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Between a rock and hard place: What to look for in a content marketing agency.

Ben Dickens, May 13, 2014

With so much choice and confusion in the marketing we though we’d discuss what to look out for in a content marketing agency, and what makes DVO a bit different.

There’s a huge amount of confusion at the moment. Why? Because the content marketing agency is suddenly everywhere – and they often offer widely differing services.

Broadly, however, these offerings fall into three distinct camps. What follows will help you better evaluate the skills each camp possesses and how, as a content marketing agency, they might remedy the problem you want to solve.

Firstly you’ve got the old school contract publishers producing branded content in deep formats. Their background is rooted in publishing and they’re responsible for in-flight magazines, supermarket publications and the like. In recent years these agencies have done more and more digital work, either reshaping existing content for online consumption or producing standalone digital titles. Their real skill is publishing very high quality content on behalf of brands.

But, in my opinion, they have weaknesses. Not the least of these is the vast cost of creating and distributing a print product and the long turnaround time traditional publishing cycles demand. This is especially problematic if you are looking for an agile channel that meets the demands of consumers in our always-on era. Also, and just as important is that this kind of content is very much geared toward retention and upsell. It’s not so good for acquisition

The second camp contains a whole raft of businesses selling tools of varying descriptions that enable content marketers and in a lot of cases a content marketing agency to do it’s job. These kind of businesses are very clever. They have embraced the notion of empowering you to do it all by yourself while using their software to make the process easier.

To the uninitiated these operations can look like they have all the answers. I’d advise caution though, in my opinion software alone is never going to solve your problems. Don’t get me wrong, there really are some great tools out there, but what you really need to do is understand the challenges you face in engaging customers and then use software to create efficiencies. Software only solves your problem if your problem is rooted in an efficiency, a lack of time or resources. If your issue is strategic then you’ve got to work strategically.

In my third and final category you’ll find what I like to call the leopards who have changed their spots. These agencies, until this point a year or so ago when searches online for “Content Marketing” became significant, in all likelihood called themselves either an SEO or digital agency.

If you’re considering using one of these I’d strongly recommend a detailed evaluation depending on your objectives. Do you want to grow organic traffic and revenue or are you focused on better brand engagement and growing your brand visibility? Maybe a bit of both? The things you’ll need to ask include:

You need to be aware of one very important thing. Content that consumers really engage with, share and link to naturally, takes time to plan and create. Always-on publishing needs to be informed by strategy that truly understands who the target audience is and how to engage with them.

The pitfalls surrounding content that doesn’t create natural signals can be harsh. Clearly, some promotion needs to take place. You want people to know it exists. But this should be wound down as awareness is achieved, an audience built and natural signals become apparent. If this doesn’t happen, the work that goes into creating the artificial signals can fall foul of search engines. These penalties can be very harsh on your bottom line.

So consider your options carefully. Is your content strategy future proof? Does the agency have the right blend of skills to understand and engage your target audience? Does it have the technical skills and understanding of how people behave online to optimise its work for search and social platforms?

Alternatively give DVO a call. We’ve got the correct blend of publishing expertise, consumer understanding and technical knowledge to deliver measurable results through your content marketing. Find us on 020 3771 2461, drop us a line at iminterested@dvoagency.co.uk or tweet us. We’re @DVOagency.

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