Our best advice to businesses facing this issue is: Do your research, then get it from the horse's mouth.
Step one is simply: “Read their blog and other free materials.” Sometimes a company really can back up what they claim online and make compelling claims with real proof behind them. Most of the time, they dodge the point and make unclear claims that would be hard to substantiate. Either way, the next most important step is to:
Make use of their free consultations to bend their ear a bit. Find out whether they can at least talk the talk, before officially getting interested.
Here's our pick for the four most important attributes you should look for!
Four Must-Haves In Your Next Website Content Provider
Focusing On Your Customers
If there is one lesson the Internet continues to teach unwary businesses, it's that you cannot be entirely self-focused online. Your outreach has to be geared towards your core markets with as much precision as you can muster. Put simply, this means writing what they'll want to hear, in words they'll like reading.
A good website content provider understand this, and how to work with tools like buyer personas to finely craft their messages to fit your ideal customer base. There's an art to good targeted copywriting, and it really hasn't changed much in decades. No matter how much data you have, you still need humans writing your content who understand what other humans want.
Integrating Your Online Campaigns
Not surprisingly, a lot of companies tend to segregate their various online marketing campaigns – There's the Facebook Guy and the Blogger and soforth. However, this approach is quickly falling by the wayside as more and more companies are seeing the value of creating a unified brand identity that is consistent across their spectrum of online marketing ventures.
Website content providers specialize in exactly this sort of high-level strategic integration. They can help you focus not just your marketing, but your overall goals for your business at large. If you understand better where you want your company to be in five or ten years, you'll be creating a path for yourself to follow no matter what online marketing techniques you embrace.
Staying On Top Of The Latest Techniques
Staying ahead of the game in online marketing is like a scene from a movie, where the hero (and\or cute animated creatures) have to jump across an ice floe that's breaking up beneath them. Online marketing changes at an incredibly fast rate. In fact, it's so volatile that techniques which were valid a year or two ago could now actively harm your online standing!
Your website content provider has to be able to show they are keeping up with current trends, and understand how matters like changes in Google's search programming could immediately impact your site. That sort of expertise requires years of experience.
Showing Their Work
Finally, when dealing with website content provider firms, remember they have far more data to draw upon than in offline marketing. You can't track how many billboard impressions lead to sales, but you can track exactly how many banner ad clicks lead to conversions.
Your website content agency should have a portfolio of past accomplishments, and should also be able to produce similar easy-to-read charts for your company on demand. If your content provider doesn't like it when you ask to see hard data linking their efforts to your online statistics, you probably should be dealing with someone who can demonstrate their value.
What would you put on this list? Let us know in the comments!