Hiring a Content Marketing Agency? Ask These 15 Questions First
Learn all about what to ask a content marketing agency when you are looking to hire!
Starting content marketing from scratch requires a sound strategy and the right team. Hiring just any content marketing agency is easy. If you need to start pumping out content quickly, there are plenty of options out there. However, finding the right agency – one who truly understands your business and can help hit your goals – is difficult. And if you want your content marketing strategy to be successful, hiring the right partner is absolutely essential.
The process of hiring a content marketing agency can be time-consuming; it involves asking questions such as: What will their deliverables look like? Will they cover every piece of content we produce? How will they measure success?
Before you sign on with an agency, make sure you know the answers to these 15 questions.
1. What content marketing strategies do you employ?
Your content marketing agency should be able to provide several case studies of content they’ve worked on; take time to closely examine these examples. If the samples all look alike, ask why and how they’ll help your company’s content stand out from everything else online. Content marketing agencies can use a variety of strategies – from blogging and podcasting to social media campaigns – but not every approach is right for your business or content goals. Don’t just pick an agency because their work looks good – make sure that it aligns with what you need as a company.
2. How will your team facilitate content creation?
Content marketing isn’t only about publishing blog posts or other content. It can include a variety of content types – including social media decks, infographics, and videos – as well as content ideas that never actually make it to the page. Ask your content marketing agency how they’ll work with you to ensure content creation is fast and efficient. Then ask for specific examples about how they’ve performed similar tasks in the past – not all agencies will be able to provide this kind of insight.
3. What's your content strategy?
43% of all B2B content marketers have a content strategy. Content marketing isn’t just about producing content; it should serve a larger purpose to help define and strengthen your company’s brand identity and customer relationships online. Make sure your content marketing agency knows: What makes you unique as a company, why people buy from you, & how those customers can benefit from the content. Everything your content agency does should align with this content marketing strategy.
4. What's your content promotion plan?
What is content promotion? It’s the process of distributing content and other resources via paid and organic channels. This can include; pay-per-click advertising, influencer outreach, PR, social media, email marketing, and syndication.
You might be surprised to find out content promotion is more than just sharing via social media. Content marketing agencies can help you develop a content promotion plan that includes activities like sponsoring content on third-party sites, guest posting, and influencer outreach. Make sure you know where the content marketing agency will promote your content – and how they’ll track the results – before moving forward with a partnership.
5. Can we have access to all of our content created by you?
Marketing agencies should provide full transparency about what content they create for their clients – including whether it’s custom or exists elsewhere online under the company name. Let your content marketing agency know you want full content ownership and access – including rights to repurpose content for other marketing channels. You also need to know that content is search engine optimized, properly tagged, and easily shareable on social media.
6. Do you perform SEO?
If so, what best practices do you use?
There are a lot of SEO firms out there that claim to be experts. While some genuinely have excellent SEO abilities, the fact is that many of those claiming to execute SEO effectively is actually employing outdated best practices, if any at all. It’s important to get an understanding of the SEO elements that a content marketing agency considers as well as what best practices they apply.
When it comes to documenting best practices, asking them to share their top-rated procedures is a good first step. It will allow you to get a deeper sense of their expertise and whether they’re current on the most effective methods.
7. What's your process for assigning topics?
When pitching content ideas to the client, how do content agencies usually handle it? Here are a few tips: Make sure they’re well versed in your upcoming product/event rollouts and learn from the sales team about what’s selling well. If you can’t partner with an agency that has valuable insight into your business, move along to another candidate.
8. How do you prioritize content production?
There’s no shortage of content available on the web, and content marketing agencies can’t publish content 24/7. So ask your agency about their content creation process: Do they batch content by topic or publish something daily? What are their submission deadlines like? Decide how much content your company needs to post per week, month, quarter to meet your goals – then make sure that’s reflected in what the content marketing agency is providing. Ask for a calendar outlining monthly posts as well as bigger projects to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
9. How will you measure content performance?
Your content marketing agency should be able to define key performance indicators for your content before it even goes live. Your agency should also have a process in place for analyzing this data and reporting progress – not only on the content being produced but its impact on your business as a whole. The right content marketing agency will always be asking: How does our content compare with the rest of the industry? What’s its unique value? Who is engaging with content, and how can we reach a broader audience? Are those people coming back for more? Are they purchasing products or converting into leads as a result of our efforts online?
10. Have you worked on projects like ours before?
Asking an agency whether it has content marketing experience is important, but also make sure to ask them for specific examples. The best content marketing agencies can demonstrate past success stories in your industry or with similar business models so you have a better idea of how their strategy might work for you.
11. How will you distribute content?
In addition to being able to explain how content will be created and why, the right content marketing agency should be able to explain how content will be distributed as well. In short: does this agency have a solid understanding of which channels are right for your company’s message and customer base? For example, if your company offers luxury goods, then distributing content through platforms such as LinkedIn Pulse or Instagram may not be the best choice.
12. How will content marketing contribute to overall business goals?
Your content marketing agency should be able to explain exactly how content will be used to help drive conversions and increase revenue. For example, content may only be successful if it’s part of a larger inbound strategy that ultimately leads to sales or customer retention. A content marketing agency should understand the relationship between content and overall business goals so it can ensure all initiatives are running smoothly together.
13. What type of content do you produce on your blog?
Blogs are often considered the heart of content marketing because they can serve as valuable resources for customers who want more information about products or services, driving awareness and engagement over time – but not every company is equipped to produce valuable content for its blog. For example, content marketing agencies that specialize in content for B2C businesses may not be able to adapt their content strategy for B2B companies. Before hiring a content marketing agency, make sure it’s capable of creating content aimed at your ideal customer persona.
14. What makes you unique as an agency?
It doesn’t matter how great content is if it isn’t getting in front of the right audience. Make sure your content marketing agency has a process in place to analyze competitors’ content and uses proprietary insights to develop targeted distribution strategies, including identifying influencers who can help amplify your message.
Ask your marketing agency to provide you with a competitor analysis. This will give you an understanding of your competitors’ content marketing strategy. This can help you by knowing how ofter your competitors are posting content, the quality of the content, what keywords they are ranking for, what backlinks they are getting, and more.
15. Have you worked with any other local firms? How will you work together?
Content marketing requires more than just content creation; it also requires content distribution, content promotion, and content analysis. Because content marketing is a collaborative effort, a content marketing agency should be able to demonstrate how other local agencies could work together on content initiatives – whether that’s through content partnerships or providing complementary services to support content efforts.
The point of this exercise isn’t just to ask the right questions for your own business but also to keep all lines of communication open between you and your agency as you begin working together. In order for content marketing to be successful, both parties need to have a shared understanding of goals and roles from the very beginning. If you’ve outlined what success looks like from day one, chances are those goals will only become more attainable over time.