“What does content marketing cost?” is another way of asking “how effective will my campaign be?” Although there are a few exceptions, you almost always get what you pay for when it comes to content marketing. The most successful campaigns are backed by a good strategy, a sufficient budget, and an experienced team.
Content marketing isn’t free
Let’s get one thing straight: content marketing is never free. Sure, you may never directly pay for an advertisement and you can just stick to posting blogs on your website, but that doesn’t account for all the costs.
A recent Tech Cocktail article sums up all the hidden costs in relation to content marketing. According to the article, most businesses like to forget that they’re paying for writers, marketers, and resources when they calculate their ROIs:
“Yes, content marketing is infinitely cheaper than traditional marketing. But you still need a budget for it. You have to have content writers. You have to have people who understand how content is promoted. You will either hire in-house or you will outsource. Make sure that you have allocated enough resources to do it well. Otherwise, the money is wasted.”
Content marketing isn’t free, and it isn’t even always cheap. Still, it’s one of the most cost-effective online marketing practices out there.
When do diminishing returns set in?
To get more out of your content marketing campaign, you need to pay more. But some small business owners will convince themselves that because of diminishing marginal returns, they shouldn’t produce too much content. According to the logic, the tenth blog of the month won’t be as effective as the first.
There’s no ignoring diminishing marginal returns in the context of content marketing, but you also have to realize that they don’t set in immediately. If you look at any basic production curve in economics, you’ll see that they first increase at an increasing rate before turning concave.
All this means is that there’s a period in the beginning where you’ll get more and more out of additional content. Yes, this will change at some point, but most businesses never make it there.
And this all makes sense in the case of content marketing. If you just post one blog a month, you won’t be able to consistently engage your followers. You’ll probably see greater increases in engagement with your second and third posts.
One reason businesses never even reach the point of diminishing returns is their lack of understanding of how to gauge the success of a campaign. This Forbes article explains why you have to look at multiple metrics rather than having tunnel vision for leads and site traffic:
“To see this return and fully realize content marketing’s value, you have to set goals and use the right metrics to measure your content and how it’s generating engagement. Set up a way to measure those numbers, and run weekly reports to see what’s working and what needs rethinking. Use your content to build yourself a portfolio, which will be helpful during sales meetings, applying for awards, and speaking engagements.”
You can’t possibly know if diminishing returns have set in if you can’t track all the benefits of your campaign. Having a broader understanding in this respect will help you decide if you’ve invested too much or too little.
At what point is outsourcing worth it?
Now, whether you decide to invest more in content marketing or you realize you don’t have the personnel for an in-house campaign, you’ll come across outsourcing as a solution at some point. Depending on your budget, this might be the right step forward.
Outsourcing normally costs more than an in-house campaign, but it also results in a more elaborate campaign. Moreover, the business itself gets to shift its focus back to its core operations.
Now, let’s consider the findings of a recent study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute in regard to content marketing expenditures:
- 39% of businesses will spend more on content marketing in 2017
- 45% of businesses will spend the same amount on content marketing in 2017
- 14% of businesses are unsure how their content marketing expenses will change
- 2% of businesses will decrease their content marketing expenses in 2017
Businesses are spending more on content marketing. As long as you spend $2,500 a month on your campaign, you should consider outsourcing. Anything below that isn’t really enough to get the full benefits from the service.
Is it better to do it on your own?
If you’re not willing to spend $2,500 on content marketing, then you might be better off doing it on your own. This could potentially work out for small businesses that just want to keep their website fresh.
On the other hand, this could also create a rabbit hole of sorts in terms of expenses. Just like how most businesses don’t know how to evaluate their campaigns, they also aren’t experts in terms of assessing their costs.
It helps to consider all the work that goes into a campaign. This Forbes article describes the seven roles of a content marketing team. Here’s one of them, the manager:
“This role is for the doer: They’re in the trenches, ensuring things happen on budget, on time and in the right way, with the right stakeholders looped in throughout the process. This person keeps everyone on task and informs the team of key performance indicators (KPIs) that are integral to their marketing efforts. If there’s no managerial role like this to keep tabs, efforts can become siloed and it will be difficult to see the throughlines of success.”
Managing a content marketing team takes time. In addition to that, you need someone to plan your strategy, someone to write your content, an editor, an SEO expert, a PR representative, and a brand promoter.
If you can do all of that for less than $2,500 a month, then you should go for it independently. If you can’t, then outsourcing might just be a cheaper alternative.
How much will your content marketing campaign cost in 2017? Investing a few hundred dollars won’t bring any results, but you also don’t have to break the bank. There’s a sweet spot somewhere in the middle which you can afford and will bring optimal results.