At first glance, content marketing seems super easy, especially if you or someone on your team enjoys writing, creating a video, or doing podcasts. But content marketing is not the same as just writing a blog or jumping onto Facebook Live whenever you feel like it.
Successful content marketing involves strategy and data analysis, and your business may be better served to leave that to an agency.
What Is Good Content Marketing?
Content marketing is providing content your audience is interested in, in a format they find inviting, on platforms they want to be a part of.
Notice something in that description?
There’s an awful lot about your audience preferences, and nothing said about the marketing message you want to convey.
To be successful in content marketing, you must have a solid knowledge of your ideal customer. You want to cast a narrow net. This comes from being able to understand your audience and analyzing buying patterns and historic actions that indicate the possibility that a certain type of person is likely to become a long-term customer.
Does your business have the tools or understanding for that type of analysis?
There are several other things a good content marketing strategy contains. If you’re considering taking on content marketing in-house, ask yourself if you can commit to:
You needn’t post every day, but you do need to post consistently. You will be the most successful if your audience sees posts from you on a regular basis. They’ll come to know you as a resource if they know they can depend on your content.
If you’re looking to post consistently, and you should be, know that agencies often have much greater resources dedicated to content production. For instance, if you assign one of your customer service reps to write a blog post about making customers happy and then a big customer service fiasco explodes, guess what doesn’t get done? The post. If you had outsourced the content production, the content is created regardless of what’s going on at your business.
Agencies can also handle multiple posts at once because they have a team working on it. Your on-staff writer only has so many hours in the day.
If you’re lucky enough to have subject matter experts on staff and can translate their knowledge into content, that’s a good start. Even so, you’ll occasionally need to pepper in some outside knowledge and links to websites with good authority. That means spending time on research. If you don’t have any subject matter experts, you can expect to spend an hour or two on research for each 1,000-word article.
The trend nowadays is longer, meatier posts. Yes, that pesky research part is involved, but you also need to have enough content and ability in your writing to create something worthwhile in long-form. Very few writers can pen an article of this depth in fifteen minutes. Each post could take an hour or two without the research component. Do you have that time?
A strong content marketing strategy also requires the use of multiple mediums. Some of your ideal audience will enjoy reading, and you need written content for Google as well, but others want video, podcasts, ebooks, or graphics. Can you accommodate those preferences?
Features change. The popularity of platforms erodes. There is a lot of self-educating required when doing content marketing. You will need to either spend part of your week ensuring you’re up on latest trends and best practices or you’ll have to dedicate that job to someone on your staff. If you do, you need to worry about all of your eggs being in one basket.
Let’s say you understand the need for someone to specialize in content marketing and let’s say you spend months and months ensuring they have everything they need to be successful. You train them, buy software to make the process more efficient, and help them make connections with influencers to assist in the dissemination of your content.
And guess what?
They announce that they are taking another position and all that knowledge walks out the door with them. An agency offers redundancy. They don’t have one specialist in a given subject. They have many. Best of all, you’re not paying multiple salaries for all of these people. You get the benefit of a team without the cost of one.
Data analysis on Google is easy, but it’s the extrapolation and understanding what the numbers mean that differentiates the content marketing pro from the novice. Good analysts are in demand, and they can be costly. You’ll also want someone on staff to begin building your email marketing list and using that effectively. Can you afford these specialties on staff?
Wanting to handle everything in-house is understandable. You feel like you have more control and it’s closer to you. But from a cost perspective, it often makes sense to outsource. Plus, an agency brings with it outside experience and a broader perspective of best practices and topics for content. They often have a very good grasp on trending topics because they are focused on several areas at once and not just your immediate industry. When creating content, that can be a boon.