Hiring a content marketing agency is an important step. Learn the key metrics to ensure they are doing their job to drive results.
As a business owner or brand manager, you realize the importance of a well-executed content marketing campaign. Sometimes it makes sense to hire a content
That’s why you outsourced the job to a professional content writing services provider, a digital marketing agency that has guaranteed to rank your website at the very top. But is that all you need from your content marketing agency? Here’s how you know your content writing agency is doing its job right.
Content Marketing Agency Must Understand the Fundamentals of Content Marketing Strategy
A good content strategy is founded on three things-the formations of a Content Differentiation Factor, the development of your content goals, and the creation of content with a high return on investment.
Content Differentiation Factor refers to that unique property that sets your content apart from the countless other pages on the internet. It’s your distinctive perspective, and it’s what allows you to lead in your content niche. Without a sound CDF, your content will have a hard time getting heard.
Once the agency has determined your differentiator, it needs to figure out what your content marketing goals are. Do you want to increase brand awareness? Are you looking for more traffic and/or lead conversion? It’s vital that your agency takes the time to understand your pain points and goals, so it can create impactfully, high-ROI content that reaches your audience and serves your purpose.
To this end, you should also look for an agency that understands how to create audience personas. These personas represent a segment of your target audience and create a basis for who the content is for and what it’s about. If your agency asks you about your goals and ideal customer of its own accord, it’s a sign that you’re with the right people.
The Agency Knows its Keywords and SEO
SEO is the lifeblood of a good content marketing campaign, and it’s imperative that the agency you work with knows its way around this. Any amateur can do a quick Google search for relevant keywords and then utilize the first few that come up within their SEO. But you didn’t hire a content marketing agency for sloppy amateur work, did you? Remember, SEO isn’t simply about articles, blogs, and keywords!
For quality results, your agency should know how to use tags properly and enhance metadata. Title and header tags strategize the content for both the search engine and the visitor to understand and lead to superior search results. They should also know how to optimize robots.txt to crawl the site so viewers can easily access the content.
Basically, the agency needs to make your webpage attractive to Google and other search engines through technical optimization–that means no broken links, URL optimization and a keen emphasis on user experience.
Title tags, for instance, lead to an enhanced UX as the visitor can understand what the page is about before deciding to click on it. The agency should also focus on long-tailed keywords since these are likelier to bring in the relevant audience,
Finally, the agency should also understand how to work on inbound linking, another important aspect of SEO. By connecting your site to authority websites, they’ll be able to increase your traffic dramatically. You might think that this job is the domain of linkback agencies, but quality content is, in fact, the best way to develop link-building and increase traffic.
A thorough understanding of SEO and keywords will allow you to maximize your content marketing ROI in the long run. Check your content for all this information–if it’s present, your agency knows what it is doing
Your Agency Is Able To Work Under, and Even Manage a Content Budget
One of the first things your content marketing agency should discuss with you is the content budget. In fact, it should also help you maximize the budget so you can drastically increase the return on investment. A results-oriented agency will help you determine what budget will make for an effective content marketing campaign.
Should you invest a lot? Well, that depends. If you have the means to manage a large scale content marketing campaign, it could be worth it to direct more dollars in that direction. However, content marketing has the inherent advantage of being cost-effective when compared to other forms of marketing, and that’s something you should benefit from! If your agency seems to be advocating an unreasonable budget, there’s something fishy going on.
Content marketing’s results are remarkably cost-effective – when the content is superior, that is. These campaigns are associated with 62% less cost than large-scale marketing campaigns, but manage to generate thrice the leads! What’s more, they lead to conversion rates that are nearly 6 times greater than those generated by other marketing efforts. That’s something you’ll need to keep in mind when devising a budget with the agency.
Your agency should also be committed to maximizing your budget.
Your Agency Understands The Content Marketing Funnel
The content marketing funnels refer to the process of taking the largest number of leads possible through the content flow step-by-step and converting them into paying customers. Visualize a funnel. The wide top represents all the people who are aware of your brand and products–your leads.
However, as you go through the funnel, it becomes narrower, representing the people who will become disinterested and not engage with your message all the way to purchase. More people will drop off as you continue through the extremely narrow neck. A dramatically small number of leads will go through the whole funnel and actually become customers.
The content marketing funnel, therefore, has three stages: awareness (when a lead discovers you for the first time), evaluation (when the lead determines whether your offering is relevant to them or not), and purchase (when the lead turns into a customer).
A good content marketing agency will aim to widen the funnel’s neck by producing more quality content to engage your leads. It understands what kind of content needs to be created at each stage of the funnel, and will use this knowledge to create effective campaigns that boost conversion rates.
The Agency Can Create Authority Content that Cements You as a Leader
Authority content is the name of the game, at least as far as establishing your brand as a credible leader is concerned. An effective content marketing agency can use the magic of content marketing to cement you as an authority in your industry. In order to be an authority, the agency will help you determine a particular niche where you can develop influence.
Take a look at the clients your agency has worked within the past–are they recognized as leaders in their field? If those clients have been unable to distinguish themselves as thought leaders, there’s not much chance that this agency will be able to help you become an authority.
Becoming a thought leader is a long-term goal, but you’ll be able to tell if you’re heading in that direction if you start getting asked to write on or speak about issues pertinent to your industry. If you find people are turning to ask your opinion, your content marketing agency has done its job well.
Your Agency Knows How to Promote Your Content
Content marketing doesn’t end after the agency has written a blog or article for you! After all, does it really matter that your content is top-notch if no one reads it? A quality content marketing agency will be able to promote your content effectively, so it reaches the largest number of people possible.
Effective content promotion involves, firstly, building an audience, and then keeping them engaged with relevant content. Keep an eye on the number of people interacting with your brand on your social media platforms–it’s an effective indicator of how well your content has been promoted!
Again, any amateur can share an article on their Facebook page to promote it. Your agency should be knowledgeable about advanced content promotion techniques. Do they reach out to influencers for quotes? Do they produce around 20 snippets for each content piece they create?
Snippets are tiny variations in the content, and they can be shared over the course of weeks and even months. Remember, you hired the content marketing agency for their expertise. They should be able to prove they can promote your content well.
Your Content Marketing Agency Developed an Editorial Calendar
Editorial calendars allow for efficiency and structure throughout the campaign. Before the agency begins work on content creation, it should ideally hand you a detailed content calendar that both manages and organizes content creation and sharing.
The calendar will reflect how content is to be distributed across different marketing channels and also show which team member is responsible for a particular role. The editorial calendar is a guide that helps the team produce content that is relevant to your content strategy.
It also gives you an idea about how long it will take the team to produce a piece of content. Without the editorial calendar, it becomes far harder to recognize gaps in your strategy. A well-organized calendar should be able to identify these, which helps you figure out how to close them.
The editorial calendar gains in significance if the team working on your project has multiple specialists, like a content writer, an SEO specialist, a graphic designer, and an editor. The calendar helps the agency coordinate the work of all these content creators, thus enabling a seamless process.
Determine the ROI of Your Content Marketing Strategy
In order to figure out how well your content marketing campaign is going, you’ll need to determine your ROI. You do this by focusing on the KPIs and metrics relevant to your goals. Depending on your end purpose, you may focus on some combination of content consumption metrics, content sharing metrics, sales metrics, and lead generation.
Content consumption metrics answer the question of whether your content is being consumed at all. Some common qualitative metrics under this category include page views (which can be measured by Google Analytics and other web analytics platforms), video views (through the right tools, you can also see how many viewers watched your video to the very end) and the number of downloads (this is relevant for eBooks and white papers).
Content sharing metrics measure whether your content is engaging enough for audiences to share it. The classic metrics of social sharing include likes, tweets, shares, and retweets. Then there are inbound links – are sites linking to your web pages? If they are, it’s a good sign your agency has invested in a good link building strategy.
Sales metrics measure how much of an impact your content marketing efforts have had on sales. Obviously, this is easier to track for online sales – a look at Google Analytics’ multi-channel reports will quickly help you understand what content directly led to conversions and sales.
For offline sales, however, you’ll need to utilize other tools to determine what led to the conversion. For instance, if the goal of your content marketing is to boost branding, you will have to figure out the impact the campaign has had on branding, and the impact branding has, in turn, had on sales.
Lead generation metrics help you understand how well your content attracts, engages and converts leads. Some of these metrics include the number of registrations and subscriptions, how many contact forms have been filled, as well as the amount of blog comments you’ve received.
Positive ROI is an essential sign your agency is doing its job well.
In conclusion, you know your content marketing agency is doing its job well when you see results.
Mathew Smith is Sr. Editor at Content Development Pros. He leads a small army of content writers that help small and large business get results through amazing high-quality content.