content marketing agency

Guide to Hiring a Content Marketing Agency for SMBs

Choosing a Content Marketing Agency if You’re an SMBs — What Owners and Managers Must Know (& Ask) Before Outsourcing CM

Hiring — and then managing — a content marketing agency can quickly turn into a headache for small business owners and marketing managers.


Well, you already have a million things on your to-do list. Adding an agency that does lacklustre work to that list is not something you want to do. Especially if you’ve set aside a considerable amount of your marketing budget for them to produce high-performing content.

When you hire a content marketing agency, you want consistent results… a reliable partner… and peace of mind. You can get all that only when you know what to focus on when hiring — which questions to ask and how to recognize the telltale signs which guarantee an agency is a team of professionals, and not a bunch of charlatans.

And that’s exactly what you’ll learn after reading this blog post:


Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the agency hiring process, let’s look at why your content — your most valuable marketing multiplier — is better off in the hands of professionals. And it isn’t about time or money. It’s about something much bigger… and leveraging it could result in a 10X ROI in just a few short months.

Let’s dig in.

Why Every Company Should Outsource Their Content Marketing

This is a controversial take, but I really believe every company — big or small, local or international — should outsource its content creation to a qualified content marketing agency.


Well, think about it…

To do content marketing right, you need at least three experts — a writer/copywriter, a graphic designer, and a content strategist. So three salaried positions you need to find the money for, even if you’re a small business owner. Either you pay for them… or you wear these three hats yourself. And that’s on top of everything else you’re doing.

Next, you need to come up with — and test — strategies.

Is this week’s content piece going to be a skyscraper SEO blog post? Why? Should it be a long YouTube how-to video? And do you then repurpose it for Reels, TikTok, Shorts, and other social media video formats? Or should you go with a whitepaper? A case study? Or an industry report?

This is an incomplete list of content types… but I bet you’re already feeling overwhelmed.

And the last thing, you need to define and keep tabs on your key performance indicators for content. What will you measure? How? And what will you tweak and change to get the results you’re after?

Like I said… content marketing — done the right way — is tough.

A specialized content marketing agency — or a full-service agency with a dedicated team of top-notch content marketers — has the resources, the know-how, and the bandwidth to deliver quality content consistently.

Here are 5 benefits of working with qualified CM agency:

  1. Access to tried-and-true strategies — competent content agencies don’t traffic in guesswork. We come in, assess your overall marketing strategy, tactics and advertising avenues, and create a tailored content marketing approach that supports current digital activities, creates new traffic and leads opportunities, and differentiates you from your competitors.We do that by staying on top of our game. It’s our job to know what types of content get traction… how they should be marketed… and when’s the time to pivot to different tactics. This is difficult for in-house employees who often get siloed into just producing content without thinking about the why of it… or freelancers who don’t dig deeper than their limited experience.With an agency like ours, you get a partner with experience in an array of industries who’s focused on finding the best strategies for your business. A partner who’ll dig deeper and make sure your content is in sync with — and the fuel for — your digital marketing efforts.
  2. Time back for your top-performing employees — yes, your experts can probably contribute a blog post or two per month? But, is that a good use of their time? Should they really be researching posts, writing drafts, and editing lines? Or would you rather they focus on doing the job you hired them for?An agency will turn your content around much faster — and to a higher standard — and your subject matter experts (SMEs) will only have to critique it… not spend hours writing it at the expense of their other duties.
    Quality content with your unique point of view… produced & shipped lightning fast!

    How can agency writers grasp the nuances of your business? After all, they’re not CNC machining experts… or safety consultants… or experts on [insert your industry here].

    This is a fair question, especially if you’re in a highly technical industry.

    And the answer is — by collaborating with you and your SMEs!

    Here at Asset Digital Communications, we’ve developed a low-touch for our clients (meaning it won’t require much work from you) and high-yield for output quality (meaning everything that makes onto the page is 100% correct and informed by your unique expertise). We use this process to create high-quality, insightful content for every industry under the sun. Content so on-point, even your competitors aren’t able to tell you didn’t produce it!

    (Click the link to book a FREE 30-minute discovery/strategy session.)

  3. Get access to (very) expensive content tools — at Asset Digital Communications, we spend upwards of $10K every month on our marketing tech stack (the suite of tools we use to dial in our posts, podcasts, and videos so they always hit the mark). What this means for you is access to these tools for a fraction of the cost. Sure, some of it is folded into your monthly invoice… but not the whole enchilada. And, you get the same benefit as if you were footing the whole monthly tech bill.
  4. Speed up results through consistent posting — content marketing success hinges on posting frequency and consistency. If you’re doing it sporadically, you’re not getting the maximum benefit. In fact, you’re hurting your organic rankings by not being disciplined with — your quality posts and videos are not ranking as high as they could because they’re not supported by a comprehensive content posting strategy. Partnering with an agency ensures that consistency. It also saves you money in the long run because your content pieces are much more likely to perform now they don’t exist in a vacuum.
  5. Know (and keep track of) relevant KPIs — a content-team of one (i.e. you most of the time) can’t really evaluate and measure what’s being done (you either don’t know how… or don’t have the time). Which KPIs should be tracked for online presence; which ones for brand awareness; and which ones for marketing and sales qualified leads? An agency has this in the bag — they have adjustable templates that will fit your business to a tee. Which means you’ll always have a clear idea about how effective your content marketing efforts are.

And if you’re scratching your head, trying to figure out why content is the marketing golden goose you should focus on today?

Read on to find out.

Why Good Content Trumps Every Other Marketing Strategy

You know why an iron-clad content marketing strategy is important these days?

Because you don’t have the money to go after customers and potential clients with paid ads only… at least not in the current marketing landscape.

And not just you – larger companies, including some international behemoths with years of experience and head start, have ditched the ‘pay to win’ advertising approach because it just isn’t working anymore..

There are two reasons for that:

  • It’s becoming too expensive – companies with marketing plans that hinge on paid advertising are seeing dwindling ROAS (return on ad spend). And throwing more money at it isn’t fixing the problem. In fact, it’s making it worse because there’s always a competitor ready to outspend you. So you drive each other into financial ruin.
  • People are sick of ads — in the past, a gimmick could get past someone’s defences and result in a successful digital marketing strategy… or, at least, a one-off campaign that does exceptionally well.. Today, buyers have seen it all. They’ve fallen for it all. And their natural response is to be very distrustful of anything that smacks of paid promotion.

Content marketing neatly sidesteps this problem.

It’s not really marketing because we’re not pushing it on people.

Instead, we’re focusing on creating educational, viral, funny, or otherwise great content – blog posts, case studies, whitepapers, videos, social media posts, and other collateral – and we’re letting it draw people to us.

The 3 major benefits to content marketing for SMBs are that it:

  1. Increases organic website traffic and brand awareness — publishing a range of educational content around your core business topics grows your rankings in the search engines and expands your online reach. This brings in new business and new customers.
  2. Builds trust and makes closing the sale easier — content helps you curry favour with potential customers. Create enough touchpoints with content, and prospective customers who’ve never done business with you will find it easier to say yes to your offers.
  3. Delivers compounding results for years — there’s nothing in online marketing that delivers results as consistently and relentlessly as a powerful piece of content. Yes, it takes time to come up with a good content strategy (and not to mention keyword research, SERPs analysis, and your business’ point of view). And it takes time to publish regularly. But the benefits of consistency here are undeniable — just a handful of your high-ranking pieces can bring in thousands of visitors to your website every month. The more you publish, the greater the chance you’ll end up with even more winners.

Content marketing works exceptionally well for small businesses who are competing against well-funded competitors. If you want to find out why that is,check out our post on how an optimized content strategy can 10X your company’s bottom line.

Now that you know why there’s serious value in blog posts, search engine optimization, and content-fuelled social media marketing, let’s explore how to hire the right agency experts for your business needs.

Choosing the Right Digital Agency as Your Content Marketing Partner

It’s difficult to find a partner you’re comfortable enough to entrust with such a big part of your business’ marketing efforts.

After all, you’re entrusting them with your business’s marketing plan and investing a considerable chunk of your budget with them. It’s only natural to want some guarantees about the collaboration.

The agency you end up partnering with should be the one that:

  1. Hires or contracts the right people — and tells you about them in the first few discovery meetings. Before you sign on to anything, you should know who’ll be in charge of your account. Who’s your content strategist… your copywriter or content writer… your designer… and your dedicated account manager.You need to be comfortable with this team: their level of expertise and communication skills. They don’t need to be agency employees (even agencies outsource), but should be reachable and responsive professionals, regardless.
  2. Draws up a contract that protects both you and them — content agencies can’t guarantee results. The SERPs environment is too volatile and out of their control for something like that.However, they can put results expectations in black and white, and stipulate what happens if those expectations are not met through their own fault or misjudgment. For example, if you go 6 months without traffic improvements when you’ve been paying for 6-8 blog posts per month, something is seriously wrong.And the agency should work with you to fix it.
  3. Demonstrates expertise in your particular industry or niche — partnering with someone who has intimate knowledge of your niche and industry will always produce better results.If you’re a lawyer, you want an agency that can provide testimonials and case studies from other law firms. If you’re a widget manufacturer, you want someone who knows all the ins and outs of widget production… and what keeps people who buy widgets up at night.You get the idea — you might be an expert in your field, but if the agency people know your target audience and can show previous work they’ve done for it, the content creation process will move along more smoothly. Of course, you’ll be there to inform the content – don’t expect to be 100% hands off in this process. But, your role should be to course-correct… not do the agency’s work for them.
Hand off your content to professionals who can get you a 10X ROI in just a few months

Content marketing — especially SEO blogging — is a slow process. An involved process. Still, the sooner you start with it, the sooner you’ll see a massive return on your investment. If you need a content agency to handle all your writing and video needs, reach out to us here at Asset Digital Communications. We have the right people… the right tools… and the right energy to help your organization crush it with targeted, engaging, and memorable content!

(Click the link to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation)

3 Essential Groups of Questions You Have to Ask Your CM Agency

When it comes to hiring a content marketing agency for SMBs, there’s no crystal ball.

To ace the process, come prepared for your initial conversation. These three sets of questions will help you gauge whether you and the team of experts across the table are a right fit:

Logistical questions

These questions are all about how the agency operates, communicates, and collaborates with you as a client.

Some questions to ask are:

  1. Can we get a free consultation or scoping call? [Every serious agency will offer this because selling is done 1 on 1 in this case. That’s why you can schedule your call with Asset Digital Communications with no obligation at all on this link right here].
  2. What are the terms of the contract?
  3. How many people will work on our account?
  4. Do we get a dedicated account manager?
  5. What are your operating hours?
  6. Do you charge for debriefs and reports?
  7. How many meetings per month can we expect?
  8. Can we email you our questions?
  9. What’s your usual email response time?
  10. What software do you use for content creation?
What you want to hear:

You want your chosen digital marketing agency to draw up a fair, flexible contract so they are reliant on their results for continued collaboration. This collaboration should be spearheaded by a dedicated account manager, who should supervise a team of experts — so the copywriter writes the copy, and the graphic designer does the design.

Also, results reporting should be free — strategy and debriefing calls paid. Don’t insist on too many Zoom meetings per month… but do insist on prompt email communication.

Expertise questions

What’s the one thing that this agency excels at? This is the question that you need answered here. Are they a strict content marketing agency that just writes converting blog posts and case studies? Or do they also offer other marketing services? Could they double as your social media marketing agency?

Here’s what you should ask:

  1. Can we see examples of work from our (or adjacent) industry?
  2. What are the results we can expect from the proposed content strategy?
  3. Can you share data and results from previous similar content campaigns?
  4. Are you familiar with our target audience? What’s your market research process?
  5. How do you stay on top of new content marketing developments?
  6. Can you share some wins from the newest social media accounts & channels?
  7. Can we see some case studies with results from your proposed services?
  8. Can you share any testimonials? Or references we can call?
  9. What other range of services do you offer that would suit our business needs?
What you want to hear:

Ideally, you want the agency to have intimate knowledge of the market and the target audience. They have the results to back up their claims. And they’re happy to share those results. The agency should also demonstrate they are keeping up with fresh content strategies and are well-versed with new social media channels that are popping up.

Cost questions

And now we come to the last — and arguably most important — category of questions.

Here are the only three questions you need to ask:

  1. How much do your marketing services cost?
  2. How are they priced (hourly, package, or retaner) and why?
  3. What happens if you don’t hit your negotiated goals?
What you want to hear:

The agency’s fees are fair and competitive. They’ve shown they can create success for other companies in similar fields, so you have confidence they can do good work for you. Their fee model is flexible enough to accommodate any changes you might want to make in the future — volume of content, type of content, or adding extra services. That model also gives you maneuvering space room in case the agency doesn’t hit their expected goals.

How to Calculate ROI of Working With a Content Agency

A lot of companies have a tough time justifying their investment in content marketing.

They feel their ROI is ephemeral at best… and non-existent at worst.

But this is not true.

There are plenty of ways to measure your return on investment. First, though, you need to set measurable goals against which to benchmark your efforts. There’s a plethora of metrics you can focus on here, and this is just a small sample of them:

  • Website traffic
  • Referrals
  • Social media shares
  • Number of captured email addresses
  • Click-through rates
  • Number of new leads
  • Time on site
  • Time to close for new customers
  • Number of repeat customers
  • Retention rate

I will say one thing, however — it’s tough to measure the impact of SEO blogging if you don’t stick with it. It’s one of those things that starts producing results after a year or more. You can’t pay an agency to publish a few blogs in the first month… and then wonder why you’re not swimming in leads from potential customers.

That’s not how it works.

To find out why search engine optimization, on-page SEO, and organic rankings are a long-term play, take a look at this video from the Grow and Convert content marketing agency:

As they say, if you stick with SEO for more than a year, you’re almost guaranteed to recoup your entire investment up to that point in the next few months.

A good digital marketing agency will help you set up your goals, as well as GA tracking so you can keep tabs on their work and performance. They’ll also have proprietary tools and spreadsheets that show their work and correlate it to your growth in leads and closed deals.

But you need to remember — content is a long-term play.

Not a short-term gimmick.

Ready to 10X Your Content Game? Explode Your Leads & Sales with ADC

Picking an agency can be a hassle… but it doesn’t have to be.

Here at Asset Digital Communications, we’ve worked with hundreds of companies, large and small, in global and in niche industries, and we delivered outstanding results for all of them.

When you work with us, you get a partner invested in your business, not just a line on the cost side of your P&L statement.

If you want to know more about how we approach content marketing strategy and execution, hit the link below to schedule your 30-minute discovery call. If we hit it off, we’ll schedule another, more in-depth strategy call in which you can ask all your questions… and get the answers you’re hoping for.