Managing the many components of a marketing strategy and ensuring it becomes successful is a lot to handle. How can one organization possibly keep an eye on every factor between social media management, e-mail marketing campaigns, and, especially, SEO? Hence, why hiring a content marketing agency is becoming the new norm with 73% of major organizations having someone manage their content marketing strategy.
Keep in mind too, not every content marketing agency is created equal. Remember this when you’re on the prowl to find that perfect match; the one who will boost your domain authority and organic traffic. Here are eight questions to ensure you evaluate a partner that will help deliver relevant, engaging content and a strategy built on data and insight.
If the content marketing agency has had previous clients within the industry, they will have a solid understanding of what makes for compelling content, provide access to thought leaders, and open opportunities for industry resources.
However, industry knowledge doesn’t make or break a decision to hire. It’s just one of many factors to consider. If a client hasn’t had experience in the field, they should offer up some legitimate tools and data-driven strategies. The demand for content is at an all-time high and quality ranks over quantity so their explanation is essential.
They should provide insight into:
Before you sign that retainer, take a step back from your business marketing goals and ask a prospective agency about theirs.
A digital marketing agency who practices what they preach is a good sign that they believe in the tactics they’re selling. They should be able to demonstrate that they are their marketing practices’ best case study.
Instead of asking about how they are going to help you accomplish your goals, be more exploratory in your question by asking about the specific process.
It’s easy for an agency to answer back that they are going to help you come up with a sound marketing strategy if you ask how. On the other hand, asking about the process itself will yield more insights on the details of the strategy. If an agency cannot articulate their process in detail including the tools required and the frequency of interaction with your team, consider looking elsewhere.
The marketing agency you hire should be able to communicate what needs to be done, but they also need to educate you on how to effectively manage your marketing. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
For your campaigns to truly succeed, the agency of your choice should be able and eager to train your in-house team on the basics. This could include training your team to use automation platforms or interpreting data from the analytics software that they recommend.
Furthermore, an agency who is truly involved in helping you grow your business understands that your team’s subject matter expertise is a critical piece of the puzzle. How will they communicate with your subject matter experts? How often?
The agency should respond with a variation of web analytics, social media analytics, SEO analytics, marketing automation, blogging, and CMS tools all within arm’s reach to start.
Here’s a sample of what some of these tools are and their purpose:
Based on the tools and strategies they use, the agency should be able to communicate what they define as “success.” There’s more to creating the best call-to-action on your landing page or picking the right font size for your homepage. The marketing agency you work with should be able to to support their recommendations with data.
When talking with a prospective agency, ask questions on benchmarks, metrics, and analytics. Aside from asking on what should be measured, inquire on how often the report on progress should be made towards these metrics. What adjustments can be made if data indicates that the campaign is not working?
Lastly, when will you see results? Be wary of digital marketing agencies who promise that you can expect substantial ROI in a short span of time. Marketing efforts founded on inbound takes time to yield positive results. However, once you’ve built a mean inbound machine, you’re in it for the long haul. Think of it as a long-term investment with compounding interest.
You should probably ask this question at several points along the process. When you first meet with them, see what research they’ve done in advance about you and your company. Find out what they know about your products and services, your industry, your key customers, your role, etc.
Allow them to show you that they’ve done their homework too and are proactive about learning about their client. And if—after meeting with them and describing your needs—you permit them to assemble a quote, see how much they actually paid attention to the uniqueness of your company. Make sure they didn’t just cut-and-paste a strategy for you. You want an agency that is willing to pour into your brand like you do.
Ask for a list of contacts of the firm’s current AND past clients. You’ll want both because the contacts from their current clients will undoubtedly be their biggest cheerleaders. Of course, they may be hesitant to share past client’s contact info, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Plus, you may be able to find that info yourself by perusing their resources page.