High-Performing Types Of Content Marketing
Blog Posts & Longform Articles
Top content marketing agencies can craft an editorial schedule tailored to topics your demographic searches for online, ensuring that your company constantly provides high-value information to consumers.
Blogging and well-researched articles are some of the most effective forms of content marketing. By regularly updating your website and linking to various pages within an article, you improve overall search engine optimization, boosting your rankings on Google and capturing new potential customers. Plus, written content enables you to further cement your brand identity, gives you content to share on social media, and organically promotes the products and services your business offers.
Eighty-seven percent of digital marketers use some form of video -- and for good reason. Video content marketing can provide up to 66 percent more lead generation and 54 percent stronger brand awareness than other forms of marketing. Video projects can include social media videos, demos, how-tos, brand videos, internal onboarding videos, commercials, video blogs (vlogs) and more.
What’s better, great content marketing companies have access to leading video production experts, top equipment, and the latest editing software -- which is imperative for brands hoping to implement a video strategy, as it can be complicated and expensive to obtain and learn those necessary materials without a team of experts on hand.
One of the biggest benefits a top content marketing agency provides is the ability to package information in various formats to ensure it reaches the most relevant people. This includes taking videos, research papers or long-form content and creating a visually-pleasing infographic -- which has increased in demand by 800 percent.
Infographics are so easily shared across social media, and thus build brand awareness -- in fact, you can often create an embed code and get SEO-boosting links back to your website from other publications, too! Image-based content also clearly communicates information that consumers are likely to remember. According to MIT, 90 percent of the information that our brain receives is visual, and 65 percent of people are visual learners. Plus, 37 percent of marketers say that visual content is the strongest form of content marketing they have, just behind blogging at 38 percent.
Case Studies & White Papers
Long-form content can be up to nine times more effective than shorter blog posts, but this content can be more than just an article. Instead, consult top marketing experts to determine if original case studies, whitepapers, or even eBooks would interest your consumers.
In-depth content provides more information and, thus, a higher value to users, typically increasing SEO rankings. However, you can also use content to add an additional layer of business growth. For example, an original case study conducted by your company or educational eBook could be a free, downloadable reward for customers who sign up for your email newsletters. The best digital marketing agencies will have a concrete process for leveraging results and capturing more leads from your content strategy.
The best content marketing companies know that brands need to give some attention to already-existing customers and clients, particularly in B2B companies. Webinars provide the perfect opportunity to give them some extra value and make them feel special!
Webinars combine educational information with the benefits of video marketing to create an interactive environment that informs your users and simultaneously builds your brand’s credibility. For example, leverage the in-house experts you already have to teach clients something new and innovative about your industry. Leading marketing experts will be able to help you stream the lesson, craft the script and teaching outline, and inform clients of this brand building opportunity seamlessly.
Every Question To Ask A Content Marketing Agency Before You Sign A Contract
There are tons of content marketing forms, and many top agencies specialize in a variety of areas. Large-scale companies will likely have robust teams dedicated to every form of content and digital marketing. Boutique content marketing firms may focus on one or two types but give dedicated personal attention. Determine your needs, solidify your budget, and ask the questions below to find the perfect content marketing agency to grow your business quickly.
- What types of content marketing do you have experience in?
- Do you work on any other types of digital marketing projects?
- Do you have experience in our industry and/or meeting similar business goals?
- What success stories can you share?
- How do you stay on top of content marketing trends?
- Which area of content marketing do you think is the most important for our brand to focus on and why?
- Where do you see content marketing going in the next 1-5 years?
- Do you have in-house experts or connections with any production, public relations, or related companies to assist in developing original content?
Interestingly, although 75 percent of marketers have a content strategy, only 37 percent have that strategy documented. However, studies show that writing down concrete objectives is the key to actually achieving them. Find the best marketing agency who has a specific process in place for determining goals and executing projects before you start collaborating.
- How will you determine our goals?
- How do you determine the type of content a brand should produce?
- How do you identify a demographic, target audience, or capture consumer data?
- Who will craft the content? How will each content project be tracked?
- How will each content project be researched and created? How will you ensure the information is accurate?
- Do you have your own content marketing strategy for your company and how successful is it?
The best content marketing companies have access to top-of-the-line programs, resources, and management programs. These tools help experts identify trends, streamline strategy, develop and timeline, and track results. Ask the questions below to learn exactly what platforms an agency uses and how that informs their work on client projects.
- What programs do you use for project management?
- What tools and resources do you use to identify trends?
- How often do you incorporate external tools and resources into your daily work and overall strategy?
- What platforms do you use to track results and measure analytics?
- Will we have access to any of these tools?
- Is there any information that these resources can’t provide? How do you plan to acquire that information and share it with us?
The actual results a top content marketing agency can deliver is the most important piece of information you can learn. Take the time to ask each potential agency exactly how they measure results, what they deem successful, and how they will set your company up for growth and consumer acquisition.
- How often will you measure results?
- What metrics do you use to measure results?
- How will you promote the content?
- Will you also handle SEO optimization?
- What do you consider good results or a strong outcome?
Content marketing is a fluid industry, and not every agency prices their services in the same way. Therefore it is important to have a firm understanding of exactly how much a content marketing company will cost, what results you are guaranteed, and if there are any hidden costs that you may need to pay down the road.
Pro Tip: A higher initial cost may grow your business faster, so don’t be scared off immediately. However, make certain you learn exactly what results that high cost will bring your brand.
- How much do your services cost? Will we pay per month, per project, per hour, or per results?
- Are there tiers of your pricing structures? Do different content marketing forms cost varying amounts?
- Which team members are we paying for with your cost?
- Does this cost cover the production and publication of the content?
- Does it cover content promotion?
- Will we need to pay for additional products, programs or platforms to ensure high-quality content is created and promoted?
- Do you guarantee certain results with your pricing structure? How long do you anticipate it will take to reach them?
How To Choose The Best Content Marketing Company
When you hire a great content marketing agency, you’re gaining access to the top marketing and creative professionals who can create branded content that will improve awareness and increase conversions. Therefore, look beyond an agency’s industry reputation and take a hard look at the experts who will be working on your project.
Learn how dedicated each team member will be to your brand, what role they will fill, and the successful and unsuccessful projects they have previously worked on. Then, determine who your point of contact and/or project manager will be. Content marketing is complicated, and you’ll need to know who to contact to ask specific questions throughout the campaign and contact if you are unhappy with quality, meeting deadlines, or overall results.
Great content marketing agencies are well-versed in determining a target demographic and creating original content for those consumers that fit a brand’s overall identity. This quality is imperative for business growth --after all, 61 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a business that has custom content.
Assimilating to a brand’s identity is a multi-step process and should include elements such as proper images and graphics, correct copywriting and tone of voice, and developing content for the most-used channels. For example, a corporate financial institution will have completely different needs than a boutique yoga studio. But top content marketing companies have the tools, resources, and experts to determine which areas will provide the most growth and reach ideal consumers.
An organized, streamlined process is imperative to content marketing success -- and the best agencies already have them enacted. Ask any potential partners to give you in-depth insight into how they develop a strategy, communicate with a client, and even collaborate with departments on complicated initiatives.
Then, discover how you as the client will fit into this process. Will they need a lot of information, legwork, or even content creation from you? Or will they be handling everything completely and simply providing you with updates? Finally, don’t be afraid to challenge an agency on their process -- you are paying for a partnership and deserve one that consults you and includes you to the degree you feel comfortable with. The top content companies will adjust their process to your reasonable requests.
Top content marketing agencies have a large portfolio and client roster to share with you, demonstrating their expertise. These prior projects are a strong indicator of both the quality of work AND results that an agency can provide.
Don’t just take the projects at face value, though. Instead, as agencies who the team members were, what were the most difficult aspects, what they learned, and what the final results for the client were. Even better, ask if you can speak to the client directly. A positive recommendation straight from the source is an excellent sign that you should collaborate with a content marketing agency.
Once you’ve vetted an agency’s team of experts, prior work, and strategy and determined that they can deliver the results needed to grow your business, create a detailed contract to solidify expectations. A legally-binding contract will keep both you and the agency accountable and ensure the timeline stays on track.
Work with your internal legal team to outline information that should be protected under non-disclosure agreements, and explicitly state what the professional partnership will look like from beginning to end, including meetings, deliverables, projects, and results. Although writing a contract is a lot of upfront work, it takes the guesswork out of outsourcing a project. This makes overall strategy a more positive and successful venture.
Top Value Propositions & Differentiating Factors Of The Best Content Marketing Companies
There’s little doubt that we are living in the golden age of content. The internet has been a boon for content in all different types of media. Blogs, Twitter, podcasts, YouTube -- all these relatively new content channels exist because of the internet, and they have opened the door for brands to communicate with greater numbers of consumers in ways that would have been unthinkable only a few decades ago.
What’s also clear is that the proliferation of high-quality content has made it increasingly difficult for brands to create content that gets noticed. Much of the content that’s published these days is lost amidst the noise created all day every day on the internet. It takes a lot to stand out, and many companies find it useful to invest in a partnership with a content marketing agency that can guide their content marketing strategy and develop content on their behalf.
Finding the right content marketing company is half the battle. By taking a look at the way different companies position themselves, you can get a sense for which ones will make the best fit. With that in mind, here are some of the top differentiating factors of the best content marketing companies.
Top Content Marketing Agencies Know Their Audience
Creating content is easy, but creating truly quality content that speaks to your target audience is a major challenge. Any content marketer can churn out mediocre articles that hit an arbitrary word count and technically fulfill the terms of their contract, but only exceptional content marketing companies have the expertise to create something useful and enduring. These companies spend time in the early phases of every project to identify and study the client’s target audience, getting to know what their needs and desires are, and gaining an understanding of what makes them tick. This content marketing strategy phase is critical to success.
Always look for a content partner that emphasizes the strategy behind their content creation process. They should be able to speak clearly about how they determine the appropriate audience for the articles and media they produce.
Leading Content Marketing Companies Are Guided By Data
These days, most companies have more customer analytics and data than they know what to do with. With so much data at our fingertips, there’s no excuse to not use it to generate insights that can power better, more targeted content marketing campaigns. Top content marketing companies take a methodical approach to their content strategies, relying on hard data to inform their recommendations and they’re not afraid to pivot their tactics if necessary. Look for content companies that emphasize their ability to incorporate audience data into their approach to the work they do for you. In a data-driven world, there’s no excuse for making recommendations based solely on guesswork and gut feelings.
The Best Content Marketing Companies Focus On Quality, Not Quantity
Content creation is tricky because it is both a quality and a quantity game. It’s probably not enough, for example, to produce one single piece of good content per year (unless you happen to be a Hollywood director or a novelist), but you also don’t want to fall into the trap of producing mediocre work just to keep the freshness factor up.
A healthy combination of quality and quantity is required. Top content marketing agencies know that, and they are skilled in putting together calendars that will keep the content machine rolling on a consistent basis. Their main focus, however, is in developing a quality product, and they will emphasize this over all else. A company that advocates pushing out mediocre content just to get something out the door is one you should avoid at all costs.
Great Content Marketing Firms Are Populated By Creative Thinkers
Writing is a creative field and that means that in order for a content marketing company to qualify as “great”, it must have top notch creatives in its employ. Top content marketing companies are keen to promote their talent, and will highlight their employees at every possible opportunity. Look for writer bios on the company’s website, and expect to be introduced to some of them during the pitch process. Furthermore, don’t be shy about asking probing questions about the different areas of expertise of each writer and inquiring about who you can expect to be assigned to your account. The quality of the writing comes down to the skill of the writer, so pay attention to the caliber of creativity at the agency.
Reputable Content Marketing Companies Are Goals-Driven
Content marketing can serve little purpose if it isn’t tied to specific and measurable goals. Top content marketing companies are eager to probe their clients for information about what results they hope to see from content marketing. This is an incredibly important step of the process as it helps align both parties to a set of goals that everyone agrees are achievable. These goals are what the content strategy is built around and they’re what allow both client and agency to appropriately measure campaign success.
Effective Content Marketing Companies Are Pros At Promotion
Getting content created is a major element of the content marketing process, but it’s not the end of the story. For content to generate results, it has to be seen by the right audience, and they aren’t going to spontaneously discover it if it isn’t properly promoted. The best content marketing companies are experts at both content development and content promotion. They will strategize ways to ensure the content they develop is thoroughly promoted in the ways that are most likely to reach and appeal to your desired consumers. Look for a content partner that has experience in this area and won’t simply hang you out to dry once the content is ready.
Service Offerings Of Top Content Marketing Firms
Top content marketing companies often offer a range of digital marketing services that extend beyond the boundaries of content strategy and development. In fact, some of the best content marketing teams are part of full-service digital agencies offering a range of services in a variety of channels. Generally speaking though, the capabilities of the top content marketing companies include:
- Content Audit - An assessment of the client’s current content, including onsite content such as landing page content, homepage messaging, and blog content. The audit will identify current weaknesses in the client’s content strategy and suggest areas for improvement.
- Content strategy - A research and planning process in which the agency identifies the client’s target audience and the methods by which to best reach them. Includes a blueprint for executing the recommended content campaign.
- Content development - The creation of content based on the recommendations and insights from the content strategy. Content can include anything from the most basic written content to full-fledged multimedia campaigns.
- Content promotion - The sharing and distribution of content across a variety of channels in an effort to increase exposure and amplify reach. May include social media marketing, email marketing, and influencer marketing.
How The Best Content Marketing Agencies Market Themselves
Content marketing companies are, naturally, seasoned experts in the field of content marketing, and they pull their skills to work promoting themselves when they’re not hard at work for their clients. As members of the digital marketing industry, content marketing companies put a lot of effort toward thought leadership related not only to content, but to all things digital. They write blogs and whitepapers, create video tutorials, write guest columns, and host and attend conferences and seminars.
Content marketing companies are also no strangers to social media marketing, which they use to connect with influencers and industry peers, and to share their thought leadership initiatives.
Search traffic for content marketing keywords is competitive, so content companies work hard at optimizing their websites and onsite content in order to achieve visibility with search engines. They also invest in paid search (PPC) campaigns to capture even more qualified searchers.
Content is the foundation of all other elements of digital marketing. It is the fuel that powers a company’s branding, social media efforts, and search engine optimization (SEO) success.
Having a cohesive strategy to guide content development at your company is key to the success of your business in the current digital landscape. Identifying a trustworthy content marketing agency is the first step to achieving your content goals. Separating the best content agencies from the merely competent ones is a matter of assessing their values and differentiating factors. Key differentiators include:
- Audience awareness - Does the agency do the requisite research early on during a campaign to understand the client’s target audience? How does this research inform their recommendations and approach?
- Guided by data - Does the agency make recommendations that are based on data? Do they use data on an ongoing basis to hone and improve their campaigns?
- A marriage of quality and quantity - Does the agency focus on churning out high quantities of mediocre content just for the sake of it? Or are they focused on creating truly unique, quality content on a regular basis?
- Creatively focused - Who are the writers employed by the agency? What are their skill sets and how will they be involved in your project?
- Goals-driven - How does the agency plan to measure their success? What goals will they set and how often will progress be assessed?
- Skilled at promotion - Does the agency have the requisite skill to both develop and promote the client’s content to achieve maximum reach?
Top Qualities of the Best Content Marketing Companies
In order to run an effective content marketing campaign, you have to have a strong grasp on who your target audience is, what types of content resonates with them, and where they’re most likely to engage with it. Top content marketing companies know this and will invest time early on in the project to gain a solid understanding of the landscape. The research phase should solidify the agency’s understanding of the client’s challenges and objectives so that the strategy that is ultimately created is tailored to their needs.
Content that’s created without a clear strategy in place is never going to generate the same results as content that is carefully planned and strategically executed. When content is created according to the whims of different departments within a company it inevitably lacks a goal. It’s without purpose, and though a single item might be interesting or appealing, taken as a whole the campaign won’t achieve its objectives. Top content marketing companies don’t jump into content creation without planning the structure of the campaign beforehand. During the strategy phase the agency will create content ideas and map them to specific objectives. You should expect them to create a content calendar to keep everyone on the team accountable for ensuring content creation and dissemination is a priority.
The creation of quality content requires access to professional talent that can take an idea for an article, a billboard, a video, or even a podcast and bring it to life in a way that is clear, engaging, and succinct. Top content marketing companies have writers in-house who are skilled at telling the stories that are meaningful to their clients. But content is much more than just copy. Your campaigns may require designers, illustrators, and filmmakers. Be sure to look for an agency partner that has a strong team of content producers in place with the diversity of skillsets necessary to get the job done.
Eye For Distribution
Having the talent to create high quality content is only half the battle. In order to succeed, content must be strategically disseminated so it reaches the appropriate audience. The top content marketing companies are skilled at not only content creation, but also at content distribution. Content agencies that are pitching their services should detail their approach to distribution, outlining their tactics to increase visibility as well as their benchmarks for success. Without a distribution plan your content will languish in obscurity. Make sure the agency you choose to work with has the resources to not only create content, but to promote it fully as well.
Transparency & Communication
The content your agency creates should be specific and unique to your brand. Achieving this level of specificity requires close collaboration between the client, who understands the brand and its values intimately, and the agency, who has the necessary content marketing expertise. Top content marketing companies foster relationships built on solid communication. They are transparent about their process, their results, and any challenges that may impede the success of the campaign. There will be plenty of back and forth between the client and the agency, so look for a partner that is open and amenable to feedback.