What to Look for in a Content Marketing Agency


Chris Young

What to Look for in a Content Marketing Agency

In 1792–only 16 years after the United States became a country–the first instance of content marketing came on the scene, though it was not known as such at the time.

The first edition of the Poor Farmer’s Almanac featured a number of new recipes, cures for common illnesses, and the introduction of new technologies for churning butter. Content marketing has indeed progressed a long way since then to encompass nearly every medium imaginable and generates billions of dollars in revenue annually. The fact remains that content marketing is one of the earliest (and still most robust) forms of marketing that has ever existed. In fact, its longevity and continued effectiveness gives centuries of credence to the fundamental assumption of content marketing–people reward you for helping them. 

The Role of a Content Marketing Agency

Fast forward to the modern-day content marketing agency that has (thankfully) left anachronistic farming practices and dubious “cure what ails you” remedies behind. The content creation strategy and the distribution channels have also changed, but the goal of educating and helping prospective customers has not.

Understanding Content Marketing Services

Content marketing services revolve around creating content–articles, videos, interactive quizzes, emails, and more–that help solve a problem and educate the prospective customer. These different services are now mostly digital and have vastly increased reach due to this fact. The majority of content now focuses on entertaining, educating, or some combination of the two. 

Importance in Business Growth

Businesses are well aware of the power of content marketing as well as many companies are now pouring millions of dollars into content creation. Much of the content can also be repurposed, re-used, and up-cycled therefore creating an upward spiral that sends companies into relevance and revenue. Content marketing is not always directly involved in generating sales the way that sales activities can be. However, they are excellent at generating goodwill–something that accounts for $15.3 billion in WhatsApp’s current valuation–and engagement with your company.

Key Qualities to Look for in a Content Marketing Agency

Hiring a quality content marketing agency is a great way for companies to break into content marketing and can be used to allow companies to focus on their specialty without distractions. The main attraction of outsourcing marketing activities to a content marketing agency is specialization. The company gets to focus on producing goods and services without being distracted in a new environment that requires a high degree of knowledge and competency. Outsourcing to a content marketing agency is almost always more financially viable and more efficient than hiring an internal marketing team. There is less lead-time required and the right agency will have enough experience to correctly diagnose problems and identify new opportunities. As a result, outsourcing content to different agencies has become a popular and profitable way for companies to grow their digital presence without losing their core competencies. Evaluating a content agency, however, requires a fair amount of due diligence as well as knowing what to look for and which questions to ask.

Expertise and Experience

The right content marketing agencies have expertise and experience which bring a wealth of insights. To verify an agency's expertise, review their portfolio and case studies, checking for consistent results and diverse project types. Client testimonials and references provide valuable perspectives on the agency's performance. Additionally, assess their industry knowledge by exploring their thought leadership content, such as blog posts, whitepapers, or webinars. This due diligence ensures you partner with a competent agency capable of driving your content marketing success.

Creative Capabilities

Creativity is the lifeblood of content marketing and sets your brand apart in a crowded digital marketing landscape. An agency with a strong creative team can craft compelling, innovative content that captures attention and resonates with your audience. Creative content campaigns, such as Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" initiative, which personalized bottles with popular names, demonstrate the power of creativity in driving engagement and brand loyalty. Look for agencies with a diverse portfolio showcasing their ability to think outside the box and deliver memorable, impactful campaigns. Their creativity can transform your content marketing efforts from ordinary to extraordinary.

Strategic Planning 

The right will also be adept at strategic planning which translates into the ability to develop and execute a well-thought-out content strategy. This involves conducting thorough market research, identifying target audiences, and setting clear objectives. A robust strategy outlines the types of content to create, optimal distribution channels, and performance metrics to track. By partnering with an agency skilled in strategic planning, you ensure your content efforts are purposeful and cohesive, maximizing ROI and fostering sustained growth. Their expertise transforms content into a powerful tool for achieving your marketing goals.

Communication Skills

Clear, consistent communication also ensures that both parties are aligned on goals, expectations, and project progress. To assess an agency's communication style, pay attention during initial interactions: Are they responsive and attentive to your needs? Do they explain their processes clearly and answer your questions thoroughly? Do they show an interest in making sure that you’re informed and know the status of different projects? Additionally, request to speak with current or past clients to gauge their experiences. Strong communication skills in an agency lead to smoother project execution and a more productive, satisfying partnership.

Performance Metrics and Reporting

Performance metrics and data analytics are essential for measuring the success of content marketing efforts and ensuring that strategies are effective. An agency should provide transparent reporting to track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as engagement rates, conversion rates, website traffic, and social media interactions. In fact, the best agencies will be eager to show you exactly how the different campaigns are coming along since they’ll be sharing good news with you. 

Transparent reporting allows clients to see the tangible impact of their content marketing campaigns, understand what's working, and identify areas for improvement. Regular, detailed reports demonstrate the agency's accountability and commitment to achieving the client's goals. Businesses will also be able to use the data and reporting to help make data-driven decisions that break outside of the bounds of marketing.

Cultural Fit and Collaboration

A good cultural fit and collaborative relationship between the agency and the client are crucial for long-term success. When an agency understands and aligns with your company’s values, vision, and work style, it fosters a more productive and harmonious partnership. To evaluate this fit, start by observing how well the agency listens to and understands your goals during initial meetings. Engage in open discussions about company culture and expectations to gauge their compatibility. Additionally, consider arranging a trial project or a short-term engagement to experience firsthand how well you work together.

Red Flags to Watch Out For

Not every content marketing agency is a good one, and there are even good agencies out there that may not be a good fit for your company. Doing your due diligence and looking for red flags while inquiring about an agency’s core competencies can save a lot of time and heartache later on. The reality is that good agency relationships can often evolve into partnerships where the success of both companies is tied together. To make sure that the partnership is a strong one, it’s important to watch out for some obvious red flags.

Overpromising Results: 

Content marketing is a long-term strategy that requires time, consistent effort, and ongoing optimization to yield significant results. Agencies promising instant success or overly ambitious metrics may be more focused on securing your business than delivering sustainable growth. Instead, look for agencies that set realistic expectations, emphasize the importance of strategic planning and continuous improvement, and provide transparent, data-driven projections. Honest, achievable goals are a sign of a trustworthy partner committed to your long-term success.

Lack of Transparency: 

Transparency is crucial when working with a content marketing agency. Beware of agencies that are vague about their processes, strategies, and reporting. A trustworthy agency should be open about how they plan to achieve your goals, the methods they will use, and how they will measure success. They should provide regular, detailed reports that clearly outline progress and performance metrics. A lack of transparency can indicate potential issues with accountability, reliability, and performance. Make sure that the agency you choose values clear, honest communication and is committed to keeping you informed every step of the way. 

Poor Communication: 

Poor communication can derail even the most well-planned content marketing campaigns. Issues such as missed deadlines, misunderstandings, and lack of alignment on goals often stem from ineffective communication. To identify communication problems early on, pay attention to how promptly and clearly the agency responds during the initial stages of your engagement. Are they attentive to your questions and concerns? Do they respond to your questions within the timeframe that they have established? Additionally, assess their preferred communication channels and frequency to ensure they match your expectations. An agency that values clear, consistent communication will foster a more collaborative and efficient partnership, ultimately leading to better results.

Final Thoughts

Hiring a content marketing agency can be one of the most important marketing decisions that your company ever makes so getting the right partnership on the first try is, in a word, pretty important. The wrong agency could be a drain on your resources, especially if you’re contractually stuck with them for a year or longer. However, the right agency will come in and begin taking work off your plate from day one and will start providing superior value within 3 - 6 months of starting the engagement (beware of agencies that provide a shorter timeline of this). For our part, Be More Digital has successfully partnered with companies in a variety of different sectors like manufacturing, consulting, eCommerce, and far more.

Get in touch with our customer success team today to learn more about working with Be More Digital, or take a look at one of our many case studies for an inside look at what working with us is like. We’re ready to answer any questions you may have and look forward to learning more about your company.

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