You can have all the content in the world, but it won’t help your business if no one ever sees it. If you want to get eyes on what you’re creating, you need to invest in content marketing.
According to one study by Kapost and Eloqua, content marketing provides three times the ROI of traditional marketing. Another study by the Content Marketing Institute shows that B2B organizations dedicate 29% of their budget to content marketing on average. Among the top performers, that number jumps to 39%.
But throwing money at content isn’t going to buy success. Like anything else in business, you need to understand your options, and buy the combination of services that makes the most sense for your business.
But with the dizzying range of prices and services available, it can be challenging to figure out how much content marketing will cost your business. So, what should you budget, and how can you find a provider that delivers solid ROI? Here’s what you need to know.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing (CM) is the practice of planning, creating and sharing relevant and engaging digital content. Content marketers strive to connect with their clients’ audience and meet specific goals, such as generating leads, building brand awareness or driving the marketing pipeline. CM includes a range of web content writing, including homepage content, blogs, newsletters, along with other types of media like webcasts, podcasts and infographics.
CM also includes a lot of work outside of content creation, including:
- Content Strategy Different goals, industries and companies call for different types of content. For a new company, a content marketer might focus on creating educational content to increase brand recognition. For a more established brand, marketing might focus more on driving conversions — for example, by highlighting benefits of the company’s products or targeting specific segments.
- Keyword Research If you want to deliver relevant content to your audience, you need to study what they’re searching for. Keyword research can tell you how customers are getting to your website, and help you refine your content strategy and improve ROI.
- Competitive Analysis Good content marketers take the time to analyze what the competitors are doing. Are they blogging, and if so, how often? Are they active on social media? What topics are they addressing? What’s their voice?
Keyword research doesn’t occur in a vacuum. You need to understand how your competitors use content to connect with their audiences. Competitive analysis looks at what keywords and topics your competitors are targeting, but it goes beyond that. Content marketers
- Distribution Depending on your internal workflow, your content marketing team may publish, update and manage your marketing efforts. They’ll format and post blogs, and send out email newsletters, schedule regular social media posts, and even handle various site administration tasks. Which tasks your CM team handles depends on your workflow and preferences — some companies prefer to have their web content writers hand off content to internal marketing staff for publication.
- Monitoring and Improvement Marketing is an iterative process. Your CM team should send out scheduled reports on how content is performing, and meet with you to hone your content strategy. In many cases, they’ll also collaborate with other departments to support your company — for example, by promoting new products or addressing questions your sales team receives.
Content Marketing Models
Because content marketing covers strategy, research and content, there are different ways to divide up the services. Many companies will benefit from partnering with a full-service content marketing agency to handle everything from research, to SEO, to ongoing content creation.
This is a great option for small businesses — you can just plug into a working system — and companies looking to outsource their marketing program to focus on their core competencies. Outsourcing can also help you to stick to a budget — allowing you to figure out exactly how much content marketing will cost your business.
If you have marketing assets in place, however, you may only need some of the services. For example, you might have an in-house SEO and content strategy expert, and just need a website content writer and social media team. In that case, you’ll have a lot of options, including:
- Contractors: Contractors can provide piecework (for example, your homepage) or ongoing work (e.g. two blog posts a week). This can be a workable approach if you have a solid content marketing department, and just need some help with extra content. However, finding the right writer can be tricky. They require extra oversight, and contractors may not be available when you need them.
- Content Writing Services: Content services are platforms. Companies send out content requests, which are farmed out to writers, managed by the service. This can be a good way to get lots of content at a low price, but you get what you pay for. You generally won’t be able to work closely with your writers, and will have problems with inconsistent quality and voice as a result.
- In-House Staff: Some companies get great results from internal content marketing teams, but you’ll be reinventing the wheel to some degree. For SMEs with modest budgets, it’s usually not worth it.
- Agencies: Full service content marketing agencies can work with you to provide the skills you lack internally. A good agency will work as an an extension of your own team, and give you a lot of extra flexibility you won’t get with from retaining contractors or adding staff. If one of your team members departs or goes on vacation, or you need an outside site audit, you’ll have someone standing by to fill in.
How Much Does Content Marketing Cost?
The cost of content marketing varies tremendously. The range of services, amount and type of content, staffing model and other factors all help shape the price. Here are some of the main factors that affect pricing.
How Much Does Content Research Cost?
Content research isn’t just the first step in a successful content marketing strategy — it’s also a sort of audition for a content marketing agency. It gives you a chance to see how thorough a potential partner is, and gain some valuable direction for your content strategy.
Fortunately, the first part of that is free. Your agency should ask a lot of questions about your company — your content strategy, goals, main competitors, stylistic preferences, and a lot more. If an agency promises to tell you everything about who your company is and what your content strategy needs to accomplish without conducting an interview, you can safely walk away.
After that, things can get pricey, pretty quickly. Costs vary tremendously, as do the services offered. Some companies will charge $25,000 and up, while others will do a basic site audit and some content research for a few hundred dollars. Some organizations package strategy with other services, while others (like The Content Factory) give you the option of commissioning some initial research and going from there.
At The Content Factory, we believe in transparency, and flexibility. We charge $2,500 for keyword research and competitive analysis, which will give you data-driven insight into content strategy, and a clear direction for your site copy, blog, social media and other content.
How Much Does Website Content Writing Cost?
As we’ve said before, web design companies make pricing website content difficult. These businesses often bill for the landing page as a whole, throwing in the content along with the design and development. In essence, the content is a freeby — you’re hiring them to put together your website. That’s one of the main reasons why there are so many slick, professional-looking websites with abominable copy.
Among companies that write website copy, costs are extremely variable. We’ve seen content writers quote as much as $25,000 per page, although obviously that’s at the far end. $3,000-$4,000 per page is more common, but that can easily total $20,000 for a website — way out of the range of most startups and small businesses.
At The Content Factory, we charge $1 per word (including edits) for landing pages, with a minimum of $1,000 for the project. For a typical 5-7 page website, that comes out to about $2,000-$4,000. That lets us serve small businesses as well as larger organizations, and provide maximum ROI for our clients.
How Much Does Blogging Cost?
Like anything else in content marketing, there’s a huge range. We’ve seen content writing services that will provide a 2,000 word blog for $100, and there’s probably someone somewhere doing it for less than that. Think about that for a moment. Normally, a 2,000 word blog takes roughly in the neighborhood of 6 or 7 hours to write.
The only way the writer behind that blog is going to be paying their bills is by rushing it. If you want content that represents your company in a good light, you need to pay your writers. On the other end, you could pay $2,000 or more for a 2,000 word blog.
At the Content Factory, we charge $950 for 2,000+ words (including edits) — a little less than $.50 per word. Costs depend on length, typically ranging from $150 for a 300-400 word article, to $1450 for a 3,000 word piece. We can also meet custom requirements for your content strategy, whether you need mini articles, or 5,000+ word ebooks.
How Much Does Social Media Marketing Cost?
Typically, social media marketing costs anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000 per month. To a large extent, it depends on what you’re getting. Here are a few things to look for:
- Content: What social media channels does your agency cover? How many posts do they provide a week? You probably don’t need to be on everything, but you should budget to post regularly on at least one channel.
- Engagement: Is your agency holding live events and engaging with influencers? Are they engaging with customers and answering questions about your company and brand? Or are they just scheduling a few tweets every day, and collecting a paycheck?
- Monitoring: Does your social media marketing team monitor keywords and mentions of your brand and products? Do they report on the reach of your posts? Will they keep you in the loop when people start talking about your new product?
- Promotion: Your social media accounts are a great way to increase the expand of blogs, press releases, events and other content. Look for a company that uses social media to support other aspects of your content marketing strategy.
Our social media packages start at $3,500 per month. We can also offer combined social and PR for $7,500 per month.
How Much Does a Press Release Cost?
Big surprise — there’s a wide range here. However, generally you should expect to pay somewhere between about $500 and $2,500. On top of that, you can pay an extra $400 for press release distribution service if you really want to (it’s not worth it.)
However, if you really want your press releases to be effective, you need an agency that will actually do the work to promote it. That means developing relationships with reporters, and reaching out directly to get coverage. TCF does all that for a flat fee of $1,500 per press release.
How Much Does it Cost to Update Your Content?
A good web content writer will strive to create evergreen content whenever possible, but that doesn’t mean you should leave your content sitting there forever. You may want to optimize an old blog post for Google’s featured snippet box, or add new sections to bring in more traffic. You may need to audit and revise your homepage to keep up with changing SEO best practices. Or, you may need a complete website redesign and rebranding.
If you’re just looking to expand articles to boost your search rankings, costs are pretty simple. At the Content Factory, we charge the same rates for expanding old content as we do for our other website content writing services. For other services like SEO updates and content audits, it really depends on the scope of the project.
Content Marketing Packages Vs. Per-Piece Content
Per-piece or per-project pricing is good if you’re looking for a website content writer or some basic content strategy help to complement your in-house program, but a lot of companies need more than that. Maybe you’re looking for an agency that can provide complete content marketing, PR and social media services. Maybe you have a complex project like a website rebranding and redesign, and need an experienced partner to put it together.
For ongoing content marketing and major projects, buying a package is usually the best way to go. You’ll get better results by working with a single cohesive team, and typically save money as well. We can’t cover the entire scope of content marketing packages — there are just too many combinations and variations out there — but we can cover some of our package offerings.
If you’re looking for a total content marketing provider, The Content Factory can do it all for $10,000 per month. That includes content and content strategy, PR, and social media across all your channels. We also offer site a complete website rebranding and redesign package, starting at $10,000, which includes everything from website copywriting and SEO implementation, to redesigning all your social media pages, to making you a shiny, new logo and a catchy tagline (check out our generic proposal for more information.)
Website Content is a Means, Not an End
The question you should ask isn’t how much does content marketing cost, it’s how much you’re willing to spend on CM. In a way, with content marketing, you get what you pay for: if you have a huge budget, you’re going to be able to afford a lot of content, and a large team promoting it. If you’re a small business, though, you’re going to have to figure out a way to make a small budget go a long way.
Likewise, while costs are a key concern, it’s important to remember that you’re not just buying content. You’re investing in greater visibility, more website visitors and more customers. The right partner will do more than churn out decent copy — they’ll create a content strategy that connects with your audience, boosts your Google profile, and gets your business the attention it needs.
Learn More About What It Takes to Get Results From Your Content
We’re pretty proud of The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing — its killer tips on content strategy and deep insight into choosing the right agency have earned us links from some of the leading voices in our industry.
We also offer content marketing and SEO training for ambitious entrepreneurs who want to learn the ins and outs of search engine optimization, keyword research, and writing content that brings crazy organic traffic to your site. You can register for our free webinar on 9 Expensive SEO Mistakes You’re (Probably) Making for a small taste of what our course offers. If you like what you see, learn more about our training and enroll!
Alternately, contact us to learn how The Content Factory can help you reach your marketing goals.