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How to choose your next content marketing agency

Your brand goals and business vision are key components in the digital marketing jigsaw.

As well as bespoke website design, there is an expectation to ensure a tailored experience for anyone visiting it – and this includes unique copy, unique rich content, such as videos, and unique high-quality imagery.

This means that any content marketing agency will need to learn all about your business – its brand voice, the services and products it offer (or plans to offer), its target audience as well as existing customer base, business model and USPs.

‘55% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority’
Source: www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics

Your brand’s content marketing cannot be considered as a standalone strategy. It needs to dovetail with your sales strategy, targeted customer approach and you across-the-board marketing tactics.

Additionally, if the smartphone user experience is poor, you may be losing a large chunk of business.

With smartphone and tablets having overtaken desktop use – and technology more deeply ingrained in consumer lives than ever before – your website needs to be built and developed with this in mind so that you establish a strong presence on both mobile and desktop. You may even wish to consider branching out with app development. Mobile apps offer a convenient way for customers to manage their purchasing journey, access product or service information as well as refer friends.

But, amidst all this technology and development, content remains king.

But what does a content marketing strategy actually involve?

Customer content creation. Your website should be populated with well-written and engaging copy that influences the purchasing habits of your target audience. Whilst these may not directly sell your brand, they should add value to the customer experience by entertaining or educating them – or both. If you haven’t the time (or inclination), invest in the services of a content marketing agency copywriter to create easy-to-read, informative copy. Just ensure it is unique copy. Ask any agency you are considering to share their best work. You’re essentially looking for consistency in tone and messaging to reinforce branding and business ethos as well as copy that is authentic and engaging.

Does the copy deliver targeted, personalised messages that address any specific barriers to the purchasing journey? Are these messages successfully and succinctly shared via all platforms?

Request details of some of the social media accounts for which they produce copy, too. Is there an innovative use of hashtags and a flair for tightly written posts? Do they engage fully with their audience?

The goalposts move on the length of copy and the ratios of target audience appeal and SEO, so invite the agency to offer their thoughts on the latest trends. With websites, unique content is king but SEO and links to reliable sources are the jewels in the crown. Ask the agency if its SEO experts are up to speed with any new ranking trends and if these can be incorporated into any customised content marketing campaign.

Content distribution. A content marketing agency will promote content to your target audiences across a multiple of platforms and in various media formats that best support your brand. It is important that the copy is tailored to suit each platform as well as appealing to the audience found there. Automated distribution programmes won’t work if there is not enough tailored copy to feed it and beware those that integrate platforms.

The look, feel and tone of your brand messages should be tailored to each outlet – including email distribution. Ask the agency what they use to distribute content and if or how they tweak social posts to ensure engagement.

How frequently do they revisit and analyse current strategy to ascertain what works as well as what doesn’t? Nurturing leads is an on-going process and engagement and conversion cannot rely on automation alone; it should simply be viewed as a guide to organising a successful marketing strategy and an adjunct to a well-thought-out sales plan. So do ensure any agency you choose doesn’t leave it unmonitored or unchecked.

Influencer marketing. Influencer-based content is a relatively new approach to engaging a target audience with creative copy and, in the wrong hands, can sometimes backfire. Think the Listerine debacle!

So, if you are considering going down this route, ask the agency if they have existing relationships with influencer partners and if the partnerships are a contractual one.

If they are suggesting the influencer, make sure they have a reputation that is a good fit with your brand, its goals and ethos. Also, do ask if you are you able to approve the copy beforehand. Influencers should add value to your business in a unique and beneficial way in which case they should either add authenticity to your brand or have a social network reach beyond your own.

If it’s not an arrangement you’re happy with, don’t be afraid to say no. Just because it is on trend right now doesn’t mean it is necessarily a must-have.

Content analytics. As well as the obvious on-going analysis of your brand’s copy, an agency should also provide a competitive content marketing analysis. This will help refine your brand strategy by taking advantage of your competitors' weaknesses and competing with their strengths with a view to ensuring you achieve optimum results with your content strategy.

Will the agency compare you results to your competitors? Does your distribution overlap with your competitors – or are they accessing platforms you’re not? Will the agency work on your behalf to establish this?

Conclusion

A multimedia approach to marketing is important. At the heart of this lies the creation of engaging, interesting and informative content that is unique to your brand and will nurture customer loyalty as well as pique interest from your target audience.

The art of good storytelling should not be underestimated. Just make sure there’s uniformity in your messaging voice, style, and language.

This then should be integrated into a total user-friendly communications package that includes a strong website as well as communication via email and social media activity. It needs to be put in front of your target audience in key places and at optimum times so your brand is most likely to benefit.