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Three Things to Consider When Hiring a Content Marketing Agency

Kerry Guard • December 13, 2012 • 4 minutes to read

As brands look to create unique content to differentiate themselves from competitors and acquire new customers, an early question that often comes up is:

Should we do this ourselves or outsource this work to a content marketing agency?

When clients come asking us this question, we often tell them that they should outsource the work to an expert: Do it right and bring on a content marketing agency that specializes in producing valuable, sharable content as well as has experience pushing that content out to the world.

So, as you begin the process of finding the right content marketing agency, we recommend that you place an emphasis on the following three subjects.

1. Analytics: Metrics & Tools

Ask prospective content marketing agency partners for a sample report of the success metrics they measured for other clients. Be sure to notice the difference between engagement metrics & revenue driving metrics.

For example:

  • Engagement Metrics: Examples of engagement metrics that content marketing agencies use are measuring keyword performance for bounce rate, time on site, pages per visit and number of returning visitors.
  • Revenue Driving Metrics: Examples of revenue driving metrics include increase in keyword performance for overall traffic, conversion rate through stages of your marketing funnel and an overall bump in actual revenue driven by specific keywords.

Now that you've gotten an initial view into the metrics that content marketing agency measures success against, another great question is: What tools allow you to measure these metrics?

In our experience, there are two different answers that commonly come up here:

  • Proprietary Analytics Tools: These tools were built in-house by the content marketing agency. They may pull bits and pieces from other providers, but essentially this is a custom-built tool-set that allows them to aggregate and analyze data.
  • Third Party Analytics Tools: Try out Radian6. Need a tool to measure organic keyword performance across the web? We love using SEOmoz. Do vet the content marketing agencies' chops with these third party tools - make sure they know how to get value out of them!

2. Content: Creative Style & Process 

Another great question for clients to ask prospective content marketing agency partners is: What format do you create content in?

For example, content can take the form of:

  • Still photography (with or without annotations)
  • Infographics
  • Video
  • White papers

These are just a few examples that content marketing agencies will produce for you when showcasing past work.

On the topic of content format, another great question to ask is: What is the process you take to come up with this content?

For example, we tend to hold an all-hands-on-deck briefing with the client and ask questions like:

  • What data do you have that is interesting and can be publicly shared?
  • Where will this content live within your own company?
  • What actions do you see this content performing? Education, conversion, or maybe even both?

Following this briefing, we will work to put a content strategy together; this includes everything from frequency of content creation & publishing, themes of content and objectives that we hope to achieve through these efforts.

3. How Will Social Media & Content Marketing Work Together?

Before you can answer this question, you must be able to answer the following: Who will manage the social publication and marketing aspect of the content marketing strategy?

There are two obvious answers:

  • Social Media Handled In House: Many clients want to own the voice of their brand and, as such, will choose to bring the social publishing of this content strategy in house.
  • Outsource to a Content Marketing or Social Media Agency: In other instances, the client chooses to have their external content partner come in and handle these duties for them.

There is no right or wrong answer in this situation -- it simply depends on what the clients bandwidth is (in terms of expertise and employees) as well as preference (sometimes they want a specialist focusing on these efforts).

So, Any Other Pressing Questions That We Missed When Hiring a Content Marketing Agency?

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