Based on HubSpot's "State of Inbound 2014-2015" report, the companies with the highest ROI focus on blogging, organic search, and content amplification.

Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods Group, and dozens of other Fortune 500 companies are investing in content marketing- but will content marketing drive the KPIs your brand needs to succeed? Can you afford this investment too?

Fractl and Moz set out to answer these questions by surveying over 30 agencies that specialize in content marketing. Through our survey, we discovered the average cost, reach, and ROI of content marketing.

1. 48 percent of clients measure content marketing success by the number of leads, high-quality links, and total social shares generated by each campaign.

Based on HubSpot's report, marketing professionals listed "increasing the number of leads" and "reaching the relevant audience" as their top two objectives. Our research supports this as well. Below, you'll see these goals translate directly into the metrics that are used to measure content marketing success.

2. Altogether, articles and infographics dominate close to 60 percent of production.

So what are the assets that marketers use to drive these results? The chart below demonstrates that digital content professionals are creating the assets that top-tier publishers want to cover. When we surveyed 500 top-tier publishers, 45 percent of our respondents said they wanted to see more articles, infographics, and mixed-media pieces. Press releases, flip books, and quizzes ranked at the bottom of their responses.

3. 41 percent of agencies produce less than five campaigns per month for a single client.

While publishing a large portfolio of content increases your odds of success, quantity doesn't always equal quality. The 3 percent of agencies producing more than 30 pieces of content per month for a single client focused on producing articles and press releases. The 41 percent of agencies producing less than five campaigns per month executed larger-scale campaigns such as infographics, parallax pages, and long-form content.

4. The average content marketing campaign earns 27 links.

While most agencies (68 percent) secure between 1 and 20 links per campaign, 14 percent of agencies earn more than 100 links per campaign on average.

5. The average reach for "most successful campaign" was 422 links.

When we inquired about each agency's "most successful campaign" the average was 422 links and the median was 150 links. So which factors contribute to the highest-achieving agencies?

6. 70 percent of agencies offer content marketing services based on monthly retainers.

Based on our research, 70 percent of content marketing providers offer monthly retainers, while only 15 percent offer pay-per-project executions. Retainers fell into four brackets: $1,000-$5,000, $5,000-$10,000, $10,000-$50,000, and $50,000-$100,000, and included production on multiple campaigns, content amplification through influencer outreach, and on-site strategy consultation. Retainers often secure a higher ROI since they offer a more holistic content marketing strategy, whereas pay-per-project executions often produce just one on-site asset.

7. When the budget increased to the $10,000-$50,000 bracket, the total number of links increased 162 percent.

Clients who spent between $5,000 and $10,000, compared to those spending between $1,000 and $5,000, saw a 136 percent increase in the total links earned by their campaigns. When the budget increased to the $10,000-$50,000 bracket, the total number of links increased 162 percent. This expanded reach is likely due to the fact that a lower retainer cost gets you lower production value and fewer services.

8. Inbound unlocks ROI and ROI unlocks budget.

Based on HubSpot's report, we saw proving ROI was marketing's No. 1 challenge. However, the ability to prove past success with inbound marketing is also the No. 1 factor contributing to a higher inbound marketing budget. To determine your content marketing ROI, use our beta content ROI calculator, which analyzes traffic, social shares, links, and major placements.

Wonder how content marketing stacks up against other inbound marketing methods? Check out our full content marketing report.

Published on: May 13, 2015