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As a content marketing agency, we’ve seen how great content can boost SEO, promote thought leadership and build trust. But content marketing without a clear strategy hinders your company’s ability to reach its goals and leads to wasted time and wasted marketing budgets.
That’s where a good content strategy agency can help.
Think of it as your travel guide through an unknown destination. Without one you’ll fight crowds, maybe get lost a few times, and if you’re lucky accidentally stumble upon a hidden gem. With a good guide, you’ll see the sites at the least crowded times, eat the tastiest local foods, and ultimately have a better, more relaxed experience knowing you’ve got an insider to lead the way.
If your content marketing has no direction, no strategy to guide it, you’ll end up wandering, guessing how to get to your goals.
A content strategy agency creates content plans that use data to drive decisions and provide a roadmap for reaching both short-term and long-term business goals. In addition to content creation, this type of agency conducts audience and competitor research, sets KPIs, monitors your progress, and helps you get more out of your content and marketing tools.
A content strategy agency offers expertise on:
Most marketing agencies today offer some form of content marketing services. But not all offer the content marketing strategies needed to boost SEO, engagement and traffic. Content strategy services aim to yield results that go above and beyond basic content marketing.
Strategic agencies love data and have the skills to parse the analytics within various platforms and tools. They understand the difference between meaningful numbers and vanity metrics, and offer a toolbox full of solutions when the data show improvement is needed.
Content strategy firms put in the work to fully understand your audience, market position and opportunities. When you deeply understand who you are marketing to, what keywords they’re searching for, where they shop and post on social media, and the messages that resonate with them, the result is more focused and effective content. Tactics like A/B testing and smart CTAs can further refine your approach, ensuring the right message is getting to the right people at the right time and place.
Consistent branding and messaging
Buyer personas, messaging guidelines and talking points help keep your company’s voice and message consistent, even when marketing different B2B solutions to different audiences. When multiple team members are in charge of specific marketing tasks, such as one person writing emails and another writing social media content, you run the risk of creating content siloes. Content strategy agencies, on the other hand, help align content across channels, preventing the voice and branding from getting muddled.
Better cost management
With a clear content strategy, you're better able to set priorities and manage budgets. A content strategy agency can guide your decision making, using data to reveal opportunities and ditch ineffective tactics. Strategic agencies can also help prevent mission creep, reinforcing priorities and goals when leadership pushes for a new, expensive video or bloated whitepaper.
Efficiency and higher ROI
A good content strategy aims to work smarter not harder. Content creation is time consuming and labor intensive. A content strategy agency thinks strategically and across channels, to help companies maximize the value of every piece of content created. This results in less time spent creating content from scratch and a greater return on investment.
To fully realize the benefits of content marketing, you need to know what’s working and what’s not. Yet many companies fail to measure the value of content.
Semrush’s State of Content Marketing: 2023 Global Report found that only 54% of companies track content marketing ROI. That’s nearly half of companies operating with little insight into what content generates sales.
Not surprising, the same study found the top content marketing challenge was attracting quality leads with content, with 55% of companies saying this was an issue. The next three items on the list were:
Interestingly, creating content was number four on the list of challenges, preceded by challenges that could be improved with a content strategy and better data.
When you lack a content strategy, you’re essentially guessing what will work. You might have a few promising keywords or some disjointed data, but without a strategy, there will be a lot of misses.
Here are some common challenges we see:
When content is created in-house, it’s a constant struggle to keep up with production. This often leaves little time for strategic thinking, setting goals, and tracking metrics. Leaning on a content strategy service to help with setting long-term goals and decision making keeps you on track and can help your team focus on important tasks.
When your content strategy is written by the internal marketing team, you risk maintaining the status quo, even if it’s not working. A content strategy agency can provide much needed outside insights on current best practices, updating tools and software, spotting new opportunities, and ways to break out of your content rut.
Many talented in-house marketing teams are made up of utility players–people who have a solid knowledge of email, social media, SEO, and maybe even web design, but are not subject matter experts. When you work with a content strategy agency, you get a roster of content specialists focused on making their piece of the strategy–whether email, SEO or social–work seamlessly with the others.
Do these challenges with your in-house team sound familiar? Learn more in 8 Signs You're Ready to Outsource Your Marketing to an Agency.
Content marketing agencies have some overlap in services and capabilities when compared to content strategy agencies; here’s what you can expect if you choose a strategic agency.
Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many companies dive into creating content without a plan. A content strategy firm will begin its engagement with audience and competitive research, digging into SEO opportunities, conducting internal interviews, and other information gathering to get a full picture of your company, where it stands in the market and the best opportunities for growth.
Whether it’s keyword research, a technical SEO audit, or setting up marketing workflows in HubSpot, an agency focused on strategy knows how to use the tech to your advantage. These agencies work with clients to make sure you follow best practices and get the most out of your tools.
A content marketing strategy agency wants to see content flow seamlessly across channels and media. Once you’ve established a plan and got your tools and technical tactics in order, the agency is there to ensure you follow the plan, create content that targets the right audience, and use your content to its fullest potential.
The only way to know if a content plan is working is to measure the results. A content strategy agency can help you determine the right metrics to follow, build dashboards in your marketing platform for easy reference and reporting, and provide analysis. From there, the agency will adjust the strategy to build upon successes and improve on areas that are underperforming.
There are dozens of factors to consider when selecting a marketing agency, but as we noted, selecting one with content strategy capabilities will help you maximize your content marketing ROI.
Consider the team and their expertise. Do they have skilled players who can help you set up HubSpot lists? Are there SEO and analytics experts in-house? Do you like the quality of their writers? (See a complete list of questions to ask a prospective agency.)
As you consider your options, feel free to reach out. We’re here to answer any questions you have about content strategy.
Beth LaMontagne Hall is a content strategist with 20 years writing experience. She hosts the live storytelling series Long Story Short and is an adjunct professor at the University of New Hampshire Paul College of Business teaching students how to tell great stories for business.