Content marketing agencies now abound. The term itself has become a popular advertising tool. And it’s no wonder, because it’s becoming increasingly important to reach the target group of one’s own brand with content that is precisely tailored to them. If you’re new to this topic, you’ll have a hard time following a common thread in the maze of different services, opinions, and diverse agency offerings. After all, what content marketing really is and, more importantly, what makes a content marketing campaign successful, often remains a matter of interpretation.
What’s the problem?
Choosing the right partner is usually the central criterion for the success – or failure – of your content marketing campaign. After all, selection is not just a matter of price. Of course, daily rates and fixed prices have to fit your budget, the quality standards of your brand and the marketing strategy.
But just as important is what expertise the staff brings to the table: Do they have proven experience with the tasks you’re looking for? Can they really work digitally? And do you and your colleagues want to work with these people for several weeks, months or even years? Experience from thousands of online marketing projects shows: Even in the age of algorithms, it’s often these so-called “soft” factors that move the project forward.
That’s why we’ve put together a practical checklist for you. It will help you find the right partner for your digital marketing projects: Eight points that you should definitely check when looking for a suitable content agency for your company and a suitable content marketing strategy for your brand!
Overview of the checklist
- Looking below the surface
- Methodology of the content marketing agency
- Transparency of persons and data
- “Practice what you preach”
- Track record and references
- Content-driven Mindset
- Expertise in all relevant areas
- Open communication
1. Looking below the surface
Opulent proposals are often presented in pitch presentations: innovative designs, impressive concepts, lots of content or a ready-made content marketing strategy. In practical implementation, however, the whole thing often looks different. So find out if there is substance behind the proposals or if they were just pimped for a (pitch) presentation to please:
- On what assumptions was a concept developed? (For example, does the home page of a website play a central role in the customer journey, even though most users go directly to subpages via search engines?)
- Do the approaches consistently pay off on the target KPIs? Are the buyer personas relevant to your business being reached, or are the wrong target groups being addressed? For example, is TikTok suggested as an innovative traffic channel, but your potential customers are from B2B and therefore not demonstrably addressable on the platform at all?
- Can a design draft also be implemented on mobile? (For example, do important call-to-actions shift so far down in the mobile view that some of the users don’t even see them?)
We call this the “iceberg principle.” Analogous to an iceberg, where 90% of the mass is below the surface of the water, the presentation in a pitch is only a small part of the work. Underneath, what you can’t see takes place: the clean analysis and derivation, based on numbers and not personal taste.
2. Methodology of the content marketing agency
Content marketing measures, like all other measures in communication and marketing, must be strategically planned and designed and then sustainably implemented.
This requires a methodical and planned approach in all project phases – from content strategy and content production to content seeding, i.e. distribution via organic channels – mostly search engines and social media marketing – or paid media.
A good content marketing agency must do much more than “just” create content – high-quality and relevant content. It should master the relevant methods (wireframing, user stories, personas, customer journey mapping, etc.), tools (for analytics, collaboration, control) and frameworks (e.g. agile project management – Scrum, Kanban) to be able to implement your projects efficiently and purposefully.
Likewise, the most important content marketing tactics such as inbound marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, social media, but also experience with paid traffic, for example Google Adwords or native advertising should be part of the standard repertoire of your new partner.
3. Transparency of persons and data
Good collaboration is also characterized by transparency. Get an introduction to those involved in the project, not just a showcase pitch team. A look at the premises can also be revealing. A high level of transparency and meaningful reporting of work results should be a matter of course, for example, via marketing dashboards that enable you to be constantly informed about the content marketing process and the success of the measures.
4. „Practice what you preach“
An agency’s website can often already show what it focuses on in its work. Does the site just “look” good or does it also work? And what does that even mean?
- Does the content work? Is the communication goal of the website fulfilled? Can I as a user (=pot. customer) find the information I am looking for?
- Structure: Are all relevant information displayed, e.g. contact persons, competences, reference projects, …?
- Not only relevant for the SEO agency: For which (relevant) keywords does the page rank? How does it position itself in the competitive environment?
- Technology: how fast does the page load? How well is it optimized for mobile devices? Both are important criteria for good Google rankings and basics in content marketing.
This is why content marketing is so important today – and so promising when implemented competently.
5. Track record and references
Anyone who wants to inquire about food in a restaurant usually does not ask the chef, but other guests. Thus, customers should also ask for testimonials from other customers of the agency. What was sold and what was delivered in the end? How satisfied are they with the cooperation? Where are the strengths and weaknesses? A good agency will certainly be happy to provide contact persons in the companies of its reference customers.
6. Content-driven Mindset
Content marketing is a long-term discipline. Reach must be built up. Measures such as content seeding have to be tried and tested. And SEO rankings don’t build up overnight either. Content marketing is a media business that is all about delivering relevant content to users in the right target group to achieve marketing goals, such as conversions in e-commerce – whether B2B or B2C. All of this requires a deep understanding of how to work with digital media, from the creation to the production to the promotion of high-quality content. An important prerequisite for this is a “content-driven mindset”, which is elementary for the successful implementation of content marketing processes. Ask the agency of your choice to explain its know-how, the history of its employees, and how they live this mindset in their daily work.
Experimenting with customer money. That’s negligent! Or is it?
7. Expertise in all relevant areas
Successful content marketing means more than “just” being able to create good content. The editorial team must be accustomed to producing content according to a content strategy that pays attention to customer goals and takes into account the specifics of the output channels (social media, website, SEO or paid media, such as native advertising and SEA).
When choosing an agency for your company, make sure you have a technically skilled editorial team
In addition, technological competence is crucial. It forms the basis for successfully publishing and distributing content on the web. In particular for the distribution of relevant content to target groups, sound know-how in online marketing is important for promotion via these channels. Comprehensive analytics knowledge in the areas of web tracking, content control, social media monitoring and Google Analytics is elementary for the control of all measures. Every content agency should therefore also have the competencies of an SEO agency.
8. Open communication
A long-term and transparent cooperation should also be characterized by open communication.
A good agency will be happy to tell you what it does best and where its expertise ends. Full-service agencies often show an impressive portfolio of services, but they are rarely real experts in all areas. Today, content marketing and content creation are also offered by almost every digital agency, PR agency and corporate publishing service provider. Here, a verifiable look at the expertise (see point 7) and references (see point 5) helps.
It also doesn’t hurt to ask questions. Maybe you’ll find an upside-down iceberg – the content marketing agency’s offer looks great, but the content unfortunately doesn’t work in the end.
You want the right agency for your company now?
Together we will find a suitable content marketing strategy for your project.