When it comes to content marketing agencies there are plenty around but after you’ve signed up to use one you can often be left asking yourself the question “is my content marketing agency any good?”
You’ve probably set off on your content marketing journey with your new agency and hopefully, they are delivering content but you still might not be confident or sure about them.
When it comes to working with different content marketing agencies I’ve been there. I moved GrowTraffic from a purely SEO-focused agency towards becoming a content marketing agency in 2013, however, I’ve also spent my time working as the Head of Marketing in several tech-businesses and in those roles I’ve brought on my fair share of content marketing agencies. I’ve worked with some great ones and I’ve worked with some that I found managing shall we say, challenging.
To help you if you’re starting to question your content marketing agency we’ve put together some points to think about. If by the end of this blog you’ve decided they aren’t up to much it’s probably time to find a new content marketing agency to work with.
Does Your Content Marketing Agency Make You Happy?
This may sound a bit fluffy but I honestly think it’s important to work with people that you like. Life’s too short to just put up with someone or a group of people. Moreover, if your content marketing agency doesn’t go out of its way to make you happy then they might not care enough about your campaign. Help them understand what you want from them in terms of your relationship and if they still don’t get it, move on!
How Long Have You Been Working With Your Content Marketing Agency?
The first question I’m going to ask is how long have you worked with your content marketing agency and that’s because I firmly believe you’ve got to give content marketing a lot of time to see the benefits. This is a medium-term strategy that has long term effects.
In my experience, content marketing takes around one to two years to really have the kind of beneficial traffic impact business is looking for when they start down this road. If you’re only a few months in then you want to try to give it a bit longer.
What Process Is Your Content Marketing Agency Using?
I’m not great with processes. I’ve always been able to create plans and processes that other people can follow but I’ve never been able to follow a process or plan myself. I always get distracted and find other things to do.
Fortunately, I figured that out early, have done things about it and put myself in positions where I’m not as delivery orientated. But I recognise processes are important when delivering marketing strategies and it can be especially important with regular content marketing.
Delving into the processes your content marketing agency is using to deliver your content marketing can help you understand what is happening and why. Often, it’s a lack of communication about processes that can lead to misunderstanding between client and content marketing agency.
When you’re thinking about the process you need to be thinking about creativity, strategy, project management and delivery. If your content marketing agency can’t explain their processes then I’d be suggesting you reach for that break clause or even find a way to terminate your contract with them.
Can Your Content Marketing Agency Demonstrate The Results?
Listen carefully and think about the way your content marketing agency demonstrates its results. Many content marketing agencies will be able to show you via Case Studies what they’ve achieved for other companies, but what’s important is how they demonstrate the results they get for you.
Content marketing is a long term strategy, but everything your content marketing agency does for you over the months and years you’re working for them needs to contribute towards the results they’re getting.
Your agency should be able to tell you which pieces of content are driving traffic and which pieces of content are driving conversions. Don’t let any content marketing agency fob you off that you just need to get a lot of content out there and the results will eventually come.
Your content marketing agency should be creating content in the various different phases of the buying cycle and they should be creating funnels – they should be able to give you a heads up about which pieces of content are generating leads.
Your Content Marketing Agency Uses Lots Of Different Tactics
A good content marketing agency will utilise lots of different kinds of content marketing tactics in order to get the best results for your company. Be wary of any content marketing agency that doesn’t change up their strategy over the months or years. Likewise, be cautious if your content marketing agency is quickly jumping from one approach to another because often content marketing requires a determined focus on one approach before you try something else.
Most content marketing agencies will use blogging as the foundation of their content marketing approach. If your content marketing agency becomes overly reliant on one tactic, just challenge them to come up with something different, if they can deliver different kinds of content you’re probably OK.
Over time it’s important in any marketing campaign that you try different marketing tactics because you need to test what is working and what’s not. I’m generally trying things out – mainly with our own content – in order to determine what;’s working best and what’s not. I could bore you to death with the content marketing and SEO tests I’ve carried out.
Your Agency Is Well Regarded In The Content Marketing Industry
This kind of goes with the last point, if you’ve got a half-decent content marketing agency they are probably going to have some industry recognition. They should be known, at least to their competitors and more generally in the content marketing and digital marketing community.
A good way to figure this out is to have a search around about them to see what they’ve contributed to the community. Don’t just check for your content marketing agency’s brand, also check for the names of their senior executives because in this industry it’s often the person that counts rather than the brand. We are slaves to the era of internet gurus!
They Keep Their Content Marketing Clients
When you’re working with your content marketing agency it’s a good idea to ask them about their other content marketing clients. Show curiosity about the campaigns they’re running for other businesses. You want to be looking out for two different things here, the first is they should be able to keep a content marketing client for a long time – remember content marketing is a long term activity – and the second is they should be able to transfer learnings from their other accounts to your campaign.
Does Your Content Marketing Agency Know When To Push Back?
OK, you’re probably not going to love this one, but you want a content marketing agency that’s prepared to say no from time to time. Content marketing is a strategic activity that has a long term cumulative effect. If your content marketing agency is constantly changing what they’re doing because you’ve told them to, they’re not going to be working to the strategy you’ve agreed they should work to. That could have a detrimental impact on your campaign in the long run.
Do The Executives At Your Content Marketing Agency Accept Criticism?
After everything I’ve just said about you wanting your agency to say no to you from time to time, you also want to work with a content marketing agency that is able to accept and react to criticism.
We’ve got clients that we’ve been working with for the best part of ten years and you can be sure in that time we’ve got things wrong. But by encouraging feedback and working with that feedback to improve what we do we’ve managed to keep clients and improve the service we offer for all our clients.
If you’re a pain in the neck and not great at offering constructive criticism then you should probably think about how you communicate before judging them on their ability to accept criticism. I’m not great at accepting criticism of my own work. And this brings me onto the next point…
Does Your Content Marketing Agency Effectively Communicate With You?
Ah! The Big C. Communication is the key to everything when it comes to working with an agency and it’s often what damages relationships as well. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you don’t understand what’s going on with your agency because they’ve not been in touch or worse still they’ve been in touch but you couldn’t tease out of the person you spoke with exactly where things are up to.
In my experience, both as a marketer and an agency owner, I appreciate that marketers also need more communication from their agencies than a business owner or other senior professional would. It’s something you should bear in mind if you don’t feel you’ve got enough communication coming in from your agency. If you’ve not, it may be because you’re not paying for it. Always bear in mind that when you pay an agency you’re paying for their time, both in terms of what they deliver on your account and how they administer your account and if you want more communication then you might be best to suggest they add some time onto the spend in order to effectively keep you in the loop.