Before moving forward with a content marketing agency there are some vital items to consider. Learn best practices in this helpful guide.
Deciding which content marketing agency you should work with can be a daunting task. But there are some things you can prepare beforehand to help make the best possible choice.
Running a business in today’s world has never been more complicated. Keeping abreast of the latest technologies and trends can be a huge help. Utilizing marketing aids including target keyword strategy, target audience segmentation, and content distribution platforms, among others, is a must. It can be confusing regardless if you are a startup or an established brand.
Unsurprisingly, more and more people find themselves relying on the internet for daily use.
According to Pew Research, 81% of Americans go online every day, with 28% of that figure saying they go online almost always.
And with the vast amount of information available to them, how can you possibly keep up (much less stand out) and still run your business smoothly?
Where Do Content Marketing Agencies Come Into Play?
Content marketing agencies exist for this very purpose. They specialize in cutting through the noise and driving results for your marketing campaigns. Whipping up and then distributing written content, imagery, and videos are what they do best.
They are there to ensure your company’s tone and brand voice reach your target audience.
Are You Ready to Hire a Content Marketing Agency?
The big question now would be: what do you need to prepare before hiring a content marketing company? From your financial matters to how you and their company can work together, there are several things to consider before making a big decision that will impact your business and your brand.
Important Items to Consider Before Hiring a Content Marketing Agency
1. Determine Needs
It is crucial to determine the specific tasks you require them to do. Top content marketing companies possess a wide range of skill sets. In general, these include but are not limited to:
Whether you need them to create the content for your company or handle your content distribution platforms, these are necessary for engaging your customers and acquiring new leads. Content marketing agencies can streamline this process and even implement marketing automation software to make it simpler to easily run your business.
Increase Brand Awareness
Businesses need to grow and expand their customer base to accrue profit. But building a brand takes a lot of work. Content marketing agencies can take this load off your shoulders and better position your products and services through content to help potential customers know more about you and what you have to offer.
Content Marketing Strategy
For small businesses that do not have a dedicated marketing team, hiring a content marketing agency will help you devise a strategy to help you achieve your business goals. This strategy includes creating yearly plans and performance measures. You will not have to sweat about data as they will provide it to you and help you interpret it.
Improve Digital Experience
Search engine optimization, social media marketing, and web design fundamentals, among other elements, are imperative when establishing a significant online presence. But you certainly will not have the time to learn each of these, and it is different from the traditional marketing you may be familiar with. Top content marketing agencies thrive on the web. They should know how best to take care of these.
Ask yourself which of these skills your business needs.
Which are the skills your business can and cannot do? Would you need the agency’s full range of services or just a specific skill set? The last thing you want is to pay for services you do not even require. Hiring content marketing companies should be saving you money in the long run, not adding to your growing list of expenses.
It is equally important to determine that your requirements are the agency’s specialty. You would not want your business to be their guinea pig now, would you? You can always check their portfolio or ask them about their previous achievements. Getting your hands on their company’s feedback would help give you an idea of their quality of work.
Lastly, be clear on what you need them to do. Creating an understanding of your objectives helps you align your expectations. It will also help them deliver the best engagement with your market.
2. Marketing Goals
If content marketing is not right up your alley, it may be challenging to determine what you need from an agency. If you struggle to determine your requirements, it is best to shift your attention to your business goals. These can be long-term or short-term and align with your company’s mission and vision. Where do you see your company in five months or ten years from now?
To help you determine your goals, you can evaluate your company by assessing what it needs. For example, you might find that your company must:
- Gain more followers and leads
- Make viral content
- Create awareness for a new product or service
- Launch a campaign
- Establish a website or social media account
When interviewing prospective content marketing agencies, it is much better to ask them about their process. More often, they have a uniform answer to what they can do for you. But hearing the details of how they will help you achieve your company’s goals sets them apart. If they cannot answer this well enough, chances are they do not know what they are doing, and you are better off with another agency.
3. Proven Track Record
It is easy for many to fall prey to sweet flattery. It is even easier for content marketing agencies to claim that they are experts in their field. They can give you the low down on their services or the whole list of their past clients. They may also tell you everything you need to hear and more. But how can you be sure they can walk the talk?
Before deciding on a content marketing agency, you will be working with, dig a bit deeper by asking them about their expertise. No matter how extensive or broad they present themselves to be, all companies will have that one thing where they truly shine. If they excel in social media, for example, you can ask them about their clients for who they created stellar social media content. If they are adept at design, look at their visuals (both theirs and their clients).
You can even go further by asking them if they had worked with clients in the same business as yours. Getting into the specifics of their track records is especially helpful if you still find yourself stuck on the specific services you require or the goals you wish to achieve.
Acquiring a few testimonials would be good, too. If you get your hands on a few references, that would be even better. You can find out how your prospect agency takes care of its clients. You can also ask how they fared during bumps and slip-ups (because let us face it: it is bound to happen at some point). It is a good idea to have at least three references and ask the same questions so you can see if the responses remain consistent.
Working with a content marketing agency that is aware of your niche and industry-specific experience would undoubtedly set the grounds for a more effortless partnership. They would already have a good understanding of your business and your audience. They would already know which strategies work and which do not. You can confidently set your goals, create, and execute plans that will make an impact.
During your initial calls or emails, try to see if they speak your industry’s language. That is a surefire way to determine that they are indeed well-versed in your business.
4. Branding Strategy
It is not enough to establish one’s credibility with who they have worked with previously. When it comes to your personal or professional life, you first and foremost got to look out for number one: yourself.
If you find a prospective content marketing agency’s site to be lackluster, or worse, empty, heed the alarms going off in your head (seriously, why are they even a prospect?). Sure, they can say that they are too busy working on their clients’ brands to focus on their own. But what does that tell you? If they do not care enough about their own business, what makes you so confident they will care enough about yours?
And when you find content on their site and socials, be a wise consumer and ask more questions. You can seek information on their business’ brand strategies. You can question them on things like:
- Why do they choose to go for a specific content marketing strategy
- How they keep themselves up to date on trends and technology
- The results of their marketing efforts
- Key lessons they have learned from their brand tactics
- Traits that set them apart from their competitors
If they can successfully answer these queries, you know they are a keeper. You will be able to tell that they take their business seriously and take each lesson to heart. Their business is their very own case study. They test out strategies for themselves before they apply them to your business.
Another way to approach this is to take note of your buyer experience. How did you find out about them? Notice their design, copywriting, marketing automation, etc. How was their customer service? These details will tell you how they will treat your business. There is nothing more reassuring than seeing how they fare with their own company.
It all boils down to the almighty dollar. It is not a business if you are not keen on making a financial profit, after all. Setting a budget is essential before hiring a content marketing agency. Do not go beyond what your business can afford, and never sign anything you are not entirely sure of how much it will cost.
Be specific with terms and conditions. No one wants to receive surprise charges at the end of the month. A decent content marketing agency is evident in their deliverables and at what cost. You can get a more exact estimate of the charges by asking questions about:
- Deliverables to expect
- Contract duration
- Early termination fees
- Change order fees
6. Time Commitment
Having a transparent content marketing agency that communicates effectively is the key driver for your successful partnership.
Transparency means they are open to letting you see how they work. You will not end up with meaningless and generic PowerPoint presentations with data you cannot even understand. A credible agency will share with you the whole truth and nothing but the truth, even if it means letting you know of any unresolved hiccups.
Effective communication does not mean flowery words. Just as you go through the extensive vetting process, you and your prospective agency need to establish just how much or often your lines are open. Some things to ask them would be:
- How frequently do you need to be updated?
- Will there be a specific contact person or account manager assigned to you?
- Is there any secondary person/s you can reach out to as well?
- Who in your team are they training to manage the company’s KPIs, automation platforms, or data interpretations?
- Do you have a subject matter expert they can get in touch with now and then?
7. Anticipated ROI
Data is everything. It does not lie. The content marketing agency you will be working with should produce the information you need to measure their recommendations accurately. These involve benchmarks, metrics, and analytics. Not keen on such reports? It is part of their job to interpret these data for you as well.
Moreover, they should be able to report what steps you can take to achieve your metrics. And if there are strategies that are not working for you, their report should include developing improvements.
Content marketing strategy is just about just having great content on the various digital mediums. It is also about making revenue from your marketing investments. Did they tell you that you can expect your ROI in a short period?
But beware, if that number sounds too good to be true, it is because it is. It’s best to let the inbound methodology take root before it can bear fruit. Liken it to an investment (because it is) with compounding interest. Again, they need to be able to manage your expectations well.
8. Ask Questions
You might feel that this guide involved asking loads of questions to yourself and your potential content marketing agency. And you are right. It was deliberate. When it comes to your brand or business, success is the only goal here.
You have every right to ask questions where your hard work is concerned. Do not be afraid to ask as many questions as you see fit when evaluating your prospects. They should be able to address your concerns, even the ones you feel may be silly.
And do not spare yourself from these questions either. Take this time to evaluate where you and your company are right now. And think about where you want to be in the future. Hiring a content marketing agency is one of the most significant decisions you will ever have to make for your company. You need to get it right, and that means you need to get involved.
Final Thoughts on Hiring a Content Marketing Agency
There are many factors to consider when hiring a content marketing agency. It would be best if you knew their story, systems, and strategies, what they can do, what they do best, what other businesses have to say about them, and their unique offerings to your business. They need to possess the qualities and the means of driving traffic to your company and create and execute marketing strategies that pack a punch.
Whenever you are ready to hire the best content marketing agency your company needs, you need not look further. Working with us means partnering with a team of professionals who can offer your company compelling content consistently. You can be sure that we have answered all the questions mentioned above ourselves and continuously find ways to better our services.
Partner with an Expert Content Marketing Agency
Are you ready to make your company stand out with a strategic content plan?
Contact the content marketing experts at WriteForMe to get started today!