the size of your company and its revenues, with the exception of an initial (and annual thereafter) content development strategy.
Investing in professional web design, branding, and marketing strategy development is a one-time upfront cost that should be considered part of your business launch strategy or a major rebranding effort. There’s a reason all business plans include a marketing plan. It’s not enough to produce useful widgets. You have to find a market for them, too. And if you want your business to grow, a constant search for new markets has to be part of your business plan.
Content Marketing Statistics to Know
According to content marketing expert Julia McCoy, “the fundamentals behind content marketing — relationship building, focusing on the customer versus the brand” were a response to the decline in traditional advertising effectiveness.
From her 2016 article, updated in 2017, here are nine statistics that should have you asking not, “What is content marketing going to cost me?” but rather, “Can I afford not to invest in content marketing?”
● Content marketing gets three times the leads per dollar spent as paid search
● Content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing
● Between 1984 and 2014, the number of ads a person saw in a day increased 2.5 times
● Increasingly, we get our news online, not from television, radio, or print media. Consumers have relocated.
● Internet users read blogs. At least the vast majority — 77% of them — do. Small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than small businesses without blogs.
● The majority of U.S. consumers make purchases after reading a blog recommendation — 61%.
● Content marketing conversion rates are six times higher than traditional marketing efforts.
● Content creation is the most effective SEO technique. Business sites populated with blog content lead to a whopping 434% increase in search engine indexed pages. “[T]he more content you create around topics relevant to your audience, the better your chances of boosting traffic from search and nabbing conversions.”
● The more content marketing you do, the more traffic your site will get. Publishing 16 or more posts a month means almost 3.5 times more traffic than publishing zero to four posts per month.
So, in addition to asking what content marketing will cost, ask yourself what not using content marketing will cost your business.
Once you’ve analyzed your needs, consider the benefits of outsourcing your content marketing strategy work to a consultant. Our agency is a fully remote team of writers, editors, SEO specialists, social media managers, and content experts. We know the industry backwards and forwards and stay on top of trends so you don’t have to. We are always available to answer your questions or pivot to suit your needs.
Since we are fully remote, we save tremendously on overhead and can pass those cost savings on to you. We don’t require you to sign up for firm contracts, so you don’t need to worry that you’d be stuck with a content marketing plan you’d be unable to afford in a time of economic hardship like the Great Pause.
We would love to discuss your content marketing needs and come up with a plan and a budget that works for your business. Contact us today for more information.