Some might say that content is dead. Whilst it’s true that we’re experiencing a ‘content shock’ in which the volume of content per person online is growing each day, that doesn’t mean content isn’t useful – it just means businesses today have to up their game. To actually win through content marketing in today’s climate, and climb the ranks of SEO, it simply isn’t enough to produce short articles on topics that have been covered thousands of times. Instead, there’s more need than ever for high quality in content writing: it needs to add value to its audience and be of a higher standard than all the other content out there on the topic. You may find a solution in outsourcing your content marketing.
A recent survey of B2B companies demonstrated that 91% of respondents were using content marketing to build audiences, nurture leads and position themselves as authorities within their field. However, the same survey also showed that for 53% of companies, content was produced and managed by a one-person team. Effective content that breaks through the ‘content shock’ requires consistency, both in output and in the quality of what you’re producing. Sometimes, if you’re a startup that’s bootstrapping, or a global technology company innovating at a fast pace, you simply don’t have the time, team power or resources to produce the standard and quality of content that will actually produce results for your organization.
That’s where outsourcing comes in. Outsourcing your content marketing can be a great way of freeing up time for your marketing team, generating more specific data-driven content you may not have the resources for, or building your audience rapidly with expert knowledge. But, as we all know, letting go can be difficult – especially when it involves spending. If you do decide to outsource your content, you’ll need to identify which parts of your strategy make sense to outsource, and which you’re best creating in-house. Our complete guide to outsourcing your content marketing gives you a rundown of how to effectively outsource your content marketing to a content agency.
But first, is outsourcing even right for me?
The first question you’ll be asking is, do I even need to outsource my content marketing? Here are some key indicators that it’s time to think about outsourcing your content marketing:
- You’re posting sporadically. If you’re so slammed that you’re only managing a blog post a month and a tweet a week, you might want to think about outsourcing. Erratic and irregular posting won’t engage audiences, and it won’t be great for your SEO either. If your content is dropping off because you simply don’t have the time to be consistent then you might need a leg up in the content department.
- You don’t have the right skills for the content you want to create. Maybe you want to create videos, but you don’t have a the resources in-house to film and edit video material. Perhaps you want to produce long-form content in English, but no one in your marketing team is a native English speaker that can write high standard articles in the language of your target audience. Or perhaps you need data-driven or SEO-heavy content that you don’t have the tools to create. It’s time to take an honest look at your team and identify whether you hold the skillset to make the kind of content you think your audience will love. If not, it might be time to look elsewhere to bolster your marketing efforts.
- You’re not interested. Writing great articles and blog posts isn’t for everyone – and that’s fine! If you have no desire to create content, and would rather divert your efforts elsewhere (such as in focussing on strategy rather than day-to-day production) you might want to outsource. If you see content writing as a burden, that will come across to your audience. You’ll need material that adds value and delights readers, and if you don’t have the desire or interest create that yourself, think about bringing in external help.
- You don’t know where to start. Whether you’re a young company kickstarting their content marketing for the first time, or an established industry leader looking to innovate their marketing through content, if you’re not sure what marketing ROI actually looks like, it might mean you should outsource. Undirected or uninformed content marketing can result in money and resources wasted, and won’t get you anywhere. By outsourcing your content marketing, you can defer to expert opinions that will be able to quantify the effects of their work and provide high ROI from experience.
Content marketing agencies vs. Freelancers
Once you’ve made the call to outsource, there are a number of options open to you. A number of sites like Freelancer and Upwork can give you instant access to thousands of freelancers who could strengthen your content marketing and produce great results. They tend to be cheaper, have greater flexibility than a content marketing agency, and will be a great fit for many companies. On the other hand, they can be unreliable, they can demand a lot of management from you meaning that you don’t actually save much time, and it can be tricky to locate a great freelance content writer or videographer in the first place.
Though in general more expensive, content marketing agencies bring with them years of tried and tested experience and techniques, their own project managers that can take entire processes off your hands, and they tend to be more reliable too. They’ll usually have a niche area of expertise and a clear set of values and work culture, so you can select one that fits your business and needs.
If you do decide to use a content marketing agency, here are 8 do’s and don’ts for effectively outsourcing your content marketing to ensure maximum ROI (and a stress-free experience too):
Tips for outsourcing your content marketing & getting the best ROI
1. Don’t outsource content you can learn from
Businesses can learn a lot through content production. They can learn which elements of their product appeal to audiences, discover new ways of telling their brand’s story, and carry out industry research which in turn allows them to improve their offering and customer experiences. By handing over all your production to a content marketing agency, you miss out on all these opportunities. When it comes to some thought leadership style articles, keep that which you can learn from in-house so you can continue to learn about your product and your market in the process of your content creation.
2. Don’t outsource content that you know best
You need to be selective about when it will actually pay off to outsource content. If you’re looking to produce a blog post about a specific update on your product, an announcement of a new feature or a technological thought piece about your particular cutting-edge offering, sometimes it can take just as long to give instructions to an agency as to simply create the article yourself. If it’s an area you know best, it fits the specific skill set you have in your team, and you have the time to create it, then you might want to consider writing it yourself.
3. Do outsource content that needs a fresh perspective
Conversely, when you need to really get into the mindset of your target audience and convey your message to brand new audiences, fresh external perspective is key. No one wants to hear endlessly about how great your product is, they want to hear about how it can make a difference to their lives and provide real-life solutions to specific pain points. It’s in these circumstances when it’s best to outsource to a content marketing agency that can help pinpoint the best way to communicate your ideas to an external audience in a way that’s engaging, exciting and relevant.
4. Do produce a style guide
Your content marketing agency aren’t mind-readers. They can do all the research in the world into your tone, product and values, but they can’t produce the perfect blog post or white paper unless you effectively communicate to them what you need. Drawing up a style guide will benefit your business in helping you cement and standardize your brand voice, and it will help your content marketing agency to generate content that’s consistent with yours too.
5. Do deliver detailed briefs
In addition to your style guide, for each task, be sure to give a detailed brief that includes the length, target audience and general direction of the piece. Sending links to relevant materials, example articles or competitors’ content you want to compete against will all help to inform your agency and minimize the need for editing later. The golden rule here is that communication is key: equip your agency with detailed guidelines and as much information as possible so they can create the kind of content you need. This will limit the need for editing after the article has been written too, saving you time in the long run.
6. Do set goals and monitor your progress
Before heading into any relationship with external writers, know what you’re looking for from their material and set clear goals. Maybe you’re looking to improve your SEO, or increase sales, or establish yourself as a thought leader. There’s no hard and fast rule with content marketing, but be sure to clarify your objectives for your content marketing, your brand values and business goals. It may be helpful to agree on an editorial calendar and key topics that will cover the next couple of months to serve as a roadmap for your partnership. It’s crucial too to define a content manager on your team that can be the communication point for your agency, and answer any questions they may have. Then, be sure to monitor the progress of the partnership and build in regular appraisals on your path to achieving that goal.
7. Do build a relationship
A good relationship with the content marketing agency of your choice is key to generating valuable content for your business. Be sure to choose an agency that fits your values, work culture and approach in order that you can build a long-term close relationship. You’re trusting them with a central part of your marketing strategy and you want someone you can trust to deliver high-quality material on time, every time. Soon they’ll feel like an extra arm of your business that you can rely on to take care of any or all of your content production needs.
8. Do review your agency’s work & give feedback
Outsourcing content production is a big step. After all, you’re basically passing on the microphone to another writer. That’s why, even though you’re trying to save time, you still need to make sure your content production is heading in the right direction. This doesn’t mean your CEO and directors have to check every single article or video, but you should have someone on your team that can have a final look and give approval before things are published. In particular at the beginning of your relationship with a new agency, it might be a good idea to have a marketing manager oversee the content before slowly reducing their involvement as trust increases and the agency begins to understand your business and voice better. Of course, the only way an agency can improve and learn is if you give them useful and honest feedback. So don’t be shy: share your insights, experience and opinion with them, it will help them to tailor content to your needs and streamline processes in future.
So there you have it! Outsourcing your content marketing to a content marketing agency isn’t for everyone. But if you do decide to bring in an extra leg-up to lessen your workload, build your authority and add high-level expertise, follow these useful tips to ensure your content marketing agency generates a high ROI and streamlines processes for your business or startup. Letting go and delegating can be a challenge – but this article shows you how to do it effectively in order that it always adds value to your business.