6 Steps To Hire A Content Marketing Company Staff Profile Picture
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The main goal of content marketing is to help the right consumers find your business or the products or services your business sells. Content marketing involves performing keyword research, understanding your audience's online behavior, and creating and positioning relevant copy and media (aka content). Content should perform well in Google and other search engines, but it should also provide value to consumers to keep them coming back for more or persuade them to convert. Types of content covered by content marketing include:

  • Blog posts (either on your company's own blog, or guest posts on other blogs that are targeted to your audience)

  • Email (such as e-newsletters)

  • Infographics

  • Videos

  • Podcasts

  • Social media posts

Business objectives that can be achieved with the help of content marketing include:

  • Launching an online business or brand

  • Increasing existing sales or driving new sales, online and off

  • Creating additional awareness of your brand

  • Positioning your business as an authority in a space

  • Cultivating a consumer culture for your brand

Content marketing is something you can do yourself, particularly with limited scope. But it can take a lot of time. Managing content strategies, writing blog posts and other content, maintaining websites and social profiles, and testing content so you understand how to improve efforts as you go along can take 70+ hours per month for each campaign.

Because of the time commitment, many businesses hire content marketing professionals to handle this work for them. If your business needs to grab more market share, launch a new product or service, or do a better job of distinguishing and cultivating brand awareness, an increased content marketing effort may be exactly what you need. Take charge of hiring a content marketing agency that will fill your marketing needs within your marketing budget by following these six steps.

  1. Identify gaps in your marketing strategy.
  2. Determine your in-house content resources.
  3. Start your search for a content marketing agency and ask these important questions.
  4. Clearly communicate your brand and your goals.
  5. Focus on content areas that are key to your specific objectives.
  6. Understand the cost of content marketing and how to measure ROI.

Identify gaps in your marketing strategy.

Every content marketing agency offers unique lines of service. Some specifically create content with SEO in mind, while others offer strategic content consulting, but leave the writing or media production to your team or to other freelancers you hire. To understand whether you need a content agency and what type of partner is best, you must first understand what gaps you have in your marketing strategy.

Start with your marketing objectives. What are the business-aligned goals you have for content? For example, are you most interested in building a brand or do you want to drive sales?

Next, look at your current content marketing efforts and where your wins and challenges are. Some common problem areas where content marketing pros can help include:

  • You don't have a strategy at all and don't know where to start

  • You have a strategy, but it's not organized and you publish content on whims

  • You have an organized strategy, but you keep falling behind with content generation and publication

  • You're publishing plenty of content, but it's not driving SEO performance or conversions

  • You have challenges related to marketing multiple lines of business or products at once

Determine your in-house content resources.

Depending on your content marketing needs, you may be able to handle basic tasks such as blog post writing or weekly organic social media posting on a limited number of platforms. It's essential to look at what in-house resources you have and how much time and effort they can realistically devote to content marketing. For example, you might have a web developer on staff whose full-time job is to manage and maintain your website. You wouldn't need to hire this part of your content marketing strategy out. You might also have a sales or customer service staff member who has a way with words, or is a talented amateur photographer. They enjoy running your social media profiles, but they still have other jobs within your company. That means you might not be able to rely on them to write copy or shoot and edit images for your blog or key landing pages on a consistent schedule or with consistent results.

Hiring a content marketing agency can be a good idea if you don't have dedicated staff who are educated and trained in marketing. Most agencies work with you to understand your in-house resources and what gaps need to be filled.

ExperTip: Podcasts are taking their place alongside video as one of the fastest growing content sectors in the world. More than 100 million in the U.S. alone currently listen to at least one podcast a month, and over 50% of those podcast listeners say they are more likely to consider brands they hear advertised on podcasts. Many content marketing agencies now offer extensive resources and capabilities in developing and producing podcast content, including experienced sound engineers, high-tech audio recording space and equipment, and talented scriptwriters. If your company is looking to expand its audience or build brand loyalty, a podcast should be part of your content marketing considerations.

Start your search for a content marketing agency and ask these important questions.

Once you decide a content marketing agency might be a good partner for your business, start your search with a curated list of qualified, experienced content marketing professionals. Look at the websites of various agencies to determine if they offer the type of services you're looking for. Read testimonials, case studies, and reviews to learn whether each agency has experience with successful content marketing efforts.

Look for:

  • Experience and knowledge in your business niche: For example, are you a B2B company that needs a content marketing team who is well-versed in this area? Do you need provider who has a deep understanding of the legal sphere online and on social media? Are you looking to form collaborations with celebrities or influencers to sell beauty or fashion products?

  • A good track record with previous and existing clients: Does the company openly display case studies and/or content portfolios on their website, and are these aligned with your marketing objectives? Will the agency allow you to speak to recent clients and ask them questions about their experience?

  • Flexibility in service offerings: Can you select the content areas you want to focus on?

  • Free consultations: Can you meet with the agency's principals in person or via video conference to ask your initial pre-hiring questions?

  • Companies that offer numerous ways to communicate with your account manager: Is your point of contact responsive to emails and texts? Will you have access to a project management or content scheduling platform where you can communicate directly with staffers who are working on your content initiatives?

Once you've identified agencies that match up with your demands and objectives, it's time to start speaking with actual human content marketing experts. Consider these questions as you learn more about each potential partner.

  1. Do any of the agency's staff members hold content marketing certifications (for example, Hubspot Content Marketing Certification, American Marketing Association Content Marketing Certification, Digital Marketer Content Marketing Specialist Certification), and will a certified marketer oversee your account?

  2. Does the agency make an effort to understand your business and its goals?

  3. How does the agency measure the success of its content marketing efforts? Does it lines up with how you measure the success of these efforts?

  4. What specific services are handled in-house, and what services are outsourced?

  5. For services that are outsourced to freelancers or other companies, how is quality controlled?

  6. Will you have an account manager or specific team supporting you?

  7. Are any of the processes automated, and what technology tools are used?

  8. How much oversight and control do you have in the process? How often do you receive reports, and can you see information in real-time?

  9. How much do the services cost and how are you charged?

Clearly communicate your brand and your goals.

Content marketing can be a disparate service, because every brand needs something unique from the process. For the best possible results when hiring a content marketing agency, you must be able to clearly communicate your own business goals, as well as the mission, vision, and values of your brand.

Without this information, a content marketing agency can't create a well-targeted campaign that drives the right results.

Here are few things you should be prepared to communicate to an agency:

  • Your big picture business goals, as well as your specific goals for content. Be prepared to give a measurable goal, such as "increasing conversion rates by 10% by end of year."

  • An understanding of your brand, including what makes you different from the competition and what your brand is not.

  • Your target audience(s) and any marketing personas, if you have them. At a minimum, be prepared to describe who you think would best benefit from your products.

  • What challenges you hope a content marketing agency can help you solve.

Focus on content areas that are key to your specific objectives.

Work with your agency to focus on content areas that match your specific objectives. Here are some content areas to consider along with some tips for how they match various business goals.

  • Email marketing: This type of content marketing lets you reach out directly to consumers, and it has one of the highest ROIs around. You can't just spam people's in-boxes, though. You need to do the work to get subscribers. Once you do, email marketing offers a great way to persuade people to take the next step in the buyer's journey, build brand loyalty, or reengage customers who haven't purchased in a while.

  • Affiliate marketing: Affiliate marketing lets you earn money by writing and talking about other people's products. You might need a content agency if you've built a large affiliate business and need help keeping fresh content on all your channels.

  • Social media marketing: This method of marketing occurs on social media sites, such as Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. It lets you meet consumers where they gather, and it's good for building a community and expanding your reach.

  • SEO marketing: SEO marketing works to increase your performance in search engines. It's an option for most businesses, since the majority of people looking for goods and services start the buying journey in the search engines.

Understand the cost of content marketing and how to measure ROI.

The average cost of content marketing varies widely, from a couple of hundred dollars a month to $50,000 or more. For a small to midsize business, average monthly spending is often $2,000 to $10,000. Average individual content marketing costs include:

  • Audits and research: $100 to $500 per audit, or charged hourly

  • Web copywriting & editing: 15 cents to $2 a word

  • Social media content management: $500 to $5,000 per month depending on paid/sponsored content budget

  • Podcasts: $500 to $1,000 per month for the production of weekly episodes

Every agency has different fee structures, so it's important to understand how your agency charges. Some have monthly packages that include many content marketing services (including audit, strategic planning, scheduling, content creation, publishing and analytics) for a set fee. Others charge a la carte, hourly, or by the word. Many use a hybrid fee schedule, depending on what services you need. Whatever content marketing package and fee schedule your agree upon, it is essential that you receive regular reports on engagement, sentiment, traffic and conversions related to content marketing efforts, so you can tie increased sales, revenue, or other successes to your marketing outlay.

Ready to speak to an expert? Here is our list of the best content marketing agencies near you.

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