Content marketing is a powerful marketing strategy for attracting new traffic, building your brand’s reputation and earning more sales and conversions. But even though you aren’t paying for elements like ad placement or expensive resources, you’ll still be paying for the strategy you use, in terms of the labor and the time you personally invest.
Some entrepreneurs are reluctant to invest anything at all until they know a particular strategy will work, which leads to a perpetual cycle of non-investment. Others don’t know how much is appropriate to invest, and therefore can’t make a budgetary decision on whether or not to move forward.
So, how much, exactly, should you be investing in content marketing?
First, take a look at the potential payoff of a content marketing campaign for your business in terms of total ROI (return on investment). It’s hard to gauge this precisely, but you can calculate, in general, the payoffs of content marketing across several different dimensions:
- Brand visibility and reputation. Publishing content in various locations will expose more people to your brand. Your readers will also see you as more of an authority, which could drive increased sales and conversion rates. This is hard to measure, but is still an important consideration.
- Inbound traffic attraction. Depending on what you do with your finished content, you can attract new traffic through SEO, inbound links, social media, email marketing or other channels.
- Customer retention. Customers who like your content will stay on your site longer and visit more frequently, which will affect conversions and retention.
- Direct conversion potential. In the body of your content, you can offer more direct conversion opportunities, which can increase your conversion rate.
With all these potential routes to success, you can shift your investment to favor the tactics that are most beneficial to your business; for example, if you have a great conversion rate but lousy incoming traffic, you can use content to boost traffic flow. If your reputation is what’s suffering, you can focus on brand visibility.
This makes the potential ROI of content marketing highly flexible, according to your needs. Overall, most content marketing strategies see a positive ROI, which means that even small investments will eventually earn back the money you spent.
Most entrepreneurs are concerned about investing too much from the outset; this is a possibility. It’s not that investing a large amount of time and money in content marketing is a gamble. Instead, the risk comes from investing too heavily before you know your ideal strategy. Starting with a smaller investment gives you time to gather information about your audience and what the potential results might be. That way, you can be more effective when you scale up your investment.
Most content marketing campaigns fail because their executors aren’t willing to adapt their strategies. If you pay attention to the data and respond accordingly, there’s little risk in encountering negative ROI.
The results curve
It’s also important to note that content marketing results tend to unfold in a curve. Early in your campaign, you won’t see much of a return on your investment. However, because your posts are permanent and your reputation mounts over time, your ROI will increase as you spend more time and energy on your campaign.
You have to be patient to see the results you want, so when it comes to investing, it’s better to start small, and maintain and build as your strategy develops.
Quality and quantity
How you invest your money also matters. You may be tempted to produce as many posts as possible, as cheaply as possible, to earn the most “bang for your buck,” but this strategy doesn’t work for content marketing. Quality is much more important than quantity, so it’s better to invest heavily in a handful of exceptional posts than in dozens of low-quality fillers. At the same time, you need enough posts to attract attention, or you’ll never generate any momentum.
These two factors dictate a minimum amount of investment before you start to see results. Usually, this means posting new content at least once a week, though never at the expense of quality.
The bottom line
I’ve avoided using specific numbers here because there are just too many variables to consider, to pin down a price that fits all businesses throughout the country equally. Instead, here’s a recap about how much you should invest in content marketing:
- Invest enough to produce high-quality content (try to one-up your top competition, at least).
- Keep investing even if your initial ROI is low. Content marketing takes time to yield its potential returns.
- Grow your investment over time to see higher and higher ROI.
If you can meet all these criteria with a designated budget, you can consider that budget appropriate, and chances are that you’ll eventually see an ideal growth curve for your ROI.