This article first appeared in Marketing Land on Jan 20, 2015.
How many major brands want to create their content marketing in-house? One hundred percent. That isn’t a made-up statistic. This was an actual finding a couple of years ago when I was conducting content marketing research, interviewing senior executives from over 50 brands such as Nestlé, GE, Adobe, IBM and Coca-Cola.
The next finding was even more interesting. We asked these brands what type of agency they were likely to select for content creation: an ad agency, PR agency, social media agency, or one of the much smaller breed of storytelling agency (e.g., Story Worldwide) when they did outsource.
Once again, a result was universal. While responses were divided more or less equally among the shops they would consider, some 95 percent of these executives said social media shops would not be considered candidates. “Too boutique-y” “too trendy” were the top reasons provided.
There’s no shortage of agencies of all stripes that are eager to get your content business. In addition to the aforementioned flavors, there are also the custom content divisions at established publishing brands, as well as more channel-specific tactical expertise from any number of companies that formerly branded themselves as email or search engine marketing providers, but are now in the content marketing business. Finally, of course, there’s no shortage of smaller, more local content marketing agencies.
The trend really picked up momentum around 2013 when, in the PR sector alone (just to pick one of these verticals at random) Weber Shandwick launched Mediaco, Porter Novelli birthed PNConnect. In early 2014, Waggener Edstrom created Content360. The momentum is still going strong – at CES just this month, FleishmanHillard unveiled FH ContentWorks, a global initiative. (As an analyst covering content marketing, I’ve worked with Edelman, Ketchum and their clients on content marketing training and initiatives).
So what should you look for when engaging a content agency? There are many criteria you should consider – here are the primary ones.
Content creation? Technical expertise you lack in-house (e.g. video production or mobile app development). Strategy development? There are myriad reasons – nailing yours down will help to limit and focus the range of candidates.
Don’t expect them to be peers in the knowledge sector, but they should possess a fundamental understanding of your vertical and/or industry, audience, region, or other individual criteria that are essential to your strategy.
At the very least, they should be great listeners who are genuinely interested in you, not just the job.
If a documented content strategy doesn’t already exist, you need one in hand (or to commission one) before diving into tactics with an outside provider. If you need to create one, make sure you choose an agency with a proven capability for developing strategic frameworks.
Reminder: “You need a Facebook page” is not a strategy. It’s a tactic.
Does the company practice what it preaches? Look at its own content marketing: the quality, quantity, channels and responses to it.
Its dedication to both strategy and practice will be demonstrated if it is as dedicated to content marketing as it likely claims to be.
Request them and evaluate them. Discuss them with the firm. Even if they don’t reflect your industry or vertical, the shop should help you to understand how they relate to your issues.
References matter. A reluctance to put you in touch with former (or current) clients also speaks volumes.
Any plan or proposal should be accompanied by success criteria and key performance indicators (KPIs).
How will the plan be measured? What indicates success? Look for metrics that impact business results (e.g. increased leads, revenue, shorter sales cycle), not mere volume metrics (30,000 likes!).
Before you hire an outside agency to help your content marketing efforts, here are a few key questions you need to ask yourself.
Predictions? Humbug. Never done ‘em, never will. As a research analyst, predictions are antithetical to my methodology, which is research followed by analysis.
Content marketing is hot, but it is not solely created by, inspired by, or used by marketing.
For most of digital marketing’s relatively short history, personalization has been the ne plus ultra of sophisticated marketing.
Content. It’s not just for the marketing department anymore. These last few months I’ve been researching how organizations are forming, and benefitting from, what my co-author Jessica Groopman and I are terming a “Culture of Content.”
We can all pretty much universally agree that with native advertising comes the obligation of disclosure and transparency.
When Facebook announced last week that it will soon become more difficult for brands’ page posts to appear in the news feeds of their friends, fans, and followers, the outcry was predictable.
What goes into creating and fostering an organizational culture of content? As an analyst that’s the topic I’m currently researching.
Social selling has become a hot topic. Organizations in every industry are working feverishly to leverage social platforms and social networks for a number of reasons
Now more than ever, content must be recombinant. This means a critical component of content strategy is the ability to rapidly dissemble, reassemble, reuse, repurpose, and remodel discrete elements of digital content.
Content Marketing: How do we do it globally?
We’re pleased to announce that Susan Etlinger, Brian Solis and Rebecca Lieb are each speaking at this year’s event.
In this 45-minute webinar, analyst Rebecca Lieb shares best practices for your content marketing software selection process.
Our research found that the content marketing space is rife with challenges, both internal to the organization and externally across the ecosystem. The following infographic helps visualize this struggle.
How should content be measured and analyzed? Let us count the ways (or at least begin to).
How should content be measured and analyzed? Let us count the ways (or at least begin to).
How much does content marketing cost? Tough question, right? So let’s break the question down a bit to try to simplify it.
We recognize that existing RFP templates cannot be retrofitted to the task of soliciting content marketing solutions due to a number of specific challenges.
Lately I’ve been doing a ton of work around the content marketing vendor landscape: conducting research, as well as helping clients ascertain what their technology needs are and pinpoint the vendors that can solve their problems.
What’s a digital newsroom? Seems like such a simple question, until you start pondering the potential answers.
Michael Brenner has long been a recognized leader in content marketing in his role as VP marketing at SAP. Very recently, he joined content marketing technology vendor NewsCred to head strategy for that company…
Murky research collided with lazy journalism last week to create a torrent of #socialmedia + #advertising = #fail link bait.
In this one-hour webinar, Rebecca Lieb will share findings from her recent research report on how content marketers should select content marketing tools.
You know about ad stacks, right? Get ready to say hello to the next big thing in content marketing technology: the content marketing stack.
Our new research report, The Content Marketing Software Landscape: Marketer Needs & Vendor Solutions, published today to help marketers navigate the tangled and complex content marketing software landscape.
Rebecca Lieb shares findings from her recent research report on real-time marketing, including the top 6 use cases, the benefits and risks, and 12 best practices.
It’s almost that time of year again: Altimeter’s analysts are mapping SXSW plans and schedules. Making the trip to Austin this year are Brian Solis, Susan Etlinger and Rebecca Lieb.
As digital channels operate increasingly in the ‘now,’ all marketing organizations must consider to what degree they will function in real-time, and even define what real-time is relative to their operations and marketing organization.
If you’re a marketer who has evaluated native advertising offerings, then you’re likely already familiar with Facebook’s suggested posts, Twitter’s sponsored tweets and hashtags, or sponsored content on any number of online publications.
What is native advertising and, by extension, what is it not?
Not since the legislative debate over spam back in the early part of the millennium has a digital marketing term been so riddled by obfuscation and misunderstanding as native advertising.
Watch this webinar with industry analyst Rebecca Lieb, to explore scalable organizational models for addressing content needs across the enterprise.
More than a handful of brands publish more content now than a major media property such as Time Magazine did 25 years ago.
That Time of Year is rapidly approaching: “Will you be there?” “Are you speaking?” “When are you in town?” The Altimeter Group analysts attending SXSW 2013 next month are Jeremiah Owyang, Brian Solis, Susan Etlinger, Chris Silva and Rebecca Lieb.
Advertising and media are converging. The results will disrupt how companies must deploy their marketing efforts.
In the late 20th century, when the commercial internet was in its infancy, there was no end to the griping about “silos.” Back then silos referred to That Which Is Digital and That Which Is Not Digital. The gripe (from the digital side of the equation) was that the not-digital team got all the budget, […]
There’s been a rash of news stories recently with headlines so misleading it’s hard to believe they passed editorial muster. Yet a quick search of Google News reveals no less than five articles with ledes very much like this one: P&G to cut 1600 staff after CEO discovers digital media is free.
If you have a website, a blog, or even a Facebook or Twitter presence, you are a publisher. Think like one: build a digital content strategy that embraces words, images and multimedia to systematically enhance consumer engagement and conversion rates.
In this book, leading search optimization expert Rebecca Lieb brings together more than 50 absolutely crucial facts and insights decision-makers must know to drive more web traffic through better search engine placement.