According to recent statistics:
- 76% of marketers rely on content to generate leads
- 79% to educate their audiences
- 78% to establish trust or credibility
That’s a good number of marketers recognizing the innate power of content marketing. However, statistics also show that:
- Only 40% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy
- 32% of content consumers feel the amount of content available is overwhelming
- Audience engagement happens after seven minutes of reading
Clearly, many marketers are also leaving opportunities on the table. They’re unable to maximize the benefits content marketing can offer. This is where the right content agency can provide much-needed assistance.
But with the marketplace offering so many options, how do you find the agency that aligns with your needs?
This article will shed light into the content agency evaluation process and the factors to consider.
Key factors to consider when evaluating a content creation agency
Content marketing is a long game. And although the results aren’t immediate, businesses recognize it for the winner that it is.
Central to winning campaigns is the role of a content creation agency, which specializes in creating various types of content for brands. If your in-house team lacks the bandwidth to craft compelling narratives on an ongoing basis, it’s best to outsource.
To identify the most suitable content creation agency for your business, consider the following four fundamental factors:
Agency expertise and range of services
One of the first things to evaluate is the agency’s area of expertise. What is their specialty? What types of services do they offer? Do these align with your business’s core content objectives? For instance, find SEO experts if you want to improve your website’s search rankings.
If your content marketing is comprehensive and integrated, look for an agency that can handle a wide range of content services — SEO writing, blog creation, social media management, email marketing, and graphic design. This holistic approach promotes consistency across platforms, a vital element in solidifying your brand’s identity.
Portfolio of work
Julia McCoy of Content at Scale cautions, “You’re hiring a content marketing agency because they’re supposed to have the expertise your team lacks. Make doubly sure it’s actually there.”
One way to do this is through the agency’s portfolio.
A portfolio provides evidence to the type of work the agency can deliver. Examine their body of work for creativity and an aptitude for producing relatable, high-converting content. Check for content you want them to create for your industry and target audience. Are they able to organically weave in brand messaging into the content?
The portfolio also offers a window into the agency’s past clients. Reach out to these previous clients for a firsthand account of their experience. Forbes Agency Council’s El Qudsi Ismael sums this up succinctly, “If an agency has done a really good job, then the client will be the first to recommend that agency.”
Customer service and communication
You want a content marketing agency that:
- Listens well
- Is responsive and receptive to feedback
- Can maintain regular communication throughout the partnership
These attributes are vital for effective collaboration, which, in turn, makes it easier to execute your content strategy. A structured approach to keeping you informed signifies professionalism.
Questions to ask: How does the agency handles project management? Does it provide regular updates? Does it have the necessary tools to ensure your timeline and budget stay on track?
Cost is a primary consideration when narrowing down your agency choices. No point overpaying for services you can get for less somewhere else. But affordable isn’t always cost-effective. Instead, aim for content quality and affordability.
High-quality services — well-written content, subject-matter expertise, excellent storytelling skills, etc. — at competitive prices provide value for money. This ensures the partnership is sustainable.
Content Agency Evaluation: A Step-by-Step Guide
Evaluating content creation agencies can take time, but the effort is well worth it.
Step 1: Clarify your goals
Like with any type of marketing strategy, begin with clear goals in mind. What do you hope to achieve? Brand awareness? Website traffic? Or new leads? Your content goals will help pinpoint your agency selection criteria.
Step 2: Conduct thorough research
Ideally, your content creation agency partner should specialize in your niche or industry. To identify potential agencies:
- Leverage industry directories, social media platforms, and the search engines.
- Ask for recommendations from your professional network. Consult your industry peers or trusted contacts. Their insights can guide your search.
- Read online reviews and testimonials. Find reputable agencies offering quality services.
- Visit agency websites for information on their services, expertise, and client portfolio. Pay attention to the quality of the content displayed on their websites and other media assets. This reflects the agency’s own capabilities and standards.
Step 2: Create a shortlist
Next, create a list of agencies that align with your needs and whose services you can afford. Highlight agencies with consistently good reviews.
Look for signs of repeat business or long-term partnerships. These indicate customer trust and satisfaction. If you plan to expand in the future, consider the size of the agency and whether they can deliver multiple quality projects on time.
Step 3: Evaluate agency portfolios
When evaluating each agency’s portfolio, look for creativity, versatility, and a content style that aligns with your brand voice. Examine case studies for insights into their work.
Questions to ask: How do they work? What’s their overall approach to content creation? Can they deliver content across formats: blog posts, website copy, social media posts, infographics, and videos?
Step 4: Request for proposals
Proposals provide a view into the agency’s strategies, pricing models, and how they plan to achieve your goals. To start, create a comprehensive project brief detailing your content objectives, target audience, preferred formats, and tone requirements.
Compare the proposals objectively based on factors such as expertise, strategy, pricing, and timeline.
Step 5: Conduct interviews
Interviews can help you gauge each agency’s understanding of your business. Do they possess the skills and tools to meet your requirements? Are they a business fit?
For the interview to be productive, prepare a list of well-thought-out questions, including:
- How can you help our business?
- What types of results can you deliver?
- What’s your process for results reporting?
- What will you need from our team?
- Which industries do you specialize in?
- How will you manage our projects?
- Can you share proof of results?
How they answer these questions will provide a view into their methodologies, experience, and overall approach to content creation.
Step 6: Select the best agency
Based on the proposals and interviews, choose the agency that best addresses your needs. Look into factors such as:
- Quality of work
- Track record of experience and expertise
- Fresh ideas and unique perspectives
- Outside-the-box thinking
- Communication methodologies
- Project management skills
- Culture fit (values, diversity and inclusion, adaptability, etc.)
If the decision-making process involves multiple stakeholders, seek their input.
Partner with the right content creation agency
The right content marketing agency can help accelerate your business momentum. Selection factors to consider include expertise, portfolio of services, customer service, client satisfaction, and value for money. Your decision will shape your content marketing strategy and is pivotal to achieving your goals. Don’t rush it.
Not sure where to begin? Connect with us today to get started.