If the question you’re asking is: "How much money should I invest in content marketing for 2015?" — you’ll never get the right answer.
The correct question is, "How much money should I invest in lead generation, e-commerce revenue generation, brand awareness and/or brand loyalty in 2015?"
For most companies, these are the main objectives of Internet marketing campaigns. The main Internet marketing programs to support these objectives are SEO, PPC, email marketing and social media marketing.
Content is used to support all of these programs.
- SEO requires content, now more than ever. Offsite publishing is the best way to acquire high-quality links, and onsite content is a productive way to generate traffic and conversions.
- PPC requires content. You wouldn’t have much of a PPC campaign without solidly composed ads and solidly composed landing pages — both of which are being systematically tested week after week, month after month.
- Email marketing requires content — the more creative, useful and engaging, the better.
- Social media marketing requires content: original blog posts, original social media posts, and more and more, visual content such as infographics, video and high-quality, imaginative photos.
With all of this in mind, how does a company separate “content marketing” into a separate marketing function? In my estimation, attempting to do so is pointless. Instead, start by asking:
- How much is a new client worth? This tells you how much you want to invest in building lead generation and/or e-commerce revenue generation.
- How much is exposing our brand to 1,000 new, relevant prospects worth? This tells you how much you want to invest in building brand awareness.
- How much is turning an occasional client into a long-term client worth? This tells you how much you want to invest in building brand loyalty.
Once you’ve got your head around these questions, move on and ask:
How well do SEO, PPC, email marketing and social media marketing contribute to growth in lead generation, e-commerce revenue generation, brand awareness and/or brand loyalty? When you understand this, you can then set realistic budgets for those Internet marketing programs.
Content Marketing Second
Only at this point does thinking about “content marketing” make sense. How much SEO, PPC, email marketing and/or social media marketing you intend to do in 2015 determines how much and what type of content you need to execute those campaigns.
For instance, if your 2015 Internet marketing campaign relies heavily on SEO, you need a small army of versatile business copywriters and visual content creators to produce, say, 20 pieces of original content per month. In addition, you need copy editors, outreach specialists and analysts to round out the content dimension of your SEO campaign.
If, on the other hand, your 2015 Internet marketing campaign relies heavily on PPC, you need writers who are specially trained in conversion optimization, split testing methodologies, and direct marketing copywriting style. But you don’t need as extensive an editing function as an SEO campaign demands or any outreach function.
Granted, I’m talking in broad strokes here, but the underlying principle is valid. Content marketing is a fad, a buzzword, a trend, a healthy development in marketing — whatever you want to call it. What content marketing is not is a department. Content is tightly connected to many marketing activities. However, without a marketing campaign context, content has little value to an organization.
So, in 2015, let your competitors debate endlessly about what content marketing is or isn’t, about whether it’s a magic bullet or a money pit, and about how to integrate content marketing into their already overly complex marketing departments.
While they are so engaged, you can focus on creating and executing campaigns that meet solid business objectives, bring in traffic and convert prospects into customers. Spend what you need to spend on content to make your marketing programs click, and not a penny more.