Nov 22, 2016 | Payel Mukherjee
Well, if you have not been living under a rock, you know by now that content marketing is the new thing. Every marketer worth his salt has shifted his or her focus to creating rich content that offers value to the end customer or his target audience. This, in return, is reaping rich dividends, since Google seems to love good content – content that matters.
But hey wait. Who is going to create that rich valuable content that Google loves - the stuff that is going to rock your SEO and get your business right on that first page of the search engines, and well get the leads flowing in.
One way is to start writing yourself, which is a great idea if you could remain consistent and regular and come up with good content. If that’s not an option, then hiring a content writing agency is the next best step.
That leads us straight to the question – how does one find the right content agency?
In a market where every SEO firm, digital marketing agency, website development agency claims to be a content agency, searching for the right partner can be a pretty intimidating situation. Your woes are worse if you know little or nothing about content creation or content marketing.
As a business owner, how do you then determine the quality of the content writing agency and thereby their content? That is where this guide can come to your help. Through this article, we will explain to you what you should keep in mind before hiring the best content writing agency in India.
Here are top 11 points that you should remember:
1) Are they the real content players?
With everyone seeking content, the market is full of players who claim themselves to be content agencies/companies. So don’t forget to check whether they have a real understanding of content and whether they really have the team to support their content claims.
A good way to judge is to sign them up for a small assignment or project and see whether the content delivered lives upto their claims and samples. We often give clients this option since it’s a great way to establish trust and secure their confidence. It also sets clear expectations of what you are about to get into.
A good agency will always do a thorough analysis of the content that is already being used and come up with valuable suggestion on how things can be improved.
2) What sort of content have they been developing?
One of the first things to ask a content agency is what sort of content they have been developing so far. Do they have an expertise in any particular content type – for example some companies are experts in writing SEO articles while some are experts at developing product descriptions for e-commerce companies. If you are looking for say product descriptions and you find an agency with that expertise, go for it because they are likely to do a much better job and offer a more cost effective pricing.
However, if you want really well-written content, it’s better to steer clear of companies which are essentially doing something else and offer content writing as one of the side offerings. We regularly get calls from clients asking us to fix their website content. Ask them what they want and this is more of less the standard answer- “Well this was developed by the guys who did our website and it came as part of the package. We need more polished and higher quality content now that we are growing.” Try not to get content made as part of the package.
3) Do they do just content or 360-degree content?
Content isn't limited just to articles. There are infographics, mixed-media pieces, data visualizations, images, videos, interactive maps, images and more that come under the umbrella of content. Some of these mediums are capable of delivering better results than a regular blog too. Check out if your content agency does more than just content and whether they can support your initiatives with alternative media. Content agencies aren't just responsible for making content. They also walk the talk by helping you decide which media to use for disseminating the content and in some cases execute it too.
4) Are their goals aligned with yours?
Most content agency pitch deck comes with a fixed offering – they will do 'SEO content writing', write 10 – 20 articles a month about certain pre-decided topics. It is time to take a step back and first analyze your content marketing goals. Do you want to gain traffic, build authority, directly increase sales or generate leads? You need to see if your agency is proactively asking these questions before presenting you with a plan to achieve these goals. The agency also needs to present a clear way to measure these goals and agree on a path to achieving them within the set timelines.
While there are several hundred content marketing agencies out there not everyone gets to be called the best content marketing agency in India. Awards and accolades provide an assurance that the agency has been vetted by its peers and commended for superior quality work. Only agencies who've proved their mettle not only in terms of work quality but also results come at the top of the creme. They are an easy pick from the sea of agencies and you can expect reliability and a good track record as a part of the package.
6) Do they use content to sell themselves?
If you look at the best content marketing agencies in India, you'll know that they don't just sell content but use it to sell themselves too. Content is a great medium to create brand authority, establish thought leadership and develop a pipeline of leads. It is obvious that you as a prospective client will evaluate their work. If their own blog can't put money where its mouth is then its time for you to run in the other direction. This is, in fact, the no. 1 quality that most people believe a content agency needs. If they can't sell their own content, how are they going to sell yours?
The flip side of this argument says that boutique agencies are often so immersed in doing great work for their client that they can't dedicate resources to promote themselves. Just because they don't have a big social following doesn't mean they don't do good work.
In either case, it is up to you to run a thorough evaluation of their work and then take a call.
7) Map case studies to client references
Case studies are a great way to showcase the outcome of a campaign. If an agency is good at SEO content writing, ask them how they strategized a topic for their client, where the article finally ranked after it was published and how many additional visits did it drive to the client website. This, as you can see, is data that'll only be available with an agency if they have invested in going beyond writing content for a client and actually overseeing its outcome.
In addition to these case studies, be sure to map them with client references. Are existing clients happy about the value the agency is bringing to the table? Have they consistently met their timelines and deliverables? Have they gone above and beyond their role to ensure customer delight? These questions can help you determine if you need to consider this agency for your brand.
8) Evaluate success metrics and monthly reporting
Evaluating the full impact of content that goes online today is not an easy job – let alone predict the roadmap of content you plan to put online in the future. Having said that, here's where the agency's true expertise comes in. They should be able to understand your revenue streams, possible sources for customers and provide KPIs that are unique to your business. In the same line, the agency should be able to report back via formal channels like email and in-person meetings with detailed progress reports. While email reporting can happen on a weekly basis, in-person meetings should happen at least twice a month.
9) Can the agency reuse existing content?
For businesses that have been around for a few years, it is possible that you have already produced a ton of content. Some if it may still be good in today's timeline and can easily be repurposed. A good content agency will take the time to understand and evaluate your existing content stash and see if it can quickly refresh the content to make it relevant for today. This can end up saving hundreds of dollars for you rather than starting from scratch.
10) The fine print matters
A good agency knows that it wants to be your brand partner and not just have you as a client. This is evident in the way they position themselves. It comes out in the smallest of things – from their presentations to their verbal communication. When you are still at a discussion stage in an agency, pay close attention to the words they use. Do they refer to you as a client or partner? Do they send you a contract or an agreement? Are they open for experiments and ready to go the extra mile for you?
Well, this sure is a sensitive topic but a darn important one. Pricing is important but let it not be the deciding factor while choosing your agency. While you might get a whole host of proposals giving you a varying range of prices, the good ones will never go down the ultra-cheap way because they know that in order to give you good content, they will have to spend their resources too – and the best ones at it.
If you want cheap content, get a freelancer who would be happy to write for you at a much lesser price. But do not expect the same amount of ideation, professionalism, dependability and stringent checks that an agency will adopt. If you are looking for good content, be prepared to pay for it. My advice would be – stay away from companies that offer great content at super cheap rates. I am not saying, you don’t negotiate. If you have the right agency on hand, they will explain why they are charging their basic fee and also be willing to accommodate a bit.
Well, I certainly hope this guide will be helpful in selecting the right content agency. If you are still confused or have a question to ask, leave a comment here or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we shall definitely get back.
Looking to test the waters with content marketing for your brand? Write in here to get a free sample article for your brand.
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