Everyone is doing content, right? Your digital agency is now a content marketing agency. You know this because they told you so and it’s right there on their website. But let’s have a look at that one, for a minute. Here are 5 key questions to ask yourself before letting your digital agency handle your content marketing.

1. Has your agency ever suggested that they develop a content marketing strategy that addresses your business objectives?

Getting a SERP boost is nice. Everyone would want it. And just publishing fresh content, any content, will do that for you. But for your content to work best, it needs to do more than just elevate your organic search result. It needs to speak to your buyer personas’ pain points. That way, it engages the people you want to engage, builds your relationship with them, gets shared, builds your expertise and authority, entices them to become a lead and nurtures them along the pathway to sales. You get the picture.

Research shows that those that consider their content marketing 'most effective' are much more likely to have a documented content strategy. That's right, a content marketing strategy, as opposed to being a chapter in your digital marketing strategy that says 'we are going to do content'. Not many agencies are fluent in how to conduct a detailed content marketing strategy workshop, then construct a detailed and comprehensive content plan to meet their buying persona pain points at each stage of the sales funnel.

2. Does your agency come from a digital perspective or a content perspective?

What’s the difference, you may well ask? Well, most digital agencies are technologists first, designers second, and content generators third (if even). They got into it because they like the technologies involved and the accountability of the metrics. Then they grafted on the design bit. Not many ever really grafted on the writing and asset production bit. Look at most websites. Very few are testament to man’s creative writing ability. In fact, most of them are written by the client, because the website agency doesn’t have the in-house writing expertise and tells you that ‘nobody understands your business like you do’. This may be true, but you aren’t a professional writer any more than they are.

A true content marketing agency, however, grew up on content production, whether for printed magazines or online. Content marketing agencies succeed because they have always had the ability to create content that resonated with people to the point that they would pay for it. Professional writing, design and editorial ability are key to success in content marketing. It makes a big difference to work with people who are ‘content natives’.

3. Does your digital agency give you an integrated dashboard that shows every point of contact an individual prospect has had with your brand?

Content marketing marries your digital marketing with your sales team. Most agencies and practitioners utilise a raft of different analytics tools for different digital components. So when you send out a digital newsletter, you can identify the email address of an individual that opens it. All well and good. But it doesn’t tell you if that person also viewed your LinkedIn post three days later. Or read a blog article a week before. So you don’t really know which of your prospects are most likely to become customers, and therefore which ones deserve special mention.

Content marketing agencies see content as the glue that brings everything together, as all your digital activity is content. Because it lives across all the digital channels, the reporting developed has to span every channel, so you get an integrated view of all of your digital marketing efforts and can link it back to sales.

4. Does your digital agency manage all aspects of content production?

The creation of content goes well beyond digital. For instance, are they familiar with handling all aspects of a fashion shoot for your retail website? Or running all aspects of a competition to win a trip pearl diving in the Pacific? Producing a corporate video? A print magazine? These days the lines are blurred between so many agencies that sales promotion, direct marketing, public relations, social media and design are overlapping to a large degree. If one agency can handle all the aspects of your campaign and ongoing requirements then you will be more efficient and save time and money.

 5. Is your digital agency using content marketing effectively themselves?

This goes beyond how often they maintain their own blog. Do they have content assets that are behind forms, which indicates that they are developing leads with personalised information so that they follow up with personalised content? If they aren't living it themselves, why would you expect them to be expert in it and to intimately know the pitfalls that are out there?

These are just some of the reasons why you should think carefully before you hand over your content marketing strategy, planning and production to a digital agency. There are many agencies out there telling you that they have been doing content marketing for years.

But there's a lot more to content marketing than writing an occasional blog article.

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