How Much Should You Really Be Spending on Content Marketing?

Content is the basis for all online activity, but many marketing budgets fail to effectively address the monetary investment or return of content assets. Pinpointing dollar amounts can be difficult, but you only need a rough plan to see the real ROI of investing in high quality writing, video, and visual content.

Why Tie a Dollar Value to Content?

Content is the backbone of your marketing spending. If you don’t tie a dollar value to each content asset, you may have a hard time justifying your marketing budget year after year. Statistics from B2B and B2C companies show growth in content marketing spending, but the ones who can pinpoint financial ROI are the ones who know where to put their money year after year.

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America, around half of B2C companies plan to increase their content marketing spending in the next 12 months. Producing engaging content and measuring it are two of the toughest challenges businesses of all sizes face. Without understanding how you can make content work for you, your business may be shooting in the dark.

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free for use with no attribution

Evaluating Cost and Return Before You Spend

Think about what you need to gain before you decide what you can spend. Many small businesses make the mistake of looking at their finances and seeing where they have a little extra cash flow that won’t impact the business. While no business should overextend itself with a content campaign investment, strategy wins over pure financial motive. Make every last penny you put into a campaign work for you with some careful planning.

The Starting Point

What does your audience want to see online? If you’re a B2B business, your bread and butter is in demonstration videos, informational blogs, white papers, and case studies. As a B2C business, you’re looking to connect with your audience in as many ways as possible including blogs, social media posts, paid promotion, video text messages, and more. Budgeting for the channel can help you identify the value of each approach and piece of content instead of looking only at generalized outcomes.

For every piece of content you plan to produce, work out the cost of creation. What does it cost your company to create a high quality piece of content? Your goal is to make every piece of content pay for itself and then some.

Distribution and Measuring Success

Content marketing offers both short-term and long-term results. Distribution, the quality of your content, and the size of your audience all affect how long it will take for you to see a return. Define your goals for each timeframe and how you will handle each variable.

  • Earn sales – Maybe you sell a software product that helps teachers create virtual field trips. Perhaps you charge for the starter kit that you market in your ebook. If you relied on sales alone, how many new sales would it take for you to hit your target?
  • Sell advertising space – Selling space on your landing page to other advertisers gives you the opportunity to earn a profit based on click rates, views, or timeframes. If you divide this profit among your content assets, they will offset the costs of your campaign over time.

These are the primary methods websites of all kinds use to earn money from online content. The good news is that if your content is unique, well-written, and valuable to your audience, your onetime investment will pay for itself many times. It doesn’t stop working for you after 6 months unless you let it fall into the “online abyss.” When you start to think about what you want from your content and when you need to see it, developing a strategy to get there is a matter of sitting down and doing it.

Getting More Bang for Your Buck

To hit your content marketing targets, you need a multifaceted approach. Simply creating a landing page will not earn you the revenue you need. Everything you do from the time you decide to create a piece of content will dictate its future success and your chances of earning a profit. Here is what you need to know about producing content that pays for itself in 2016:

  • Put your audience first – If your content doesn’t resonate with your audience, it won’t succeed in search engines or in driving sales. Do whatever it takes to find out what interests your audience and then make that content unique. For instance, if you sell oxygen tanks as a medical supply company, you likely work with insurance representatives and health care professionals. “What to Look for in an Oxygen Tank Vendor” may not cut it, but an article on how your new resupply program cuts costs for regular subscribers is gold. It demonstrates direct value your consumers need to see.
  • Diversify distribution – When you create a piece of content, put it everywhere you possibly can. Post it on social media, send it out via email, and talk to industry publications that might be interested in using your content, reviewing it, or mentioning it. Improving your channel distribution will improve visibility and increase the likelihood of earnings. Each new channel, share, or “like” may add 100, 1000, or 10,000 new eyes to your pool of prospects.
  • Reuse good content – Many types of content have a relatively short lifespan online. Pull out the best performing information you have from a year or two years ago and refresh it. Post it again to boost earnings without spending on brand new content. Consider creating a special post once a year that compiles all of the best information you’ve posted in one place. Change the format of content to enhance its performance.
free for use with no attribution

free for use with no attribution

Budgeting for content is not easy or fun, but it will help you understand the importance of the investment. Remember that a strong online presence isn’t just for today and tomorrow – the effort you put in now will help you gain a competitive advantage and earn/retain customers for years to come.

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Rachel Winstead

When she isn’t writing, Rachel spends as much time as she can outside hiking or working in the yard. Kayaking and paddleboarding are two of her favorite outdoor activities, and she’s looking forward to teaching her pit bull-mix, Sawyer, how to balance on a board. She routinely goes camping in the mountains of North Georgia with friends and her boyfriend, David.

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