The True Cost of Content

Posted by Rich McElaney

For many companies, it's the 2013 budget planning season. One of the key line items in the majority of business budgets is marketing. For the increasing number of companies that are actively practicing inbound marketing methodology, a core focus of their marketing budget should be on content development. 

While more companies are leveraging inbound marketing to positively impact their revenues, there still is a fair amount of confusion around how to budget for content creation. I wrote about setting up an inbound marketing budget here - but for this post, the focus on the true cost of content is at a much deeper level.

There are two components of cost that are important to consider - one is easier to determine than the other - but they are both critical factors in the cost equation. content cost

The first component is the financial cost of creating content.

Every business has two primary methods of creating content - they can generate it internally or they can choose to outsource it.  Arriving at a hard cost to produce content is easier if it's outsourced - your content plan should detail the various assets you want to produce and you assemble pricing on the delivery of those content assets.

Creating content internally proves a little more challenging because you have to estimate the amount of time needed for internal staff to produce content and then allocate the appropriate percentage of their salaries, benefits and associated hard costs of their content development efforts.

Whether content is created internally or externally, it's critical to establish a baseline cost in order to measure the content's performance from a return on investment perspective. 

The second component is the opportunity cost of not creating content. 

This cost component should be considered by every company that is either:

  • Not producing enough content to reach and sustain pre-determined performance goals, or;
  • Not producing any content

The opportunity cost of under-producing or failing to produce content is very difficult to ascertain, as most businesses in this category are at either stage 1 or stage 2 of the competency scale. They are either not aware of the costs or they are aware of the costs and not doing anything to deal with the effects.

My challenge to you, if your content production efforts fall in one of these two categories, is to baseline your current key metrics: site traffic volume, form submittals, leads, Alexa ranking, keyword rankings and competitive standing, allocate some money in your 2013 marketing budget for content development, produce and publish for 90 days and then review each metric to analyze movement. 

As an example, let's say you generate two additional qualified leads per month in your 90 day test for a total of six leads. What is a lead worth to your company? Your opportunity cost is the value of the six leads you generated by stepping up your content development efforts - because without it - you would not have generated those leads.

There are potential customers, using the search engine of their choice, looking for the products or solutions your company offers. Every minute of each day. Your content is the direct connection pathway to them. Don't miss another minute of opportunity.


Tags: content creation, content development, content cost, cost of content