5 Tips for Choosing a B2B Content Marketing Agency
If you’re evaluating marketing agencies, you’ll have thousands of possible choices. If, however, you’re set on finding a B2B content marketing agency, we’re impressed. It shows you’ve done your homework. Right off the bat, we can tell two things about you:
You know the difference between an agency that specializes in B2B clients and one that caters to B2C or works with any client that walks in the door. There’s nothing wrong with serving a diverse client base. But B2B-only agencies are laser-focused on how to help companies sell to other companies, and they’ll bring that specialized expertise to every one of your marketing campaigns.
You’re sold on the value of content marketing. You recognize that your clients will sit and read a well-written white paper or eBook. And you crave the kinds of well-informed and highly motivated prospects that content marketing will deliver.
So now the question is: which B2B content marketing agency is right for you? Here are five characteristics to look for.
They focus on your industry
You can’t fake content marketing because it revolves around, well, content. Good marketing content will go in-depth on a topic in the form of white papers and eBooks that can be thousands of words long. A content writer can’t cover a topic convincingly unless he or she has some knowledge or experience in it.
At Espresso, our industry sweet spots are software and consulting. We’ll consider clients that branch out from those areas a bit. But we know we are the most helpful to companies who are offering technology solutions. While we do often rely on our clients’ subject matter expertise, especially in the area of how their product or service works, if a potential project is too far outside our comfort zone, we’ll thank the potential client for the opportunity and refer them to another agency.
We also turn down opportunities from B2C companies. Sure, we’re consumers ourselves. And we’re smart and flexible enough to communicate in a variety of ways. But we’ve spent our entire existence helping software and consulting companies generate more leads for less money, and that’s where we can bring the most value to future clients.
They’re not just a regional player
This can take several forms. First, some marketing agencies will go after any potential client in their geographic area. On Monday, they’ll write content for a software company. On Tuesday, a healthcare organization. On Wednesday, a beauty salon. The variety is probably fun for them—but will it give you the highest-quality content?
Look for a B2B content marketing agency that knows your industry no matter where you and your customers are located. And remember that while it’s nice to work with an agency that’s physically close enough to meet you for lunch, it’s probably not essential. At Espresso, we find we don’t meet up any more often with our in-town clients than we do with clients in other states. It’s a virtual world, and the recent pandemic has only underscored how much we can all get done across the miles.
Also, some marketing agencies focus only on local marketing. For example, if the client is located in Austin, they will only create marketing content for target buyers in Austin. If your company targets bigger markets such as all of North America or the world, you want a marketing agency with experience creating and executing marketing campaigns that target these larger geographic markets.
They understand the relationship between marketing channels
Some companies are torn between selecting an agency that specializes in only one service versus a full service content marketing agency that has expertise in all marketing offerings. They think that the agency that only offers one service must do it well. We think there are some shortcomings with this approach.
Most marketing activities are interrelated. Take blogging for example. One reason to write blog articles is that it adds engaging content to your website. But it can also play a huge role in your SEO strategy if you optimize the article for one of your target keywords. It can also provide content for your social media and email marketing campaigns.
If you use a single agency to handle all of these services, you can realize more synergies and efficiencies. The same agency writing the blog article can make sure that it’s optimized for search. They can add the blog to your website. They can write social media and emails that offer the blog article. Doesn’t that make more sense that having one agency writing the blog, another performing the SEO, and yet another doing social media?
Plus, the agency that is writing your blogs will also understand how to write your emails and social media because they already understand your company’s voice, positioning, and audience.
They understand that good social media marketing is an outgrowth of good content marketing.
At Espresso, we often speak to potential clients who are looking for help with social media marketing. This is understandable; while email isn’t dead and never will be, even business users are using social channels for an increasing portion of their work communications.
Social media is a great tool, but it only goes so far. If you’re not using your social platforms to drive your audience to your well-written content, you’ll soon lose their attention. Any good B2B content marketing agency will understand this and help you create a strategy that integrates social rather than making it an end in itself.
They get the point of all of this: growth
Some marketing agencies can show you a trophy case full of industry awards for their “creative” and “innovative” work. Others will impress you with clips of videos that “think outside the box.” But don’t lose sight of why you began looking for a B2B content marketing agency in the first place.
You’re here to grow your revenue. You can’t do that without attracting more customers. But in the B2B buying cycle, nobody makes a purchase decision on a whim. So you must court your customers carefully—not with cleverness or flash, but with solid content that addresses their pain points and offers realistic solutions.
When you work with a B2B content marketing agency that understands these realities, you’ll put a plan in place for getting top-of-funnel prospects to raise their hands and ask you for more information. You’ll then continue to feed content to these prospects, nurturing them and gathering information to flesh out their profiles and turn them into qualified leads. Finally, you’ll provide the content pieces that prove your solution is superior to the other options they’re considering.
This process may not be flashy. It may not win you any awards. But it will win you clients and boost your company’s bottom line. It could even get you promoted.
How can you find a B2B content marketing agency that does this? Look for a partner that has expertise in a wide range of content, including white papers, eBooks, emails, landing pages, blog articles, and social media. If you work with a provider that specializes in just one or two of these types of content, it’s unlikely they’ll have a clear understanding of how all the different content pieces can work together to maximize your ROI.
A parting thought on choosing a B2B content marketing agency
There are two more important considerations we haven’t mentioned: money and quality. If you’re evaluating agencies, you’re going to ask them for quotes. Expect the prices to be all over the map; some will be shockingly high and others surprisingly low. While you no doubt have a firm budget, try not to rule out (or favor) any agency strictly on a cost basis. Instead, consider carefully the five tips we’ve shared here and balance each agency’s offerings against their prices.
Much like the prices, you’re going to find that writing and design quality will also be all over the map. You definitely should request writing samples along with pricing before going too far into your selection process. Understand that a simpler design using stock images will cost less than an intricate design with custom illustration.
We at Espresso would love an opportunity to show you how we deliver on these five tips. We help software and consulting firms succeed with content marketing, and we have the numbers to back it up. Ask us about our B2B content marketing agency.