Content: you know you need it and you know you can’t get it done on your own. Companies everywhere turn to content marketing agencies as a vendor for an effective content strategy. Content programs can help with lead generation, brand positioning, inbound marketing, and conversion optimization.

The problem isn’t knowing you need content–it’s finding the bandwidth to do it.

Sure, marketing teams can probably write a few blogs here and there, but in today’s content glut, only the best content gets any traction. The best content requires a team of people.

The ideal content team has a strategist, a writer, a designer, and a developer

That’s why many companies choose to work with a digital agency to help with their content marketing.

So if you’re planning to invest in content marketing, asking the right questions of your potential agency partner is incredibly important. You want to find an agency with the right team, experience, and plan.

Ask these questions when looking for a content marketing agency:

1. How do you determine what content to create?

Good content must do a service to the reader as well as to your business. It might answer a question that the reader has. It can also help provid a change of perspective on an issue. There’s a key strategic element to content marketing that you should vet when choosing a content marketing agency.

It’s important to have a strategy that outlines:

  • Business goals for the content marketing program
  • Audiences the content will target
  • Key messages (both stated and implied) to share through the content

Your potential agency partner should address this question with an audience-first perspective. If they can’t, they might not have what it takes to deliver quality content that creates results.

2. What processes do you have in place to manage content creation?

Content can be a great asset, but creating it can be a nightmare. In addition to the agency’s team of experts, they should be working with subject matter experts (both in your marketing department and in other departments) to create the best overall content.

Agencies that can’t speak to a clear process–steps, deliverables, communication guidelines, etc.–may end up causing more of a headache than creating the content in-house.  

3. Have you worked with a client like ours?

Industry experience isn’t required to find a good fit for a content marketing agency, but it can be an asset. Certain industries have unique content considerations. Here’s a few special situations that often come up:

  • Healthcare organizations often have to handle a long internal approval process involving a legal department
  • Mission-based organizations often have a flat-structure that makes finding the right approval points difficult
  • B2B businesses often need highly technical content that can only be written by client-side experts
  • Startups often have less clear goals and audience profiles in place.

4. How would you handle our existing content?

Almost every company today already has content online. Any agency helping you move forward with content marketing should look at previous content to determine the best plan forward:

  • Are there any historical successes we can build on?
  • Is there existing content that can be easily improved and repurposed?
  • Is there existing content that is hurting brand positioning that needs to be immediately fixed?

A good agency partner could help you integrate old content into fresh campaigns and get better results from your previous efforts. So it’s a good idea to ask your potential agency partner how they would audit your existing content.  

Some agencies (us included) will score each piece of live marketing content on a scale, looking at attributes like:

  • Value to the reader – does the content answer the reader’s questions and provide clear next steps?
  • Readability – does the tone connect with your target audience?
  • Brand – does this content reinforce your brand’s value properly?
  • Traffic – how many views does this content attract?
  • Bounce rate – how many people read this piece and go no further?
  • Conversion – how many readers are interacting further by filling out contact forms or purchasing items?
  • Backlinks – have others linked to this content in the past?
  • Backlink potential – does this content have potential to earn backlinks if it were distributed again?

When you’re looking for someone to help with content strategy and implementation, it’s easy to get distracted by ideas and brainstorming before determining if the agency is the right fit for you. Ask questions up front, find the right partner, and you’re poised for content marketing success!