By Michele Linn published June 6, 2012

How to Justify the Cost of Content Marketing

Marketers often ask us how they can define the ROI of content marketing. It’s a great question — and tough to answer. If you are trying to justify content marketing spend, check out this new eBook from Kapost and Eloqua called Content Marketing ROI (Note: Registration is required). This eBook provides good details around how to set up your content marketing team and prove its value, and my favorite takeaways are below.

How much does content marketing really cost?

The cost of content isn’t simply what you need to pay your writers and designers. Content marketing costs include the following:

  • Dedicated staff needed to handle the projects
  • Freelance writers and designers
  • Technology expenses
This chart outlines typical monthly costs for mid-size and large businesses that produce two blog posts per week plus a piece of premium content per month. You can obviously adjust these figures to align with your staff and deliverables.

How does content marketing compare to other lead generation activities?

If you are like the 66 percent of B2B organizations that use content marketing to generate leads (according to the B2B Budgets, Benchmarks and Trends research), it’s helpful to understand how content marketing compares to other lead generation activities.

Kapost and Eloqua walk through an exercise in which they compare content marketing to paid search marketing, which is cited as the most cost effective method in marketing.  The guide provides the specific rationale for the calculations, but the authors conclude that content marketing costs 31 percent less than paid search for mid-size organizations and 41 percent less than paid search for large organizations. This is a good starting place when you need to make the case for content in your organization. While these values will vary by industry, it’s an interesting way to compare spend that may be valuable for your organization as you justify cost.


What else can I do to justify content marketing?

Explaining the cost is just one of the hurdles you need to cross when justifying content marketing to your organization. Here are some other tips that can help:

I think this guide, Content Marketing ROI, is helpful for laying out the costs associated with content marketing and helping marketers understand how costs compare to paid search. What other techniques do you use to help justify the cost of content marketing in your organization that may help others?

Get the support you need for successful content marketing. Check out our starter kit, Mastering the Buy-in Conversation on Content Marketing, for stats, tips, and essential talking points.

*Disclaimer: Eloqua and Kapost are sponsors of the Content Marketing Institute/Content Marketing World, but this does not impact our editorial.

Author: Michele Linn

Michele Linn is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Mantis Research, a consultancy focused on helping brands create and amplify original research they can use in their marketing. Before starting Mantis, Michele was head of editorial at Content Marketing Institute, where she led the company's strategic editorial direction, co-developed its annual research studies, wrote hundreds of articles, spoke at industry events and was instrumental in building the platform to 200,000 subscribers. In 2015, she was named one of Folio's Top Women in Media (Corporate Visionary). You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

Other posts by Michele Linn

  • Greg Shuey

    Great post Michele. As you’ve displayed above and as we have seen in our agency, it’s true, investing in content marketing is expensive but the ROI is definitely there when done right.

    Looking forward to reading over the ebook.

  • Anna Brown

    I actually just wrote a post about this. 🙂 To me, content marketing is the new pitch and proposal. Companies would spend weeks preparing to present to a big client – and they should put the same effort into their content, because it today’s world, that’s the presentation their best prospects will see. When companies start to think of content as face-time with important leads, I think the acceptance of content marketing will increase. 

    • Michele Linn

      That’s a good way to look at this, Anna. Thanks for weighing in!

  • euanblair

     I am shocked at the figures quoted for personnel costs; Managing Editor at a Mid-Sized organization is $6,667 per MONTH? In the UK, that would equate to a yearly salary of £51,000. That’s a pretty hefty investment on top of which you will obviously have content creation costs.

    Maybe the sample size of 50 companies (already engaged in content marketing through virtue of running the Kapost platform) in the study has somewhat skewed this from what a typical company would invest. Thoughts?

    • Michele Linn

      Great questions. I am reaching out to Toby Murdock to see if he can comment on the companies included in the survey. But, I recently did a post that looked at salary info for content marketing, and I cited a survey from Folio that specifically looks at salary ranges of managing editors:  You can view the results but company type, revenue, geo and more,  but these figures are anywhere from $50K to $75K (all US figures). You may also want to check out the salary guide from The Creative Group that looks at a wider range of positions:

    • tobymurdock

      Yes, the figures that Michele cites show that the figures in the eBook are in the market. Furthermore, the Folio figures are for media companies, whose businesses are really struggling. Marketing departments generally are willing to invest more in quality Editors than media companies are; they have more money to spend. 

  • Edwin Vlems

    Interesting article! But I guess the costs are onlu time if you push the internal content outside. You don’t need external people to do that… Also, people that found your content will also find the colleagues that wrote it, and want to buy from them…

    • Michele Linn

      Hi Edwin,
      The guide takes into account the salaries of internal people to create and distribute content, so I agree that you don’t necessarily need external people to do that. But, every organization is different, so I think this is a good framework  you can use to plan and justify the expense within your organization.