The Real Cost of Content Marketing
How do you respond to advertisers who want to blog more and advertise less? Do you discuss with them the real cost of content marketing?
Content marketing has become all the rage in the marketing world as brands empowered by the technologies of the web, SEO, and various publishing tools race to become publishers themselves. In theory, what they are basically doing is an end-around on the conventional publishing business. Instead of paying for ad campaigns in various print publications, TV channels and websites, they are choosing to start their own TV channels, and create SEO friendly websites that they fill with their own blogs. Brands write about their niche or even unrelated topics that might be of interest to their client base.
Take for example, this air conditioning maintenance and repair company who has ventured into the publishing business by writing blog articles on a variety of topics, from air conditioning to the coolest places in town, coolest places for coffee, and so on. These articles are posted on their website and shared in social media and even boosted as paid ads on Facebook. By writing not just on their subject matter but also on more broad topics, they are able to market to local prospects in a non-traditional way. Here is a sample of one of their Facebook posts:
This begs the question: "Is this really an efficient model?" Many brands seem to think that this is a free way to market services or products. But is it really? Here are some of the potential costs involved in the creation of one blog article:
- Writing: There is the cost of the blog writer or blog writing service. Blog writing could also be done by the business owner or employees but depending on the role that person plays, it might not be cost efficient for him or her to spend time blogging.
- Editing: Whether using an outside writer, blog service, or in-house staff member, someone will need to edit the article and ensure that the content is in line with the brand's goals.
- Images: It is recommended that blog articles contain one or more images to create interest and for posting in social media. Finding the right image can be time consuming and you might have to pay for the image through an image sharing service. Some blog writing services charge nearly as much to provide an image as they do for writing an article. This is because it takes time.
- Social Media: In order to get your blog articles seen, they need to be pushed out through social media. While there is no charge to post to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets, there is the cost in time for someone to post and the cost of keeping up with all of the latest social media algorithm changes. With Facebook, the most popular social media outlet, a post may not get seen by more than a few users without paying for a boosted ad. This is due to Facebook's recent changes to organic reach.
- Tracking: It's important to find out which articles are drawing traffic. To do this someone will need to be checking Google analytics or even using a marketing traffic software which can be expensive. If leads are important, there is the additional cost of creating landing pages and forms. Someone also needs to track the SEO and make sure that articles are optimized for SEO.
Can this be a successful strategy? Yes, for those with writing talent and social media savvy, this can be a great way to market. But for so many more, this is just not an efficient model and too many companies are failing to recognize this. These costs need to be balanced against the cost of simply running an ad campaign in a magazine. In many cases, the latter is much more cost effective. Be sure to point out the true cost of content marketing the next time a potential advertiser lets you know they are going into the publishing business themselves. Sometimes, it's best to leave publishing to the publishers and focus on your own area of expertise.
Mark McCormick is president of Mirabel Technologies, a leading cloud-based software provider of publishing solutions, including The Magazine Manager and The Newspaper Manager. Mirabel Technologies is the first company to fully integrate flat planning, digital and tablet edition creation (Mirabel's Digital Studio) with ad order entry, CRM and billing functions.