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Just because you can take your own temperature doesn’t mean you can diagnose your own illness. Just because you can spot a leak in the roof, doesn’t mean you have the skills to repair it to prevent further damage. And just because you know you need a specific type of content marketing, doesn’t mean you are in the best position to create and promote that content in-house.
Using content marketing services to supplement the capabilities of a marketing department is a strategy that benefits business of all sizes, in all industries. There is a lot of creativity that goes into marketing, and even when your in-house staff is talented enough to do it all, that doesn’t mean they should. Everything from burnout to missed details and opportunities can start to manifest when a marketing team lacks the creative or administrative support they need.
So, you might choose to work with a full-service marketing agency to take all the work of creating content off your plate. Or you can call on a specialist team or well-reputed freelancer to support you in one key area.
But how do stakeholders know when a content marketing vendor is going to be a good addition? There are some basic elements of content marketing service that should be considered as you start the process of vetting providers. These range from the type of service you really need to pay for, to how you know the service provider can fit the bill.
This guide will help you enlist the best content creation services for you, the ones that will move the needle for your business and make life easier for your team.
What does content marketing service include? There are generally four main parts of the content marketing process that can be outsourced to a service provider:
However, that isn’t to say that every content marketing service will specialize in all four of these areas. Full-service content marketing agencies will certainly be able to support you in all of these areas, from strategy to execution and back around again. But if you have a marketing team in-house, you might not need or want that level of overlap.
That’s where a more specialized content creation or content marketing team may enter the picture. Perhaps you just need the help of a content creator like a videographer, writer, or designer. Or, you might have creation on lock but need a specialist to help you manage social media and email marketing. Maybe you can handle everything but the analytics—in which case, you might do better to turn to a tool like DemandJump rather than a person.
Regardless of whether your marketing need is general or specific, there’s no doubt a content service professional or company that can handle it. In fact, you’re likely to find many options, sparking a vetting process as you decide which vendor to partner with.
Whether the content service provider is helping you with strategy, content creation, content management, or all of the above, there are key qualities to look for as a signal the relationship will go well:
Some of these qualities are values you may already prioritize internally in your own business operations. It’s essential that whatever content marketing service you choose to partner with, you feel confident they will fit well into your workflow and operations, not expect you to change all your processes and adapt to the way they like to work. While every good collaboration means compromise on both sides, as the client, you are certainly justified in expecting these qualities from any marketing vendor you work with.
Visuals have become an essential part of content marketing strategies. From 2016 to 2018, there was a 40% increase in the number of marketers using visuals in 90-100% of their content. This could be anything from a photo to a video, an infographic to memes and gifs. Whatever visual content aligns with your strategy best, choosing to call on a visual content creation service means you need the visuals to be high-quality and performative. Here are some questions you should ask a visual marketing vendor:
Essentially, you are looking for a visual content creator who has your brand’s best interest at heart. From making sure your content is unique and meets your expectations to keeping you safe under the law, it’s their job to make sure your brand makes a stunning visual impression.
What services does a social media marketing agency offer? These agencies offer everything from helping you determine the best social media channels for your marketing, to account and page creation, content publishing, and analytics and reporting. Depending on the scope of services, they may even write posts for your and manage the community that grows around your content. Social media community management are things like responding to comments, sharing the posts of others in your industry, and simply being active and engaged. But with lots of marketing agencies offering social media among many other services, it’s important to ask key questions like these:
Social media management is something that can be considered easy, but actually takes a lot of time and attention to be successful at. Services should include not just the practical work of posting and curating your content, but also an emotional sense of stewardship over the image of your brand—and a commitment to improving your relationships with current and potential customers.
Building impressive web pages and keeping them updated is one part of marketing that exists between the technical and creative. Website content creators almost always share advice about the site structure, helping you decide what should be on the home page, what other main pages to create, and how the smaller pieces of information can fit in. Here are some of the main questions you should ask a web content creation service as you decide if they are the right fit to help you build a website:
Website content creation services can support your team in developing the site from beginning to end or come in as a valuable solution to a bottleneck if you’re creating lots of content, but it isn’t seeing the light of day. Whether these vendors help in a creative capacity, technical capacity, or both depends on the needs of your business.
SEO content writing includes everything from web page copy, to blog posts, to social media posts, to back-end SEO concerns like alt text and metadata. While other content marketing service providers on this list may include writing in their arsenal, they may not be the best content writing services available for your industry. In situations where you know the writing of your content needs to be improved, ask these questions to test and evaluate the freelancers and writing agencies that come to the table:
Will They Audit or Edit Existing Content? Before talking about new content creation, it’s important to understand how the SEO writing service will engage with and potentially improve your existing content. They could review your library to see what can be combined, edited, or removed altogether—a process known as a content audit. Make sure it’s understood, if, when, and on what timeline they will make any changes to your current content.
How Will Keywords for Content Be Chosen? The quality and readability of writing is important in content to engage your audiences, but your vendor also needs to think about search engine optimization. Take the time to explore not just what tools for SEO research they will use, but how they pick and choose keywords from the lists provided, and how often they will do new research to confirm the keywords are the right ones.
How Do They Research the Target Audience? One of the most important things for a writer to know is the audience they are targeting. While you may be able to provide some audience research to the content writing vendor, it’s also fair to ask them how they will conduct audience research. This may take place before the writing, or after in the form of analytics that show the vendor which content is performing best.
SEO content writing is a delicate balance of using keywords thoughtfully, to make the most of organic search opportunities while also creating readable content your audiences will value. As with website writing services, it’s important to define the feedback and revision process for content in addition to these other concerns.
Hiring any of these content marketing services represents an additional line item in the marketing budget that will need to be justified through improved ROI. That’s why it’s important to define the terms of the relationships early, set expectations, and provide the vendors with all the information they need to do the best job possible.
We created the DemandJump platform to provide marketers and their teams with real-time insights into the state of content marketing in their industry. From the current top search terms and questions, to the competitor content that needs to be outranked, our easy-to-review dashboard puts all these insights together in real-time. DemandJump even integrates cross-channel analytics to let everyone see how well content is performing across the web, email, and social. DemandJump makes it easier for everyone involved in a brand’s marketing to do their job and understand how to do it better tomorrow. We invite you to try it for yourself - for free, and see just how much of a difference one week of insights could make for you.
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