Creating articles around your customer’s most urgent questions, including The Big 5, is the center of your strategy, but like any strategy truly worth your time, it’s not easy.
Producing They Ask, You Answer content is a long-term commitment to writing and publishing articles to your website on a consistent basis, interviewing your subject matter experts to extract their knowledge, and working closely with sales to pick their brains and get finished pieces into their hands to close deals.
It requires time and focus to do correctly and see results.
If your team is like most we work with, your marketers are perpetually bogged down with a to-do list that can be longer than the Nile River. That means content is almost always pushed to the bottom of the list of priorities.
Your content manager might not be writing every piece, but it’s their job to coordinate the content marketing effort, whether that means managing the editorial calendar and assigning content ideas to different team members, editing their work, or interviewing subject matter experts.
But now comes an even more important question: Is this ownership worth the annual cost of a content manager?
Like a lot of questions that get asked in this world, the answer starts with “It depends.”
In this article, we'll cover:
Comparing the average content manager salary versus the cost of customer acquisition
Content marketing versus other marketing mediums
Other ways to create content
Let's dive in.
Content Manager Salary vs. The Cost of Customer Acquisition
The first factor to consider when evaluating the cost of a content manager salary is the average lifetime value of a client relationship for your business.
Content marketing is the ultimate tool for building relationships with prospective customers.
They begin to see you as a helpful teacher, not just a brand trying to sell them things. This builds a relationship based on trust, the kind of trust they need to ultimately buy from you.
At IMPACT, our client relationships can last for years and result in revenue of tens of thousands of dollars.
Oftentimes it’s one Google search that leads prospects to one blog post that starts these client relationships. From there, they read another blog post, and often another. Perhaps they sign up for a newsletter, come to an event we put on, and eventually, convert into a customer.
Both of these journeys all come back to content and the work of a content manager.
To determine if a content manager salary is worth the cost, compare that number to the average lifetime value of your client relationships.
For most businesses, that cost of acquisition is going to come in way under the lifetime value every time, especially if you’re creating content on a regular basis that’s attracting the right kind of traffic that converts to leads and closed customers.
It all depends on the ROI you can tie back to your content.
What is the Average Content Manager Salary?
As you’ve seen, content managers need a variety of unique, expert skills, including writing, interviewing, editing, organizing, and researching. In a dedicated publishing organization, their duties are split across multiple job titles.
In the United States, the national average content manager salary is currently $75,672 according to Glassdoor. This number may lower to around $40,000 or rise to around $120,000 depending on company size, years of experience, location, or additional cash compensation.
If, over the course of a calendar year, you invest $50-$70k in compensation for a content manager whose work leads to more than that from inbound leads, you’re in the land of positive ROI.
The ROI then really starts to compound when your content manager spends multiple years as a dedicated content writer for your business. Any leads generated by new articles or assets created by your content creators are compounded by those created by blog posts written years ago.
Additionally, you’ll find that a small investment in time and labor from your content writer can keep older pieces updated to address any changes in your business or the audience’s needs.
If your leads are not resulting in more than your content manager’s salary, perhaps you need to revisit your strategy or even consider if you have the right person in that role.
Content Marketing vs. Other Marketing Channels
Looking at it another way, let’s contextualize the average content manager salary compared to some other ways people traditionally promote their businesses and drive leads.
Now, we’re not saying these as mutually exclusive of hiring a content manager — just offering them as points of comparison.
Trade shows, networking events, conferences — they’re generally a very expensive way to generate leads, but there are also plenty of businesses and industries where they are a necessary evil.
For instance, at a past career stop of mine, I marketed to the broadcast industry.
There are certain times and places where people in that industry go to learn about new products and services, and it’s hard to connect with them at other times.
That all being said, there are lots of businesses out there that spend a lot more than the $50-70k average salary of a content manager at trade shows and events a year and struggle to draw a direct line from that investment back to any revenue.
Whether it’s radio, billboards, television, or print, traditional forms of advertising stand in stark contrast to content marketing when it comes to provable ROI.
Ask yourself when was the last time you made an important buying decision for yourself or your business because of an ad you saw or heard?
I’m not talking about a beer, soda, pack of gum, or even a pair of shoes.
When was the last time you decided to spend more than $500 on something because an advertisement influenced your decision-making process?
In today’s day and age, people do research on their own time.
They investigate answers to their questions and seek to make informed decisions when and how it's convenient for them. That means it's usually online, and content marketing aligns with this behavior. Traditional advertising doesn’t.
When you look at the cost of most traditional advertising and its effectiveness, content manager salaries tend to dull in comparison.
Investing in paid media is a solid way to grow a lot of businesses including tech companies, but what I mentioned in the last section (the cost of customer acquisition) comes into play in a big way on this one.
If you’re spending $5,000 per month on digital advertising instead of investing that money in a content manager, what happens when you stop paying that paid media bill?
Or what happens when your competitor outspends you and you can’t compete with their bigger budget? What happens to your leads then?
With a quality piece of content, it lives forever (as long as you pay your website hosting bill).
A piece of content written in January can rank #1 in July and keep that ranking for years, driving leads and sales the whole time. Your sales team can use it in their sales process on an ongoing basis, educating prospects daily.
All the while, your content manager can keep writing new content to provide more and more ROI.
Other Ways to Create Content
You can see why hiring a content manager is a cost-effective way to grow your business and generate leads, but you might be asking yourself at this point, “Why do I have to hire someone full time? Can’t I hire a freelance content creator?”
Full-time content marketing manager vs. freelancer
When you hire someone to write content for your business, whether they’re a freelancer or full-time, in order for them to create anything that’s of real value to you, you’re going to need to educate them about your industry and your business.
If the content they create is going to educate a prospect and realistically describe what it will be like working with you, they need to learn enough from you to make the content substantive.
If you’re spending the requisite time to educate a freelance writer about your business to help them create quality content for you, wouldn’t you rather be investing that time and effort in someone who you can trust to contribute to your company’s marketing in perpetuity?
Onboarding an employee to any area of your business is an investment (financially and otherwise). That’s especially true for a digital content manager, where they need to be able to speak with the voice of your brand.
If you’re going to spend that time and money, you want it to be worth it in the long run. You can’t afford to cycle through that process on a regular basis.
The reality is that freelancers come and go and other opportunities present themselves. If you’re training one, you’re likely to be training another in a few months.
Then there’s the volume factor to consider.
We recommend our clients publish 2-3 pieces of content every week.
For a freelance writer who charges somewhere in the range of $300 per article, that comes to $31,200 for two articles a week for 52 weeks out of the year.
A starting salary for an entry-level content manager in many major cities is around $40k.
If you’re going to invest that much in a freelancer, why not just hire them full-time and have someone who acts as a dedicated content strategist, manager, and writer?
You can get the same output from your new content manager in content — plus whatever additional responsibilities they can fit into a workweek (acting as a social media manager, optimizing your marketing automation, creating video content).
They’re also always available exclusively to you and your needs. They’re never going to tell you they’re too busy with other client work to get back to you on something.
It’s all about the measurable ROI
Content marketing is ultimately the best way to scale the growth of your business.
Investing in quality content will give you the ability to draw a straight line from the content you’re publishing to traffic, leads, and, most importantly, sales.
If I’m a business owner spending money on marketing, I want to know how I’m going to get a return on it.