Content creation is often hailed as the starting point for successful digital marketing. However, the truth is that every piece of content begins with a transaction.
Whether it’s the physical act of typing on a keyboard or the mental process of brainstorming and organizing ideas, the foundation of it all lies in the mighty transaction of money.
In the realm of content marketing, it takes money to make money. Developing a well-rounded content marketing budget is essential for achieving your organic marketing goals. But here’s the good news: you don’t necessarily need a hefty budget to accomplish remarkable results.
Content marketing offers a unique opportunity to do more with less, as exceptional content can be created on any budget.
For content marketers and small business professionals, understanding the various components of your marketing budget is vital, especially before embarking on new brand awareness initiatives. Amidst a sea of conflicting numbers, divergent marketing agency quotes, and high-end automation tools, identifying the perfect figure becomes far from a fixed equation.
So, how much do you truly need for your content marketing budget?
In the following sections, we will delve into the key factors that shape your budget and provide valuable insights to consider as you crunch the numbers.
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What Should a Content Marketing Budget Include?
The cost of content marketing is a dynamic landscape, constantly evolving due to technological advancements and fierce competition. While there is a positive trend of decreasing costs, it’s important to acknowledge that it can still be a substantial investment.
According to a survey conducted by BrightLocal, the average small to medium-sized business (SMB) allocates approximately $400 per month to digital content, totaling around $4,800 annually. This figure encompasses several key aspects of content marketing, including:
- Marketing Tools: Streamlining the content marketing process often requires leveraging automation and publishing tools.
- Content Team / Freelancers: Many businesses opt to hire skilled content creators to assist in generating and publishing consistent, high-quality content.
- Advertising: Costs for advertising on platforms like Google AdWords and Facebook can vary significantly across industries and platforms.
- Analytics: Investing in software that provides comprehensive analytics for digital marketing campaigns enables businesses to gauge their return on investment (ROI) accurately.
It’s worth noting that the scale of your business will directly influence the overall costs. For larger SMB operations, a comprehensive marketing budget may comprise the following elements:
- Marketing Tools: $300 per month
- Content Team / Freelancers: $300 per month
- Advertising: $150 per month
- Analytics: $250 per month
However, it’s crucial to stay attuned to the ever-changing digital marketing industry, as costs may fluctuate on a monthly basis. Prioritizing thorough research before investing in marketing tools or team members is essential.
Devoting time to this research now will yield substantial benefits as you adapt your content marketing strategy from year to year.
Operational Costs: Content Marketing Team and Tools
When it comes to implementing your content strategy, the people behind it play a crucial role in determining its success and impact on your business.
While costs for marketing tools, advertising, and website management are relatively consistent across the board, selecting the right individuals to handle your content can significantly influence your bottom line and overall content goals.
Let’s explore the options:
In-House Content Marketers
An in-house content team consists of staff members employed by your business. Utilizing your existing talent can be a cost-effective solution.
Identify team members with specialized skills, such as infographic design, social media expertise, or blogging prowess. Recognizing and harnessing these talents can benefit both the employees and the company in unconventional ways.
However, it’s important to consider the opportunity cost of in-house content production.
Assess where your staff’s time is best spent. If they have the capacity to write one blog a month, for example, you can significantly reduce content team costs. Quality content production requires skill and consistency, which can be challenging for an already busy SMB operation.
Additionally, if your employees are not strong writers, you may struggle to produce the content your leads and customers require.
An in-house content production is an ideal option if you:
- Have tighter budgets to work with.
- Are just starting out on your content marketing journey.
- Know exactly what type of content you want to produce.
- Have writing and editing talents within your in-house team.
Outsourced Content Marketers
Freelancers are valuable assets in the marketing world, offering flexibility and expertise.
Outsourcing your content marketing to freelancers allows you to produce more content of higher quality, relieving the performance anxiety from your central marketing team.
Freelancers specializing in copywriting, email marketing, lead generation, and content strategy can bring fresh ideas and suggestions to improve your content and overall strategy.
Consider hiring freelancers for tasks such as capturing captivating product photos for social media or creating tailored content for white papers and case studies. With outsourced content marketers, your content budget becomes scalable, and you can benefit from a diverse talent pool.
Keep in mind that quality comes at a price, so it’s essential to hire freelancers with the necessary skills, experience, and knowledge to consistently deliver high-quality content for your business.
Outsourcing to freelancers is a suitable choice if:
- You want more control over the quality of your content.
- You have a flexible budget.
- You’re looking for diverse, high-quality writing.
- You can benefit from a more diverse talent pool.
Marketing agencies offer comprehensive content generation services and serve as an extension of your internal marketing team. These agencies handle content writing, implementation, and strategy while providing access to marketing tools and analytics without the need for your own investments.
However, it’s important to note that working with marketing agencies is the most expensive option, with costs ranging from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands.
Marketing agencies are the best option if you:
- WYou want a one-stop shop for all content needs.
- Don’t have the time to dedicate to a value-driven content strategy.
- Have a large content budget and want someone to handle everything for you.
- Are already using an agency to handle things like web development and SEO.
Distribution Channels and Promotion Strategies
You need to have a strategy in place for distributing your content to ensure the right people see it. You also need to add distribution to your content marketing budget so you know how to pay for it.
There are a variety of potential distribution options for content, such as:
- Online ads
- Print ads
- Social media channels
- Email newsletters
The most innovative way to create a distribution strategy that works within your budget is to figure out what costs the least and build upward. The answer for most brands is going to be social media.
Social media promotions
Social media is a great balancer when it comes to marketing. It is something that is accessible to most businesses. That’s true whether you are a freelancer looking to expand your clientele or a Fortune 500 corporation.
You can set up a Facebook or Instagram business account and pay nothing. You also have the option to promote your posts for a small fee. Boosting posts means the social media platform will show more impressions of your post to others, even if they don’t follow your account. You can typically target the audience to fit your ideal customer.
You only pay if someone clicks on the post. On average, you might pay anywhere from $.50 to $1.00 per click or $1.00 daily for a Facebook boost. Both accounts let you control your budget. You set a daily limit, and they stop the boost once you hit it.
You can limit your use of this feature, too, per post. So you might decide to boost a post about a new blog or discount a product.
An email newsletter is another potentially free content distribution option. Like social media, though, it can be time-intensive. Email newsletters are a practical way to do promotions, though. For example, you could send out an email offering those who get the newsletter an exclusive discount. You can also use it for a sneak peek at a new product.
You also want to factor in the must-haves like a website. The cost of a website depends on many facets. For instance, you can choose a platform that provides easy design and setup templates. That might cost as little as nothing to several hundred dollars a month.
If you choose a low-cost host platform, you may pay less but have third-party ads on your pages. Hubspot lists some of the common website charges as:
- Hosting – $3 to $400 per month
- Domain – $3 to $25 per year
- SSL certificate – $0 to 250 per year
A well-designed, SEO-focused website can pay for itself, though. It increases your web presence, so you appear on more organic searches. That means more people know about your brand.
Other distribution channels
The cost of other distribution channels for content varies. You should save the last of your budget for things like:
- Online ads
- Sponsored ads
- Multimedia, such as videos and podcasts
The costs vary, as well. You can likely find something within your budget range. You should monitor the metrics to ensure it is worth the money before committing to anything long-term, such as a yearly subscription plan.
Measuring ROI and Adapting the Budget for Content Marketing
Determine ways to measure the return on your investment, so you can adjust your budget when necessary. For example, if paid ads are not fruitful, you could redistribute that money in another direction. If you see success with them, change the budget to accommodate more. That might mean adding funds to it or eliminating another distribution channel.
Website metrics are the best way to see the results of most content marketing efforts. With them, you can monitor, not only click-through rates, but also:
- Engagement – High bounce and exit rates show something isn’t working.
- Conversions – Is your content leading to leads or even purchases?
Also, monitor your sales after new content goes out. If you see an increase, it is paying for itself. If not, you might need to tweak it somewhere.
Before each new campaign, write down the current revenue. This is your starting number. Next, calculate your investment. How much did you pay for ads, graphics, and distribution? You can use these figures to see if you are on point regarding return.
Take the revenue and subtract the cost of your investment. Multiply that answer by 100 to convert it into a percentage. That is your target number. You should see that much increase in sales or leads if everything is working correctly.
How to Budget for Content Marketing in 2023? An Example
Approach this budget the way you do any. What do you need, and what do you want? If you used a budget the previous year, take it out and evaluate it. What worked best? What fell short?
If you spent 25% of your content budget on ads but saw little return, you know to use that money elsewhere this year. You can also use your previous budget to determine if you need more money or not. If your blog did well, you might want to add a new post each week. That would be well spent even if you have to pull the funds from somewhere else.
Plan to use anywhere from 25% to 40% of your overall marketing budget on content. This gives you a target amount. Factor in the cost of your website. This is an essential marketing tool and maybe your most expensive content.
With that in mind, develop a content calendar that will help guide you for the year. Figure out what you will do with the rest of the allocated funds. How much will you spend on ads, for example? What about writers and graphics? How much does maintaining your blog cost?
Tips For Creating An Effective Content Marketing Budget
Allocating your budget wisely is essential for maximizing your efforts. While it’s easy to spend money on marketing, focusing on quality and value can drive up costs.
However, the key to success lies not in the price tag but in the intent behind your content. Make every penny count by following these tips to optimize your content marketing budget:
Harness the power of SEO
Conduct thorough research and incorporate search engine optimization techniques into your content. This doesn’t require a significant financial investment, but it is crucial for ensuring your content ranks well and reaches the right audience.
Choose the right tools for your needs
Avoid falling for the latest buzzworthy marketing tools and instead focus on finding solutions that align with your specific requirements. The best tools for your team may not necessarily be the trendiest ones in the market.
Leverage LinkedIn for talent
Utilize LinkedIn’s vast professional network to find experienced content writers who specialize in your industry. Publishing blog posts on LinkedIn is also a cost-effective way to reach your audience and alleviate budget constraints.
Understand your target audience
Go beyond surface-level knowledge and truly empathize with your marketing personas. Imagine having a genuine conversation with them to uncover the type of content they seek. Research, implement, and refine your strategy accordingly.
Determine your budget format
Decide on a format for your marketing budget, whether it’s a fixed amount, a percentage of income, or a scalable number. This consideration is especially important if you plan to invest in content marketing long-term.
Crafting a content marketing budget is challenging, but finding the right people to execute your strategy within your budget can be even more difficult.
WriterAccess specializes in connecting businesses like yours with top-notch freelancers who can take your content marketing to new heights. With our innovative AI system that matches you with the most qualified writers in your industry, optimizing your content marketing efforts has never been easier.
However, don’t just take our word for it. Explore how the process works and see if WriterAccess is the ideal solution for maximizing your content marketing budget.