Rather than generating quick wins that can be easily attributed to measure the return on investment, content marketing is a longer play in which a company crafts a deliberate strategy to build credibility, authority and trust before trying to sell anything to the target audience. This approach makes determining the ROI of content marketing efforts tricky. And yet, content is essential for just about every channel you might try, so it’s important to make sure you put enough time, resources and money into reaching and engaging your target audience with it.
With no single metric, or even set of metrics, that can be pointed to in the future as a proof point when you’re trying to refine your overarching marketing strategy and budget, you need to find creative ways of deciding how much to invest in content. The members of Forbes Communications Council have their own industry knowledge and personal perspectives on how much a company should devote specifically to content marketing efforts, and you can read 14 of their expert insights below.
1. Research Your Needs And Weigh Expenses Against Expectations
When budgeting for content marketing, you have to consider how content will be created and distributed. This takes initial time and research to determine your needs, but it all needs to come down to ROI. As you weigh expenses, be sure to consider expected outcomes. Content marketing is increasingly important, so the investment in a solid campaign is worth the effort in research to get it right. – Shawn Herring, PandaDoc
2. Survey Existing Content Experts Within Your Organization
Content marketing should be viewed as a larger piece of the marketing puzzle. What works for one organization may not work for another. The best way to determine what to invest in it is to start with a survey of existing content experts within your organization. There are many people who are qualified to develop content on different teams; figure out the best way to capitalize on that. – Sara McKinniss, FST Logistics, Inc.
3. Work Backward From Defined Goals To Decide How Much To Invest
When people come to our agency for solutions, one of the biggest frustrations they express is the “burden of generating content.” It’s time-consuming and expensive, especially if there’s no guiding strategy in place to leverage existing resources. We recommend working backward from defined goals and tactics to support them, then tailoring your content investment accordingly. – Michelle Stark, Red Sage Communications, Inc.
4. Test Out A Few Different Budgets Before Committing To One
Test out a few different budgets for your content marketing efforts before you commit to one. Content can and should be repurposed, especially evergreen content, and once you begin disseminating it to different channels, you can really see where your ROI is. Adjust your investment periodically and continue monitoring the success of each campaign, and you’ll discover your sweet spot in no time. – Victoria Zelefsky, The Menkiti Group
5. Invest In A Solid Writer And The ROI Will Show Itself
Content is at the heart of all marketing nowadays. Whether you’re writing clickbait for social, thought leadership for PR or white papers for the sales process, it’s all about quality and delivering value to the recipient. There is nothing else in marketing that will have more legs than great content, so invest in a solid writer, and the ROI will show itself. – Erica Morgenstern, Welltok
6. Define Goals And Objectives First And Then Develop A Testing Plan
To invest in content marketing for maximum value, a company must first define its goals and objectives. These include what they want customers to do with the content and how different target audience segments will interact with it. Once all of that is determined, marketers need to develop a testing plan that outlines all costs and outcomes to measure the impact more effectively across time. – Haseeb Tariq, Haseebtariq.com
7. Ensure Content Plans Dovetail With Your Strategy And Goals
An investment assessment is no different than any other strategic marketing plan. Ensure that content marketing plans dovetail with the company’s strategy and goals. This alignment and assessment should also include gaps within your organization. From there, a realistic and accurate content marketing plan and investment can be solidified and deployed. – Kris Pugsley, Skyworks Solutions, Inc.
8. Know Your Target Customer Profile And Refine Plans Based On Data
Data is king. A company must know who its core target audience is, where they live and socialize, and how they walk, talk and drive. The company must know what moves its target emotionally. Once you know that profile, the amount you can afford to market to that audience is always the right amount. Take it slow and steady, then refine your strategy based on data. – Boaz Santiago, energyware™
9. Calculate How Much Content You Need For Each Channel
A prime purpose of content is to enable other marketing channels, such as email, social media, the Web and more. So, to determine a content budget, list all dependent channels. It is easier to calculate the ROI for each discrete channel, then calculate how much content is needed to achieve your goals for each channel. Apply this as a percentage of the channel budget and total it up to guide the content budget. – Kelly Grover, Taconic Biosciences
10. Build Great Resources And Measure Content’s Value In Three Areas
Great content is the foundation of successful marketing and customer education. Poorly developed content is counterproductive because it takes resources but adds little value. So focus your budget on building a few great resources (if resources are tight) and measure value in terms of search results, sales satisfaction and customer usage. The positive results will build the case for investing more in content. – Tom Treanor, Treasure Data
11. Test And Structure Your Fit-To-Market Approach First
Brands need to test and structure their fit-to-market approach before defining the budget. They need to know what communication will trigger a response and what follow-up or asset will trigger conversion. Once this has been tested, one can start considering scaling and investing in a profitable and converting flow. – Andrea d’Agostini, American Power & Gas
12. Base Content Strategy And Budget On Awareness And Lead-Gen Goals
A company’s content marketing strategy and budget should be determined according to broader awareness and lead-generation goals. In order to bring in leads, for example, your organization needs to offer something of value in exchange for a prospect’s information. Creating e-books, demo videos and other types of content may be pricey up front, but they are worth their weight in gold for bringing in form fills. – Merrily McGugan, LogicMonitor
13. Put More Budget Toward Content Earlier On In Brand Development
Content is the foundation of many other marketing efforts—without it, the others can’t succeed. If you have a digital spend, but the graphics and messaging are poor, your campaign won’t perform. So typically, content will comprise a bigger mix of the spend early on in the brand development. – Terra Teat, JLab
14. Look At The Desired Results And Your Competitors’ Content Spend
Many marketers think there’s a direct correlation between the money they spend on content marketing and the results they see. In reality, results vary widely depending on which channels they invest in and how well they create content—regardless of how big their budgets are. The key is to look at the desired results and the content spend of your competitors to decide how much and where to invest. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap