More and more businesses believe in the power of content marketing. They’ve seen the studies about the return on investment and want to reap the amazing benefits. But then pops the important question: How much is this going to cost?

Like any new endeavor, content marketing isn’t inexpensive. The costs depend on your objectives and how far you’re willing to go. I can say that our clients who go “all in” far surpass their goals. As for those who only dip their toes into the water? Not so much.

With this in mind, we’ve established minimum budgets to eliminate the mystery around content marketing costs and help our clients understand what to expect from different levels of investment. (Note: These prices reflect fair market pricing of mid-size, specialty agencies in the Midwest.)

Quick Start Content Strategy & Systems Implementation
Ballpark cost:
$15,000 - $25,000 – one-time advisory fee
Timing: 4-6 weeks
Cost variables: Research, audit and content repurposing requirements, content library size

Even if you’re fortunate to have internal content writers at your disposal, a content marketing strategy and systems implementation are prerequisites to activating your resources in the right ways. According to Content Marketing Institute’s annual B2C study, a documented content marketing strategy is a key indicator of content marketing success.

Achieving executive buy-in on a content mission, editorial direction and metrics framework ensure that your efforts stay on track. Conducting proper due diligence on audience personas and interests elevate content performance. Implementing a systems framework for shared collaboration and accountability will create efficiencies to execute the plan.

If your organization lacks internal expertise to build this foundation, stop right there. Hire a specialized agency to set you up with the tools and topics for DIY success.

Basic Content Creation (Writing & Imagery)
Ballpark cost:
$6,500 - $10,000/month
Timing: Quarterly planning; ongoing campaign management
Cost variables: Topic complexity, word count

Many of our mid-size clients outsource their blog and social writing because internal marketing resources are limited in time or expertise. Basic content creation includes a handful of well-written, visually compelling blog topics or product/service pages and corresponding social posts to be delivered across all of your platforms.

All-inclusive Content Creation (Hero, Writing & Imagery)
Ballpark:
$12,000 - $20,000/month
Timing: Quarterly planning; ongoing campaign management
Cost variables: Content medium, hero frequency, topic complexity

Your “hero” piece is the robust content asset – a gated report, interactive quiz or splashy brand video – that sits at the center of a campaign to achieve a specific goal.

Smart content marketers build the hero asset and create smaller, supporting pieces to maximize exposure across other channels. For example, we can break down report infographics for social posts or pull findings from our quiz to create helpful articles.

Your all-inclusive content retainer should include some of these big ideas – at least two per year – to keep audiences coming back to you for more.

Content Distribution
Ballpark (agency fees):
$5,000 - $15,000/month
Timing: Quarterly planning; ongoing campaign management
Cost variables: Size and customization of media buy; testing requirements

Content marketing isn’t always an “if you build it, they will come” proposition. With so many competing messages out there, you need to bring your target audience to you through paid (print or digital advertising, influencers, etc.) or earned (PR/organic influencer placement) efforts.

Agency fees for content distribution may vary based on the channel, reach and time requirements. For example, it’s more time intensive to identify and cultivate relationships with editors or influencers than placing a social media ad. Commission in compensation is also an important consideration with many agencies still taking 10-20% gross up on volume media buys.

Regardless of your media mix, your agency retainer should include planning, message strategy, creative development, campaign placement, ongoing reporting and optimization to achieve the maximum results.

Other budget considerations
While the above services are outlined on a consulting or monthly engagement basis, it’s important to consider a few additional investments to ensure your content earns ongoing visibility.

  • Content hub: Where will your wondrous content live? Plan funds to expand or improve your current site (if appropriate) or create a microsite. Either way, be sure to include filtering functionality that allows quick access to topics of interest.
  • Content repurposing: If you’re sitting on a goldmine of content that hasn’t achieved its full potential, you can refresh it with simple updates that don’t cost much in time or money. Through simple steps like adding a new title, infusing some keywords or new insights and updating the imagery, you have a new piece to share with the world. Our Content Upcycling process supports these types of efforts.
  • Content optimization: Audience interests change with the wind. This practice ensures existing content is keyed up with the latest search terms for ongoing exposure.

Content marketing can be a tough investment to swallow, especially for organizations under pressure for immediate return. But with continued commitment, consistency and exposure, your content marketing assets surpass traditional advertising campaigns and deliver long-term value.

Ready to take your content marketing efforts to the next level? Start with a conversation with our team.

About the Author
Jackie Bebenroth is Founder and Chief Brand Advisor of Muse. She works alongside leading brands and executives to develop strategic positioning and messaging strategies that set the stage for long-term success. Her work, from local restaurant branding to six-figure global initiatives, has flown her around the country to speak on the art of content marketing. Jackie has earned a number of accolades, most notably a SXSW Interactive finalist award, the American Advertising Federation’s 40 under 40 award and Content Marketing Institute’s Content Marketing Leader of the Year.