When most marketers and business owners think about content marketing costs, they think about labor and promotion first.
It’s obvious that if you don’t have the bandwidth to produce all your company’s content yourself, you’ll have to pay someone (in-house employees, an agency, or freelancers) to do it.
Experienced marketers know that producing content is a waste if they don’t invest in promotion, whether that’s through social media, paid ads, native advertising, influencer marketing, or a combination of strategies.
However, your content marketing costs may extend further than labor and promotion.
Let’s dig into some of the less obvious content marketing costs you may be forgetting.
1. Content Auditing
Without a data-backed strategy, content marketing is just haphazard guesswork.
You need to understand how your target audience is responding to your content so that you can hone in on the content types and strategies that will help you reach your business goals.
Google Analytics (which is free) is a great starting place, but it won’t give you a complete picture of your site visitors.
You may find it beneficial to fill in the gaps with tools that provide more information about your target audience’s behavior, on and off your site.
- Hotjar (starting at $89/month), which shows you where visitors are clicking and moving their cursor on your webpages.
- Crazy Egg ($9+/month), which uses heat maps to show where visitors spend the most time looking on your site.
You may also choose to invest in an omnichannel attribution tool, like Bizible or TrackMaven. While these tools aren’t specifically built for content marketing, they can help tie specific content touchpoints to sales.
Considering only 17 percent of marketers rate themselves as good at measuring content marketing ROI, an investment in an attribution modeling tool could help you stay ahead of the competition (and prove content marketing value to the C-suite).
Content marketing research falls into three general categories:
- Competitor Research: You’ll want to know what content your competitors have been producing and what topics and formats are performing well for them. Tools that can help with this include SEMrush ($100+/month), Moz Open Site Explorer ($99/month), and Ahrefs (free with limited capabilities, $99+/month for more robust features).
- Initial Topic Research: This can include performing keyword research, monitoring social media, sifting through industry publications, and anything else that helps you hone in on a topic. BuzzSumo ($79+/month), Moz Keyword Explorer ($99+/month), and KWFinder ($29+/month) are a few examples in this category.
- Content Piece Research: This is any research required to generate your content and may include accessing articles behind a paywall, conducting interviews, collecting poll data, attending webinars, running experiments, and more.
Not every research tool has a price attached to it, but you’ll still need to budget for the time it takes you or your team to conduct your research. Ideally, you should be budgeting time for original research so that you can generate high-value content your audience won’t find anywhere else.
3. Project Management
If your content team consists of more than just you, you’ll probably need to invest in certain project management tools that make it easy for collaborators to share, edit, comment on, and schedule content. (Even if you’re a solo content creator, you may still save time and resources with a project management platform that lets you create tasks, save notes, and log hours.)
Google Calendar and Google Drive are both free and will get you started if you just want to create a basic editorial calendar and share editable files.
However, if you need a more involved project management system, it will cost you.
Popular content management tools like CoSchedule and DivvyHQ run anywhere from about $40/month to $2,200/month (or $195 per user per month, in the case of DivvyHQ).
Your exact costs will depend on the size of your team and the collaborative capabilities you need.
4. Content Optimization
At the bare-bones level, you need a word processor and a co-worker who can review your content before it’s published.
Realistically, you’ll find that investing in additional content optimization tools will help you work more efficiently and produce higher-quality content.
Content optimization tools can be roughly divided into four categories:
- Content discovery tools, such as Feedly, to provide inspiration and curate third-party content.
- Ideation tools, such as Evernote and Trello, to help you organize your research and ideas.
- Editing tools, such as Grammarly and Hemingway, to check for typos, grammatical errors, and wordiness.
- Promotion tools, such as HootSuite and Buffer (both of which can be used to schedule content across social media platforms).
Many of these tools offer basic free versions as well as paid professional versions with expanded capabilities.
For example, Evernote Basic lets individual users add notes and save content from across the web, while Evernote Business ($12/user/month) lets multiple team members save and organize their research in one space.
You’ll need to decide which tools are worth paying for based on your business goals and workflow.
According to a 2017 report from Social Media Examiner, 85 percent of online marketers use visuals.
If you’re one of the almost 9 out of 10 marketers who have added visuals to their content mix, you may already have discovered some free graphic design tools like Canva, Piktochart, and Pixlr.
You can get some professional-looking results with tools like these.
But if you want complete control to create branded graphics, you may want to buy professional-grade graphics software like Adobe Creative Cloud (which starts at $29.99/month and includes essential design tools like Photoshop and Illustrator).
You may also want to purchase video editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro (part of Adobe Creative Cloud) or Avid’s Media Composer ($49.99/month), which will help you streamline the process of creating professional videos for your content marketing mix.
When you buy design tools, keep in mind that they’re only as powerful as the designer using them.
If no member of your content team is well-versed in graphic design and the latest software, then you’ll need to budget for a new hire, a design agency, or a freelancer.
Adding Up Your Content Marketing Costs
Even with the hidden costs described above, a well-planned content marketing campaign can still deliver a strong ROI.
Seventy-four percent of companies that use content marketing have increased their lead quality and quantity, and businesses that use content marketing see conversion rates that are six times higher than non-adopters.
Add up all content marketing costs as part of your regular reporting.
This will establish accountability.
It will also help you determine which tools and strategies are worth the investment.
We’ve reached a point in the evolution of content marketing where we can’t afford to just guess anymore.
Identify every investment you make, whether it’s through an employee’s salary or a subscription-based tool.
This will help you make better-informed decisions and prove that content marketing deserves to be a part of the marketing budget.
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