Why is it a Good Idea to Outsource Content Marketing?
Although punchy visual ads in the form of banners, sidebars and pop-ups will probably never go away, they have become more of a “spray and pray” method rather than a targeted campaign to build and maintain a customer base. Content marketing is regularly creating and publishing valuable, relevant and consistent content designed to attract and retain a specific audience.
Modern content marketing uses keyword optimization in blog posts, podcasts, and how-to guides, but one of the most successful older examples of this method is the Michelin Star Guide. It is a restaurant guide published by the Michelin Tire company that rates restaurants across the United States in an effort to encourage readers to drive to those restaurants, wearing out their tires and increasing tire sales while building positive associations with the Michelin brand.
The long-term goal of this method is to drive profits through the cultivated audience’s customer action. By making your product the featured or preferred product of a helpful how-to or buying guide, you increase its appeal and explain its utility without the aggressive tone of a sales pitch, which turns off prospective customers. This is applicable in both business to customer (B2C) advertising as well as business to business (B2B) marketing models, although the tone and style of writing would differ depending on your target audience.
Is There Really a Need for Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a great way to build brand awareness and trust. By providing valuable content in the form of how-to’s, recipes and buying guides, your brand becomes associated with positive experiences and reliable knowledge. The more content you share with your target audience, the more they come to view you as an authority in the field. Longer-format blog entries also provide more opportunities to organically use “search engine optimization” keywords (SEO) to feature your site more prominently in the results of a related search engine query.
As with the Michelin Star Guide example, not all content marketing needs to directly reference your products if it results in your product or service being used as an indirect consequence. If you are a salt wholesaler and you publish a cooking blog discussing the virtues of various recipes or products with higher salt content, your sales will go up regardless of whether customers directly purchase your product or if you are not the only salt wholesaler in the region. Michelin Tires did not reap the sole benefits from increased travel as a result of their restaurant guide, but their sales did increase, and over time, a restaurant getting a Michelin Star became a symbol of success and quality entirely apart from the tire marketing scheme.
Producing new, quality content regularly also gives your audience a reason to come back to your website. Repeat visitors will come to trust your site as a resource and on future visits will be exposed to new products and services. As they come to trust your content and products, they will become advocates for you as well as customers.
An additional benefit of creating more content is that it builds “backlinks,” or links to your site from other blogs or sites. Google and other search engines are more likely to list your site higher in search results if it is cited or linked to by outside websites. As more readers reference and link to your content, the authority of your site and your products will only grow.
Why Outsource Content Marketing?
Once you've decided to implement content marketing, you will likely face a personnel problem. While you might assign the task to existing personnel in your marketing department, hire a full-time content writer, ask your engineers or designers to write the content, or even try writing it yourself, each of these faces drawbacks and challenges common to small businesses writing on tight budgets. The prime consideration with content marketing should be regularly released and quality updates, so having someone who can write well and deliver on time is key.
If you’re tempted to have one of your engineers or designers write the content, be aware that technical specialists aren’t always the best content writers; they can get caught up in using industry jargon when explaining the intricacies of their field, which can preclude common, less knowledgeable search terms, which would in turn reduce your standing in search engine results. Additionally, knowing a subject deeply does not always translate to being able to explain how it works in layman's terms without talking down to the audience, nor being able to market it without coming across as a hard sales pitch. A content marketer will prioritize those terms to maximize search engine result pages (SERPs).
Using your existing marketing department can have hidden pitfalls as well. An outside perspective will provide fresh concepts, not steeped in the culture and language of your business. If all of the marketing content for your company sounds the same, it will be obvious that it’s biased and can turn off prospective clients. Additionally, content marketing isn’t limited to blogs and articles, but can utilize social media and email marketing, graphic creation, and video script writing as a sample of the variety of options to choose from.
When considering costs, a content writer in the United States makes, on average, $65,000 a year, plus benefits and the overhead of having another person in the office. A content marketing firm can cost up to $50,000, which is still less than hiring an in-house writer and completely removes the process from your already crowded schedule. Working with freelancers can present even more of a cost savings, though managing such a team can present its own challenges. Financially speaking, unless you plan to start publishing like the Michelin Star Guide, an in-house writer isn’t strictly necessary.
Choosing the Right Content Marketing Company
Having decided to undertake content marketing and hire a marketing company or contractor, you are now faced with the matter of selecting who to hire. This is a surprisingly straightforward issue, which will help you begin seeing results quickly.
Choosing a marketing firm that has writers with experience in your industry can be key. This may sound like the opposite of the recommendations above, but experience in the field is different from being a specialist. General knowledge of industry basics will prevent mistakes resulting in costly rewrites that would negate the purpose of hiring the content creators in the first place. Paying more for high-quality writers will help prevent having to go back and do all the work again yourself.
To determine the quality of the content, request samples of work the marketing company has written for businesses such as your own. B2B marketing is different from B2C, and the samples can help you get a feel for how they handle the terminology and tone of the content. Request multiple samples, to be sure the company isn’t using a single good example to win customers.
Also, ask for a breakdown of specialties and fields of expertise the company’s writers bring to the table. A benefit of using a content marketing company is that you can gain perspective and knowledge from specialties or fields you don’t currently have on staff, appealing to a more diverse audience than if you had used your in-house staff.