Only there’s a big problem with that.
To try and fill the gap between client expectations and delivery of these, a bunch of agencies have recently cropped up offering: Content strategy, Content Marketing, In-bound marketing and the rest. You know the ones… they email you all the time (well, they fill up my ‘Promotions’ tab in Google Mail – which I now treat like a second inbox for spam) and make it seem like they are a reputable company and not just a bunch of people jumping on the latest digital bandwagon.
Yes, there will be the odd one out there who has actually done what they say and possibly for some brands you may have actually heard of. But a lot of them have either just re-purposed their existing Search Engine Optimisation efforts or may have worked out how to do the basics in Google Analytics (e.g. look at in-bound source URLs, print out a PDF of landing page bounce rates, etc.).
So here’s my tips on the ways you can spot a crap content marketing agency:
- They send you an email such as “understand blogging basics” or “free website content review” when they've not even looked at your site
- They don’t actually have any content creation and copy writing skills (they typically only offer to suggest blog posts or to analyse what you've already written)
- They have spelling or consistency mistakes across their website (an obvious sign of poor content quality)
- Despite claiming to have been doing “Content Marketing for years” their own twitter feed and blog posts go back less than 12 months.
(And watch out for the tell-tale sign of sudden flurries of blog posts all written around the same time, and then large gaps where they haven't been bothered)
- They make wonderful sweeping statements like “you need to increase brand engagement” with no indication of how you actually do this, let alone measure it.
So. Did I miss any points? Let me know.