Is Hiring a Content Agency A Good Idea? 6 Questions To Ask
Does your business need a content marketing agency?
Your business certainly needs quality content and formidable inbound marketing capabilities. So the question is not so much ‘can a content marketing agency achieve the results you want to see?’, and more ‘can you achieve these results without a content agency?’
Working with a content agency essentially boils down to three key considerations:
Read on to discover more about what a content marketing agency can do for you and what expectations you should have for this agency:
When you run a business, it’s natural to try to reduce costs wherever you can — to optimise your own resources rather than paying someone else to do something for you. This is why many business owners prefer to handle content marketing themselves rather than drafting in content marketing agencies.
This can be a good content marketing strategy, but only if you have the resources required to produce high-quality content on a regular basis.
If your content creation strategy is overloading your in-house teams, this is unsustainable in the long term. However, creating content can also be difficult, and you need to ensure that you get a good investment return.
Start by determining your in-house content resources.
Which personnel have the skills and competencies required to handle your content strategy? For example, how many personnel can you dedicate to keyword research, content production, and other digital marketing initiatives?
Identify any gaps in your content marketing strategy.
For example, can you draw upon team members with the proper training and proven track record? Is your team’s expertise sufficient to support your sales team with written content and link building?
In most businesses, there will be significant gaps. This is where hiring a content marketing agency can help. You will be able to scale up your efforts, increasing project volume while securing the right levels of quality, subject matter expertise, and brand messaging.
Of course, a great content marketing agency can provide amazing written content for your business website or other sites and platforms. But, really, content marketing is about much more than this.
Great content marketing agencies have the following:
Search engine optimisation proficiency
Content strategy for both evergreen and time-specific content
Broader market understanding
Social media marketing knowledge
Understanding human psychology
Close communication with you and your team
Analysing and understanding ROI, marketing dollars, and success metrics
And much more
At the heart of all this — and one of the unsung tenets of content marketing — is emotion. Your content needs to connect with your target audience on an emotional level!
We all love TV shows and books that hit us right in the feels — well, content can do that, too, by speaking to the problems and pain points your potential customers are facing.
Things to consider when hiring a content marketing agency
Now that you know a bit more about what a great content marketing agency can do for your specific business, it’s time to think about what to look for as you choose an agency. Here are three areas to consider:
#1. The agency’s expertise
Content quality is crucial, and so is SEO content and other digital marketing. Look at what they have achieved for other businesses and previous clients, and assess their track record.
#2. The agency’s teams
The right agency is very careful as they build their teams. They hire individuals who deliver results and work with the type of content marketing expert who will get to know the marketing goals of their current clients, tailoring their approach to specific projects.
Take the time to check out the agency candidate’s personnel, as these experts will essentially become extensions of your own team.
#3. The agency’s content marketing strategy and processes
If your content marketer or writer is not an SEO expert, the strategy may end up doing more harm than good.
This is because SEO best practices and understanding are always changing, so you need to make sure that your agency adopts up-to-the-minute processes and applies these to your project.
It makes sense for content marketing agencies to be fully transparent when they support their clients, so if they are willing to share details of their processes with you, this is a good sign.
Selecting a content marketing agency is always a big step. First, you need to be sure that your chosen agency can deliver the results you need.
If you choose the wrong sort of agency — or if you choose an agency that doesn’t align with your objectives — you might be better off producing your own content and handling marketing in-house.
To make sure you choose the right agency, you must ask yourself some key questions:
Working with a content marketing agency is not the same as just buying a product and letting this product do its work.
Instead, the agency will need to work with your in-house teams to ensure that key objectives are met.
For instance, you may have in-house writers already. These writers may have blog post content ideas and may want to create content for your website on their own.
However, the content creation strategy should not be too time-consuming and should not detract from your other operations.
Understanding the account manager
Basically, you need to know what kind of service the agency will provide. You’ll need to determine how your account manager will oversee interactions between your in-house teams and your outsourced personnel. You’ll also need to discover what you and your teams will be expected to do.
Think about which of your internal stakeholders will be working with your chosen content agency.
How much time will they need to spend liaising and working alongside the agency? How many of your internal resources will you need to devote to content marketing success?
Your digital marketing strategy will be launched across multiple channels. For example, you will need to be driving traffic to your website with inbound marketing strategies, connecting with potential clients on social media, crafting landing pages that facilitate direct engagement, and engaging in link building with strategic partners — not to mention a range of other key actions.
In order to achieve such far-reaching objectives — and to see significant returns on your marketing dollars — you will need internal backing.
This comes from the top down, so you will need someone at the executive level of your organisation who believes in the potential of a content strategy and that choosing a content marketing agency is a good idea.
Communicating the project to executives and upper management
You may need to hold business meetings with executives and upper management, providing them with a quick overview of the benefits of the strategy.
Suppose this is not enough to secure long-term investment and internal championing. In that case, you may need to go into more detail, outlining how the content marketing agency will assist the business on the way to the ultimate goal.
Demonstrate how content marketing aligns with these ultimate goals. For instance, show explicitly how a good agency can drive traffic to the website and directly increase conversions.
Show the many benefits of working with the right agency so that your executives and upper management team are fully on board and ready to devote investment and support to the project.
When your business connects with a content marketing agency, you are working with a team of experts. This can be far more effective than working with an individual service provider because you benefit from such a broad range of knowledge.
While this makes selecting an agency over an individual professional essentially a no-brainer, you still need to consider your own situation.
What sort of knowledge do you need to connect with? What sort of expertise do your in-house teams already have — expertise that you will need to enhance and augment by working with a content marketing agency?
Different approaches for different business types
Existing or already-established businesses may already have some form of content strategy in place. They may simply need a content audit to examine the existing pillar content and assess its SEO credentials. Or general support with the overarching content marketing program.
Alternatively, they may need highly specialised content marketing knowledge. They may also need ongoing blog posts, white paper services on a key industry element, or perhaps more technical SEO assistance.
If you are in this category, you may simply need to engage the services of a few specialised experts.
Other businesses — in particular, startups or smaller-scale operations — may need to build content strategies from scratch. This will require specialist assistance, delivered in the context of a general strategy.
Identify your own objectives and needs. Then, question the agency candidate on how they can meet these needs.
In order to optimise your return on investment, you need to know what success will look like for your business. Which metrics will you be using to measure the success of your campaign?
Perhaps the most obvious content marketing metric is conversions. When a lead decides to buy a product or service, they have converted.
Raw conversion data can give you some idea of the success of your marketing strategy. This can also help to justify the cost of hiring a content marketing team or content agency.
There are different types of conversion, of course. For example, you may be encouraging conversions from customers who have already engaged with your products and services, or you might be bringing in new business from untapped channels.
New customer data is a good way to assess how your strategy is helping your business to expand.
There are other ways to assess strategy success. For example, you may want to analyse website traffic, examining how many new hits your content achieves for you.
Remember, this traffic will not necessarily convert, but it provides a raw material for you to work on as you improve your business acquisition funnel.
Engagement with ideal customer personas
Just like there are different types of conversions, there are also different types of lead. For example, some leads will be cold — they have no underlying interest in your products or your business.
Conversely, some leads will be warm or hot — they are already engaged with what you offer, and you may find it easier to convert them.
With the right pillar pages and targeted content, you can engage with these warm and hot leads, improving your chances of conversion success.
This makes ideal customer engagement a useful metric for success. First, analyse your lead profiles and assess the changes in conversion totals from these key personas.
Reduced marketing costs
Most companies want to reduce their marketing costs. However, it’s not enough to reduce the raw cost — you need to keep expenses low without compromising on the results.
This is why metrics such as cost per conversion, cost per new customer, or cost per click can be useful. These metrics indicate how inbound marketing strategies are removing much of the labour and expense associated with outbound marketing, making your business more streamlined in the process.
Improved customer lifetime value
Marketing is not just about bringing in new customers. You also need to make sure you are retaining your existing customers and achieving optimal lifetime value from these clients. While some customers may only be looking for a one-off purchase, most converted leads will have some intention of converting again.
Your marketing strategy needs to support and encourage these already-converted customers. You can measure this success by looking at the total customer lifetime value.
How much is the average customer spending with your company across the total duration of their relationship with you? How does this total compare with the cost of acquiring and nurturing this customer?
Reduced pressure on support teams
Content marketing is also a form of customer support. As you build your pillar pages and white papers, you are developing a library of useful articles and resources that your customers can use to access round-the-clock information and support — similar to how machine learning-based chatbots provide 24/7 support.
It may be helpful to measure the amount of time your support teams spend dealing with customer issues across the working day. By providing a well-optimised website with plenty of informative content, your strategy should significantly reduce the amount of time, labour and resources expended on customer support.
Improved customer experience
Again, you need to achieve cost savings and streamlining without compromise. It’s not enough to simply ease the pressure on your support teams — you need to achieve while still providing a positive experience to customers.
Tracking user behaviour, such as bounce rates and time spent on certain pages, can help you understand the experience you provide. You may also want to reach out to customers directly, encouraging testimonials and suggestions that provide qualitative insight into the experience.
Better performance on search engines
Content creation strategies have many motives, but performance on search engines is always one of the priorities. Your content marketing strategy needs to be helping your pages sit high on Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), so search engine position is a good metric to measure.
By producing high-quality content, you should boost your pages’ SEO credentials. For example, following a content audit or a rewrite, a page may rise several places up Google’s SERP rankings. Or, your pages may start ranking for highly competitive keywords and key phrases. Performance on search engines is an important part of content marketing and something that needs to be measured.
Different industries need different approaches from content marketing agencies. These approaches can manifest themselves in a number of ways. For example, your industry may include some technical topics for your pillar content, and these might require a greater word count than other content pieces might.
Alternatively, you may need your SEO experts to engage in high-level keyword research, identifying the highly specific keywords and phrases related to your industry and then using this to produce SEO content.
Basically, many agencies try to be all things to all clients, and this is not good for your business. Instead, you need to work with a content marketing agency with an understanding of your industry and what you are all about.
They should be prepared to tell you what strategies they have in mind for your specific website and fill you in on the direct results they have achieved for other business clients in the past. If they cannot do this or offer a generalised approach — delivering services in the same way to all clients — you may need to find a different content marketing agency to work with.
This might seem like a strange question when selecting an agency to work with, but it is one of the key questions to keep in mind when choosing a content marketing service provider.
Not all content marketing agencies are full service. Instead, they may expect to work with your business’s own technologies and solutions as they drive traffic to your site and achieve other results for you and your organisation. In fact, you may prefer your SEO experts to utilise your own solutions — after all, you already know what these solutions can do for your business.
In other cases, the agency may have all of its own tools and solutions ready for deployment. The agency may have a specific set of software and other tools that they are used to using and may prefer to deploy these.
Before you engage a content marketing agency — and before you put your content marketing strategy into action — you need to know which tools and solutions you are already using.
First, audit your SEO and content marketing toolkit, examining all the solutions you use to create content for your website. Develop an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your existing setup, and then look for an agency that can fill these gaps when creating content.
Discover more about high-quality content and great content marketing agency services
Here at OMG, we have extensive experience in providing content marketing agency services across a variety of industries. Our client testimonials demonstrate the results we are able to achieve. Reach out to our team today and discover more.