Last year, content marketing spread like wildfire. Now, over 91% of B2B marketers are currently using content marketing, according to a survey by the Content Marketing Institute. And even more excitingly, content marketing has been proven to be one of the most effective tactics for lead generation.

Despite this, businesses are somewhat lost when it comes to the numbers. Even now, business owners are still doubtful about their content marketing spend. Some common questions are:

  1. How much should I spend on content marketing?
  2. What portion of my marketing budget should be allocated to content marketing?
  3. How much does content marketing actually cost?

Unfortunately, there is no one answer as to how much your business needs to allocate for content marketing. Research gives us some general guidelines that on average businesses normally allocate 25% of their marketing budget to content marketing, but knowing whats right for your business is complex. The amount you should spend on content marketing is dependent on several different variables – your business’ growth plans and stage of maturity (younger = higher spend), your sales and revenue goals and specifically the number of leads you need to achieve those goals.

However, we are going to make it a little easier for you. In this blog, we’ll discuss the specific costs you must incur for content marketing.

Marketing Automation Software 

A big cost you will have to incur initially is the purchase of your marketing automation tool for email marketing. This cost is usually accompanied by the costs of setting up a blog, since email marketing will not be the only tactic you use in your content marketing strategy. You will also want to invest in a tool that will automate your social media updates and manage your SEO and keywords too.

There are several email automation tools out there, such as Vision6 and MailChimp for email, SocialOomph and HootSuite for social media. Whilst these tools are quite easy to manage separately, the huge challenge is keeping these separate marketing channels aligned and the databases synched. Its hugely more economical and time efficient for you to use a complete marketing automation software package that combines email marketing, social networking, SEO, workflows and analytics capabilities, and so on, such as HubSpot.

Cost: Between $200 – $800 a month, plus several thousand dollars in setup and training costs (unless you use a Hubspot partner) – Based on HubSpot plans

People

Of course, even the best automation tools are worthless if you do not use it well. Therefore, you will also need to invest in the right resources. You need a skilled marketer who can develop a sound content marketing strategy that deploys the right mix of channels to help you achieve your goals, and a writer who understands the importance of writing engaging buyer focused content that encourages conversions.

Some organisations think a marketer can be a writer and vice versa. But the reality is – not all marketers can write engaging content and not many writers can write with marketing principles in mind. Ultimately, content generation must not be underestimated. It poses the greatest challenge for 69% of marketers, according to Hanley Wood Marketing. Therefore, it is crucial to invest your resources in a writer with a good marketing foundation to be able to write content that leads yours buyers forward in their buying journey.

Cost: $6,000 per month (based on average marketing and writer compensation) before overhead and taxes. (Fully loaded costs can easily reach $10k per month.)

Analysis and updates

You will have to invest time in analytics to regularly monitor the progress and results of your content marketing campaigns. Your reports will clearly show how your campaign is performing against objectives. This will help you determine the elements to change in your marketing campaign to improve your results.

Additionally, marketing automation tools such as HubSpot are always growing. They periodically release updates and new functionalities. It is important that your marketers keep up with these new features and leverage them to improve the results of your marketing campaigns.

Cost: $500 every month

All in all, content marketing costs organisations over $10,000 per month, when done internally, and that is over and above the time investment to understand the ins and outs of content marketing.

Of course some organisations prefer the option of outsourcing to an external B2B marketing agency to take care of it. In most cases, these will be more cost-effective since they have the experience with content marketing in general and are power users of the tools involved, and therefore don’t have to incur some costs that you would have to.

Equally, finding and keeping staff with the right skills is a constant challenge and oursourcing is a great way to manage this risk. When content generation s a fundamental part of your lead acquisition and sales strategy this is an important consideration.

Choosing the right agency to ensure a return on your investment is not always easy. The key is to work with an agency who understands the importance of buyer centricity in all the content they generate and build this into the content campaigns they run for you.

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Chris Fell is the Managing Director of g2m Solutions, and an accredited align.me Funnel Coach. To read more of his insights, go to the g2M Solutions blog.