Content marketing is exciting, it’s fast-paced, it’s challenging. It’s also tiring, stressful and unpredictable. It’s all of this, but you can’t do without it.
For marketers, content anxiety is real, often ongoing. Typically, most content marketers struggle to find a content agency and writers that can deliver their desired outcomes. Unfortunately, those outcomes tend to swing between disaster and serendipity. Should it be that way though? After all the time, effort, and money invested, should content marketing be a gamble left to chance?
Let’s consider this essential marketing 101 principle: “Good content” is that which interests, educates or entertains your consumers and prospects, hooking them on to your brand for a reasonable length of time. How you define “reasonable” will depend on the short-term goal or long-term business objective that a piece of content is intended to help achieve. No matter what medium your audience prefers, content remains king. Collaborating with a content marketing agency could make all the difference between good and great marketing.
Most agencies are capable of creating new content across traditional media, such as radio, billboards, and newspapers, as well as online and digital media. This may include websites, blogs, infographics, podcasts, eBooks, webinars, social media engagement, and more. Yet, far too many of them sell a familiar brand of snake oil. The question is, have you found the agency that delivers the desired content at the right time, through the right channel, and in the most effective manner?
Ensure Your Business Communication is in Good Hands
From improving online traffic and engaging with consumers and prospects, to generating new leads and driving sales, bringing a valuable content partner onboard has many benefits. While you manage, direct, and hold the reins of the overall marketing strategy, the content agency experts should be able to win you eyeballs, as well as the fierce war for digital real-estate.
Here are 5 tips to help you evaluate content agencies and partner with the right one for your business:
Say No to Cookie-Cutter Strategies
They don’t work! Many agencies try to dazzle clients with industry jargon that sounds impressive but means nothing in the context of your specific business needs. Don’t waste your time and money on agencies that talk of a standardized approach, or promise a comprehensive strategy, using every available digital media platform.
A good agency should be able to create customized content based on your product/service, location or service area, target market, and customer demographics. For example, if you are a brick and mortar retailer or local area service provider, the agency should ideally pitch ideas for a localized content strategy.
Look at Driving Sales, Not Channels
During each pitch, ask specific questions about the agency’s cost and approach towards the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you expect to see. If they try to over-sell a certain channel, don’t hesitate to dig deeper. Are they promoting that channel simply because they are good at delivering results through it, or because they understand the nuances of your business, and know what can drive up your sales? Remember, poor media selection could bust your budget and ruin your marketing efforts.
Ask about Content Writers: They DO Matter
Does the agency employ trained and experienced copywriters who have a solid understanding of SEO tactics and content marketing? If they work only with freelancers, or worse, with automated content creation software, content agencies may be willing to settle for bargain basement pricing. Be wary of those who offer ‘quality’ work at pennies per word. Good content may not come cheap, but it is a great door-opener and a key cornerstone of successful marketing.
If you are part of the 88% of people who research a product or service online before purchasing it (online or in-store), then this one is a no-brainer. From client reviews and testimonials to past work samples and service agreements, get all the information you can and evaluate every aspect thoroughly. After all, your content agency will be the de-facto public face of your business; so, the one you partner with must add value to your company and your brand-building campaigns.
The Devil is in the Details
Don’t undermine or overlook the logistical aspects while evaluating potential content partners. While some firms may demand retainer fees and upfront commitments, others may not be flexible in terms of hours, project requirements and timelines. Your business model, marketing budget, and the type and frequency of content you need are important considerations in finding a suitable content agency.
Ensure You Communicate Your Business Effectively
Selecting your content agency may be the first step towards a successful marketing strategy. However, this communication chain is only as strong as its weakest link! For your content partner to deliver great content, you must provide an effective and actionable brief. Although preparing the brief takes time and effort, try not to skimp on the necessary details that will help the agency produce meaningful, high-quality content.
- Indicate the problem area or potential opportunity that the content needs to address, along with the desired outcome.
- Give details about your brand, expected tone and writing style, as well as your target audience.
- Clarify if there are any essential facts and messages that should be included in the content.
- Provide any specific reference sources that could inspire the desired output.
- Specify any other pertinent information about the sequencing, delivery method, or legalities that apply to the content.
- Establish a clear timeline for developing and reviewing the content. Tip: Don’t tell your agency, “I needed this yesterday!” and then sit on a piece for 2 weeks after you receive it!
Don’t Leave Successful Business Outcomes to Chance
Digital media content is becoming increasingly traceable and measurable. It’s important to check – does your digital content:
- Propel your business website to the top of search results?
- Draw traffic to your site or blog?
- Have the power to convert viewers or visitors into customers?
Don’t leave content marketing success to chance! To reiterate, serendipity is wonderful, but you don’t want to rely on it! Hire a solid content partner, provide a robust brief, and let content marketing work its magic for your business.