With the rise in popularity of content marketing, it stands to reason that there are lots of content marketing agencies out there. So what do you need to look for in a content marketing agency?
There are lots of reasons why you'd want to use an agency for content marketing. The biggest one being expertise. A good content marketing agency can really expand the depth of skills you'll have access to. The next biggest reason is the ability to create many different kids of content. Most companies have spent years developing their blog but they've often been slow embracing other forms of content such as video. A good content marketing agency can help you leapfrog the competition when it comes to creating great content.
The first thing you need to look for is a fit between the content marketing agency and the type of business or brand you are. Does the agency have experience driving the types of business goals you have? Some agencies might be better at dealing with associations or other member-driven organizations that are interested in promoting engagement. Other agencies might be good at driving online revenue through an ecommerce store.
You should also assess whether or not the agencies you are talking to have experience with clients as big as your company or brand. Some agencies might work better with smaller businesses where there is only one decision maker. Have a look at the agency's culture and try to get a feel for what kind of people they are going to be to work with. Are the roles and responsibilities of the team you're going to be working with clear?
It's important that you take some time to understand what types of content the marketing agency can create. Are they able to produce ebooks, videos and web content? Have a look at their portfolio of work and pay attention to the diversity (or lack thereof). You also want to see if they can create the necessary infrastructure around that content such as landing pages and/or forms. These elements are important to help turn the people who read your content into contacts you can follow up with.
You also want to look at their case studies and see if they have experience creating content that produces results. It's not enough to simply create content. Content marketing agencies need to be able to understand the context around the content, so that they can be sure that they aligning the content with the right audience in a way that produces measurable results.
Once you have an idea of what kind of work the content marketing agencies do, you'll need to get a sense of how they work. Find out who your main contact is going to be and how they manage projects. What tools or processes do they have for making sure work is done on time? What is the quality assurance process? It's also worth finding out how approvals work, how many rounds of changes you get, and when you start incurring extra charges for additional rounds of revisions.
It is also important to understand what you are going to be responsible for and what your content marketing agency is going to be doing. For example, will your agency be writing the copy or will you be writing it? Will they be taking care of any necessary translations? One thing that is often overlooked, particularly with content, is stock photos. Who will be sourcing the stock photos/video, and how will that be charged?
If you are doing any social media content, you should figure who will be posting and monitoring the accounts, how any replies will be handled, and what sort of posting schedule you are going to be using. Find out what elements of the execution, such as social media, they do in-house vs outsourcing and figure out if you're comfortable with that.
This last one sounds pretty obvious but you should see if they practice what they preach. Do the content marketing agencies you are talking to put out their own content? Do they share knowledge about content marketing? Do they create content pieces for the different stages of the marketing funnel? At Cyan, we believe in content marketing and recommend it for our clients because we've seen firsthand the benefits of it.
There are many different places to get certified on content marketing, so find out if any of their employees are certified or accredited, and how long ago. The world of content marketing changes frequently as things like organic search evolve, so it's important that people stay up to date on the latest techniques and strategies.
In our experience, it can take a few months for a content marketing strategy to start showing real results, so you should take your time to select the right content marketing agency. You need to trust that you've made the right decision so that it can pay off for you down the road.