According to a recent study of Digital Marketing Agencies, over 60% of brands who utilize an outside marketing agency are looking for an all-in-one solution for all of their digital marketing needs, rather than a "best in breed" partnership. Which means that there is the expectation that everything from website design, content development, video production, social media, search marketing, SEO, email marketing, graphic design, branding... you get the idea, are all supposed to be "areas of expertise" under one roof! Why the lofty expectations today? Certainly a departure from the traditional marketing agency selection process from days past. I ask, "is it realistic in today's ever-changing marketing climate to think that one agency can do it all?" That's for you to decide.
I encourage you, however, to think about this — it's been said that content is the glue that binds an audience to an outcome and is the central hub of any successful digital marketing strategy. So, if creating great content is this important, why wouldn't you seek a specialist rather than a digital generalist — a content-centered agency rather than a "digital" agency?
Just to clarify, content can be as simple as a social media post, or as complex as a branded video. It can have 500 words (like an average blog article) or as few as 140 characters. The goal of content marketing is to attract prospects and turn them into customers and brand advocates. Regardless of the number of words or characters, every piece of content needs to build trust with the audience, and offer value. Where to begin to find an agency? Here are some tips for selecting the right content marketing agency for YOUR company.
Audience and Message Match
If there is one thing that journalists understand in their underbelly, it's knowing how to connect a message to an audience. Having roots in TV news has allowed StoryTeller to "jump to the head of the line" when it comes to creating both videos and other content forms that resonate with target audiences. After all, achieving high television ratings and audience share is synonymous with driving blog readership and website traffic. If you are a medical device manufacturer trying to market your product to healthcare providers and all of your content is targeted to consumers, there's a good chance you will not be converting many visitors to leads. A great example of content that is targeted to the right persona is the blog published by Hazeltine National Golf Club. There are actually two separate blogs; one dedicated to brides and one for golfers. The viewer's questions, challenges, and interests are vastly different from each other, therefore the content needs to be reflective of that. Here are some questions you can ask while vetting your content marketing agency:
Do you have multiple writers creating your content or a single writer? How will you select the writer for my company?
What content areas do you specialize in? Short format? Long format? Video content?
SEO and Content
Believe it or not, just because you know how to write a blog post or produce a video does not make you an SEO expert! There are many blog posts that are written without keyword research or strategy. I recently read a post from KISSMETRICS that explains perfectly why SEO and content marketing need to go together like PB&J. SEO makes demands, content marketing fulfills those demands.
SEO states the requirements, content marketing fulfills them
SEO demands content, content marketing is content
SEO demands keywords, content marketing means using keywords
SEO demands linkbacks, content marketing introduces linkbacks
SEO demands onsite technical optimization, content marketing needs great UX
SEO demands consistent output, content marketing requires consistent output
SEO is all about content marketing, and content marketing is all about SEO. You need to understand that the agency that is going to be generating measurable outcomes for you is able to demonstrate what they have done with other clients. Have them show you examples of their work and dive into their monthly reports. Here are some things you can look for to see if they understand how content and SEO work together:
Month over month analytics of website traffic growth
Month over month organic search results
Month over month blog subscriber growth
Video That Drives Results
If a picture is worth a thousand words, than video is worth a million, some say. Just ask Uponor North America. Their YouTube channel hit a memorable 1,000,000 views this year. Uponor has published a myriad of informational, how-to type videos that have achieved much greater success of engagement and viewership than what can be accomplished in written form. According to Jon Orton, Director of Marketing Operations at Uponor,
"50% of our leads come from the web, so we needed to find a way to use technology to nurture and develop relationships earlier in the decision-making process than we did in the past," said Orton.
For Uponor and countless other B2B businesses today looking to increase website traffic, drive conversion on landing pages, and generate more qualified sales leads, video has become the answer. Your content marketing agency needs to be able to adapt your company message using a variety of platforms, including video. Video will increase blog views, improve social media engagement, increase website traffic, and impact lead conversion to name a few benefits. Some things to look for in your content marketing partner:
Ability to efficiently and cost-effectively generate video content for a variety of platforms (social media, blogging, YouTube, etc.)
Demonstrate their grasp of video SEO
Be able to demonstrate ROI on their video investment
There are many other considerations to take into account before making a hiring decision for the content marketing agency that is best equipped to meet your marketing needs. One of the first places to start your research is checking out the agency's own website. Are they practicing what they preach? Look for how often they are publishing their own blogs and how active they are in their social media communities. Do they have a strong video presence? How comprehensively are they able to tell their own story? If they can't tell their own company story well, then how will they be at telling yours?