In the ongoings of our agency, one of the most frequently asked questions is: how much does a content marketing strategy cost? A suitable answer to a seeming simple question is indeed not so simple. In the following article, we delve into this issue and answer your questions.
What is the goal of a content marketing strategy?
In order to offer suitable pricing for a content marketing strategy, we have to answer a few questions first. Then the question arises as to what are the goals of such a strategy.
A complete content marketing strategy is nothing more than a master plan to reach marketing goals, in the best case scenario it provides a successful return on marketing invest. We always say that conscious marketing and not just marketing goals are of interest, because marketing, in opposition to brand building or branding, has the intention of transmitting information somewhere between an offer and an inquiry. It therefore follows the brand strategy as shown in the following graphic.
The immediate goals for a content marketing strategy
The mediation process hinges between supply and demand, stated simply: the customer journey for our target users in the conversion funnel has a temporal dimension. No one makes a marriage proposal on the first date. Therefore, various intermediate goals must be reached during the process, which can then be broken down within the conversion funnel.
- First and foremost, we have to encourage the user to engage with us and our message. Our message can be found on social networks, in search engine results pages, in advertisements, on our partner offers and many more.
- Then the user should be motivated to take a specific and concrete action regarding the particular offer. At this point, the user is a visitor.
- In the third step, we want to convert the previously anonymous or synonymous user into a unique, albeit virtual user. This usually happens when an email address is provided. This turns the user into a lead.
- They then qualify through a combination of high-quality content offerings and individualized emails: first the Marketing Qualified Lead, which is assigned to the appropriate Marketing Message, then the Sales Qualified Lead, which is a user that is ready to be contacted. All this happens through the quantitative evaluation of the collected profile, behavioral data, and lead scoring.
- Once a purchase takes place, the user converts into a customer. The purchase can be done both digitally and physically.
- In order to establish a long-term relationship with our customer, we need to provide them with customer-friendly recommendations using tailor-made information through our marketing channels. The final step is that they become a fan.
The working areas of a content marketing strategy
Each stage of our conversion funnel has its own battlefield where “the fight for the favor of the user” is fought. These “battlegrounds” must therefore be audited, evaluated and designed within the strategy. It’s about creativity, content, search engine optimization, social media marketing, native advertising, PPC advertising, email marketing and marketing automation. This list could be extended to infinity depending on customer needs. We have learned that content marketing is a fairly comprehensive staple discipline for many specialized disciplines that have individual expert curriculums.
The structure of a content marketing strategy
A marketing strategy is, regardless of the discipline, a construct that comes from quantitative methodologies that utilizes both qualitative interpretation and quantitative data, including the creative design of future measures. The scope of such a strategy could include:
- the quantity and quality of the data provided in the inventory
- the data in the fields of research
- the number of special disciplines included in the strategy
- the quantity and quality of the creative preparation required by the customer or
- the formulated initial goal
In addition, there are expenses for customer support, project management and regulations as well as for results presentations.
The cost of a content marketing strategy
As a basis for an example calculation, we will use the hourly rate of 100 EUR for the sake of simplicity. This amount is then multiplied by the hourly effort required per each step. In addition, there is a multiplier that reflects the individual quality or the reputation of the service provider. This multiplier makes the difference between the freelance career starter and the award-winning, proven and experienced agency in many customer projects. We also set it to 1 for the sake of simplicity. Now we go into the calculation.
Module 1: Planning
In this module, the customer as well as the project will be explored so that a mission statement can be established. This exploration takes place in a meeting, either via phone or an online meeting. For this, we assume it will take 4 x 3 hours. This means that there will be a three hour analysis of the inventory data, as well as a series of three meetings or calls that include preparation on the side of the service provider.
Cost of this module: 1200 EUR
Module 2: Research
In this module, the digital footprint of the customer, their competitors and best practice cases are analysed. Research involves a content audit, social media audit, SEO audit (on page & off page), digital marketing audit (SEA, PPC, Native Ads, etc.), tech audit, when possible a funnel audit, as well as if the project has a sales character to it. Here we calculate an average of eight hours. For five base audits, that would be 5 x 16 hours.
Cost of this module: 8000 EUR
Module 3: Concept
We tend to calculate as little as possible but as much as necessary. The customer does not earn money through the concept, but rather with its implementation. That is our promise. This aspect is heavily influenced by the needs of the customer. The development of creative ideas, for example, takes more time than the calculation of a performance model, the content calendar can be stored as a template or pre-filled for the next 24 months, etc. For simplicity, in the present calculation 40 hours is required for a manuscript-like transcript of the highlights of the research results, the interpretation of the highlights and the elaboration of the recommendations for action.
Cost of this module: 6000 EUR
Module 4: Processing
This module depends entirely on the needs of the customer. Should it be a lavishly staged executive board presentation, an 80-page white paper, or a concise “operating manual” that can be utilized immediately for operational activities? For simplicity’s sake, we suggest a Powerpoint Presentation that reveals the concept in 50 slides. Three days is typically enough.
Cost of this module: 2400 EUR
Module 5: Customer care
This module maps out the expenses for the communication and exchange between the customer and the service provider. Here we assume 20% of the expenses, in which a base amount of eight hours is the minimum.
Cost of the module: 3250 EUR
This leaves the total costs at 21,120 EUR. There could be additional expenses for workshops, presentations, further processing, travel costs and more. Nonetheless, these aspects have no relation to the intellectual quality of the strategy created and are merely optional.
This calculation for the costs for a content marketing strategy is a theoretical example. Nonetheless, when we look back at the seven years of work at Crispy Content, our experiences have shown that a content marketing strategy does tend to cost around 20,000 EUR. The value can be influenced by factors such as number of modules, depth of analysis, conceptual and creative aspirations in strategy planning, as well as the level of customer guidance required – and particularly the hour rate and the consequent multiplier. Is the service provider worth this base rate? This last burning question can only be answered by yourself. One last tidbit: in content marketing, the best shoemaker rarely has the worst shoes.