At some point, many companies realize they need to hire a content marketing agency. If this is you, you’re not alone; the Content Marketing Institute found that 22 percent of enterprises increased their spend on content marketing outsourcing in 2018. Whether it’s to bolster existing content marketing efforts or start entirely fresh with content marketing, turning to an outside agency can provide a perspective and expertise that may not exist in-house.
But not all agencies are created equal, and before you one you’ll want to make sure they’re the right agency fit for you. After you collect your RFPs and identify the agencies you’d like to consider further, ask your contenders these 10 questions.
1. How Do You Brainstorm and Find New Ideas for Content?
Not all agencies work the same way. Some keep as much of the brainstorming in-house as possible; some will rely on the client to come up with new ideas; and others will use a combination of the two so that they’re on the same page. However the content marketing agency comes up with new ideas for content, make sure it’s something you have the bandwidth for. You don’t want to always be the one offering up ideas if you don’t have the internal structure to support it.
2. What’s Your Onboarding Process?
It’s important to hire a content marketing agency that will take the time to understand your business: your goals for the content marketing program, your company’s culture, and your overall business objectives. This can require in-person meetings, so make sure this is an option with the agency you choose.
3. What Is Your Editing Process?
You want your content to fit with your brand voice – and to make sense. Ask your agency how they edit pieces, who is involved, and how many sets of eyeballs will look at it. If you want a hand in the editing process, make sure that this is a possibility, too. What you don’t want is a piece of content sent to you that hasn’t had any editing at all.
4. What Is Your Content Workflow?
One of the reasons that many companies hire a content agency is to have someone help them set up the organizational processes and workflows that keep deliverables on track. Ask how the agency sets up a content workflow: what does the content development process look like, who is assigned to what task, how do they ensure deadlines are met, and how much collaboration is involved.
5. What Tools and Platforms Do You Use to Manage Your Content Workflow?
Whether you’re planning to be hands-on with your agency or not, you want to ensure that whomever you hire has a system in place to manage the content workflow, and that it can work in conjunction with any workflow tools that your company already uses.
6. How Do You Choose Which Writer Will Be on My Account?
The last thing you want to find out too late in the game is that they’ve randomly assigned someone to your account from a pool of freelance writers who may or may not have the experience and skills required to create your content. Many content agencies will have a combination of in-house writers and trusted freelancers who have specific subject matter expertise. You can always ask the agency for a list of potential writers that may be assigned to your account beforehand and request to see content samples from them.
7. Can You Send Me Examples of Different Types of Content You’ve Created?
It’s one thing for a content marketing agency to say it can create white papers; it’s another thing for them to have done it. Ask for samples of white papers, blog posts, ebooks, interactive content, videos, and other work they’ve done, keeping in mind that their website may only host a small sampling of their work.
8. How Do You Help Our Content Get Seen?
Content marketing also includes promoting your content so that your ideal audience will see it, download it, and act on it. Ask your agency what types of content distribution methods that will use to get your content in front of people – social media? Paid ads? Email marketing?
9. What Can You Do With Video?
You may be surprised what you can do with video and how it can attract new customers or help you retain existing customers. But video capabilities can vary widely from documentary style video to animated videos and a range of styles in between. Find out what specific video capabilities your content agency has, how they come up with video ideas, how they execute them, and what level of collaboration they require from clients.
10. How Do You Get Media Coverage for Us?
While a feature article in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal may a long shot, there are plenty of other opportunities to get media coverage. Ask if your content marketing agency can write contributed articles to trade publications, pitch media stories to local press, and help get some of your standout content in target publications.
No matter how your content marketing agency answers these questions, you should feel comfortable with what they say and the work that they do. You want an agency that will be a good fit for your company, whether they’re augmenting your existing in-house team or you’re building a content marketing strategy from the ground up.