Struggling to figure out how much to spend on your content marketing efforts? Don't worry, you're not alone. Content marketing is ever more important for businesses of all sizes, but it’s critical that you understand how to budget for it appropriately. After all, you want to make sure your dollars go the distance—and that you’re not overspending.
The turbulence of the past few years caused many businesses to tighten their belts and scale back their marketing budgets. But the trend seems to be turning back in the other direction at last. Gartner’s State of Marketing Budgets Survey 2022 reported widespread marketing budget recovery, with the average spend across industries increasing from 6.4% of company revenue to 9.5%. Although still below pre-Covid levels, it’s a step in the right direction!
So how much should you set aside? As always, we’ve got you covered here at WriteForMe. There’s a lot of moving parts, depending on your industry, your goals, the size of your team, your equipment, and so on. We’ll dive into all these considerations—so you can plot your budget with a holistic view.
Start With A Clear Strategy
Of course, before you can create a budget, you need a clear strategy for your content marketing efforts. What are you hoping to achieve? Understand your goals, your target audience, what your competitors are doing, and what your distribution will look like. A clear header will help you build a budget that makes sense for your needs.
Goals and Objectives
Think of your strategy as a road map. You need to know where you’re trying to get before you can chart a course! Planning discrete goals and objectives provides a clear direction for your content marketing strategy—and thus, your budget. It will help you assess where to allocate resources most effectively.
Take some time to consider what you want to achieve with your marketing plan. For example, do you want to attract new customers and build brand awareness? Or are you focused on generating leads and driving sales? Your goals will dictate everything on down: the type of content you create, how frequently you produce it, and which distribution channels you use, the size of your team, and so on.
Your Goals Will Influence Your Frequency
Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll be posting content at fairly regular intervals, building up your recognition over time. But just how often you need to post will be determined by your project goals.
For example, if your goal is to establish your brand as an industry thought leader, you may need to create more in-depth, longer content, perhaps at less frequent intervals. On the other hand, if you’re just trying to increase audience engagement, you might instead target frequent, short, easily-shareable posts.
Your posting frequency will affect your budget more than almost anything else. After all, the more content you create, the more resources you'll need. Ultimately, it's important to strike a balance between the amount of content you create and the quality of that content. Implementing a content calendar can help you plot this trajectory accordingly.
What’s Your Competition Up To?
You may know what you want to convey with your content marketing strategy. But what is the rest of your field up to? Detailed competitor analysis can offer valuable insights into what works and what doesn't in your industry.
For example, you might discover that your industry completely ignores a certain medium or social media platform. Why? Is it because that’s not where your audience is? Or is it a gap you can exploit?
In addition, this analysis can directly influence your content marketing budget planning. Compare with the rest of your field to see if your strategy—and budget—is in line with your competitors. Consider, for example, this breakdown of how much revenue different industries allocate for their marketing budgets (sourced from recent Deloitte survey data):
Where Are You Going To Publish?
You know what you’re going to publish, and for whom. Great! But where will you? Different distribution channels have different reaches—and different costs. In addition, the channel you use may influence the type of content you produce. Social media and email campaigns are often less expensive than paid advertising or influencer partnerships, for example.
Your goals, audience, and competitor analysis should all be mighty influences in this decision. You want to publish:
- Via a channel that lets you express yourself in a way that aligns with your goals
- Where your audience will see your content
- In spaces that are competitive with the rest of your industry—or that carve out your own special niche
Building Your Content Marketing Team
Now that you’ve established your header, it’s time to build up your team. Content marketing is a collaborative effort—so you need to budget for all of those key roles. Whether you’re hiring content strategists, content managers, researchers, writers, or editors, you want to make sure you’re finding the best fits, with the necessary skills and experience to create compelling content that resonates with your target audience.
On the other hand, you might find that after doing the math, it makes more sense to turn to the pros, rather than building an in-house team. In fact, that’s what we excel at here at WriteForMe. We partner with our clients to craft content strategy from the ground up.
We’ll step you through all the roles you need to consider—the WriteForMe way. Whether you’re building an in-house team or are just curious about how the pros do it, you’re sure to find this breakdown helpful.
Vital to your whole content marketing plan is your content strategist. This individual is responsible for planning, developing, and implementing a comprehensive content strategy that aligns with a company's goals—they keep the ship on course. They ensure that content is optimized for target audiences and distributed effectively across various channels. No matter what type of content you produce for your campaign (we’ll be focusing primarily on blog content from here on out) a dedicated strategist is an absolute must—so budget accordingly.
Your content strategist is your captain; the person with the master plan. But over the course of the journey, they’re going to need backup. That’s where your content manager comes in.
If strategists tend to the larger vision, content managers handle the minutiae: they oversee the creation, production, and distribution process, ensuring that all content aligns with the company's brand and objectives. Content managers also track the performance of content and adjust strategies as needed to ensure maximum impact. Essentially, they ensure that daily production matches the overarching vision.
At WriteForMe, we believe that the best content comes from deep research. That’s why we have a dedicated research team to build out detailed outlines for each and every piece of content. They’re the bridge between initial headline generation and a fully-fledged article, building a roadmap for the team. If you intend on producing well-researched, engaging collateral chock-full of accurate, relevant, timely information, a researcher is a must to include in your budgeting plan.
Of course, you can’t write content without writers! Whether it’s blog posts, web copy, social media posts, newsletters, press releases, or any other content, someone has to get the words down.
You might choose to keep an in-house pool of writers, or to turn outward and hire freelancers on a per-project basis. Either way, they’re a critical part—perhaps the most critical part—of your team. Budget accordingly when building your content marketing plan.
Even the best writer in the world benefits from a good editor. When it comes to content marketing, your editorial team also stands as the last defense before your collateral goes out into the world. They vet your content to ensure it aligns with brand guidelines and is clear, concise, and compelling. They’re your quality control team—and as we said earlier, it’s critical that you consider quality just as much as quantity.
Google and other search engines consider a piece of content’s general integrity alongside SEO when ranking—and your editorial team ensures that each piece passes inspection with flying colors.
Choosing the Right Tools for Your Team
We’ve got our direction and assembled our crew. But now, how are they going to get where they’re going? When building your content marketing budget, you have to consider what tools you’re going to put in your production team’s toolbox. How will they organize their workflow? What will they rely on to generate SEO gold? And how will they track it all?
Building out a suite of tools is critical—but can be costly if you don’t watch out. Let’s walk through some of the most essential tools in our production process here at WriteForMe.
Content Management System (CMS)
Critical to any content marketing plan is your content management system (CMS). A CMS is a software platform that lets you create, manage, and publish digital content. Think WordPress, Squarespace, StoryChief, and Hubspot, among others—all of these systems can serve as the central hub for your production efforts.
Social Media Management
If you’re planning to also engage your audiences via social media (in 2023, this should be a key consideration), you’ll also need a tool that specializes in content management on those platforms. Tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Sprout Social can help manage multiple social media accounts, schedule posts, and analyze engagement metrics.
All of your content marketing efforts hinge on SEO—and so your budget should reflect this. Certainly your team can try to guess at high-ranking keywords. But why should they have to, when there are tools that can pinpoint the perfect keyword with accuracy? SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz—these tools specialize in analyzing keywords, monitoring backlinks, and tracking search engine rankings. Invest in them accordingly!
You need a way to track your progress. After all, how else will you know if your budget is paying off in terms of return on investment? Tools like Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics let you track and analyze your site traffic, engagement, and conversion rates. This information gives you the keys to refining your strategy and improving your ROI over time.
Email Marketing Platforms
In addition to social media and search engine ranking, are you sending out your content to audiences directly, via email lists? Even as alternatives pop up every day, email marketing remains a powerful way to nurture leads and drive conversions. Tools like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and Campaign Monitor help you create and send targeted email campaigns, automate follow-up sequences, and track engagement metrics.
Building Your Content Marketing Budget Is A Process—But It Pays Off!
Content marketing is a long-term investment in your business—but make no mistake, it is an investment. Creating high-quality content takes time and resources. Your budget considerations must reflect this: the cost of hiring strategists, managers, writers, and editors; also the cost of tools and software needed to create and distribute content.
But creating a budget is just the first step. It’s not a set-it and forget it process; you need to monitor your spending and adjust as needed to ensure maximal ROI over time. Be sure to track your metrics and tweak your budget as necessary to keep your goals in sight.
This may sound like a lot to consider—and it is! That’s what WriteForMe is here for. We operate as your partner in content production: learning your business inside and out to tell your story clearly and compellingly with every piece of content we put out on your behalf.
Whatever you’re producing—be it blog content, press releases, podcasts, and more—we’ll make sure your story shines. Ready to elevate your content marketing game and put that budget to good use? Reach out today and let’s get started. We’ll even throw in a free content marketing playbook, custom to your business, to give you a taste of what we can do!