It matters who you pick when you hire a content marketing agency.
Content marketing is a big investment, yet it can also generate big returns for your business. It can be difficult to know which agency will be worth it and which will be the best fit for your business.
That’s why it’s important to ask plenty of questions in the decision-making stage of your search. The following ten questions are must-ask and should help you sort out whether an agency is going to be a good match for you and your business needs, or whether you should keep looking.
- What are your preferred tactics when it comes to content marketing?
Early on, you should see how closely an agency’s approach to content marketing fits with what your business had in mind. If you foresee whitepapers and long-form blog posts, a content marketing agency that prefers short-form blog posts and videography may not be a good match. On the other hand, an agency with expertise in a wide variety of content could be to your benefit. Many businesses are moving into multimedia content marketing, so it would be good to know that an agency can support whatever mediums you want to publish in.
- How do you measure results?
Content marketing results shouldn’t be measured in pageviews. Instead, they should be measured in leads and sales. If pageviews are increasing, but leads and sales are the same, it doesn’t do your business much good. And if the agency doesn’t have any process in place for measuring results at all, that’s a huge red flag.
- How often do you reassess results from a campaign?
You want to know how often an agency checks in on their campaigns to see how they’re performing and change directions accordingly. It’s important to strike a balance: if the agency is reassessing more often than every 60-90 days, they’re making decisions too quickly. But if they wait 6+ months before taking any measure of a campaign’s effectiveness, they could be wasting time and money by not measuring and adjusting the direction of the campaign sooner.
- What do you do to learn from a campaign failure?
Everyone makes mistakes, but the important thing is to learn from them and fix errors where possible. If you can, try to get the agency to describe a time when a client’s campaign flopped and how they were able to turn that failure into a win for the client. Obviously, you don’t need to know identifying details (and a good agency won’t discuss them), but a willingness to deal with mistakes and learn from them is a must in any marketing professional.
- What role does your team play in the content production process?
This is just about making sure it’s a match for your goals and priorities. If you’re expecting 100% “done for you” content, then make sure that’s what this agency provides. Otherwise, you might find out too late that their process involves providing someone on your team with an editorial calendar and task list and expecting your team to create the content.
- Do you specialize in a specific industry?
Experience working with other businesses like yours is a good thing. But even if they don’t have experience in your specific industry, it’s also good to get a feel for what their other clients are like. Pay attention to whether the agency has a lot of clients who rely on local sales, or works more with virtual clients, or specializes in B2B or B2C business clients. Ideally, you want an agency that specializes in businesses like your own.
- How do you approach the planning process?
There isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all planning process, so that’s not what this question is about. Instead, it’s about making sure the agency has a planning process. If they jump right into posting things on Twitter and your blog without doing any research on your industry, where current customers come from, or how previously published content has performed, that’s a huge red flag.
- What would be your objectives in our first six months of working together?
For this one, you’re looking for a middle-of-the-road answer. If they’re willing to make promises about seemingly unrealistic results before the project has even started, it’s probably not a good sign. Content marketing can bring you big wins, but it rarely pays off immediately in grandiose ways. In the first six months, a good agency ought to be able to deliver service and content that pleases stakeholders and begins moving the needle in the right direction.
- What questions will you have for our team?
On their side, part of the project kickoff should involve talking to members of your team and figuring out who the subject-matter experts are, who might be a good resource for blog posts (or videos, whitepapers, etc.), and how they can convey the personality of the team and the business in the content they create. If they don’t have interviews as part of the process or don’t plan on asking you or your team any questions at all, it’s not a good sign.
- What are you and your team’s core values?
This question is just about making sure that they’re a fit for your business. If their core values, the things they hold most dear, are the opposite of yours, important differences of opinion over the direction of your marketing and strategy could arise later on. And if they don’t have any core values as a company or a team, that could be a bad sign. Having values and personality is what makes good marketing stand out, and it’s hard for a team that doesn’t have either to create high-quality content.
There are many fine content marketing agencies out there. But not all of them will be the right fit for your business. Ask these questions, and any others important for your project, and you are more likely to find an agency that is just right for your business needs.
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