So you need content, and you’re ready to turn it over to the pros. But first, it’s crucial to find the right fit. Hiring a content marketing agency is just like any other kind of hiring: you want to find a candidate that’s hardworking, highly skilled, and willing to work within your budget.
Here are three rules to help you hire the right content marketing agency.
Your content strategy should be documented before the first word is written. This crucial first step will help you determine what kind of content you need, what you hope to get out of your content marketing efforts, and how you’ll measure your success.
Any content marketing agency worth its salt will kick off the conversation by asking about your strategy, as this will largely dictate the work the agency will be doing for you. While shopping around, be sure to ask about the process each agency uses to help clients set strategies. This will give insight into their approach and a solid understanding of how much guidance you can expect to receive.
If you don’t yet have a strategy, that’s okay—the agency you hire can help you create one. If you’re a small business with a pretty specific target market, you likely don’t need a complicated strategy. A simple sheet outlining the details may be enough.
On the other hand, if you have a broad audience or offer a range of products or services, your content strategy may need to be more in-depth.
At a minimum, your content strategy should include answers to these questions:
What’s the overall goal of your content marketing? Do you want to improve brand awareness, increase conversions, or attract new customers?
What kind of branding and messaging are you going to market with? How will you make sure your content resonates with your audience?
What metrics will you track to establish a baseline and prove ROI?
What kinds of content and topics are best suited for your goals?
If you’re shopping around and an agency doesn’t ask about your strategy or offer to put one together for you, run. You want to hire an organization that’s committed to thoughtful, results-oriented execution—not one that’s going to create content without any sense of direction.
When you’re competing with 1.8 million websites for attention, generic content isn’t going to help you stand out from the crowd. But top-notch, tailored content will.
That’s why you should avoid content mills, which are “agencies” that produce a high volume of content at pennies-on-the-dollar rates.
How are content mills able to offer such cheap content? They sacrifice quality. Content mills hire inexperienced copywriters and create templated—rather than original—content. It’s not unusual to receive work from a content mill that’s riddled with grammar, spelling, and SEO mistakes.
Template content could entirely undermine your content marketing efforts—and your website’s Google SERP ranking. Many content mills slightly alter the same piece of content over and over, sending each new iteration to different clients. This means that you’re not getting an original piece of content—you’re getting something that’s largely duplicated. And Google won’t give you any points for duplicate content.
Quality, original content costs more but it’s worth it. In fact, excellent content is proven to generate about three times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing tactics, and it’s estimated to cost 62 percent less—even if you’re paying a standard price over a content mill price.
Be sure to ask your content marketing agency how content is produced and checked for quality: Is it written by dedicated writers? Is it original or templated? Does it go through an editing process before landing in your inbox? Does the agency adhere to SEO best practices?
Doing your homework and spending a little more money with a credible content marketing agency will yield far better results than a content mill ever could. Remember, you get what you pay for.
When it comes to content, expertise is crucial. Unfortunately, there are plenty of agencies out there that market themselves as full-service, one-stop shops.
When you hire one of these agencies, you typically get a jack-of-all-trades effect: they get the job done—and they’ll do it better than a content mill would, but it won’t be done nearly as well as an expert would do it. You’ll be getting a C-level product instead of the A+ you really want.
Hiring a specialized content marketing agency, on the other hand, is like tapping into the talents of a finely-tuned orchestra. You’ll have expert-level professional copywriters, editors, and content strategists working for you.
Unlike jacks of all trades, seasoned content marketing pros will be well-versed in areas such as:
Multi-channel content campaigns
Metrics for measuring success
Grammar and spelling
Optimizing content for SEO
A final note: If you choose the right content marketing agency, you’ll only have to choose once—because they’ll prove their worth. Take your time, hire wisely, and commit to quality.
When looking for a content marketing agency, keep three rules in mind:
Start with a strategy.
Don’t settle for anything less than quality, original content.
Hire content experts, not digital marketing gurus.
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