Outsourcing content marketing is quickly becoming necessary for mid-size businesses. While 91 percent of B2B organizations report using content marketing, according to CMI, 74 percent rate their content marketing approach as only moderately or minimally successful.
Outsourcing content marketing allows you to level up your efforts. As such, the same CMI report found that 56 percent of B2B companies report outsourcing at least some of their content marketing activities.
Even with an in-house marketing team, many companies don’t have the resources to strategize, implement and execute everything themselves. From social media marketing to SEO link building, a content marketing agency or freelancer can help you manage it all.
If your content marketing isn’t working (check out my guide to content KPIs to measure your success), don’t keep spinning your wheels. Instead, use the following questions to guide your journey to outsourcing content marketing.
Keep reading: 5 Ways to Use Data to Improve Your B2B Content Strategy
Which roles or projects can you outsource?
First and foremost, understand what projects and roles you can outsource. Content marketing includes social media marketing, email marketing, content creation, content strategy, graphic creation, video script writing—and so much more.
If you’re not sure where you need help, make a list of all your content marketing efforts and cross-reference it with this list of tasks that are commonly outsourced:
Editing can be useful if your current talent can create content related to your industry but lacks formal editing experience. An editor will polish content for production, as well as ensure it’s SEO-friendly and keyword-optimized. If you’re creating content regularly, this is critical. Spelling and grammatical errors will affect the legitimacy of your content.
Designing includes the creation of branded graphics and visuals, and can even include setting up a brand guide for your team to use. This falls more in the category of graphic design outsourcing than content marketing, but some marketers may be proficient indesign, in addition to writing or strategy—being able to use just one person makes your life easier.
Social media management includes anything from creating actual posts, to planning your social media calendar and running paid social ads.
Link building is a niche skill that not many content strategists have. To be effective, you have to do it right and avoid spam tactics, so outsourcing this is crucial if it’s part of your SEO strategy (hint: it should be). See how Jessica Thiefels Consulting helped Selz increase weekly organic traffic by 99 percent in our link building case study.
Content writing is one of the most commonly outsourced tasks. You can hire writers to create content for your company’s website, blog, social media, or external guest posts based on your own internal strategy and content calendar. Pro tip: pay more to work with high-quality writers. Low-quality writers will just require more effort on your part—you have to pay a fair rate if you want to work with great writers.
Why do you want to outsource content marketing?
What value will you get from outsourcing content marketing? Saved time? Better content? A clear strategy to execute? Elena Carstoiu, COO and co-founder of Hubgets, and client of Jessica Thiefels Consulting, finds value in the increased efficiency:
“I need to be highly productive with my limited time resource. Working with Jessica proves to be both efficient and effective. And I love that!”
If you’re not sure, consider that a recent survey from Altimeter found that the biggest challenge companies face in content marketing is aligning multiple teams around a unified strategy. This is followed by hiring for the right skills as well as producing content at a large scale.
All of these issues can be solved by outsourcing content marketing to the right person or agency. Lay the groundwork by getting clear on why and what you want to outsource to get the most from this valuable resource.
Do you have the correct processes in place?
Before outsourcing, you need to organize your workflow and processes. Bringing someone on as a consultant is the same as hiring a new employee—in order to be effective, they need to have a roadmap for working with you. Here are a few details to have figured out:
- A documented content marketing strategy aligned with your overall business goals
- Editorial calendar or content calendar
- Performance KPIs to measure effectiveness
- Estimated budget
- Milestones and goals
If you need to outsource content marketing to create these workflows and processes, knowing your budget and having a main point of contact is a fine place to start.
How do you find the perfect content marketing partner?
Once you’re organized, it’s time to set out to find the right partner. There are two options: working with an individual freelancer or working with an agency. As with anything, there are pros and cons to both options. In some cases, working with independent contractors can lead to more hand-holding, but may cost less. On the other hand, an agency can come with a higher price-tag, but built-in processes that can help guide the engagement.
It’s critical, however, to realize that this isn’t black and white. Some freelancers have been doing their work for years and can jump in and be effective right away with minimal management. Similarly, many agencies will come with a high price tag, but may not be as effective as a single person or boutique firm.
To get it right:
- Interview with multiple agencies or freelancers to determine skill, work ethic and personality. Who will get the job done and jive well with your team?
- Look for testimonials and case studies that show they can do what they say.
- Ask the right questions. Figuring out what you need help with before these calls is critical, just like interviewing for a new hire.
Use all these details to determine who will be the best fit for achieving your goals with the budget you have to work with.
How do I ensure success?
Outsourcing content marketing isn’t a set-it and forget-it process. The best partnerships are collaborative and should be regularly reviewed based on the goals and KPIs you set in place. Surprisingly, 47 percent of companies don’t measure the ROI on their content marketing efforts, according to the CMI report. Another 18 percent of companies aren’t even sure if they do.
It’s your job to determine whether their work is effective and that requires you to measure success on your end. Determine KPIs and check in with the data each month. If the outsourcing isn’t getting you closer to those goals, it’s time to adjust or find someone else.
Outsource Your Content Marketing
If you don’t have the time or resources to produce great content, manage social media, or create a strategy that aligns with your business goals, it’s time to outsource content marketing. To be most effective and spend budget wisely, you need to do your homework first and foremost. Use this guide to prepare and make sure that you find the best person or agency for the job.