Content marketing is my personal favorite kind of marketing. Why?
- It’s all about relationships. Relationships with your customers, your audience, and other influencers.
- It’s genuine. No slimy sales tactics, just caring and value!
- It works. Content marketing sees conversion rates nearly six times higher than traditional marketing.
The question isn’t: “does content marketing work?” That’s an absolute yes. The right question: “is content marketing right for my business?”
Here’s the thing about content marketing: you either commit or you don’t. There is no toe in the water. Dive in, or stay away.
Why do I say this? Mostly because if you’re not willing to create top-quality content (and promote that content relentlessly), you’re only adding to the noise. No one likes noise.
John Lee Dumas, founder of the EOfire podcast, once said something to me that stuck:
“Don’t add to the noise. Create something worthwhile. If you can’t add value to the industry and the world, pick a new topic where you can.”
So, in this post, I’ll explain what goes into content marketing (in terms of time, effort, and money) and what kind of results you can expect (ROI) to help you decide if content marketing is right for you.
Excited yet? Here we go!
Content marketing: The necessary commitments
Successful content marketing requires commitment to excellency. That’s all well and dandy, but what does excellence look like
- Well-written content (Good grammar, spell-checked, easy to read)
- A focus on beautiful imagery (no stock photos, unless they’re relevant)
- An eye for formatting (white space is your friend!)
- Provides a clear, actionable takeaway
While hitting on all those points is no easy task, I urge you not to start content marketing unless you can commit to them. The most important of the four points is the clear, actionable takeaway: you should use your content to teach your customers.
Jeff Goins, a famous author and blogger, has four questions he must answer “yes” to before he ever publishes a piece:
- Is this piece well-written?
- Does the headline make a promise?
- Does the article deliver on that promise?
- Will this content “WOW” the reader with value to the point that they’re amazed it’s free?
Now, this sounds like a lot, and I may be scaring you away. Before you back out, there’s a question I’m sure you’re wondering: “How much time is this going to take me?”
How much time does a content marketing strategy take?
That depends on how many posts you write (or videos/podcasts you create), how long it takes you to create them, and how much time you spend promoting them.
They say seven minutes on promotion – that’s just adding it to their social media schedule. You’ll have to do a lot more promotion if you’re just starting out. As a rule of thumb, you should spend at least an hour promoting for every hour spent creating – preferably more.
If you start with one post per week, your total time per week on writing and promotion will be at least six hours. (Probably more when you’re first starting because you won’t be used to writing and the process will take you longer.)
Of course, you can write more posts (up to 2-3 per week) or less posts (once a month at a minimum), depending on the resources you have available. You can also reduce that time by hiring a freelance writer.
How much does content marketing cost?
One of the reasons I love content marketing so much is its incredibly flexible cost. You can literally spend as much or as little on it as you want, depending on how much time you can invest. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute:
“Content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing and generates more than three times as many leads.”
For example, I’ve used content marketing to grow my own site from 0 to 60 visitors per day in just a few short months with a cost of $0 and some sweat equity.
On the flip side, if you don’t have time to create content, you can hire a writer or content marketer to take over that job for you. While writers vary massively in experience, skillset, and cost, you’ll typically pay somewhere between $.05 to $.25 per word ($50 to $250 per 1000 words).
Of course, there are other monetary aspects of marketing, including paid advertising like PPC (pay per click), display and native ads, and paid influencers. Personally, I don’t pay much attention to these methods – I like to focus on organic methods like SEO and networking.
That said, you can spend as much or as little as you’d like on paid ads. I’d say $500 is a good starting point, then you can go up from there.
Content marketing ROI: What to expect
Let me warn you: content marketing is a long-term strategy. Moz believes it can take up to six months to truly see results from your efforts – a time period they call the “gap of disappointment”.
Will this vary for you? Yes. Do some people see results faster? Yes.
However, this is a “Kaizen” approach to marketing and business growth. (Kaizen is a Japanese word for small daily improvements, which provide exponential results over the long haul.)
Personally, I love long-term investments because they always tend to pay off better than cutting corners. But, to each their own! 🙂
Is content marketing right for your business?
Answer these four questions to find out:
- Are you willing to commit to providing highly valuable content?
- Are you willing to stick it out for the long term?
- Do you have at least six hours to commit to creating and marketing content every week, or the money to hire someone to do it for you?
- Are you willing to make the world a better place for dogs everywhere?
If you said “no” to one of these questions, you should not start content marketing. (OK, I guess you don’t have to accept #4… but I think a little less of you if you don’t.)
I’ve already beaten the ‘why’ into your head. Do yourself (and the world) a favor and stay away from adding more crappy content.
Do you use content marketing in your business? Let me know in the comments! 🙂