If you’re among the 16% of B2B marketers who don’t have a content marketing strategy in place, it might be because you think it takes a lot of time or resources. And that makes sense -- it’s one thing to hear about what content marketing can do for you, but it’s another thing to invest time, budget and resources into it.
If you’re weighing the pros and cons of implementing a content marketing strategy, here’s a look at the most up to date current reports on how much time it will take, as well as our insight based on handling content marketing for several clients.
Strategy and Planning
The hallmark of effective content marketing is strategy and planning. I'd tell you that without planning what you'll write about, the SEO factors and implications, and how you'll funnel readers into a conversion funnel, content marketing just doesn't seem worth the time.
Consider these takeaways from the Content Marketing Institute that show that content marketers who meet more frequently tend to have more effective content marketing programs:
The most effective marketers are more likely to document their content marketing strategy, have a documented editorial mission statement, and hold regular meetings. In fact, 61% of the most effective B2B marketers meet daily or weekly with their content marketing team either virtually or in person. Furthermore, those who meet daily or weekly find the meetings to be more valuable (70%) than those who meet biweekly or monthly (49%).
- What Effective B2B Content Marketing Looks Like, Content Marketing Institute
The consensus is that best practices for content marketing planning would require meeting for 1 hour at least once per week, or 4-5 hours per month.
According to HubSpot research, a 500-word blog post requires 1-2 hours of work, which means a blogging plan that updates once per week would require 4-10 hours per month.However, that number can vary according to the industry, topic, and requirements of the blog post. It also depends on which tasks are factored into the blog post writing time, such as headline generation, image creation, SEO optimization, and promotion.
For example, Buffer published data that indicated an average 1500-word blog post took about 3 hours, but that time is broken down into writing, research, images, editing, promotion, headlines, SEO, and outlining.
Pro tip: If you're just getting started, don't feel like you need to do it all. Coming up with great topics and writing a blog is more important than visual content, videos and everything that you COULD do. Start with baby steps.
Premium Content and White Papers
Premium content refers to long-form content that customers can download by providing their contact information. While it can take many forms, such as a white paper, research paper, or product guide, premium content tends to be longer and provide more background information and research than blog articles, which means they’ll take more time to plan, research, and write than short-form content.
While the time investment will vary according the industry, topic, and requirements of the premium content, you should expect your team to spend about 5 hours on a 2000-word premium content download. This includes planning, research, writing, and editing, but also graphic design and website design so that customers can access the download on your website.
Pro tip: The result of creating "premium content" is that you'll get personally-identifiable leads when you publish it. Be sure to send it to your email list and post on your company's social media channels, too.
Videos make great content for B2B lead generation in the form of customer case studies, new product releases, and product features. In fact, 79% of B2B marketers use some form of video to raise awareness of their products. How much time you’ll spend on video will depend on whether you’re filming a short clip for Twitter or an in-depth features guide for YouTube. As a general rule of thumb, expect to spend about 2 hours scripting, filming, editing, and promoting a 15-minute video.
Pro tip: You don't have to have a video studio to film a good video. A smartphone camera and a quiet environment can produce a good starter video.
Social Media Marketing
About 40% of marketers spend 1-5 hours per week on social media content, and 25% spend 6-10 hours per week. This includes time loading and scheduling updates, designing images (since updates with images are shown to deliver higher click rates, retweets, and favorites), and monitoring and interacting with followers. Based on our expertise, we find the average social media campaign for a medium-sized B2B business requires about 2 hours per week.
Pro tip: Using social media scheduling software inside HubSpot is clutch for us. We can schedule a whole week (or month) of posts in a small amount of time.
When 91% of consumers check their email daily and 74% prefer to receive commercial communications via email, you know that writing, designing, and sending email marketing updates is an important part of an effective content marketing strategy. Depending on the email marketing software you use, it may also be a time-consuming part of your week. According to a recent HubSpot survey, most marketers spend 3.38 hours per week on this task, and 91.2% of marketers surveyed plan to spend more time on email production next year. This is accurate to what we find with our clients, though it’s important to note that a well-designed email template can save you a lot of design and formatting time.
Pro tip: If you haven't found email to be effective, then you are not segmenting your database and sending only relevant messages to relevant audiences. Try segmentation to make your messages more impactful.
Analyzing and Reporting
According to the same HubSpot survey mentioned above, marketers spend about 3.55 hours per week collecting, organizing, and analyzing marketing data from all of these initiatives. If you’re analyzing your data manually and not with a HubSpot dashboard, expect to spend an extra hour each week sorting and crunching the data. In our experience, we find this number to be accurate for a small company However, we’d also add about an hour per week in meetings to account for making adjustments to the strategy and reporting progress to key stakeholders, for a total of 5 hours per week.
Total Time for a Content Marketing Strategy
So, how long does it take to implement content marketing? Here’s a look at the average hours required according each of the tasks listed above:
- Strategy and Planning - 4 Hours/Month
- Blog Posts - 10 Hours/Month
- Premium Content and White Papers - 5 Hours/Month
- Video - 2 Hours/Month
- Social Media - 15 Hours/Month
- Email Marketing - 14 Hours/Month
- Analyzing and Reporting - 20 Hours/Month
As you can see, content marketing asks a lot of your marketing team. The average campaign will require approximately 70 hours per month to implement, rising or falling depending on its size and intensity. It will also rise or fall depending on whether or not your team members have the expertise to consistently produce high-quality content; if they don’t, expect to spend even more time on these tasks as well as content marketing training.
Don't let this deter you, though, because you can get started with just a couple hours per month. Try sharing others' industry content on social media. Try writing a blog per month. Getting started doesn't have to take 70 hours per month.
Content marketing delivers more leads at a lower cost, but implementing an effective strategy requires time and expertise. For many organizations, it’s going to make more sense to work with a content marketing partner who can design and implement these strategies at a much lower cost and with fewer headaches than putting the pieces together yourself.
If you were to get our help, we would start with a content strategy to map out what's needed to generate new business opportunities. Then the writing begins. Have a question or want to know what that might look like for your company? Ask your question here.