As an owner of a content marketing agency, every day, I encounter and speak with a lot of business owners who claim they are serious about building a top-notch content marketing strategy and executing on it. And for the most part, they are serious about it.
There’s just one problem – their budget is hard to take seriously. It is even harder to work with. And it is nearly impossible to get the results they are looking for at their desired price point.
How does what you pay for impact what you get when it comes to content marketing in 2019?
How much should you be spending on high-quality content if you really want to get results?
I wrote this guide to answer these exact questions, and to help business owners, marketing managers, and content marketers alike understand how much a content marketing strategy really should cost, and what they can expect.
What the Average Business Owner Thinks vs. Reality
I would say on average, this is the type of prospective client that Cody and I run into:
Look, there is nothing wrong with this checklist. If anything, it shows that as a business owner you are aware of the trends that are driving the market, and understand you must stay nimble to remain relevant.
But, to get from here to a content marketing strategy that will get real results for your business, there are a few expectations and schools of thought that we need to smash through:
1. Paying for “300-500 Word Content for SEO” is Worth It
Due to the complexity of the field, and the numerous paths you can take to achieve online marketing success, it is often difficult for business owners to fully understand the difference between SEO and content marketing, and where the two meet in perfect harmony.
At the end of the day, I’d be lying if I told you that creating some content is worse than not producing any. However, as far as Google goes, if you are only focused on this type of short form content, you almost might as well not be making content at all.
But why is this the case? There are 5 main reasons for this:
Let me explain each of these ideas in more depth.
Serving User Intent Is #1
Search engines have finally caught up with user intent. The algorithms are focused on providing searchers with the most comprehensive resource possible. This is one that has answers to not only their main query, but dozens of others that are related to the subject.
If you provide only 300-800 words (nearly half of which are made up of the headings, intro and conclusion) you are not really serving any user intent at all. In fact, anyone who does get misguided to your page by Google will likely bounce in less than 10 seconds, sending poor signals to search engines, causing your content to be displayed less often, hurting your overall site authority.
There are dozens of other factors that come into play when it comes to improving Google rankings. This is something that entirely deserves its own mega-guide, which is why I wrote about it here.
(Comprehensive) Content is King
When it comes to producing blog content at least, comprehensive content is the key to succeeding in any industry.
Over the last few years, this has become alarmingly clear. In fact, the top ranking blogs on Google (in a study of over 900 million SERPs results) average over 1,800 words.
Why? Well, if I am searching for “how can I change my oil?”, I also probably have questions like:
So, if your content answers these additional questions, and links out to other resources that can help users answer them as well, it is considered to be comprehensive.
As you may imagine, the more questions you answer, the higher your word count will be. There is a drop-off point, where the length of an article has a diminishing level of returns, somewhere around the 2,500 to 4,000-word count.
As you may imagine, there is no possible way that a 500-word article can stand up to something like this. How could it? It answers almost none of my questions, and if it does, it has no comprehensive answers or great resources it links out to.
2. Content Research Should Be Free
Would you expect to get your car problems diagnosed for free? What about your body checked out at the doctors? Or even, how about a customized nutrition plan?
You may have these expectations, but you will likely be disappointed. And the reason is, time is money. At the end of the day, a doctor, mechanic, or nutritionist is a highly trained and specialized professional with years of experience. They pay for tools, resources, overhead, and staff with their own money, and take on liability as a business for their services.
This is no different for content marketers. We have taken years to develop our skill sets, build tools, teams, and processes. They focus on delivering quality and precision. If you want quality and precision, you should be willing to pay for it. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting very subpar results.
3. You Can Do Comprehensive Content Research On Your Own
Look, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that there are not tools you could purchase, videos you could watch, and resources you could read that could make you as good at content research as the team here at Poofnewsales. Because the truth is, you could. Just as I could take a few years to become a plumber or an electrician.
But it is more realistic instead for me to understand a tiny bit about plumbing, ask an expert questions based on my knowledge and my situation, let them consult an analysis, and then pay them to fix it, or install the system I need.
A lot of business owners tell me that they have a list of content they want to get done that they think will do well for their site. But when I search it, these terms have 20 or 30 searches per month, and have massive competition. Other times, they are so broad, that I could never hope to rank their content in the top 10 on Google in any reasonable amount of time, even if I produced a 10,000 word guide.
This isn’t to say that content strategy should be entirely robotic and numbers based, there still needs to be creativity, imagination, passion, and individuality to it. However, if you want real results from content marketing, it is best to let the experts plan and outline content. Otherwise, you risk not getting the best out of your budget.
For business owners and managers interested in learning some of these researching and planning methods, check out these awesome resources Cody and I have produced in the past:
4. Content Marketing is a Standalone Service
“I’ll just pay for some content a few times per month, and that will be all the online marketing I need.”
No one has officially said this to me, but I can certainly tell you quite a few leads in the past have had this sort of attitude towards our services.
Look, our job is to get more people to your website through organic search. We can add CTA’s, email captures, internal links, contact forms, and write some of the best content on the internet. We can create e-books, PDFs, white papers, case studies, and more to offer as lead captures.
We can track users actions and behavior on your site, and optimize to improve these ROI metrics. We can optimize for keywords, and to improve SERPs positions over time, and update old content to give it a boost.
All this and more… But if you don’t take this data and use it in a way that allows you to convert the most leads possible, it can be extremely hard to generate a positive ROI from content marketing.
As a result, we recommend that any company interested in investing in content marketing services in 2019 understands and implements the following online marketing strategies to ensure the best results:
Otherwise, you make the cost of content marketing hard to justify for your bottom line. However, over time, with high-quality content, you can easily lower the CPA and CPC far below that of standalone paid advertising campaigns by improving the likelihood of conversions through targeting only the highest qualified leads from your site.
5. SEO & Content Marketing Are One Time Efforts
SEOs have it worse than we do when it comes to this ideology. For the most part, business owners seem to understand the importance of consistency when it comes to producing high quality content.
However, I have encountered a few business owners who are under the impression that if they produce 10 evergreen pieces of content, their site will grow well on a consistent basis.
This can be true in some cases, but for the vast majority of cases, this ideology is misguided for a few reasons:
Putting a little bit of funding into a content marketing strategy that lasts just a few weeks is equivalent to starting a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight and exercise more.
It works for a few weeks, and makes you feel great. You see results, and get complacent with them, hoping they will stay, or even improve without additional effort. After a few months, that initial progress has all been lost, or you are on the road back to where you were before starting your resolution.
The same is true with content marketing. Don’t believe me? Don’t worry, we were skeptical at one point too. It led to some less than admirable results. Here is a screenshot from our very first version of the Poof website:
See how everything drops off a cliff at a certain point? Coincidentally, that is when we stopped producing content on a daily basis because we were under the impression that it would continue to stay relevant despite not adding new content or upgrading old content. The worst part? It took well over 6-12 months to recover from this drop in organic traffic once we got back to producing content regularly.
5 Factors That Determine the Cost of Content Marketing
In order to understand what is a reasonable content marketing budget, it is important to understand exactly what you are getting, and what goes into it.
1. In-Depth Competitive & Content Research + Content Strategy
A serious content marketing agency understands that content research is the #1 most important thing when it comes to succeeding and realizing a positive ROI in the long run.
Comprehensive content research can reveal:
Overall, this level of research can be expensive, but well worth it. A comprehensive content strategy can give business owners access to hundreds of effective blog ideas, with outlines, keywords and more, in order to point them in the right direction with their content marketing efforts moving forward.
Even if business owners decide not to go with a firm for their blog content production, this strategy can be priceless to their online marketing efforts. Hence why agencies often charge for it.
When Cody and I first started, we offered our content research and strategy planning for free because we knew we needed to provide more value right away than other agencies with more experience and histories of results in order to get a chance to win clients and keep them.
So, we offered our content strategy and research for free. And as you may have guessed, we got rocked. This only attracted the most frivolous clients who were more concerned with price than results. Half the time, they would take our research and run with it, never to talk to us again. Nowadays, we know what we are worth and stand by the value we can provide to a business. If it does not have the same perceived value to you, that is just fine.
2. You Are Paying for Results, Not Just for Content
Hey look, I get it. To a lot of business owners, a blog is just a blog. It is nothing important, it seems mundane and boring, half the time you probably wonder if it is even worth pursuing. It is an enigma. Something other people swear by, but something you have had very little time to understand.
As a result, a lot of the time, business owners get this, “let’s try a small dose and see how it works attitude”. I can understand this from an owner’s perspective. You are tentative with your money, and you want to make sure that your content marketing budget is utilized effectively.
However, by having this attitude, business owners really do themselves a disservice a lot of the time because they do not allow the content enough time to really get results.
On top of that, a lot of business owners are very private about their Analytics and Search Console Data. They feel that sharing it is not necessary, or that it is too private to share.
Look, one of the most important things to understand about content is that Google is the CEO of your online business. Everything it does with your rankings, it does for a reason. Without data to support hypotheses, or check on how content is performing, there is really no way to gauge the exact results from your efforts.
More importantly, results from content often take 3-6 months to really blossom, as Google begins indexing your pages and collecting data on users who have visited it from the SERPs.
Lastly, once this data comes in and you begin to see results, it is important to understand that almost no piece of content ever made has gotten to the front page of Google over night, and that they also didn’t get there without significant improvements and experimentation over time.
To truly get the best results from your content marketing budget, it is important to understand what time period to expect results in, and what results are actually relevant. To learn more about results and measuring content marketing ROI, check out these related resources:
3. Upgrading & Improving Content On an Ongoing Basis
This goes back to the last point I made. One way that we like to work with new clients to get results right away is to identify some of their top performing pages, and give them upgrades in order to get them ranking higher, and drive more traffic.
We repeat this same process over time, making a diligent effort to continually improve our content for our clients, in order to drive more traffic, which equates to more leads for their business.
Consistently adding new sections, questions, bits of information, photos, and editing things like headers, and optimizing certain sections for featured snippet spots every 1-3 months is something we strongly believe has high ROI in the long run.
Much like elite athletes, elite content marketers need to constantly train and hone their processes and skills to get to the top and remain on top.
Want to learn more about upgrading and repurposing content? These resources are very helpful:
4. Working With a Strategic Partner, Not Just an Agency
Look, if you are going to put the time, money and energy into working with a content marketing agency, you want to make sure that they are more than a delivery service to your business.
This might be more expensive, but in the long run, it is what gets the best results. Business owners should be able to depend on agencies in order to improve posts, strategize, report results, and advise them on a regular basis.
At Poof, we work together with business owners and managers to make the BEST content on the internet in order to get the best results. As a result, we like to spend a significant amount of time aligning with your mission, goals, and brand in order to develop a relationship that best fits your preferences.
5. Additional Services
Content research, production and editing are to be expected when it comes to purchasing a content marketing package on a monthly basis. However, some content marketers go above and beyond, taking every last step in order to make sure that they provide comprehensive services.
Additional content marketing fees can include things like:
There are dozens of other additional services that go hand in hand with content marketing. Depending on what you are looking for, this can add up quickly in terms of cost, but it can be very convenient to get all it all from one source that can manage and report results, improve existing content, and continually create new effective content for all platforms.
How Much Does Content Marketing Cost in 2019? – Having A Realistic Budget
The cost of hiring a content marketing agency in 2019 is usually between $3,000 to $50,000 per month, but can cost more depending on a few factors. Cost is determined by factors such as your businesses needs, budget, type of content, and more.
The table below outlines some of the costs for content marketing services. Keep in mind that all agencies price differently for different services and this table tries to capture the average range of costs for specific services in the industry.
|Content Research||Depending on the scope and scale, in depth content and industry research can cost upwards of $5,000, even as high as $50,000 in some cases.||$1,000 – $5,000+|
|Blog Content Development||Depending on the length of your blog content, the subject matter, and the level of technical writing needed, a shorter blog can cost around $150, all the way up to upwards of $1,000 for very in depth and well-formatted long form content.||$150 – $1,000+|
|White Papers||For a very well written, informative, and professional white paper, you can expect to pay well into the $3,000+ range depending on length, depth, and overall writing standards.||$1,000 – $3,000+|
|Case Studies||Case studies are far more in depth than most content, and as a result have a higher cost. You can typically expect to pay no less than $1,000 for a solid 10-20 page case study, or more.||$1,500 – $5,000+|
|Web Copy||While web copy is certainly shorter in word count, the quality, messaging, and tone needs to be very spot on in order to appeal to your audience properly. This can make it as or more expensive than blog content in terms of per page cost.||$300 – $1,000|
|Blog SEO||Do you want a blog delivered to you, or a blog that is completely optimized for SEO in terms of title, meta, intro, pictures, internal links, tables, schema markup, etc…? Content that is optimized on this level will cost more.||$50 – $200|
|Uploading & Publishing||Uploading and publishing, as well as formatting the blog to fit your site is also something that takes time and skill. Typically, this adds a small additional fee to the cost of regular blog production.||$25 – $100|
|Reporting & Optimizing||Reporting and optimizing existing content takes time and effort on an ongoing basis. You can expect to pay for this on a monthly basis.||$500 – $2,000+|
|Email Campaigns||Email campaigns can be designed inline with your content, in order to have automated drip campaigns set up for people giving their contact information. Precise wording that will convert can be expensive, but very high in ROI.||$500 – $2,000+|
|Social Media Posts||Social media posts to go with the content can also be added to the price of the blog post. These are posts across multiple platforms that are optimized to improve clicks and response rate.||$25 – $100|
|Infographics||Infographics display information in a visual way to your audience. They typically result in higher rankings for pages because they have high shareability, and are also very informative. Depending on the size, quality, and scope of the work, this can cost anywhere upwards of $500.||$500 – $1,500+|
Now let’s look at a few common price points, in order to see exactly what you can expect to get at each level:
You can expect that additional services and content will come with a higher price tag, and you can also expect to pay between $1,000 to $5,000+ for the initial content marketing research and strategy.
Keep in mind that the more research it takes to make a blog and higher word counts also are factored into price. Generally speaking, the more difficult it is to create, the more you can expect to pay.
How Much Should I Be Spending on Content Marketing?
So now for the real question; how much should you be paying for content marketing in 2019?
There are a few schools of thought when it comes to finding the right answer to this question, but most of them focus on the most important part of determining a content strategy’s success: ROI.
Put simply, if a piece of content gets you a positive ROI, it is worth paying for. If not, those marketing dollars could have been allocated elsewhere more productively.
Calculating Content Marketing ROI
The important thing is understanding how to measure content marketing ROI for your business, in order to identify the best opportunities. Here is the formula you should use:
Potential max traffic from top 1-5 spots on Google (T) x LTV x Average Conversion/Closing Rate (CVR) = Average monthly ROI from successful content
In this formula:
Basically, you want to find out how much every single person who comes to your site from a given piece of content is worth to your business. If it is positive, then you know it is worth paying for. But you should keep in mind the fact that if you are working with a great agency, your CVR should continue to climb over time.
Who is Content Marketing Best for?
One of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to content is that it is always worth it in terms of an investment. However, in some industries, the competition is so high, the traffic is so low, or the LTV is so low that outsourcing to a content marketing agency does not make sense in terms of ROI.
This is not to be confused with content marketing not having value to every industry. Instead, it simply means that if you are in this type of situation, you may be better off working with an agency to create a content strategy, and then executing it yourself to reduce costs.
Overall, content marketing is best for industries that have a high LTV and/or a very high CPC for paid advertising. This includes industries like:
These industries don’t only experience solid results from content marketing, but specifically have a need for it because:
Lastly, if they want to make the most of their other online marketing strategies, it is essential to have organic traffic which feeds lead generation and other paid advertising campaigns.
Learn More About Data-Driven Content Marketing Strategies
After reading this, if the price point does not chase you away, and you understand that real results takes a formidable budget and highly researched strategy based on data, then content marketing is right for you.
For those business owners and marketing managers who are serious about building a content marketing strategy that demands results and helps to grow your web presence and brand – let’s talk.
Fill out the contact form on this page in order to schedule a strategy call with Cody and I. In this call, we will uncover:
From there, if our services seem like a good fit for your business, we will conduct a comprehensive content analysis of your site and industry and present our findings with a 52-week+ content calendar for your brand.
After that, it is time to make sure we get all of the next steps planned out in order to seamlessly integrate with your marketing team, and become the content marketing partner you need to grow your online business. Fill out the contact form below to get in touch with us today!
Or, if you have even more questions about what it is like to work with Poofnewsales, our processes, and the overall benefits for your business, check out these helpful resources: