Category: Content Marketing

Content Marketing 2019: How To Stay Ahead Of The Curve

ContentCoup.com
October 31, 2018

High-quality content has been the catalyst behind all successful digital marketing campaigns in the last decade. That trend is not going to change anytime soon.

An April 2018 study by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) found that 73% of B2B marketers ranked blogs as the most effective tool for generating interesting and growing their brands. E-books and podcasts tied for second as early stage content that guides consumers through the sales funnel.

A blog full of high-quality content, combined with a social media strategy to help disseminate said content, are characteristics of successful, profitable companies. These firms are increasing their content marketing marketing budgets in 2019 to ensure continued prosperity and growth.

Content must provide real value not only to get noticed by search engines, but also to build and maintain that ever-important trust factor with your audience. Consistently educating, entertaining, and/or engaging consumers with high-quality content leads to higher conversion and retention rates in both the short and long terms.

The new year is fast approaching, giving marketing departments and small businesses the opportunity to evaluate their content marketing efforts and make the necessary adjustments. Here are a few things to keep in mind to maximize returns on content marketing in 2019.

Pillar Pages and Topic Clusters

People are searching the internet differently in 2018-19 than they did in 2008-09. Google recognized this trend and as a result, changed its search algorithms to accommodate this ubiquitous behavior.

Gone are the days of stuffing your yoga blog with keywords like “yoga pants,” yoga mats,” and other related phrases in hopes of ranking high in search engines. Alexa, Siri, and other voice-recognition applications have given consumers more freedom. Robotic search terms like “sushi restaurant” have been replaced by more conversational phrases like “where should I get sushi tonight?” Bloggers and SEO personnel are incorporating these long-tail keywords into their overall strategies and driving more organic traffic. The idea is to naturally incorporate said terms into content without it looking spammy and forced. This strategy results in higher organic reach despite Google devoting more first-page results space to paid ads and its Knowledge Graph content.

Data analytics firm Ahrefs performed a study on 1.9 billion search queries. It found that over 29% of said keywords that got 10,000+ monthly searches contained three or more words.

In other words, content creators have more flexibility and creative freedom when incorporating keywords. They are no longer beholden to saturated keywords that everyone else is already using. Topic clusters and pillar pages address this phenomenon and keep your company blog and website optimized for maximum organic (free) reach.

Pillar pages are blog posts or web pages that addresses a broad (saturated) keyword or topic. This content is long – typically 2,000 words or more – but does not get into great detail about subtopics. A fantasy football advice website, for instance, has a pillar page called “Winning Draft Strategy.” This article has a 300-word intro, then five headers break down draft specifics.

The first header is “Know Your Scoring System.” This section informs readers that standard fantasy football leagues award four points for touchdown passes, six points for rushing and receiving touchdowns, and zero points per reception. Most draft cheat sheets are based on standard scoring rules. Load up on running backs and wide receivers in the first three rounds and wait for your quarterback and tight ends later in these standard leagues.

A PPR (points per reception) fantasy football league awards one point (or some variation thereof) to a player every time he catches the football. A separate blog post entitled “PPR draft strategy” is linked within the pillar content to further explain the nuances of PPR. Running backs who catch a lot of passes out of the backfield and high-volume wide receivers are ranked far higher in PPR leagues than standard leagues.

There are 6-point passing TD leagues. Another separate blog post is created and linked within the pillar that explains how quarterbacks are far more valuable in these leagues and your rankings should be adjusted accordingly. Some other cluster content pages for this pillar include “Return Yardage League Draft Strategy,” “Individual Defense Player (IDP) Draft Strategy,” and “Keeper League Draft Strategy.”

This model, assuming you are producing high-quality, premium content, not only helps more pages on your site rank in Google and other search engines, but organizes your website so users can easily find what they are looking for.

People Trust Reputable Content, Not Ads

Traditional ads by Google, Facebook, and other platforms have the potential to reach a lot of people. But all reach is not created equal, particularly when it comes to intrusive ad campaigns.

Market research firm eMarketer estimated that 25% of internet users employed ad blockers in 2016. The firm said that number increased to 30% in 2018. Laptop users are far more likely than smartphone users to employ ad blocking, mostly because there are less options for ad blocking on mobile devices. Younger consumers are also far more likely than their older counterparts to employ ad blocking technology. This is not to imply that traditional ads are completely obsolete. But those expensive campaigns are not even reaching 30% of your target audience at a given time.

A 2018 report by digital marketing firm Bazaarvoice found that over 80% of buyers conduct online research about brands, products, and/or services before buying. That research includes reading reviews on Google, Yelp, and other platforms. Its still an effective strategy to flash a “50% off today” ad to trigger impulse buying based solely on savings. But consumers prefer to read about your products and/or services to determine why they should select your brand over a competitor.

Consistent publishing of high-quality content conveys authority in your industry and commitment to your consumers. The global marketplace means consumers have more choices today than at any other time in history. Brands that speak to their audiences in a transparent, honest, and useful way stand out in the minds of potential buyers.

The 2019 B2B Content Marketing Report by CMI found that 65% of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy that is consistently followed and executed.

Companies and brands that are serious about capitalizing on content marketing must have a strategy with tangible goals and KPIs. A content calendar, social media schedule, and email marketing schedule are all essential elements. Brand loyalty is built when consumers expect new, quality content every week and receive just that. Bad reviews on Google and Yelp should be thoroughly and comprehensively addressed directly on said sites.  It may even be in your company’s best interest to write a separate blog post about certain reviews (good and bad) to address concerns in even greater detail.

Companies are expanding their content creation operations because it builds credibility and trust with their audiences. Conversion rates positively correlate with brand confidence and transparency. High-quality content is no longer an option in 2018-19. It is a necessity for companies wishing to compete in their respective industries.

Balance Long-Form and Short-Form Content

It’s no secret that Google and other search engines prioritize longer, in-depth content on search engine results pages (SERPs). Content marketers are well-aware of this trend. Average blog post length continues rising every year as the arms race for relevance shows no signs of slowing down.

Graph via Orbit Media.

The average word count for all first-page Google results was 1,890 in 2017, according to SEO firm Backlinko. But every topic and keyword combination does not need 2,000 words to get the point across. Content length and depth also depends on the audience. Generation X and Baby Boomers overwhelmingly prefer long-form content versus snippets. Millennials prefer shorter, more visual content.

The easiest way to balance these dueling demographics is to break content up into sections and provide “eye rest” with strategic photos and images. A 2,500 word blog post does not have to be a text-only, exhausting piece. Embed a few videos and even Tweets from relevant influencers. Every blog post also does not need to be highly-indexed on SERPS. Some posts simply expand on a social media post promoting some very specific event, product, or service. An aesthetically-pleasing, 300-word summary is more suitable in these instances.

Millennials also prefer infographics and video content over long-form pieces. There are numerous free infographic-building apps that are simple and easy to use. Videos do not need to be Hollywood-level productions to be effective marketing tools. A well-dressed, well-spoken individual looking into a camera and telling your audience what they need to hear versus making them read it, addresses the short attention span demographic and provides variety to your blog.

Expand Content Types

One of the most under-utilized and highly effective marketing tools of 2018-19 are e-books. These 30-50 page books contribute greatly to your brand’s overall perception, particularly when it comes to authenticity and trust.

The 2017 Consumer Content Report by Stackla found that 86% of consumers view brand authenticity and transparency as a major factor when determining whether or not to support brands. A study by public relations firm Cohn and Wolfe found that the top quality demanded of big brands is honesty about their products and services.

The 21st century consumer has better B.S. detectors than their predecessors because there is so much information to digest in a short period of time. Lazy, opportunist companies use tired, regurgitated marketing tactics that instantly raise caution flags. Authentic companies offer their audiences useful content that guides them through the buying process.

Branded e-books show audiences that you are committed to researching and sharing knowledge about your products and industry. A potential customer is far more inclined to choose an automotive technician who offered them a free e-book on DIY car maintenance versus the guy offering 10% off to come get the repair done today. E-books are also quintessential lead magnets. Consumers willingly provide their email addresses and other information in exchange for e-books about subjects that interest them.

Quizzes are another engaging lead magnet. There are several free apps that allow you to create quizzes and embed them directly on your website. Slideshows act as more condensed, visually-focused e-books.

Quality Over Quantity

There are several easy ways to get your website de-indexed from Google and destroy any chance of becoming a thought leader in your respective industry.

Google algorithms easily identify and de-index hastily-created spam content stuffed full of keywords in hopes of ranking high organically. Another way to get de-indexed is by using so-called “free hosting.” There is no such thing as free hosting. These companies bombard your website with ads, making for a horrible user experience. Spammy comments also get you dinged by Google. Make certain to either moderate your comments sections in real-time or do end-of-day QA.

Content creation is time-consuming and is best done by professionals who understand SEO, brand voice, and authenticity in writing. Don’t publish new content just to say you published new content. Everything on a company website should provide value, and present your company as authentic. Google’s quality guidelines are clear: focus on content, not keywords. Google is in the business of answering questions and does so by ranking the best content related to the instant query.

High-quality content gets shared by users. It tells great stories that get re-told on social media. Your company has the opportunity to take the lead on subject matters related to your industry. All it takes is commitment to quality content, consistency, and the desire to succeed. Everything else will take care of itself.

Content Coup is your one-stop shop for all things content. Our professional, in-demand writer and editor has over 15 years experience working in-house at some of the world’s most respected content marketing agencies and has an independent journalist and content marketer. We specialize in on-page web content, blog posts, white papers, business plans, e-books, and everything SEO.

Contact us today with your ideas and questions. We’ll get back to you within 24 hours.

 

 

 

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Ethical Considerations For College Students Hiring Professional Ghostwriters For Essays, Term Papers

ContentCoup.com
October 29, 2018

Essay writing factories are unethical. Not because of the service provided. But many of these companies pressure and harass students into buying. It’s also disingenuous not to point out the fact that many essay writing factories use writers from countries where English is not the first language. Content farms use writers outside the USA for lower rates. I’m all for finally putting to rest that old riddle:

Q: What do you call someone that only speaks one language?
A: An American

But the fact is that college professors easily spot essays written by non-native English speakers. Content farms, essay writing factories, or whatever you want to call them, are essentially the Walmart of content marketing. They are ubiquitous and cheap, but you ultimately get what you pay for and entrust.

Professional, independent writers and researchers, on the other hand, have a skill that is useful to students: a natural passion for the written word. A five-page, APA-style essay on stock market trends for a Business 201 class could take a 19-year-old preoccupied student 2-3 days to write, just to earn a low ‘B’ or ‘C.’ A professional writer can do this same job in 6-8 hours or less, and get you an ‘A’. Why not hire them?

Ethical Issues For Students

Some consider it unethical for students to hire professional ghostwriters for their essays and other classwork. But its certainly not illegal. In fact I’d argue that professional writers are a valuable tool at the disposal of students with access.

College is very expensive. The average cost for four years of in-state tuition, fees, room & board was about $80,000 through 2018, according to CollegeData.com. Private colleges were over $180,000 for four years. A college education is the second-most costly investment after buying a home in many people’s lives. The diploma and transcripts get you that first job. Both are mostly useless after that, as subsequent employers use previous employment as the barometer to gauge your fitness for their open positions.

Paying a trustworthy, credible, intelligent writer to ghostwrite your college papers is protecting your investment. The content of said papers is original and passes plagiarism checkers. A good number of autobiographies and memoirs of very famous, important people are ghostwritten. These individuals get the writing credit, and the ghostwriter gets paid. Those are the basics of a very traditional process.

Bottom line is that the ethics considerations are debatable regarding ghostwriters and college students. There could of course be academic consequences if a professor can prove the paper was ghostwritten, which is a difficult task that is rarely pursued. Choosing a writer who understands all the foregoing and subsequent dynamics minimizes any potential risk to the student.

Ethical Issues For Writers

The United States of America is a capitalistic country. The International Monetary Fund defines capitalism as follows:

“…an economic system in which private actors own and control property in accord with their interests, and demand and supply freely set prices in markets in a way that can serve the best interests of society.”

Granted the IMF couldn’t care less about the best interest of society. But the organization is an essential element in the capitalistic world. Professional writers are just like all other professionals who set a price for their services and allow the market to justify that price. Its not unethical for a writer to practice their very respectable craft that pays their bills and provides their well-being.

Attorneys are considered highly-respectable, both as a profession and career in the United States. Many are paid six-figures or more, and live very well. It isn’t necessarily ethical for criminal defense attorneys to represent murderers and rapists. But that is the job they are trained to do. An acquittal in a murder case with an obviously-guilty defendant may not win the defense attorney many popularity contests. But it will set their career for life, as all criminal defendants will want their services and law schools will want them to speak.

Writers who are good at what they do have the right to earn a good living in the same way.

RELATED: Are essay writing services ethical?

Writers write. Most people in the USA can write, just as almost everyone can drive. But not everyone can be a NASCAR driver, just as not everyone who can write is a professional. Writers simply use their gift of the written word to provide a valuable service and do what comes naturally to them.

Precautions for Students

The writer you choose should be affable and personable from the very beginning. They should answers emails and even provide you a phone number for text messages, to prove they are in the USA, and are a real person. They should ask you several basic questions immediately:

1. What is the due date?
2. What is the subject matter?
3. Do you have the rubric?
4. Can you provide any potential readings necessary to complete the assignment?

The writer should say something very insightful about the subject matter and show a genuine interest in writing the article. Of course they are doing it for compensation, but its easy to detect enthusiasm and natural desire to write. Academic writing is fun for professional writers because it piques already curious and wandering minds. If all the aforementioned characteristics and questions are not present, don’t use that writer.

Some students are concerned about login locations (IP address) if/when the ghostwriter must log into their online student profiles. Virtual private networks (VPNs) are common tools in 2018-19. They mask and change IP addresses on computers and smartphones. If your professor happens to say anything about login locations (which is highly unlikely),  just tell them you use a VPN. But its best to directly provide any/all reading materials, including the rubric, in a separate form so the ghostwriter does not have to log into your student profile. Just eliminate that risk altogether.

Metadata on Microsoft Word that potentially reveals someone else wrote the article is another common concern. Professional writers should provide the paper in three formats: .DOC, .PDF, and plain text. The .DOC version is in APA or MLA format and ready to turn in. The writer should strip the document of code and re-paste it into another Word doc to delete the metadata before sending it to the student. But this process is not 100% effective all the time.

The PDF version is best for turning in, if your schools allows it. PDF does not have all that metadata that Word sometimes carries over. Plain text is just that: a version without HTML or any other code. Students who are extra cautious can paste this version into a blank Word doc, open the completed Word doc provided by the ghostwriter, and just manually add all the bolds, italics, tabs, etc. that are in said doc. It will take you less than a half hour and completely eliminate the already razor-thin chance of discovery.

Essay writing is fun for professional writers and a necessity for students. We live in a capitalistic society and ghostwriting is a long-time, respectable tradition in the world of publishing. Look at it that way and the ethical issues matter not.

Ready to hire a personable, professional, and passionate ghostwriter for your college essays, term papers, and other assignments. Contact me today and I’ll get back to you in 24 hours or less.

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Size matters: search engines, readers favor long-form content

(updated 8:42 PST) — The quantity vs. quality debate is perpetual in the worlds of digital marketing and SEO. But there’s one fact that cannot be denied when it comes to blogging: frequent publishing on company websites increases the chances of acquiring new customers.

All blog content is not created equal however. Its difficult to determine how many blog posts are published everyday in the world. WordPress powers 26% of the internet and holds a 59% market share for content management systems, according to W3 Techs. WordPress users publish 84 million new posts per month, or about 2.8 million per day and over one billion per year.

I’ve personally written well over 2,000 content marketing blog posts for various companies in the last seven years. At least 90% of them were between 550-800 words. The question “what would you say is a good average word count for a blog post” on Quora has a top answer that suggests 750 words is “ideal.” The next two answers say “500-750 words” and “300-400 words” respectively. Hubspot’s 2016 State of Inbound Marketing report found that roughly 80% of company blog posts are less than 1,000 words.

Publishing frequently on your company blog positively correlates with the number of leads that turn into paying customers, as referenced above. Quick, simple blog posts fill the quantity aspect of company blogging. But all those short posts are clumped together with billions of others trying to get recognition from Google and potential customers. Blog content requires more depth (i.e. more words) to stand out from the crowd and to establish your company as an industry authority.

Long-form content is king with Google

A 2012 study by serpIQ analyzed 20,000-plus keywords and found some telling trends regarding search engine rankings. The top five results for the keywords averaged over 2,300 words, and all of the top 10 results averaged over 2,000 words.

The age of domains also played a role in search rankings, with 55% of the top three results being on websites that were at least 10-years-old.  A more recent analysis by Hubspot found that blog posts between 2,250 and 2,500 words got five times more organic traffic than posts with 1,000 words or less.

Aesthetics are important too

Longer is better for SEO, but not necessarily for lead conversions. A 2013 experiment by MECLABS managing director Flint McGlaughlin ran a series of tests on lead conversions when readers are presented long-form versus shorter content. A key finding was that content presentation – the way its displayed on screen – played a role in conversion rates. When it came to landing pages, fewer words resulted in higher conversions for a company that offered free psychological evaluations.

Shorter copy was also effective for company landing pages asking for email addresses for subscriptions and to get discounts on certain products. But long copy was more effective when readers were asked to make more difficult decisions. A second test measuring conversions for a mental health and addiction center found that longer copy with the call-to-action at the bottom of the page had a conversion rate of 2.48% vs. .78% for the control (shorter, clumpier) copy: a 220% difference.

Dr. McGlaughlin concluded that decreased friction (anxiety) related to the decision, increased lead conversions.

Sequential, comprehensive , descriptive content soothed and supplemented the mental effort. Long-form copy for the mental health facility created a value proposition in the beginning and continued to carefully build trust and explain to readers the benefits all the way until the call-to-action. A decision to add your email address to a newsletter list is much easier than deciding whether to have a mental health facility contact you. Shorter copy is effective for lower anxiety decisions; while detailed, sequential copy works best for more complex, expensive buying decisions.

Constants in ever-changing Google algorithm

Its disingenuous for anyone not working in one of Google’s 68 office locations to claim expertise regarding the company’s search algorithm. Google literally makes changes to its algorithm everyday and rarely provides specifics as to what the changes entailed. Granted most of the changes are small tweaks that likely won’t negatively effect the current SERP (search engine results page) rankings of your blog. But you don’t have to be a mathematics and computer science nerd to understand Google’s ultimate goal.

For those unfamiliar, Google’s search algorithm is the sequence of calculations performed to determine hierarchy of search results for long-tail and single keywords. There have been several major updates to the algorithm in the last seven years. The Panda update (also known as the “Farmer update” to SEO folks) in February of 2011 was the first one to hit spammy, shallow websites hard. All those formerly high-ranking articles written by college students for $.01 per word were removed from first page results. Some of the reasons included, but were not limited to, grammatical and factual errors, one-sided opinion pieces, keyword stuffing and randomness of topics not relevant to the website itself.

The Penguin update in February 2012 took things a step further. It dinged websites that used blackhat SEO techniques to push themselves up Google rankings. A common SEO practice before Penguin was paying established websites to place links to your site in already-existing blog posts that ranked highly for certain keywords. The unnatural authority and credibility gained by these backlinks were considered violations of Google’s terms, resulting in numerous websites being de-indexed for varying amounts of time.

Google Hummingbird went live sometime in August of 2013. It was a complete overhaul of the old algorithm instead of just updating a few things. The general understanding is that Hummingbird wanted to better understand what exactly users were trying to find. Language recognition via verbal queries on smartphones, along with long-tail keywords becoming more common, motivated Google to understand the context of words instead of just knowing all possible synonyms.  Amit Singhal, former senior vice president of Google, told reporters at the official unveiling of Hummingbird in September 2013 that the new algorithm made it possible to find what you’re looking for without exact keywords. Search queries were getting longer and more ambiguous, and Hummingbird accommodated this new phenomenon.

Several more updates, including Pigeon, RankBrain and Possum, have been publicly acknowledged by Google since Hummingbird. These updates mostly focused on providing better localized searches, artificial intelligence to better understand user behavior, and diversity of results based on user location. “Fred,” launched in March of this year, is the most recent, confirmed update to Google’s algorithm. Google has not provided many specifics as to how Fred affects SERPs. But early tests have shown websites with low-quality content and posts meant solely to generate revenue are being dinged hard.

Though search algorithms are complicated to understand, there is a common theme with all Google updates. Seven years ago when I transitioned from broadcast and print journalism to content marketing, there was a lot to learn. Despite the continual algorithmic changes to search engines since 2010, one thing has remained constant as far as Google favorability: content quality.

I did a guest post back in August of 2010 entitled “Eleventh Amendment is Unconstitutional; Must be Repealed” for a very obscure, anti-government website. It took a few weeks, but the post quickly became the #1 result for the keywords “Eleventh Amendment Unconstitutional.” If you search those same keywords right now, that article is still #1 seven years later over well-respected articles by Cornell University, University of California-Berkeley and Justia. Why? Its very factual, has videos and diagrams, and is published on a website that covers that type of subject matter (relevance). It also has 1,557 words (not the traditional 550-800) and the domain is nine years old.

“Don’t count characters. Make your characters count.” Barry Feldman.

There are several considerations when deciding how long a blog post should be. Promoting your company’s forthcoming Memorial Day sale doesn’t require more than 550 words. But answering the question “how to buy and use bitcoins” likely requires a minimum of 2,000 words plus a lot of reassurance within the content to ease anxiety about a complicated subject matter.

A general rule of thumb for writers is to simply write until you’re finished. Predetermined, forced word counts lead to fluffy, empty copy that neither Google nor your readers will appreciate. Long-form content is favored by search engines and is shared more often on social media. Frequent publishing of blogs is also favored by Google and readers. A mix of content is best for overall effectiveness. If you’re publishing five times per week (as all companies should be doing), at least one of your post should be more than 1,200 words.

Writing long-form content is a daunting task for non-professional scribes, but a necessity for SEO and lead nurturing. Turn your content needs over to professional writers with good track records. Inbound marketing (blogging) cost much less than all outbound channels and yields three times more leads per dollar. Now is the time to address your marketing strategy and reap the benefits of both long-form and traditional content.

Ready to start publishing long-form, high-quality content on your company blog? Check out our content packages and make sure to sign-up for our monthly newsletter in the left sidebar.

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How much should you pay for content marketing?

A vast majority of banner ads online are completely ignored by internet users. Despite this fact, marketing professionals still pay premium prices for them.

Small businesses that utilize PPC (pay-per-click) ads as their primary advertising source, spend $9,000 to $10,000 per month on Google AdWords campaigns, according to Google partner and PPC marketing firm Wordstream. Marketing directors are willing to pay this kind of money for the prestige and reach of Google (Alphabet) regardless of the well-known drawbacks associated with AdWords.

Data compiled by marketing blog Invesp found that 85% of clicks on PPC display ads come from only 8% of the global internet using population. These dart-throw-type odds for conversions and high prices related to PPC campaigns have not deterred small businesses and their large corporate counterparts. Google revenues rose to $89 billion in 2016, with more than 90% of that coming from advertising. Meanwhile blogging continues to be the most effective, efficient and relatively inexpensive inbound marketing solution that is still (inexplicably) ignored by many small and medium-sized businesses.

A 2015 study by market research firm Clutch found that nearly half of all small businesses don’t even have websites, let alone blogs. Only 36% of Fortune 500 companies have blogs. Many companies, both B2B and B2C, cited cost and time as the primary reasons for not having blogs. Despite the reluctance, more companies are now prioritizing inbound marketing, specifically blogging, because of the obvious benefits.

A company blog with high-quality content provides a 24/7/365 de-facto advertising and customer relations platform that helps grow your brand. Its simply a matter of coming up with a plan and executing it for your company to start reaping the benefits. Writing, like driving, is something pretty much anybody and everybody can do. But everyone cannot be on the NASCAR circuit competing with the best drivers on the planet. The same can be said when it comes to writing.

Companies of all sizes have three choices when deciding on how to handle their blogging needs:

1. Have existing employees write all the content

2. Hire a full-time, in-house content strategist/writer. The salary range for a full-time content strategist/writer is between $81,000 and $115,000, according to Robert Half.

3. Hire a professional freelancer or marketing agency.

The first option is the worst since you’ll be sacrificing the quality and SEO benefits professional content strategists and writers bring to the table. Its best to mix employee content with professional SEO content. The second option is good if your company can afford to bring on another full-time employee. The third option is the most cost-effective without sacrificing quality and SEO.

RELATED: Why choose Content Coup vs. marketing agency?

The 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America report by the Content Marketing Institute found that successful companies blogs with measurable ROI spent an average of 42% of their total marketing budget on content marketing. Using that statistic and the above salary numbers as reference points, here are a few things to consider when budgeting for content marketing.

You get what you pay for

Freelancers and marketing agencies charge widely different rates depending on reputation, writer quality, order size, etc. Compare pricing of different marketing agencies to get an idea of what you’ll get for your money.

Upwork places the cost per blog at $700 – $1,500. That amounts to about $2 per word. A Clearvoice survey found that 40% of freelancers charge anywhere from $100-$300 per article, while 20% charge $300 or more per article. Content Factory has a wide price range, charging anywhere from $80-$950 per article.

Marketing agencies also charge monthly access and retainer fees, which of course increases cost per article. The best freelance writers that demand fees on the higher end of the scale should have a lot of published work samples for you to read and evaluate.

Be Prepared

A freelance writer or marketing agency provides professional writing, research and SEO experience when your content marketing endeavors begin. But you must inform them about the specific needs of your customers.

Why are your customers interested in your brand? What do they like best? What do they complain about most? What questions come up most from your customers? Your writer will read online reviews and social media comments about your company to get a broad feel for your brand. But your internal customer service and sales personnel have the most experience and insight with your most valuable assets. The writer and one of these individuals should have at least a one-hour conversation (whether by exchanging emails or by telephone) about your brand and company culture before the content creation process begins.

The more information writers have, the more targeted and relevant the content will be towards your customer base.

Measure ROI

Increasing web traffic, brand visibility and sales are the obvious goals of content marketing. But the money you invest in content marketing should provide noticeable differences to your online presence.

Quality content results in more social media engagement. Keep in mind Facebook algorithms have essentially eliminated organic reach for your posts and companies must now pay to get posts “boosted.” But you should still see increases in total engagements relative to your number of followers if the content is of high-quality. If one blog post gets more “likes,” shares and comments than your previous three posts combined, your investment is paying off. Writers also need to understand how to use hashtags on Twitter to maximize engagements there.

Another metric to monitor is direct engagements on your website and/or blog. Most people use social media to interact with companies. Effective content marketing should lead to more unique visitors to your website, direct comments, and newsletter subscriptions.

Leads and conversions are obviously the bottom line. But as long as your content is keeping your customers engaged and positioning your company as a thought leader in the industry, it is money well spent.

RELATED: Work Samples/FAQ

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