written by
Erika Steuer

10 Hidden Content Marketing Costs (and How You Can Avoid Them)

Content Marketing 9 min read

Content marketing is an integral part of every rock-solid inbound marketing campaign. It’s an excellent way of skyrocketing brand awareness and building a lasting relationship with your potential customers.

Also, you can use high-quality content to nurture qualified leads and convince them to purchase from you. But, concern over content marketing costs could leave you hesitant to proceed with a strategy so it is important to proceed with as much knowledge and planning as possible.

The landscape of content marketing has evolved significantly in the last few years. It’s no longer enough to publish a few blog posts and social media updates.

If you want to succeed at content marketing, you need to build and implement a powerful content marketing strategy.

The Challenges of Content Marketing

Despite its awesome benefits, many marketers are still skeptical about trying their hand at content marketing.

This is because 47% of marketing leaders claim that allocating sufficient funds for scalable and high-quality content creation is one of their top three content marketing challenges.

In today’s competitive online world, content marketing involves a series of steps, such as:

  • Goal setting
  • Audience research
  • Keyword research
  • Content planning
  • Blogging
  • Graphic designing
  • Website development
  • Tracking and measurement

You need a robust and skilled team of strategists, content creators, data analysts, and other personnel to execute your content strategy. Also, you have to effectively promote your content across multiple platforms to maximize its reach.

Needless to say, every step of content marketing requires significant investment in terms of time, resources, and capital.

While content marketing proves to be cost-effective in the long-run, the initial financial investment is often quite high. Also, as your business grows, content marketing costs can quickly add up and get out of hand.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use content marketing to build your brand and attract potential customers. Instead, you need to ensure that the time and money you’re investing yield the desired results and deliver a high ROI.

There are various ways of achieving this, including using marketing automation software and a content marketing platform. The key is to ensure maximum utilization of your content marketing team’s resources, skills, and time.

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the hidden content marketing costs that many marketers and business owners overlook. We’ll also discuss a few techniques to avoid and/or minimize these costs. Before doing that, let’s first understand how much are today’s marketers spending on content marketing.

Content Marketing Budget: A Real-Life Picture

Content marketing costs largely depend on various factors, including:

  • Organization size
  • Industry (or niche)
  • Type (B2B or B2C)
  • Marketing objectives
  • Distribution strategy (paid or organic)

However, 26% of B2B marketers reported an annual content marketing budget between $100,000 and $1,000,000 in 2020. Also, 18% of B2B marketers increased their content marketing spend in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2020 annual budget for b2b content marketing
Image Source: CMI

On the other hand, 35% of B2C marketers reported that their organization’s annual content marketing budget varied from $100,000 to $1,000,000. Also, on average, B2C organizations spend $230,000 annually for content marketing.

budget comparison charts
Image Source: CMI

By now, you have likely developed a fair understanding of how much today’s content marketers are investing to build and implement their strategies. But what are the areas in which they’re spending their money? In the following sections, we’ll take a look at the hidden costs associated with content marketing and discuss ways to avoid them. Let’s get started.

Hidden Content Marketing Costs: A Closer Look

Did you know that the overall cost of content marketing can vary between $5,000 and $50,000 per month? Every step of content marketing, from research and planning to ideation and creation, requires skilled professionals. Also, you need to use sophisticated tools to create high-quality content, promote it across multiple channels, and track its performance.

Without further ado, here are the ten hidden content marketing costs that you need to watch out for:

1. Content Audit

Unless you’ve been living under a rock in 2020, chances are you’ve already published some content on your blog and social media profiles. Whether you’re revamping your existing content strategy or building one from scratch, you need to audit your existing content. This involves various steps, such as:

  • Website audit
  • Social media audit
  • Data analysis

Of course, you can use a free tool, like Google Analytics, for this purpose. Or you can use free versions of advanced tools, such as BuzzSumo, CrazyEgg, Hotjar, etc. However, free audit tools are going to provide you with limited insights.

Paid tools, on the other hand, can provide you with a wealth of crucial data, including heatmaps, audience insights, etc. If you want to conduct an effective content audit, you have to use such tools.

Also, you’ll need professional data analysts who can interpret data from these tools and draw meaningful conclusions. Even if you have an in-house analyst, they’ll have to invest significant time in this process. In the absence of an in-house specialist, you’ll likely have to hire an expert.

2. Research

Research is an integral component of every step of content marketing. It’s the stepping stone to building an effective content marketing strategy.

Typically, the content marketing workflow involves the following types of research:

As you might have guessed, each type of research is time-consuming and laborious. Moreover, you have to use specialized tools for each step. For instance, you’ll need one or more of the following tools to conduct keyword research:

  1. SEMrush
  2. Keyword Explorer by Ahrefs
  3. Moz Keyword Explorer
  4. KWFinder
keyword overview SEMRush
Image Source: SEMrush

Likewise, if you’re researching an e-book, you might have to access industry reports, interview thought leaders, and conduct surveys. Each of these things will require you to spend money.

Also, you need experienced strategists who can conduct effective and thorough research. Whether you’re working with an in-house strategist or a freelancer, you’ll have to compensate them for their time and effort.

3. Strategy & Planning

Likewise, there are various content marketing costs associated with the planning process. From listing potential content ideas to mapping your content to the buyer’s journey - you need to use specialized tools at each step.

Also, you’ll need to create a robust editorial calendar, content calendar, as well as content marketing playbook.

Image Source: CMI

4. Web Development and Graphic Design

You can’t implement a content marketing strategy without first launching an awesome looking blog. This involves various costs, such as:

  1. Domain registration
  2. Web hosting
  3. Paid plugins and themes
  4. Web developer’s fees

Also, you’ll need a graphic designer who can create stunning infographics and branded imagery for your blog and social media profiles. Apart from the designer’s compensation, you’ll have to accommodate additional expenses for graphic designing software and tools. You might also have to provide the designer with a proper workstation.

5. Content Writing and Copywriting

Talented writers are the driving force behind insightful and engaging content pieces. Whether you want to upload a tweet or publish a blog post, you need a team of skilled writers. Of course, you have to suitably compensate writers for their time and effort.

Also, your writers might want to use various tools to optimize their content. For instance, they’ll need a headline analyzer tool to craft eye-catching and click-worthy headlines. Likewise, they’ll need a proofreading tool and plagiarism checker to ensure that their content is original and error-free. All these tools come at a cost.

6. Audio & Video Production

If podcasting is a part of your content strategy, you should be prepared to accommodate various costs, including:

  1. Podcasting equipment
  2. Recording and editing software
  3. Studio rentals

You’ll even have to hire a podcast host who has thorough knowledge about your industry.

Likewise, producing high-quality video content involves a broad spectrum of expenses, such as:

content marketing costs involved

7. Content Optimization

This is likely one of the most overlooked content marketing costs. You can’t put high-quality content out there and expect your audience to find it. You need skilled SEO experts who can optimize your content using various focus keywords and help build backlinks.

You might also have to hire a developer who can work on other aspects of your website, such as:

  1. Architecture and navigation
  2. Speed
  3. Mobile responsiveness
  4. Schema markup
Image Source: Medium

Additionally, you’ll have to provide your SEO specialist and developer with the right tools and resources to get their jobs done.

8. Content Distribution & Promotion

Do you want to promote content using paid techniques, such as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising? While such techniques drastically expand your reach, you’ll have to spend money to execute a PPC ad campaign.

You might think that organic content distribution is going to be completely free. However, if your team has to manually share every content piece on multiple platforms, it can be fairly time-consuming. Nevertheless, you’ll have to pay them for performing this repetitive task.

9. Project Management

Successful implementation of a content marketing strategy requires seamless coordination between various team members. It’s the key to maintaining the quality of your content and consistently meeting deadlines.

However, this makes it necessary for you to use a project management system. Depending on the size and requirements of your content team, using a project management tool can be quite expensive.

10. Monitoring and Analysis

Lastly, you have to use paid tools to monitor the performance of various content assets. Also, you might need reporting tools to generate meaningful reports and help you make sense of all the available data.

How to Cut Content Marketing Costs?

First things first — you’ll always need a dedicated budget to build and execute your content marketing strategy. However, you need to be smart about where and how you’re spending your money. Certain expenses, such as content creation and advertising, can’t be compromised.

Having said that, here are a few tips to help you avoid/minimize various content marketing costs:

Leverage a Content Marketing Platform

A content marketing platform (CMP), such as StoryChief, helps streamline your content strategy. Firstly, you get access to useful collaboration and project management tools to facilitate uninterrupted communication among your team members.

It saves your team the hassle of chasing deadlines and following up with their colleagues. Additionally, it lets you track the progress of various content assets and optimize content production. This, in turn, goes a long way to boost your team’s productivity and efficiency.

Moreover, a CMP provides you with content scheduling and distribution tools. This means your team members no longer have to spend their time sharing content on social media and other platforms. Instead, they can focus on creating outstanding content and this can cut content marketing costs.

Also, you get access to plenty of research and analytics tools, as well as content creation templates. You can even create your blog in a few simple steps and start optimizing your content using a CMP. It also provides you with useful content calendar templates to outline your content production and distribution schedule.

A CMP can even integrate with your CRM and automation software, thus ensuring that your content strategy yields conversions.

Delegate Responsibilities to Team Members

Instead of recruiting new employees, you can assign specific tasks to existing team members. Even if they don’t have the right skills, you can provide them with suitable training and education. This is more cost-effective than recruiting and onboarding new employees.

Use a Content Management System (CMS)

Using a content management system, such as WordPress, helps you avoid the cost of hiring a web developer. Even if you don’t know web programming, you can easily create an eye-catching website and blog using WordPress.

Final Thoughts on Content Marketing Costs

When it comes to content marketing, saving time and resources is the key to minimizing expenses. Certain content marketing costs, such as advertising, production, and employee compensation are indispensable. However, you can avoid other expenses by using a reliable and well-rounded content marketing platform.

Have you used a content marketing platform to minimize your content marketing costs? Check out how StoryChief can help you do exactly that.