So everyone knows people are increasingly buying products and services online, but you should also know everyone is increasingly marketing their products and services online and this and if you’re a business owner or a marketer you’re going to need a good combination of marketing tactics in order to attract your customers. Inevitably, content marketing is going to make up a chunky bit of your marketing output. For most businesses, it’s necessary at some point to get outside help when it comes to content marketing, either from a content marketing consultant or from a content marketing agency. But, how do you choose a content marketing agency?
When it comes to choosing a content marketing agency many business owners and even marketers can feel overwhelmed by the decision at hand. Let’s face it, hiring a content marketing agency isn’t going to be a cheap form of marketing and many of the cost is going to be front-loaded, so you might not be able to tell if you’ve made a good investment for some time to come. It could be years down the line before you know if this part of your marketing strategy has paid off.
But before you start thinking about what makes a content marketing agency better than another one, you should probably start thinking about what you want to achieve in your own business. Being able to articulate exactly what you want and what you need and in what time frame you need certain returns is going to help all the content marketing agencies you speak with work out if they are right for you.
Always Access Your Businesses Needs Before Hiring A Content Marketing Agency
So what do you want to achieve with your content marketing activity? That’s your first question before choosing a content marketing agency. Be able to articulate what you want a content marketing agency to do – remember the term “content” is a bit ambiguous and could be open to interpretation and the marketing side could be seen as more sales-focused to some agencies than other agencies would consider it.
Do you want to expand your audience in your existing market? Or do you want to tap into a new market? Or perhaps you want to increase your SEO efforts? It’s going to be important for your prospective content marketing agencies understand what you want to achieve.
The content your new content marketing agency puts out on your behalf has to inform, educate and indeed sell to your customers. And that’s a lot of work for content to do.
According to Momentum Design Lab, content marketing agency services include: Focus Groups, Buyer Personas & Use Case Development, Customer Journey Mapping, Strategy (Campaign, Brand Activation, Personalization, Influencer Marketing, Paid & Social Media, & Content), Concept Development, Brand Positioning, Brand Messaging, Copywriting, Asset Creation Content Creation, Visual Design Sprint.
Understanding If The Location Of A Content Marketing Agency Important?
I have a funny answer to this. I think the answer is both yes and no. I’ve hired content marketing agencies whilst working as head of marketing in various tech businesses and I’m also an owner of a content marketing agency.
When working as an in-house marketing professional I always wanted to find a good content marketing agency close to where I worked. I generally worked in Manchester so I often found an agency that was near enough that I could walk to their offices.
It’s undeniable that as an in-house marketing professional I found it better to work with local content marketing organisations, but really, I don’t think I was able to get more from them than I would if they were at arm’s length.
What’s more, I paid more for those content marketing agencies in the centre of Manchester, just as someone would a content marketing agency in London or perhaps any big city in the UK.
GrowTraffic is based in Lancashire and South Yorkshire, we’re a bit in the sticks really, but that means that we don’t have the overheads associated with being in the centre of the city, whilst still being close enough to easily visit our clients in cities such as Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds. And we’re only a relatively short train ride from London too.,
We get a lot of calls from London businesses looking for content. Often they’ve spoken with London content marketing agencies and they find them cost-prohibitive. I regularly head phrases such as “North Sourcing” as the rationale for why a business in the South East would get in touch with us.
I’d say there is an exception to this and that where you are looking to bring in a content marketing agency that’s used to work in a specific country. In those circumstances, I’d often say choose an agency in the country you’re primarily trying to target with content marketing.
The Experiences A Content Marketing Agency Should Be Able To Demonstrate?
When speaking with a prospective content marketing agency you’re going to want to look at what their experience is. Most content marketing agencies worth their salt should be able to show you case studies. Take a look at our case studies if you want to see what we have done for our customers.
What you need to look out for is a good variety of different types of businesses. A good content marketing agency should be able to deal with B2B and B2C, they should be able to help everything from service businesses through to tech suppliers.
You want to take a look at the types of people that work for the agency. Do they have marketers, people with development experience, copywriters, graphic designers etc? When you choose to work with an agency remember you aren’t simply choosing the agency but the people within the agency – it’s their collective experience that you’re contracting out, as well as the processes the content agency has put in place to ensure quality content is delivered in a timely fashion.
I’d also say lookout for creativity in their content marketing approach. There are many agencies out there that can produce regular and well-targeted content, which will drive growth over time – and that’s good – but what will they do to exponentially increase traffic and conversions?
Make sure you ask for sample content as well. They should be able to provide a load of content. Ensure it’s diverse and not just lots of blogs, you want to see blogs, whitepapers, infographics, web pages, landing pages, perhaps videos and podcasts, posts they’ve created on social, ads they’ve created to distribute content etc.
The Tools A Content Marketing Agency Should Use?
When speaking with a content marketing agency you’re going to want to try to work out the tools they use to deliver activity. There are a wide range of tools used by content marketing agencies, everything from task management software, client communication software, content management systems, content creation software, outreach software etc.
The most important thing is your new content marketing agency should be able to tell you what they are using and how those tools are beneficial to you as a business. I wouldn’t go near a content marketing agency that can’t tell you about the tools or if one seems reluctant to tell you.
The Techniques A Content Marketing Agency Should Use?
Every content marketing agency will do content marketing in their own way. There are similarities between all content marketing agencies but part of what you’re buying into is their ‘secret sauce’ ie the things they’ve done over the years that have worked.
Some content agencies will be more inclined towards written articles on your website, some will be more focused on the distribution of existing content. Some will be all about videos and podcasts or infographics etc. The thing is you’ve got to implement what’s best for your business and your sector and make sure you find a content marketing agency that is able to support your requirements and objectives.
Is It Important To Work With A Content Marketing Agency That Specialises In Your Niche?
Again this is a bit of a yes and no answer. Many agencies will say they specialise in a niche, what they’re actually saying is they are well experienced in a niche. This can be a good thing because they will already have a level of understanding of your products and services. They will also understand the needs and pain points of your customers.
The problems tend to arise when a content marketing agency then goes on to assume they know how to sell your products and services through content because they’ve done it before for one of your competitors. This will often see them implementing a similar campaign approach. Whilst this makes sense on paper it never works out well.
Working with a content marketing agency that has never worked in your sector means you get a fresh approach. It also means that there is going to be some time for that agency to get to know your industry, your brand, your products and your services.
I always think it takes around one month to gain a level of understanding that lets you write properly about a sector and then about three months to gain a level of expertise that means you can joust it out with other content producers.
It’s also worth considering who else they’re working with. Do you really want your content agency to also be working with your main competitor?
Content Distribution Strategies A Content Marketing Agency Should Use
When speaking to a content marketing agency you need to try to understand how they are going to distribute and promote your content. This is an incredibly important part of content marketing. In many ways, content distribution is more important than content creation because if no one sees your content it’s not going to do much good.
They want to be talking to you about social media, how they create engaging posts but also how they integrate their organic distribution strategies with paid activity.
They should also be talking to you about how their content marketing approach should sit with your own sales activity. If you’re creating all this content you’re going to want to make sure it’s used for all the touchpoints it can be.
Is SEO Important When Speaking To A Content Marketing Agency?
Full disclosure here: GrowTraffic started life as an SEO agency and we still consider everything we do to have a focus on SEO. Whenever we create content we are thinking about how it can be used in sales funnels, how it can be used on social media, how it can be used in email newsletters and how it sits within the buyer journey, however, first and foremost, we’re thinking about how it will help your SEO.
Content helps SEO in a few ways. Creating targeted content means you pick up a lot more long-tail keywords – those keywords that you would never ordinarily target with your main pages. It also means you can help your main pages rank better by creating more inbound links back to your money pages. Furthermore, it increases the relevancy of your overall domain by increasing the content on the domain for a topic. And finally, good content attracts organic links (and these are the holy grail of SEO).
How A Content Marketing Agency Should Communicate With You
Probably one of the most important things you need to understand is how a content marketing agency is going to communicate with you if you take them on. It’s important to understand that when you bring in a content marketing agency you’re also going to pay for the level of communication they do with you as well as content.
Communicate is important when dealing with any agency and it’s especially important when working with a content marketing agency. This is because content marketing is a medium-term strategy with long term benefits so it’s easy to leave a content marketing agency just to get on with what they’re doing. What you need to be doing is helping them hone their activity by tuning in to very subtle data. Often you’ll get pushback from the content agency that they know what they’re doing but you need to make sure your business remains in the driving seat. Choose a content marketing agency that provides regular updates over the phone and not just via email or through a piece of software.
Understanding What You’re Paying A Content Marketing Agency For
At GrowTraffic we charge £60 an hour. Everything we do is based around that figure, but we are able to break down our price list accordingly. For example, we understand how long it takes on average to write a blog and upload it to your website and we bill out accordingly.
As discussed above, when speaking with content marketing agencies you’ll tend to find those agencies in the cities charge more than those outside the cities but somewhere in the region of around £40 to £80 an hour is about right for a content marketing agency.
Beware those content marketing agencies who aren’t able to tell you what their hourly rate is.
There is another growing trend that you might want to consider when choosing a content agency and that’s success pricing models. I’ve heard that this is an increasingly occurring pricing strategy for some content marketing agencies in London, where they figure out how much profit you make on your products and services and rather than simply following an hourly pricing model they’ll also charge you a percentage of the profit uplift. It’s an interesting model but not one we’ve explored and not one that many of our customers seem very interested in.
How Long Will A Content Marketing Agency Want You To Commit For?
Over the years we’ve carried out loads of research about how effective content marketing is as a strategy and how long things take and we believe you’ve got to commit to at least one year, almost certainly 18 months and possibly two years, just to understand how content marketing has worked for your business. One year contracts are fairly standard when you’re talking with a content marketing agency, but don’t be surprised if an agency is talking about a two-year project.
Speak To An Open, Honest And Transparent Content Marketing Agency
If you’re looking to speak with a content marketing agency you can trust, get in touch, we’re here to help you get the most from your content marketing. Contact us now.