A content agency works in tandem with businesses and marketing-focused agencies to lay the groundwork for successful content ideation, creation, distribution, and management. This is achieved by a team of strategists, project managers, and creatives taking a calculated approach to identifying the needs of the brand’s audience, creating content that resonates, and evaluating resulting online performance through rigorous reporting and analysis of assets and trends within the brand’s niche.
The Beatles knew a thing or two when they made the line “I get by with a little help from my friends” a raging success. Embracing the need for assistance takes our efforts from good to grand by aligning with others who have the same interests at heart.
The reality is, your marketing department shouldn’t be expected to do it all. We all need help on occasion to make our content marketing plans achievable. Many businesses make friends with a content agency.
What is a content agency?
A content agency works in tandem with businesses and other marketing-focused agencies to lay the groundwork for successful content ideation, creation, distribution, and management. From start to finish, a content agency ensures your dream communications make sense and align with your target audience. As we know, content marketing is so much more than inscribing a business name on pens and scattering them around town.
“Content marketing is the process of planning, creating, distributing, sharing, and publishing content to reach your target audience. As a business, this tactic can help you improve brand awareness, boost sales, connect with your target audience members, and engage prospects and customers.” — HubSpot
A content agency is comprised of a team of strategists, project managers, and creatives taking a calculated approach to identify the emotional and tangible needs of the brand’s audience and resulting online performance through rigorous reporting, content creation, and analysis of content assets and trends within the brand’s niche.
What are the different types of content and ad agencies?
If you dig deep, you’ll realize you have ample friends in the content marketing community ready and willing to assist in your content creation efforts. We know coming up with ideas and executing them in a way that makes sense within your content strategy and content planning can be tough when working with limited resources.
At this stage of your business development and scaling process, consider creating partnerships with a variety of agencies to not only improve the ROI of your marketing efforts, but to simply put out better content consistently. Make no mistake, your ticket to ride the content marketing wave and make your brand known is through content.
These folks are pros at direct marketing and advertising techniques. Think mailers with specific incentives and creative ads that launch before YouTube videos. A team of media planners and creatives work to create direct messaging for target audiences.
What do they often not offer? Branding or content strategy. Instead, advertising agencies are the workhorses ready to get content created and disseminated after you’ve defined your marketing campaign.
Collaborating with a branding agency is a must-have for any new business, product launch, or business facelift. These communications specialists create an identity and vision for your business overall, including your ideals, language, logos, and color schemes.
These comprehensive strategies keep your look and feel consistent, making your business recognizable to your audience across various touch points. Branding guidelines, created by a branding agency, are a cornerstone document within a content marketing strategy that fuels your content plan — and resulting content assets.
Communications or media agency
Once you have your branding and strategy in place, those ideas need to funnel into your content creation. A communications agency is just that, a team of copywriters, bloggers, journalists, photographers, videographers, designers, and anyone else who is ready to communicate your business’s values through content.
While a communications agency may polish your brand’s tone and style, they aren’t the ones to build it from the ground up like a branding agency. When you’re ready to partner with these folks, have your content strategy and content plan in place, ready for execution.
Content marketing/creative agency
If you’re wondering why all these aforementioned services aren’t simply housed under one umbrella, surprise! They basically are when your business partners with a full-service content marketing agency, or an “agency of scale” like ClearVoice, which offers flexibility with fully managed freelance content teams for any scale — major projects to enterprise volume.
This collective of strategists, management, and creatives work tirelessly to bring your content goals from water cooler ideas to published links.
A content marketing agency can help you document your content strategy, put a content plan in place, and oversee a team of creatives for your content production. And if there’s a puzzle piece missing, they’re fabulous at leaning into internal partnerships to round out your marketing needs for you.
Digital marketing agency
These folks often work in tandem with content marketing agencies since they offer similar services. However, these marketing aficionados also specialize in market research and dig deep to help you with your audience analysis, product development, as well as your marketing campaigns, and types of content levels that make the most sense for your business.
A digital agency can help you get a website, social media profiles, email marketing, mobile campaigns, and search engine marketing set up too. Think of these folks as the masons forming the foundation for your marketing outreach.
What does a marketing agency often not do? In-house content creation. That’s when they seek the expertise of vetted freelance creatives from content marketing agencies such as ClearVoice. See, we really do all help each other out in the helter-skelter of marketing madness.
Public relations agency
Finally, all this work and effort need to get noticed. Your brand might choose to partner with a PR agency to literally market your marketing. Right? It sounds crazy, but there’s nothing better than getting mentions in media outlets, chatter from celebrities about your business, and guidance from an outside perspective on how you’re presenting your business overall.
After all, missteps could mean all that branding goes to waste, trickling down to a loss of sales and a stained reputation. No business wants that. Hire a PR firm to keep tabs on how you’re being seen by the public and listen to their suggestions for amplifying your reach.
Why should I use a content agency?
Let’s look a little closer at the actual process of creating content. You’ve defined your content strategy. You have a content plan in place to provide a roadmap of what actually needs to be created. Now comes the production phase. As you begin to map out the tasks on your calendar, it will quickly become apparent how much time and talent it takes to execute the plans you’ve laid forth.
You’ve reached a pivotal point: Will you keep your content creation in-house with a self-managed process, or outsource it to a content agency who will handle your content needs?
Let’s take a pros-versus-cons approach to tackling your content yourself. On one hand, it’s nice to have complete control over the process. You know everyone on your team and can delegate tasks to those who excel at each step. Some of the top reasons for staying in-house include quality control, control of in-house personnel, more efficient performance, and overall cost savings. And there’s the satisfaction of taking on a challenge and crushing it. Well, until you don’t.
Take a long hard look at your team. Do they have extra time to add more projects to their workdays? Do they have the training and experience to do what you’re asking of them? Do you have time to oversee the workflow of everything, or put one of your project managers on the marketing team? Only you know what your bandwidth is for expanding your current marketing initiatives to include content marketing.
On the other hand, it sounds fabulous to hand off your marketing needs to a content agency that spends their days solely focusing on making businesses shine. But, can you afford it? Do you have time to be the liaison and work closely with a handful of contacts at the agency? Are you able to relinquish control of this vital business process?
Outsourcing allows you to cultivate more expertise, manage fewer tasks locally, and save money in the long run since you’re basically hiring experts on a temp basis for a set task — which means no onboarding expenses, benefits packages, or holiday pay to consider.
If you’re leaning toward hiring a content agency, sweet. These marketing professionals can save you time, fast-track results by using proven marketing methods, and back it all up with reporting so you can see exactly where your dollars are going.
What services do content agencies provide?
You know “post and hope for the best” isn’t a strategy when it comes to communicating with your audience online. Instead, it takes strategic thinking and planning behind the scenes before tallying up those likes and leads.
Here’s a list of services you can expect a content agency to offer when you inquire about a content marketing partnership.
1. Keyword portfolio
Do you know which words your current and potential customers are typing into search engine boxes? A content agency can report on monthly search volumes, keyword segmentation, and keyword rankings specific to your brand.
In the analysis phase, expect to receive a comprehensive keyword list, cost-per-click (CPC) values, priority keyword scoring, and baseline search volume metrics, as well as where these keywords fit into your marketing funnel stages.
2. Content recommendations
After you understand a bit more about keywords, do you know what to do with them? As you work through ideation and eventually production, knowing industry themes and topics that revolve around your keywords and how they might attract your audience is critical.
Also, what content types will resonate most with your audience? Blogs posts? Facebook Live videos? White papers? Creating the right content matters. A content agency can also perform a cost-benefit analysis of targeted terms so you can report on the ROI of your investment in this process.
3. Content roadmap
We find that businesses get excited about their first few URLs, then lose momentum after their initial ideas and campaigns have run their course. It happens. That’s why having a long-term plan for ideating, creating, and evaluating your content production is a must-have for ongoing success.
Service in this category can vary from content strategy and customer journey development, to content planning, persona creation, keyword portfolio development, and audits of your current content to keep your content needs moving forward.
4. Competitive analysis
Always know what others in your space are doing. At ClearVoice, we like to do this via competitive analysis reports. What are your top competitors ranking for on the search engines? How do their content and backlinks compare to yours? What’s their SEO look like? Are you thinking about future terms or predictive SEO?
By being in tune with your competitors’ actions, you can learn what’s effective (or detrimental) since you share a very similar audience base. For example, if the other guy is producing kick-ass case studies each month that are getting hundreds of downloads, and you’re not, ask your content agency to do a little A/B testing with top-level content and content resources for your audience. Maybe your content plan needs revision!
5. Persona development
Knowing who makes up your audience is key when you’re trying to talk their talk and solve their concerns. A content agency can create a high-level representation of your target audience, known as a buyer or audience persona.
To help your content align with the needs of your readers, an agency can conduct an internal team/stakeholder interview, chat with customers, pull reports about your audience demographics and psychological tendencies, and dig deep into how they’re using their devices and consuming content online.
6. Content audit and gap analysis
You wouldn’t be scoping out the services of a content agency if you thought your current process was as efficient and effective as possible, right? One of the most valuable tasks you can hire is a deep analysis of your current on-site content and its performance in relation to your customer journey.
Does content map to a stage? Are you working within your content levels? Could site navigation be improved? Are you missing core content pieces? Are you using keywording effectively? Don’t leave your customers hanging by having spotty content.
7. Technical SEO audit
After reviewing your content, it’s necessary to go a layer deeper. Is your online presence optimized for search engine visibility? Yes, we’re digging into SEO and the technical reasons your content may not be performing optimally. A content agency can review your website architecture (sitemap, navigation, footers, indexing, crawlability, internal/external linking, page speed, incidences of duplicate content) and how your URLs are structured to best appease the Google Gods.
8. Web page optimization
Once you’ve evaluated the content and bones behind your website, get more mileage out of your content efforts by optimizing individual pages so they can perform flawlessly. How? A content agency can be sure your metadata is filled in correctly (or filled in at all) by polishing off those titles, alt-image tags, and descriptions.
Maybe your formatting could use an update with more H1 and H2 headers? You can also expect recommendations for mobile responsiveness, keyword-blurring cleanup (think overuse and misuse), and schema markup, where applicable.
9. Earned media placements
As you flesh out your content plan, whether self-constructed or built by an agency, you’ll likely explore the option of off-site content. This may come in the form of media mentions in articles, guest blog posts, tags on social media, testimonials that mention your brand, or being interviewed on a branded podcast.
All of these earned media placements come with online trails of links to help expedite your backlink building and influence online. Your brand could use a little more visibility, right? Earned media mentions are where it’s at.
Embracing these services, and the results they yield will give upper management something to twist and shout about. Why? You’re finally able to report on how your marketing is making an impact on sales, and the company’s public image as a whole.
Want some help creating your content? Talk to a content specialist at ClearVoice and find out how we can create content that attracts, retains, and converts your target audience.