Hiring a content marketing agency is not a decision to be made lightly. It can be an expensive commitment, and it can also be an investment that generates a huge return. How do you suss out which agency will be worth it, and which agency isn’t a good fit for your business? Here’re ten questions to ask in the decision-making stage that can help you figure it out:
What are your preferred tactics when it comes to content marketing?
This is a good one to get out of the way early on, because you want to see if it matches what your business has in mind. If you largely want to do whitepapers and long-form blog posts, a content marketing agency that’s great at shorter posts and videography won’t be a good match. On the other hand, a multimedia content strategy is the way many businesses are going, so if that’s where you want to go with your marketing, it’s good to know that the agency can support whatever mediums you want to publish in.
How do you measure results?
Results shouldn’t be measured in pageviews, 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?
What you’re looking for here is how often they check in on their campaigns to see how they’re performing and change directions accordingly. You want to strike a balance: if they look more often than 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 in the process, by not measuring and adjusting the direction of the campaign sooner.
What do you do to learn from a campaign failure?
If you can get them to speak about it, ask them about a time when a client’s campaign totally flopped and how they changed that failure into a win for the client. Obviously, you don’t need to know identifying details (and if they give them away, that’s probably not a good sign), but a willingness to learn from mistakes is a must in a 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 they provide. Otherwise, they might be 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 your’s 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. Do they have a lot of clients who rely on local sales? Or do they work more with virtual clients? B2B businesses or B2C?
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 they have 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.
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 are the subject matter experts, who might be good to get input from on blog posts (or videos, or 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 your’s, problems will arise later on. And if they don’t have any core values as a company or a team, it 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.
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