Are you wondering if industry knowledge really matters when it comes to content creation?
If you’re looking for someone to help with your content marketing – be it an content marketing agency, or a writer – it’s not uncommon to worry about whether they have enough experience writing about your industry. The good news is that your worries are probably unfounded. The bad news? Well, there are other things you should probably be more concerned about. As an experienced digital marketer, I’m going to explain why, along with what you should really be looking out for when hiring a content marketing agency, or writer.
Why industry knowledge shouldn’t matter
Don’t get me wrong, industry knowledge can have a slight advantage to begin with when hiring an agency or writer. However, you should never let that be the decider when choosing someone to help you create content. Otherwise, you could be losing out on some amazing content. Here’s why: It really comes down to the way the content is being produced. Most good content marketing agencies or writers who have experience writing for inbound will get the basis for your blog posts, ebooks, emails etc. straight from the best source of all; you. They can do this with interviews, either via phone or email. After all, you’re the one who has the experience, passion and knowledge of your industry. You know your customers inside-out, so who better to contribute to content than you? The content should be written in your voice, to best reflect your values and thought leadership. And when you’re the source for the research, industry knowledge becomes secondary in content creation. Besides, just because someone has experience writing about your industry, it doesn’t necessary make them a good writer. Or know how to best lay out an article to get the best results for content marketing. So, if you shouldn’t really be looking for industry knowledge, what should you be looking for? Well…
Vital things to consider when outsourcing content
You may not be a content expert, or necessarily know what to look out for when choosing the right content solution for you. However, if you’re looking for a content marketing agency or copywriter who can really hit the mark, ask to see samples of their work. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the content written carefully with the relevant buyer persona in mind?
- Is it easily scannable and well-written?
- Does it contain relevant headings and sub-headings?
- (And most importantly of all) Does it answer real questions people are asking? Is it helpful? Does it help them solve a problem?
Your content should always be based about specific questions your best customers (or in other words, buyer personas) are asking. Not what YOU think your customers are going to want to read about. Next, you should ask how the content is going to be produced. How much input will you have? If a writer or agency just plan to go away and create your content based on what they can find on the internet, this is bad practice (although sadly not uncommon). As mentioned above, the best content should come from you. Finally, certification can also be a good indication of a good content marketing agency. For instance, the Buyer Persona Institute is a great sign that they’ll know how to write for your buyer personas and create detailed buyer persona research. Other things to look for can include HubSpot’s inbound certification, which at least shows they understand the basics.
Content marketing must serve a purpose
Content marketing has to first and foremost serve a purpose. It should always be performing and getting you results in order to justify its existence. And, it needs to have a strategy behind it in order to give you the results you need. Without a strategy, it simply won’t work – which is why it’s always best to come up with a strategy first, rather than just hiring a writer. For instance, I see websites all the time, where I think: “That’s a nice bit of content, but what’s the point?” It’s either going on about a new product or service the company wants to promote, or it’s talking about a trade show or conference they’ve been to. Newsflash: customers don’t care! They want to read something they can actually take value from, so that after reading, they can go away and feel like they’ve learned something. Otherwise, you might as well just create another sales page, or send out a self-promotional press release. Instead, you should want to make the readers’ lives easier in some way. Perhaps help them understand why your solution is a good fit, or answer a question that they just can’t find the answer to anywhere else. Content creation for the sake of it isn’t an option, so you shouldn’t just throw any old topic at the wall and see what sticks. Saying that, like a hit record, sometimes you’ll be surprised which content performs best. TIP: You can use platforms like Google Analytics to measure performance and write similar content around your best performing topics.
Advice from an experienced digital marketer
So, by now you’ve probably figured out you need a strategy for your content marketing to succeed. Hiring an agency is probably your best bet, as most writers (unless they have agency experience) simply aren’t geared up to write for buyer personas, or the web. When finding the best inbound or digital marketing agency for your content marketing, ask them about the types of results you can expect, and their experience in getting these results for previous clients. Ask to see case studies, and examples of content they are currently producing for clients. And like I mentioned above, don’t forget to ask how involved you’ll be when it comes to producing the content. If the involvement is minimal, I’d recommend looking elsewhere. TIP: As for how much you can expect to pay for content marketing, it can vary from anywhere between £1,500 – £4,500 when hiring an agency. But you’re paying for so much more than just content – such as a holistic strategy that covers content, SEO, email marketing, automation, conversion optimisation and more. Finally, always remember that the reason you’re doing this is to get more business. Your content needs to tie back to your goals in some way, and whoever is in charge of your content creation should have methods in place to be able to do that.
The next steps
I hope this blog has helped to give you a better idea of what’s really important when it comes to content creation and content marketing. For your next steps, I challenge you to go away and think about what you really need to achieve with your content marketing. Then, shortlist a few inbound or digital marketing agencies to speak to about these goals. They should be able to advise you further.