Content marketing budgets are on the rise this year. According to Content Marketing Institute, “57% of B2C marketers expect their content marketing budget to increase in 2019.”

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For a lot of you, this is an opportunity to work with a professional content writing agency. If you want time to focus on actually running a business, I have to say, this is the best use of your content marketing budget.

So, now the question is, how do you choose the right one? I would start by asking the following 5 questions:

1. Have you ever written for our industry?

Content agencies are typically very capable of switching their writing style and tone to fit various industries. However, it’s still best to ask whether they have any background writing for your specific niche. Writing for lifestyle brands versus financial technology companies, or communications technology versus travel and tourism, will require very different styles. While writing skills and proficiency is important, an understanding of the nuances between each industry is equally essential.

2. Can we review your portfolio of published work?

Reviewing an agency’s published works can provide great insight into how they execute their writing. In content marketing, remember that the actual content is just one part of the big picture. How they format the piece, how they use visuals and multimedia, as well as other factors are just as critical to its efficacy.

3. What is the editorial process you follow?

I’m a firm believer that writing isn’t an entirely a solo creative task, especially in the context of content marketing. While agencies do rely on an individual writer’s skill and diligence, it takes a team to produce a well-written, extensively researched piece that your audience will respond to.

Often, it will entail the help of an editor to double check facts and ensure error-free content. It usually also involves a project manager who will liaison with clients to ensure that the piece is focused on brand objectives.

It varies from one agency to the next. However, it’s critical that you find out if their process fits well into your own.

4. What is your onboarding process?

This question is more about an agency’s ability to get to know your business as they start working with you. Their ability to learn about your company is critical in their ability to deliver content that is aligned with your brand communications and overall objectives.

Ask how they plan to learn more about your industry and business. How do they go about researching and getting to know your target audience? What industry and market research as well as analysis tools and strategies do they employ?

5. What kind of training does your team receive?

A lot of agencies simply rely on their individual content creator’s skills and experience to produce good content. However, working in content marketing for this long has taught me that this industry business evolves very quickly. Like I said, skills and experience can take writers a long way, but without additional training, they fail to stay up to date with recent trends and techniques.

One final thing…

There are some instances when the fit simply isn’t right.

Maybe the subject matter isn’t something that the agency is confident to tackle. Maybe your business is in a niche that the agency has no experience in. Whatever the case, a good, reputable agency will be more than willing to admit if they are unable to meet your objectives. It’s more than just adding another client to their roster; it’s about whether they can effectively deliver what you need.

The point is, the agency you hire should be able to integrate seamlessly into your organization and act as an extension of your own. The best way to determine that is to start asking the five questions I’ve outlined above.

If you have any questions about this post, shoot me an email via Leadspanda and I’d be more than happy to answer them for you.