Many of you may be looking for a good content marketing agency or hoping to hire an employee or 2 to do content marketing for your firm. That’s because Google, in its infinite wisdom has primarily replaced old SEO tactics with content marketing. As an agency offering content marketing, I’m thrilled, but it may leave you scrambling to ditch your old SEO firm for one focusing on content marketing.
It seems like everybody and their brother jumped into the game — hanging up a shingle professing to do content marketing. Maybe that’s because, on the surface, content marketing looks like something ANYONE can do. The truth couldn’t be more different. Content marketing is hard, requiring a combination of skills including those of a journalist, SEO, and social media expert, analyst, someone who can juggle a variety of tasks and work with deadlines, as well as someone with a pleasing personality who’s good at building a community.
While we hope you’ll consider Hausman & Associates for your digital marketing needs, we want to provide guidance to those seeking a content marketing agency. So, what should you look for in a GOOD content marketing agency?
Finding a GOOD content marketing agency
Unfortunately, or fortunately, if you’re a firm like Hausman & Associates, content marketing is really MUCH more than simply writing content for your social media. It’s certainly NOT something you can do in your spare time or trust to your cousin who has a good following on Facebook. So, let’s take a look at the elements comprising content marketing.
Content marketing is really MUCH more than writing content
Here’s where the journalist comes in. Content writing requires subject matter expertise and no one, with the possible exception of Sheldon Cooper (on the Big Bang Theory), has broad expertise across a large number of disciplines. I personally think it’s dangerous to hire a firm who is a subject matter expert in your particular area as they likely represent your competitors and it’s inevitable that this conflict affects your results. Would Coke use the same advertising agency as Pepsi? Not likely!
Journalists, however, are trained to research, interview, and condense information into meaningful stories. While they might not know everything, they know who and what to ask to prepare a story that is informative and valuable. At Hausman & Associates, I have a minor in journalism, as do many of the community managers who actually write your content.
Content marketing requires skills to research and write informative and valuable content
Knowing WHAT to write
Content should FIT your target audience in both substance and style.
But, more importantly, you should write about things your target audience searches for. Knowing how to use tools like SocialEars, Scribe, Hubspot, and others helps you know what to write about — which is especially important now that Google isn’t telling you which keywords brought visitors to your site.
Balancing their decision to withhold keywords, Google doesn’t require an exact match on keywords to send you traffic. Writers now have more artistic freedom to create posts that don’t require stilled conversations bounded by a specific combination of words.
Also, recognize different social media platforms require different types of content and different goals may require different types of content even on the same social media platform — see my case study showing the importance of marketing goals on content types.
Knowing what to write about is 1 part art and 1 part science, so you’ll need an agency with analytic skills to monitor Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, etc to see what’s already working for you, as well as content optimization software to identify opportunities for content creation. I heard a report today on NPR regarding control centers operated by the major sports leagues where employees monitor Tweets about the teams, league, and it’s players to identify trends in natural conversations online.
Content creation is only half the battle. You also need to effectively curate content. Retweeting influencers, finding cool stories on other sites, and bringing in great images, videos, infographics, etc makes your content more visible and it helps build your connections to others in your industry.
Knowing WHEN to post
Notice this graphic from Hubspot suggests posting at least 3 times a week generates more returns for organizations.
That’s a lot of content, so ensure your content marketing agency has a track record of producing good content on a consistent basis.
The timing of posts also has a big impact on your results. Again, this involves an analyst monitoring performance and doing testing to ensure your posts coincide with the optimal post times for EACH social media platform.
No, despite claims to the contrary, SEO isn’t dead — it’s just transformed. You still need to worry about getting backlinks and optimizing your HTML, and other types of traditional SEO. On-page SEO is also critical. So is avoiding old SEO tactics that’ll land you in Google Hell-like keyword stuffing and artificial link building.
Now, inbound links to authoritative sites are a good way to demonstrate the value and authority of your content — which is very much the academic model. SocialEars recommends 5 links, which I think is good.
In selecting a good content marketing agency, ensure they understand the NEW SEO and check the content they’re currently creating for clients to ensure they’ve adopted best practices.
Check out their returns
What are they achieving for clients? That’s really the measure of a good content marketing agency. Ask to see the analytics for current clients. Here are just a few of the metrics you should ask to see:
- Visits/ day
- CTR (click-through-rate)
- Goal achievement
- Posts engagement
It’s also important to track how much it costs to achieve these goals. For instance, some of my clients are interested in a lean start-up, so much of what we’re doing is organic versus paid. Anyone can achieve dramatic results if they pay a bunch of money. If you’re willing to pay enough, you can BUY engagement, etc. The trick is to get good value for your digital marketing budget. Thus, ask to see ratios of:
- Paid versus organic traffic
- Organic CTR versus paid
- Owned versus earned versus paid media
Need marketing help to support business growth?
We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE with our data-driven, results-oriented marketing strategies. Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get our FREE guide to creating an awesome website, or contact us for more information on hiring us.
Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.