Let’s face it: creating good, valuable content for your audience is a time commitment.
For many businesses, those content tasks can be quickly pre-empted by more urgent projects. That’s why many brands turn to digital marketing agencies to help them keep their content moving forward – and to sharpen and optimize their content before it goes online.
But the operative word here is help.
Relying exclusively on your agency to churn out content without meaningful input from your team will result in content that lacks the expertise and insights that would have made it more valuable. On the other hand, taking on content creation entirely in-house could lead to weeks or months of inactivity as your team juggles heftier tasks, and you’re missing opportunities to sharpen and optimize content with help from your agency.
Below, we’ve rounded up several different ways you can involve your agency in your content marketing efforts:
Have Your Agency Edit, Optimize and Promote Your Content
Instead of your agency creating a piece from scratch, your team will provide a content topic and foundational information to get them started. This can come in a variety of forms, from a very basic outline to a more fully formed first draft. (We’ll take a shorthand scribble on a piece of paper, but we’d prefer you just send us an email instead.)
This approach can work great if the foundational info contains the stuff of quality content. This can be technical details, unique tips or insights, or first-hand wisdom gained through experience in the field. If you can provide these types of elements, your agency can work their magic provide you with a polished piece of content, ready for review.
You can capitalize on both your in-house expertise and agency strengths.
There’s a great opportunity for authentic, experience-driven content.
This arrangement will require more responsibility for your team to provide a topic and basic information.
Choosing a topic for your agency means you’re missing out on their input in terms of search visibility, high-performing keywords and market trends.
Proof and Edit Your Agency’s Content
Often it can be a huge help to have your agency put together the first draft on their own, without initial assets or research on your end. Once that’s in place, your team can easily jump in and provide input to make sure the content is accurate, substantive and authentic.
For example, when we’re sending first drafts of content to clients, they can rest assured that it’ll be engaging, well-researched and grammatically spotless. All we ask is that they give it a look to make sure any super specific, industry-related information looks right to them.
By taking this approach with your agency, you can ensure that your content is moving forward on schedule while still contributing your insights to make the end product more valuable for your readers.
You’ll get the help you need to maintain a consistent output of content.
You can draw on agency strengths for research-based content that is more likely to perform successfully from an SEO standpoint.
More technical content may require additional rounds of edits or rewrites to be accurate.
If your agency is still getting familiar with your industry or has no input from your team, potential topics of interest might be missed.
Divide Up Content by Topic
In some instances, it may make sense to have your agency handle marketing-oriented or promotional content, while your in-house team takes on technical, industry-related content.
For example, if you’re in the finance industry, you might have your agency write an SEO-friendly blog about the benefits of hiring a financial advisor, while your team writes about how a new piece of legislation impacts tax liabilities among a specific segment of your audience.
This approach works best if it borrows from the first two approaches: someone in-house reviews the agency’s drafts and the agency helps polish and promote the content developed in-house.
You’ll develop a good mix of promotional and technical content for different segments.
You’ll play to the strengths of both your team and your agency.
Your content could potentially feel disjointed if tone and voice aren’t consistent.
There’s still an obligation on the client-side to generate consistent industry-related content.
Tips and Tools for Content Collaboration with Your Agency
While the approaches outlined above are by no means the only ways to collaborate with your agency, these are some that have worked well for our clients.
Ultimately, there are a few questions you should ask to determine what approach will work best for you:
What are the specifics of your content marketing strategy in terms of frequency, format, topics and length?
Do you have in-house resource(s) who can realistically dedicate time to generating content aligned with your strategy? How much time?
What are your agency’s core strengths when it comes to content marketing? Do they already have a strong grasp on your business, and can they capably speak to your audience with relatively minimal handholding?
Once you’ve chosen the approach that works best for you, now comes the hard part: keeping it going.
When your team gets busy, content creation tends to be the first thing to drop off because the consequences are relatively minor.
To avoid this happening, we recommend using these tools and processes to keep content on track with your agency:
Schedule out quarterly content brainstorming sessions with your agency. This ensures topics get planned in advance and having the recurring meeting on the books helps keep everyone accountable for their share of the planning. This also has the benefit of collecting ideas from both perspectives and fleshing out details in the early stages of development.
Use and maintain a shared editorial calendar or similar scheduling tool. By plotting out scheduled content on a calendar such as in HubSpot or Teamup you have a better chance of maintaining your frequency.
Take advantage of collaboration tools. By using proofing and editing software like Google Workspace you can make the process of proofing and editing content between teams as easy and painless as possible.
Charlie is the Chief Strategy Officer at Simple Machines Marketing. When he's not doing the marketing, he likes playing guitar, hanging with his family in Chicago and lots of other stuff too but this seems like a good amount for a blog bio.