No question, content marketing is likely the hottest topic in, well, marketing! Want proof? A 2016 study identified that 88% of business-to-business (B2B) marketers, and 76% of business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers are using content marketing (Source: Content Marketing Institute).
This “How to Select a Content Marketing Agency ” blog considers some top thought leaders perspectives on the subject, along with a Top 5 Content Marketing Agency Selection Checklist, and some relevant content marketing resources.
Before diving into the subject, consider the same study identified that B2B marketers use an average of 13 content marketing tactics out of a total of 25 possible, while B2C use an average of 12 out of a total of 24 tactics. That’s a lot of content!
Our latest Content Marketing Guide defines 3 phases of content marketing: planning, implementation, and measurement. Tips and tools for both B2B and B2C content marketing are provided, along with 4 categories of content measurement. A key takeaway, effective content marketing is a lot of work, and may require some level of outsourcing.
So how can you identify and a select a content marketing agency or service to help with this big undertaking?
A 2015 Inc. magazine article published by Fractl, identified 10 tips for finding the right content marketing agency:
- Case studies (incl. long-term engagement)
- Check portfolios of work for related marketing
- Look for client testimonials and LinkedIn endorsements
- Research industry publishing demonstrating thought leadership
- Request examples of proprietary industry research and processes
- Ask what metrics are used to measure success?
- Identify speaking engagements
- Does the agency have a comprehensive strategy?
- Determine who is doing the work (the team)
- Don’t rule our boutique agencies that may have specialized expertise
The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) is certainly a thought leader on the subject. Via blogs and summaries of live events, CMI recommends researching thought leaders for content marketing subjects, requesting case studies of similar clients or challenges, and checking references. Depending on your category, subject matter expertise (SME), might be important to ensure understanding and accuracy, and minimize training. Finally, CMI recommends asking other marketers for referrals to content marketing services.
Once you identify potential content marketing agency partners, The Definitive Guide to Marketing Agency Selection by this author shares a 4-step process for selection that is certainly applicable to this content marketing agency scenario.
So what can we add to all the tips and ideas already referenced? How bout a Top 5 Content Marketing Agency Selection Checklist?
- Request/identify content marketing strategies, processes or methodologies (separate the pros from the posers)
- As content closely integrates with websites, search, PPC, social media, email, events, PR, and other marketing—request examples of other marketing, and ask how content marketing supports the broader marketing program
- Beside case studies, request samples or examples of different types of content including blogs, web pages, social media, videos, infographics, whitepapers (if applicable), studies, events, and more
- Discuss and determine ongoing communications including planning, project meetings, and reporting including timing and frequency
- Check those references via telephone (not email), and ask probing interview-like questions, because it is an interview!
Leverage the Expertise of a Qualified Content Marketing Agency
Content marketing is still relatively new discipline, at least in comparison to traditional marketing tactics. Depending on your stage in the process, you know that content marketing requires multiple disciplines, and whole lot of work. Only large marketing departments can manage everything. For the rest of us, outsourcing all or a portion of content marketing makes sense.
Qualified marketing agencies or specialists can fill voids to achieve results. Yet researching, vetting, and hiring marketing partners is often rife with pitfalls. By familiarizing yourself with the many components of content marketing, and using the aforementioned tips and checklists, your chances of finding an excellent content marketing agency partner will be improved greatly.