Does the Content Marketing Consultant or Agency You Hire Need to Be an Expert in Your Industry?

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So, you're a startup founder, business owner or marketing director looking for a content marketer to start writing expert-level online content for your business that will get shared, read and clicked all over the web.

We understand you have big aspirations for your startup or online business on what kind of content your company will produce... First off, your content won't be like everyone else's. It won't be short, boring and stuffed with awkward keyword terms. Instead, it will have a unique, expertise angle that will make people want to subscribe and read what your company has to say. It will be the go-to resource for customers searching for information in your industry. If these are some of your content marketing aspirations, you're off to a great start.

There are a couple ways you can go about creating great content: hire an internal content marketer and/or writer to produce the content yourself, or hire a content marketing agency to produce the content for you.

Before you start looking for the right person to create your content, I want to debunk a content marketing myth: it’s not necessary that your content marketer or agency be an expert in your industry. Whether you're selling real estate, creating menswear or offering online financial business tools, it would be near impossible to find someone in deep expertise in your industry, plus expertise in content and SEO. For example, how is someone supposed to spend 10+ years as a real estate agent AND 10+ years as a content marketing professional? I feel that finding an inbound marketer who is also an expert in your field is the holy grail of a marketing professional. Yet, I always have inquiring businesses ask me if I'm an expert in their industry.

Here’s why finding someone who is an expert in content marketing + an expert in your industry isn't necessary: any great content marketer can apply the framework of an inbound marketing strategy to any industry and hire expertise freelance writers to produce the content.

This is what the best content marketers are doing at all the best content creating businesses, trust me. So, if your business focuses on finding an internal resource or agency that understands the framework of inbound marketing and how to leverage expert-level freelancers, then you'll be well on your way to creating a content strategy your company can be proud of.

To ensure your content marketing partner knows how to implement an inbound marketing strategy, I’ll outline the type of tactics they should use to product effective content, so you can evaluate if this is the right content creator or agency for your business.

INBOUND MARKETING STRATEGY

It's more important that the person or agency you hire has a deep expertise in inbound marketing strategy (the combination of content marketing + SEO + social media). The person you hire to drive this inbound strategy for your company should be able to provide the following for you:

  • Content Strategy: Before you start writing content, your inbound marketing hire should set the strategy for you. This includes creating your content pillars — what is the mix of topics your business will cover and how often? It also includes setting a strategy for blog categories and tagging. And creating a monthly or quarterly content calendar that will help you schedule strategic content distribution via all channels and will guide freelance writers in the keywords they need to include in their content. They should also have a clear process and tool in place for creating content, editing and working with freelancers so the content creation process is seamless and content is created at scale within a set timeline.
  • Search Engine Optimization: Your hire should understand how to employ intermediate SEO tactics to content so that it ranks. They should also conduct in-depth keyword research to find the top keywords your business website and content should be wrapped around, and also "low hanging fruit" keywords that will be great targets for blog posts to rank quickly and drive qualified traffic
  • Content Distribution Through Social Media & More: The content resource you hire should understand how to get the word out about your content — and this shouldn't just be posting the same social media post on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter at the same time every day. Social media is the obvious and good choice to start in distributing content. But, it's hard to fight site algorithms these days, so distribution tactics should also include ideas to connect with influencers; leverage online forums and groups within your industry; utilize other networks such as Medium, Instagram or Quora; employ native advertising, guest blogging, content syndication or sponsorship tactics; launch a content distribution newsletter; and more.

SOURCING & HIRING SUBJECT MATTER EXPERT (SME) FREELANCE WRITERS

To get achieve content creation with deep expertise, your inbound marketing hire needs to know how to source and leverage SME freelance writers. These SMEs will write the content your business produces, so your content is informed and knowledgable about all topics pertaining to your target audience. For instance, if you're financial tool for small business owners, you find an expert-level small business finance freelance writer. If you're someone like Zillow, you find current or former real estate agents to write for your blog. If you're AirBnB, you find travelers and hosts to write for your blog. Hopefully you get the gist.

Once you find an inbound marketer you like, ask them how they'll get the expert-level content written and find SME freelance writers.

They should be able to speak to their process of sourcing, evaluating and hiring SME freelance writers. It can be time consuming to find these people, but the right content marketer will have a lot of experience doing this and should have the process down to scour the web for good freelance writers.

ANALYZE CONTENT PERFORMANCE

Hiring a partner to help with your marketing efforts can be expensive, so you want to be sure you’re investing your dollars in the right place. That’s why analyzing your content performance is key in understanding your return on investment. When determining your content strategy together with your hired inbound marketing resource, you’ll want to establish your brand’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This will help you understand what’s working, what’s not, and how to adjust it.

Then, your inbound marketing hire should have the tools to track the effectiveness of content in search engines. They should be able to talk to you about keyword growth, ranked keywords, organic traffic growth, revenue from blog posts/content, traffic to your website from different marketing and distribution channels and more.

Remember — finding an inbound marketer who is also an expert in your industry is not necessary. Your business will be in the right place as long as they can set your content, SEO and content distribution strategy, find the right SME freelancer writers, and report on the effectiveness of your inbound marketing tactics.

Jeanna Barrett

San Francisco, CA